October 14, 2010

Ten Pitfalls To Avoid When Going Social In The Business World

If you were to make a list of up-and-coming business trends, social media strategies would be near the top. Barry Libert, author of the new book Social Nation: How to Harness the Power of Social Media to Attract Customers, Motivate Employees, and Grow Your Business,” offers 10 guidelines companies should follow so their social strategies don’t fall flat: Pitfall No. 1: Running a Social Nation like a traditional business. If you want to run a social company, you first need to understand that almost everything you do is a two-way street. That is to say, you’re not going to prosper if your products and services are designed solely by folks on the inside. You need to embrace the perspectives and contributions of your employees, as well as those of customers and partners.   Pitfall No. 2: Underinvesting in social initiatives and abandoning them too soon. Understand that a Social Nation […]

Read More

October 5, 2010

The Entitled Generation

Holly Pasmore refers to today’s youth as the entitled generation, a group of kids who sit on their butts, play video games for countless hours and expect others to cater to their needs night and day. Forget about digging in the dirt or playing in the garden. It’s hard enough motivating kids to get off the couch or eat something healthy than expect them to take an interest in our industry. “Most of the young generation thinks everything should be given to them–even sports trophies,” says Pasmore, a grower at Bear Creek Farms in Stillwater, Okla. “Everybody who plays gets a trophy because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Now, nobody has to try to earn those trophies.” And because ideas like trophies for all have been accepted, the notion of hard work equaling rewards is unknown. Or at least undervalued. So where will our industry, one rooted in […]

Read More

October 4, 2010

America In Bloom Announces Winning Cities

Just as summer turns to fall, the cities who planted America In Bloom in their towns this spring reaped the rewards of their efforts at the Ninth Annual America In Bloom Symposium & Awards Program in St. Louis last week. America In Bloom is an independent nonprofit organization that plants civic pride by engaging municipalities and their citizens in educational programs and organizing a national competition to recognize communities for their efforts. More than 180 towns have participated to date, including nearly 30 this year. Each participating town was judged on eight criteria: floral displays, urban forestry, landscaping, turf and groundcovers, tidiness, environmental awareness, heritage preservation and community involvement. Specially trained judges visited towns of similar populations and spent two days touring the town, meeting municipal officials, residents and volunteers: The population category winners were announced at the banquet Saturday night. Garden celebrity Joe Lamp’l of Growing A Greener World […]

Read More

September 16, 2010

Reader Reaction: Industry Disconnect

OFA President Danny Takao reacts to Associate Editor Kevin Yanik’s September column on how botanical gardens are losing their identity with consumers: The way our industry is evolving, a lot of our growers don’t fully understand the impact America In Bloom and the botanical gardens will have on our industry if we don’t support them. There is going to be a major disconnect with the next set of gardening consumer if we don’t start thinking about what we need to do, and start doing it now. I’ve heard the theory: wait ’til they reach the right age and they will start buying our plants. I think that is a pretty risky philosophy on which to base our future. Think about this: We know how to stick a cutting, put roots on that cutting in 10 days and almost exactly when that cutting will be flowering. But do we really know […]

Read More

September 8, 2010

Hostas For Heroes And GreenCare For Communities

Perennial producer Walters Gardens in Zeeland Mich., is donating 25 cents for every hosta ‘American Hero’ it sells to GreenCare for Troops, a program by Project Evergreen that provides landscaping services to military families. Tough and durable like the soldiers it honors, this hosta displays bold variegation all season long. Its leaves have wide, dark-green margins and a creamy white center speckled with green. GreenCare for Troops registered its 10,000th military family in the second quarter of 2010. Through May 31, 1,056 military families registered this year alone to have their lawns managed by local participating lawn care professionals. April was a particularly strong month for new registrations, when more than 400 military families signed up for the program. The rise in participation is attributed to the cause being featured in late February on the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs with celebrity host Mike Rowe. In the three-month span following the […]

Read More

August 31, 2010

America in Bloom Program Coming to St. Louis

St. Louis has been selected as the site for the 2010 America in Bloom Symposium & Awards Program. This national conference, to be held at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark September 30-October 2, will draw hundreds of community leaders and active citizens from across the United States.   As a way to give St. Louis-area communities an introduction to the America in Bloom program, a special series of three sessions will be held on Friday morning, September 30. They can be attended at no cost. Sessions include: –”What is America in Bloom”–an overview of AIB and how the program works;–”What AIB Participation Does for My Town”–a panel of mayors and civic leaders discussing the program’s benefits;–”How to Get Started with AIB”–a panel discussion offering advice to first-time participants. To register for these free sessions, call America in Bloom at 614-487-1117. Attendees must pre-register for the complementary sessions. Space […]

Read More

August 9, 2010

Longwood Gardens’ New Online Plant Finder

Longwood Gardens launched a new function on its website called Plant Explorer, which allows users to search for varieties they saw at the famed gardens site in Kennett Square, Pa. Visitors can search for variety descriptions, as well as garden features and take a tour of the 1,000-acre grounds and its 11,000-plus plants. Visitors to the website also can find out what’s in bloom currently at the gardens, or do a plant search to find out when specific varieties bloom. Find out more by going to the Plant Explorer site, or visit LongwoodGardens.org.

