Once upon a time in 1949, Philip and Dorothy Judge had seven children and 10 greenhouses at 39 Primrose Hill Road in Barrington.
The Judges moved to Barrington from Cranston that year when they bought the property to start their new family business, Peck Estate Greenhouses. Philip Judge’s parents had greenhouses on Scituate Avenue in Cranston, and the busy father knew he could run a similarly successful business in Barrington.
Over the ensuing 15 years, Philip and Dorothy and their kids were kept busy selling a variety of annuals and vegetable plants out of the greenhouses, while they gradually transitioned into a florist shop, Phil Judge Florist, built in 1965 on the foundation of one of the greenhouses.
Although Dorothy Judge held a degree in interior design from the Rhode Island School of Design, the Judges were self-taught florists. They learned from trade shows and other florists, and involved all of their children in all aspects of the business.
The passing years brought changes for their children, four of whom went on to other careers. Three of the Judge’s seven children remained involved in the family business.
Son Phil originally planned to be a carpenter, but he returned to the business in 1989 and is responsible primarily for deliveries and building upkeep.
June (Judge) Ververis worked in retail for a while, but returned to the business around 1966. Semi-retired now, June helps out in the store part time, a necessity during busy times like Christmas.
Helen Judge never left. When their dad passed away in 1982, she and June ran the business with Dorothy. Then when Dorothy Judge passed away in 2001, Helen took over the business with help from her two siblings.
“I’ve been here all my life,” she said. “I learned to be a florist from my parents, and I guess I’ve always been happy in this business.”
“I don’t know what I would have done otherwise,” she added.
The store is open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm. And Helen is at the business so often that she doesn’t have a lot of free time.
She does enjoy bowling in a league at Dudek’s in Warren (her team is The Alley Cats), and she confessed to leaving the gardening up to her brother.
Much like her family’s business, which has been around for a long time, Helen said, she likes flowers that last a long time - particularly carnations, chrysanthemums, orchids, and lilies.
At some point, Helen said, she will have to consider retiring. For the moment, though, she’s staying put.
“I like when people like what I do,” she said. “And what else would I do with my time?”