November 18, 2008

Bring On More Branding by Mark Broxon

It was only seven or eight years ago that the topic of branding began to appear with frequency in Greenhouse Grower and other industry publications. Many began to consider what branding meant, and what their role in it should be. Proven Winners is proud to be credited with bringing branding to horticulture. We firmly believe in both the concept and its future. Some have considered branding to be simply developing a name or logo under which to sell plants. But creating a brand that is profitable to growers and retailers and provides real value to consumers is not easy. Instead, it is an ongoing and exciting process that, through research, innovation, and better plants, truly never ends. And here’s why: The real job of true plant marketers is much more than just “branding” plants. The real job is the long-term process of creating and building value for growers, retailers and […]

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November 18, 2008

Time To Play Offense by Bob Dolibois

Since 1876, the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) has focused energy on representing the industry’s interests before government. Most of the time, that focus has been largely defensive and directed toward federal legislative activity. Since joining the ANLA staff in 1991, I have seen some important changes take place. These changes determine how the industry needs to respond to government pressure on growers in the next 25 years. First, there is more attention on influencing federal regulators, in addition to federal legislators. This trend can be attributed to the explosion in the number and scope of well-financed adversarial stakeholders now engaged in lobbying, which results in the tendency of federal legislators to pass laws that are too general. And that leads to the requirement for career government regulators to add details to how the law will work–sometimes with very unintended consequences. Second, this flow of regulation is now being […]

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November 18, 2008

Growth Or Confusion? by Allan Armitage

There were so many to choose from, she couldn’t make up her mind–so she didn’t buy any. That was my daughter Heather’s sentiment. She was reporting back to me after I recommended a heuchera. It puts into perspective the dilemma we so often see today: balancing the need for new plants with the need to simplify the buying of any plants. “New crops are the lifeblood of our industry,” I wrote about new crops many, many years ago, and I believe that as strongly now as I did then. Back then, however, I did not foresee the landslide of new crops and cultivars that has occurred in the last 10 years. It is unbelievable. In the trial gardens at the University of Georgia, we routinely receive 50 new geraniums, 20 new verbenas and 10 new torenias every year. In the past, add 20 new impatiens, 25 New Guinea impatiens and […]

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November 18, 2008

Beyond Our Borders by Paul Ecke III

With the exception of mums and a few other classes of plants, most vegetative genera, like spring annuals, cut flowers, perennials and tropicals, are produced outside the United States today. The trend started in the early 1970s, when rising energy costs forced many domestic cut flower growers offshore, with cutting producers following. For poinsettias, the offshore movement has allowed for more competitive prices, increasing availability and substantially more volume to satisfy increasing consumer demand. After adjusting for inflation, the price of an unrooted poinsettia cutting has declined by more than 70 percent over the past 25 years. Contrary to the belief that labor is the biggest savings component, energy and infrastructure costs were the factors that were most positive when Ecke Ranch moved offshore. Additionally, the offshore movement allows Ecke to produce more than five times the volume of cuttings that were produced domestically in 1983. This has allowed us […]

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November 18, 2008

Better Pest Management by Richard Lindquist

It’s hard enough to remember yesterday at my age, let alone to predict the future–especially a future 25 years out. As I thought about things like long-range weather forecasts, preseason sports predictions and pre-primary predictions of who the presidential candidates would be, my confidence returned. These predictions–by experts–are for periods as short as three days and as long as a year or more. And those who predict the weather, sports outcomes and the next president are frequently wrong. I might be just as wrong about an even longer period of time, so here are some fearless predictions of events that probably will not happen and why. Aphids, whiteflies, thrips, botrytis, downy mildews, powdery mildews, root rots and more pests will all disappear. Not gonna happen! The same general group of insects–mite and plant pathogen pests–will continue to entertain the next generation, just as they have for past and present generations. […]

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November 18, 2008

Universities Uniting by Paul Fisher

Writing this essay reminded me of “A Christmas Carol.” There are different futures for Extension depending which path we collectively choose to take. When the Agricultural Extension Service was created by Congress in 1914, agriculture was a dominant player in the U.S. economy. Recent trends in global food supply, biofuel and sustainability have led to a “rediscovering” of agriculture by the U.S. media. But agricultural production now represents less than 1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in our service-based economy. If our industry values the outreach and applied research components of Extension in the future, we need to lobby for limited resources against other worthwhile competing societal needs. In the Spanish language there is an expression–no llora, no mama–and it will take a strong collective voice (llorar) to keep Extension services as a high policy priority (la mama). I have been fortunate to work with growers in several […]

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November 18, 2008

Coming Together by Erik Runkle

The floriculture industry in the United States has changed dramatically over the last 25 years, and it will continue to change at an increasing pace. In the early 1980s, the industry was transitioning out of cut flower production and into flats of bedding plants. In 1981, the average wholesale price received for a flat of bedding plants was $4.99. When adjusted for inflation, that’s equivalent to $12.40 in today’s dollars. Yet, the average wholesale price for a flat of bedding plants sold last year was just $8.40. Although bedding plants will remain the bread and butter of floriculture, traditional landscape plantings will continue to erode, and more consumers will purchase instant containerized gardens and indoor plants and flowers for their homes and offices. So What’s Next? To grow our industry and to remain profitable, growers will continue to improve their production efficiencies. Ornamental producers will work together even more, forming […]