Read More

August 3, 2010

Are We Essential?

We spend so much time telling ourselves we are the original green industry that we often fail to consider exactly how green we are to industry outsiders. Yes, our products are oxygen machines. And a number of growers produce their oxygen machines so sustainably that their stories should be shared with the world. The truth, however, is the world doesn’t know our great sustainability story. And, as several of this year’s Seeley Conference speakers pointed out, the world definitely doesn’t consider us the original green industry. A simple Wikipedia search for “green collar worker,” for example, references green building architects, ecology educators and even environmental lawyers as green collar workers. Greenhouses and growers are found nowhere in the search–perhaps because we’re an ornamental industry, and ornamentals are associated with non-essentials. As much as we believe ornamentals are essential, the world’s current perception is that it can do without us. It’s […]

Read More

July 27, 2010

Growing Teams And AIB

The village of Warwick, N.Y., has a vibrant downtown business district. That vibrancy continues to grow and has brought many unique opportunities and even some surprises to the townsfolk and four area garden centers. One of the grower-retailers spearheading this effort is Deborah Sweeton, owner of Generals Garden and TechniGrowers Greenhouses. In 2003, a small group of interested citizens formed a committee and entered the America in Bloom (AIB) competition in 2004 and Warwick won its population category. They have continued their efforts every year since, even without the competition as an impetus to keep going. In fact, this year they are entering the International Communities in Bloom Competition and will compete with Canadian and European towns in their population category. This summer, Warwick will compete against Aylmer, Ontario; Boissevain, Manitoba; Hampton, New Brunswick; Nieuwport, Belgium; Pembroke, Ontario; Pitlochry, United Kingdom; and Quesnel, British Columbia. Awards will be presented in […]

Read More

July 23, 2010

Stepables Changing Up Look For 2011

Under A Foot Plant Company has updated the recognizable Stepables foot shape tag for 2011, and new, colorful signs and bench tape have been added to strengthen the visual impact of the brand on consumers. Redesigned tags have two new features. First, the popular spokesperson for Stepables, the charismatic Happy Guy, is now fully dressed, as he had been naked for the last 10 years. Secondly, a new, easy-to-understand, color-coded identification system has been designed on the tag and on POP signs to help consumers with their landscaping requirements. Match The Dot To Your Spot points out to consumers how to match the colored dots on their tags to the color-coded landscape application for each Stepables plant on the sign. The new system was designed to help consumers identify with the color-coded pictures, which will in turn, make it easier for them to Find The Right Plant For The Right […]

Read More

July 22, 2010

Meet AIB In St. Louis

If you’re a grower, you have at least two great reasons to go to St. Louis this fall. One is to brush up on and perfect your plant production skills at the OFA Disease, Insect & Plant Growth Management Conference, Sept. 28-29. The second is to learn how your business can benefit from planting America In Bloom in your market during the ninth annual America In Bloom Symposium and Awards Program, Sept. 30-Oct. 2. Both events will be hosted at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark in the heart of a beautifully planted downtown. For nine years, growers and garden center retailers have led the way in getting their cities involved in the America In Bloom (AIB) competition. To date, nearly 200 towns and cities from 38 states have participated, touching a population base of more than 20 million people. Cities compete in population categories and a pair of […]

Read More

July 22, 2010

Perspective: Don Blume, The Home Depot

Lawn and garden continues to be a hot growth category for The Home Depot, which has nearly 2,000 stores in the United States and Canada. Divisional Merchandise Manager Don Blume has been at the helm directing live goods sales for the last five years. He works closely with a dozen merchants who are in the trenches with growers and store managers executing programs each season. Prior to coming to Home Depot, Blume worked for another large retailer, Kmart, for 28 years–14 years in the stores and then 14 years in the buying office. Seven of those years were in plant sales. In this exclusive interview, Blume shares the strides growers and the stores have made and what’s next. GG: How have the last five years been a transformation in how growers are working with The Home Depot? DB: Growers are utilizing our point of sale data more today than years […]

Read More