The years after World War II saw dramatic growth in suburban areas as the demand for affordable housing grew with the return of GIs and a booming post-war economy. Where there’s new housing, there’s landscaping. Sort of.
In the Jan. 15, 1952, issue of American Nurseryman, we find a short report on the 1950 census of agriculture:
“Total sales during 1949 of the 4,643 nurseries included in the 1950 special census of agriculture were over $132,800,000, according to a special report issued December 31, 1951, by Roy V. Peel, director of the bureau of the census of the Department of Commerce. The total sales included $50,100,000 for wholesale sales and $82,700,000 for retail sales. The wholesale value of the crops sold by nurseries in 1949 was $71,000,000.
Over 38,000 persons were employed in 1949 by nursery establishments. Of these, 14,661 were year-round employees, 922 were paid officers of corporations, 14,556 were other paid employees. On the payroll on March 15, 4,962 were proprietors of unincorporated establishments and 3,027 were members of the family of the operator, not being paid wages.
Nurseries spent more than $46,000,000 for wages and salaries in 1949. Over $2,000,000 were spent for manure and fertilizer, over $750,000 for insecticides and fungicides, almost $5,000,000 for seeds, plants and bulbs for nursery planting and almost $5,000,000 for advertising in 1949.
The value of land, structures and equipment used by the 4,643 nursery establishments amounted to more than $110,000,000 in 1950. These establishments had 3,800,000 square feet in greenhouse area, 6,073,000 of storage floor area and over 2,118,000 cubic feet of refrigerated storage in 1950.
Crops sold in 1949 included 3,919,000 deciduous ornamental trees, 21,463,000 deciduous shrubs, 46,220,000 rose plants, 13,000,000 broad-leaved evergreens, 12,403,000 other ornamental evergreens, 27,991,000 herbaceous plants, 3,083,000 apple trees, 4,707,000 peach trees and 166,652,000 strawberry plants.
The 1950 special census of nurseries was taken as a part of the 1950 census of agriculture. Only nursery establishments having sales of $1,000 or more in 1949 were included in this special census.”