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November 18, 2008

Searching For Value by Gary Mangum

Over the next 25 years, fewer growers will likely serve fewer retailers. The process has started, and will likely continue. Acreage will likely be grown significantly, with distribution and grower service evolving each year. More consumers will decorate with flowers and plants, and the connection to outdoor living space and nature will grow, not decline. Big Box Stores With one clear exception, the big box stores (regional and national giants) have worked hard with their growers to improve quality and size options in a way that gives the gardener or decorating consumer a better chance to succeed. As quality has improved, costs and retails have generally risen, but cost and often even breadth of selection remains an advantage enjoyed by this segment as compared to all others. It’s widely acknowledged that this channel, especially Home Depot and Lowe’s, has been responsible for introducing many to gardening who might not otherwise […]

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November 12, 2008

Research Center Established At Altman Plants

Ken and Deena Altman of Altman Plants recently completed construction of a new greenhouse that will act as a scientific research hub for the Center for Applied Horticultural Research (CAHR). The grounds of the facility include a lab to conduct applied plant research and a climate-controlled greenhouse with five individual rooms.  “As a board member of the American Floral Endowment, I have seen firsthand the need for applied research and the great results that come from supporting that research,” Ken says. “I have seen the value that comes from having a time and place to be inquisitive. There is no shortage of issues that need to be solved.” The CAHR is a 501©(3) organization. As a non-profit organization, the CAHR will maintain and manage resources and facilities to carry out applied research based on growers’ and industry needs. Activities are overseen by a board of directors composed of accomplished industry […]

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November 12, 2008

Taishan Marigolds A Standout In Beijing

Taishan marigolds, bred by PanAmerican Seed, won’t be available until 2010 but it already had a season in the sun this summer at the Olympics in Beijing, China, where it thrived amid high humidity and extraordinary heat among more than 200 plants at the games. Taishan was a prominent performer in the landscape at Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest. The plant was named after the Taishan Mountains, regarded as preeminent among China’s five sacred mountains. The Taishan Mountains were elected to the World Heritage List in 1987 and are recognized as a symbol of power in the Chinese culture. Additionally, the Taishan series offers stronger branching for improved landscape performance and delivers excellent, high-impact color. It’s available in three colors: gold, yellow, orange and also a mixture. For more information about PanAmerican Seed’s products, click here.

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November 12, 2008

Wal-Mart Envisions Going Green Globally

Wal-Mart is likely to be one of the last retailers that comes to mind when you think green, but the retail giant is now demanding its suppliers live up to environmentally friendly practices and product-safety guidelines to make that vision come true. To that end, The New York Times reports Wal-Mart recently brought together more than 1,000 of its leading suppliers in Beijing to tell them that big changes were in store. All of the suppliers in Wal-Mart’s universe are soon going to be held to higher manufacturing and operations standards to “build a more environmentally and socially responsible global supply chain” at Wal-Mart. “A company that cheats on overtime and on the age of its labor, that dumps its scraps and chemicals in our rivers, that does not pay its taxes or honor its contracts, will ultimately cheat on the quality of its products. And cheating on the quality […]

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November 12, 2008

Selecta’s Refined Selection

For 2009, Selecta reduced its poinsettia offering for two reasons: easier selection for the buyer, and to make it easier for Selecta to produce the best product it can. There are seven new varieties in the 2009 poinsettia class, and we identified two that got us excited for the holiday season. ‘Christmas Carol White’ Evolution is a new and improved variety to the early finishing Christmas Carol series. This variety is great for color mixed tubs. ‘Christmas Feelings Marble’ Evolution is improved and can be started and grown the same way as all other varieties in the Christmas Feelings series. To see all seven of Selecta’s new poinsettia varieties for 2009, click here.

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November 12, 2008

Ball Wins Award From EPA

Ball Horticultural Co. has been awarded the 2008 Conservation and Native Landscaping Award from the Environmental Protection Agency and Chicago Wilderness, which recognizes park districts, municipalities and corporations that make extensive and creative use of native landscaping. “This is the fourth award Ball Horticultural Co. has been presented with for the Ball Ecological Restoration Project,” says Keith Guimon, who is the coordinator of the Restoration Project.  Ball’s ecological restoration area started in 2001 and has grown into 27 acres of native restoration. Invasive plants have been removed and replaced with native ones, wildlife habit has been restored and walking trials for employees have been created. This area is located in West Chicago, Ill., where Ball’s corporate headquarters reside. An audio tour of the restoration area is also available for visitors. “Many Ball employees have been involved in this project over the years and this success is the result of a […]

