It's officially spring, but the winter-like temperatures and piles of snow that persist across southern Manitoba this week have cast a chill on a Winnipeg garden centre's business. 

St. Mary's Nursery and Garden Centre has had to spend 25 per cent more on heating this winter to keep its plants alive in the greenhouse.

"We heat with gas, but two layers of plastic and a little bit of air doesn't offer a whole lot of insulating values," said co-owner Ken Land.

"The furnaces are running overtime just to keep the heat up."

Meanwhile, Land said the number of customers has gone down.

"People don't like driving through the snowstorms," he said.

Justin Dekoning was one of the few customers in the store this week, as he looked for ideas for his backyard.

"When you come into a place like this, you see plants are starting to grow, but then you go outside and you still see two feet of snow and ice," he said.

Land said he suspects the long, cold winter will mean more rabbits and voles messing up people's gardens later in the year.

"The rodents suffer from the cold as well, and so they need more energy just to survive the cold. So they eat more and do more damage," he said.

Land said he can't believe it's already spring, but he hopes the slow start to the gardening season will pick up soon.

"It's just one of those years that everything looks like it's going to be real late, and unfortunately it looks like it's going to be real expensive," he said.