12 Auburn Street Ext.
Framingham, MA 01701
History of River's Edge Greenhouse
Donna and Howard Porter
The original cast and crew
The original crew L to R: Aunty Cush, Donna, Aunty Claire, Aunty Linda, Aunt Emma, Jenna (kneeling)
Back in the 1950’s, Donna and Howard Porter bought a home that had a little greenhouse in the back. This was the official start of River’s Edge Greenhouse.
Donna ran the garden center, with the help of her husband Howard, who also ran his own plumbing business. Of course their children helped out as well, along with pretty much all of their friends and relatives!
In 1958 the business started out as a Florist – back in the day when women wore corsages for most occasions, and “nosegays” were a big seller. The Florist shop was a converted two car garage attached to the house, and now serves as the garden center’s offices.
Through the 1960’s the Florist business thrived, and during the Spring months Donna and Howard started selling annuals and vegetable plants off the driveway in front of the shop.
During the 1970’s, the business continued to grow. Howard built cold frames in the area that is now the garden center, allowing him to grow more plants, and a wider variety of plants. A temporary greenhouse was erected on the driveway every year where Donna would create her beautiful displays. Apple crates served as benches. Sales were added up on a steno pad, and it was cash only. We did have a cash register, but only one button worked – the one that opened the drawer.
There were very many changes in the 1980’s. The cold frames were taken down, and over the course of a few years four new greenhouses were built. Howard loved growing all sorts of vegetable varieties, and Donna would design hanging baskets and container gardens. It was during the ‘80’s when River’s Edge really started to bust it’s seams and carry a wider selection of everything, including perennials, shrubs, rose bushes, soils, fertilizers and giftware. We also got a real cash register, and started accepting credit cards.
Over the past twenty years there have been so many wonderful changes. We have made the garden center much more organized and easier to shop, and we offer lots more “grown in Framingham” items including our own custom hanging baskets and specialty tomato plants. We grow a lot of what we sell, and also buy in from quality local growers – many are family owned businesses like us.
Over the years we have endured floods, lightening strikes, blizzards, and the nightmare that was the never-ending sewer project.
But the wonderful things about the business vastly outweigh the trials and tribulations…including our outstanding customers, many who are just like family to us. We still have customers that remember the Florist shop, and shopping off the driveway. I’m always amazed at those who also remember some of our old mascots like “Bully” the bulldog, “Woofer” the parrot, or “Jenny” the donkey. We have families that have been shopping with us for generations, and we are very proud of that loyalty.
Today River’s Edge is owned and operated by Howard and Donna’s daughter, Jenna, who joined the team full time in 1999.
Howard Porter passed away on July 9, 2010. He was a spectacular man, a most loving husband and father, a loyal friend, an incredible gardener, and a Marine. He worked hard at everything he did, but he knew how to have fun too. His warmth, humor and smile are missed everyday. He was one of a kind.
The original greenhouse
The original Flower Shoppe
Garden Center on the driveway!
Aunt Cush using the original cash register - with Bully by her side.
These are the old cold frames in the field where the garden center is now.