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November 12, 2008

Attention Grower-Retailers: New Webcast From Today’s Garden Center

You need information to run your business profitably. Now we have one more feature that can help you deliver. Introducing “Today’s Garden Center Webcasts,” a continuing series of online seminars for garden center professionals from Greenhouse Grower’s sister magazine. The first installment in the Webcast series–”POS & Profitability: Preparing Your Garden Retail Business For Success Over The Next Decade”–will help grower-retailers of any size or experience level understand the benefits a point-of-sale system can bring to an independent garden center. Sandra Hillermann McDonald of Hillermann Nursery & Florist, and David Hanger of Homestead Gardens will discuss the basics of incorporating POS technology in the garden center. They will also share more advanced tips and techniques they have added in their operations and how they have helped shave costs and grow revenues.  Join us from the comfort of your own office on Tuesday, December 9th at 2:00 p.m. EST for this […]

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November 12, 2008

Stepables Names Display Contest Winners

Under A Foot Plant Company and its national brand, Stepables, revealed the names of three independent garden centers that received first place honors in respective plant display categories as part of the second annual We’ve Got Sole contest. The contest included three categories: Best Definitive Display, Best Stepscapes Display and Best Use of Space. The winners include Deneweth’s Garden Center in Macomb, Mich., Natorp’s Mason Garden Store in Mason, Ohio, and Heights Flowers in Peoria, Ill. “One of our primary goals for the contest was to encourage growers, retailers and consumers to ‘Step Forward and Give Back,’ the contest’s theme,” says Fran Hopkins, Stepables president and founder. “These three garden centers really understood the meaning behind the contest and created awesome plant displays I hope will inspire other retailers to try something new and be creative.” Deneweth’s Garden Center won the first-place prize for Best Definitive Display. A check for […]

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November 12, 2008

Van Wingerden On Schedule Despite Summer Fire

Van Wingerden International in Mills River, N.C., held its annual poinsettia open house last weekend despite an accidental greenhouse fire Aug. 10 that had the potential to slow business dramatically. Authorities initially believed the fire was not naturally occurring and later ruled it an accident. However it occurred, Van Wingerden has managed to remain on schedule as the holiday season approaches. The operation managed to obtain replacement plants for all poinsettias that burned, owner Bert Lemkes told The Times-News. Van Wingerden currently has 380,000 6-inch poinsettias. “They never found accelerant,” Lemkes says. The fire burned the last section of one of Van Wingerden’s greenhouses and the loss totaled $2.5 million, including structure damage and the cost of the poinsettias. To read the full Times-News story, click here.

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November 12, 2008

Costa Farms Shares 2009 Plans

Mike Rimland and Marta Maria Garcia of Costa Farms gave editors at Better Homes & Gardens a sneak peak at the new plants and programs being introduced by Costa for 2009 and beyond. Mike shared thoughts by video on how to improve your care for orchids, and Marta Maria shared the operation’s O2 For You story with editors. To watch the video of Mike and read more about their visit, click here.

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November 12, 2008

Ones To Watch: Andy Ambrosio

As part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary, we are profiling people we expect to shape the industry for the better over the next 25 years. Now in its 20th week online, our Ones To Watch series continues with Andy Ambrosio of Wenke Greenhouses in Kalamazoo, Mich. Age – 50 His Job–Andy is sales and marketing manager for Wenke Greenhouses in Kalamazoo, Mich. Years ago, he was district and regional sales manager for the Sony Corporation of America. Andy obtained an MBA from DePaul University. Taking A Unique Path – Wenke focuses a high percentage of its production toward independent garden centers, landscapers and landscape wholesale operations, even though it is one of the largest growers in the country–29th on our Top 100 Growers List. Wenke, of course, also serves its own retail store, and it’s heavily involved with the young plants segment of the industry. Gotta Haves – The keys […]

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November 11, 2008

Learning To Conserve by A.J. Both

Rising energy costs this century have had a particularly severe impact on the greenhouse industry because structures are generally designed for maximum light transmissions and not maximum heat retention. While fluctuations in future energy prices are likely, the general consensus is that prices will remain high. Energy use and management will continue to have a significant impact on our industry. While it is likely conventional and alternative energy sources will continue to be used by the greenhouse industry, new improved energy collection and storage technologies offer the potential for future commercial greenhouses to be net energy producers rather than energy consumers. Conservation The past three decades have shown that before considering the installation of new energy equipment, it literally paid to operate existing energy systems as efficiently as possible. Over the next decades, it is likely the cost of implementing energy conservation measures will continue to be less than the […]

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November 11, 2008

Readying For Next Gen by Al Gerace

A look to the future must start with where we are today and what got us here. Looking at our own firm, Welby Gardens, we’ve had about an eight-fold increase in total revenue over the past 25 years and a five-fold increase in physical plant. What were the major factors behind this growth, and will those trends sustain continued growth? In the mid-1960s Welby Gardens staked out an independent regional marketing course, partnering with independent garden centers and innovative commercial and estate landscapers under the Hardy Boy brand. Welby established a dynamic system of introducing and recognizing new trends at the frontline of active retail and at the cutting edge of both lifestyle landscape and plants that really work at 55 miles an hour. The challenge for the ongoing future is not the “what” or “with whom,” but the “how do we” present our products to capture the imagination of […]

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