Stuttgart – At one o'clock in the morning, while most people are sleeping, Inga Balke sets up shop every day at Hamburg’s wholesale flower market where she brings her plants to her customers. With the advent period now in full swing, she mostly has poinsettias on-board her Mercedes-Benz Atego 818. This morning she is loaded up with 25 four-tier transport trolleys full of these magnificent potted plants. Until 8:30 in the morning, Balke will be trading with the florists from the region. Then she returns to her greenhouses, makes sure everything is running smoothly before doing a spot of paperwork. Inga Balke heads up the Krayenhagen nursery, a family-run business with over a hundred years of history which is located around half an hour's drive to the north of Hamburg. A trained horticulturist, Balke and her team of around a dozen employees have nurtured the poinsettias over the last few weeks. The red Atego with Wilke box body and Webasto heating is normally driven to Hamburg by her driver. But if he's on holiday or ill, Balke also enjoys getting behind the wheel herself. "It's not a problem for me. The truck is fairly large, but it's almost like driving a passenger car." The entrepreneur especially likes the PowerShift 3 automated transmission. "You don't have to change gear and can concentrate entirely on the traffic."
Poinsettias are tropical plants which originate from Mexico. Growing them begins every year in Africa. From there, the tiny cuttings are flown to Europe in the freight hold of passenger planes. The poinsettias then grow to their full size at nurseries like that of Inga Balke until they develop their colourful crown and are ready to adorn people's living rooms during the advent period.