July 9, 2008

Are Packs The New Black?

OK, so we have had a lot of family stuff these past few weeks – plus I’ve been in the home office working with my head down, so clearly I’m not spending enough time out in real world, because I just drove past the local gas station and a gallon of gas cost $3.79. It had been about $3.25 last I remembered, so first I said a really bad word, because I was surprised and shocked. Then I had to laugh at myself for being an idiot. Of course we will see $4-and-up gas this summer. I’ve clearly spent too much time sleeping in my cave in Florida — old Rip van Winkle would be chuckling at me. I knew that oil passed $120 a barrel. I knew all about sub-prime and the bursting of the residential housing bubble. I could tell ya’ about it in great detail — what the Fed has […]

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July 9, 2008

Breathing Easy Indoors

Refrigerators are stocked with blueberries these days partly because organizations like the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council promoted the fact over the last several years that they’re abundant with antioxidants. Consumers, obviously, bought into the message. Now, Costa Farms is in the early stages of a similar marketing campaign in O2 For You: Plants With A Purpose, a program that’s designed to spread awareness of the dangers of indoor air pollution and educate about the health benefits of having plants in the home and at work. "We want to make plants the new blueberries," says Marta Maria Garcia, marketing manager at Costa. "Many people are not aware of all the pollutants that exist in the indoor air environment – the glue used on rugs, the tint used in photocopying in the office. We should be concerned equally about the indoor environment as we are the outdoors." Considering the information Costa gathered to […]

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July 9, 2008

Content Is Still King

  Whether you know it or not, you are in the content business. “Wrong,” you say. “We sell plants.” Wrong! Supermarkets sell plants, box stores sell plants — and for that reason, too many plants have become just a commodity.   “Wrong,” you say. “We’ve got hundreds of varieties of, well … heuchera!” But for most customers, a heuchera is just another plant with a name they can’t pronounce. However, it becomes more than just a name when you tell the story. They become meaningful when you explain, teach and inform. So if you are still selling plants, you are missing the bigger picture. One of the main reasons people come to you is (I know, you’ve heard it before) to either solve a problem or to seek escape (a more beautiful life). Either way, they need your help. Your help is the years of experience, plant knowledge and design ideas […]

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July 9, 2008

Denver Delights With Daisies

  On Earth Day (April 22), the city and county of Denver unveiled the ‘Denver Daisy,’ a one-of-a-kind flower bred and named in honor of the city’s 150th anniversary. Bred by Benary in Germany, the new flower is derived from Rudbeckia hirta, a flower native to Colorado.   “For our 150th anniversary, we wanted to create a legacy and give something back to Denver,” says Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. “What better gift to the people of Denver than a new flower — one that can be planted every year for generations to come.” Perfectly suited for Colorado’s arid climate, ‘Denver Daisy’ thrives in hot, sunny areas with minimal moisture and quickly develops eye-catching golden flowers with a deep red color circling a dark brown center. Thanks to the support of presenting sponsor Key Bank, 300,000 seed packets were distributed free throughout the city at bank branches, metro-area garden centers, Denver Botanic […]

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July 9, 2008

Dressing Up The Derby

  Proven Winners brought beauty to Churchill Downs this spring as an official sponsor of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks horse races in Louisville, Ky. Greenhouse Grower’s editor and America In Bloom board member Delilah Onofrey and garden celebrity P. Allen Smith got a behind-the-scenes VIP tour. Their hosts were Sharon Gravitt of EuroAmerican Propagators in Bonsall, Calif., and John Backert, director of horticulture at Churchill Downs.   Backert already was a customer of Proven Winners, buying liners from EuroAmerican for Churchill Downs and years before, when he and his wife ran a small growing operation. For the spring kickoff, he grows 30,000 plants to decorate the grounds. A few years ago, he and Gravitt discussed taking EuroAmerican’s and Proven Winners’ participation to the next level as an event sponsor. This was the third year Proven Winners had been an official sponsor of the races. In addition to purchasing […]

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July 8, 2008

Building Trust In A Brand

The Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses story starts six generations ago in a family business in Germany. In 1971, Hermann Engelmann brought part of the business to the United States and brought with him unique ideas on branding for the time: combining all varieties under one branded name, Exotic Angels, and establishing a quality symbol in the industry. In the beginning, Hermann grew plants in his New York City apartment, planting in his bathtub, and sold plants on the street. The idea of a brand was so important that he hand-printed labels for the plant pots. Over the years, brand awareness spread across the country and today, through its Exotic Angel Plants brand, Herman Engelmann markets more than 400 varieties of low-light-acclimated foliage. “Hermann believed firmly, even back then, that the consumer needed a little story behind the item,” says Wolfgang Engelmann, president and COO of Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses. “And he never […]

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July 2, 2008

Bell Nursery Gets Creative With Home Depot

As Mother’s Day and Memorial Day sales passed for Home Depots throughout Ohio, Bell Nursery wanted to wrap up summer sales with a bang for the Fourth of July. To do so, it developed the first Bell Ohio Merchandising Contest with the holiday in mind. Focused on end-cap displays, particularly their design creativity and sales totals, the contest’s themes were Stay-cation and Fourth of July. Judges scored out of a possible 100 points, and categories included creative design, additional signage, best practices and Home Depot involvement. This year’s grand prize winner actually came from Home Depot store 2324 in Crescent Springs, Ky., a city just south of the Ohio border yet located in the Cincinnati market. Of the 21 contest participants, store 2324 accumulated the highest point total and won $1,000. On a broader scale, in an effort to get people to feel good about shopping at Home Depot for […]

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July 2, 2008

Tagawa Gardens Takes Advantage Of TV News

Rain or shine, Tagawa Gardens finds its way onto local television news each day in Denver. The store isn’t always featured on Tribune Broadcasting Channel 2, but the store name can’t be missed as weather anchors introduce their segments from the Tagawa Gardens/News 2 patio that prominently displays the garden center’s name. The opportunity, to say the least, has been an extraordinary one for Tagawa. “It lends a lot of credibility to our store,” says Beth Zwinak, manager of Tagawa. “We have had a long-time relationship with News 2. Their former garden expert used to come here to film live segments from our store several years ago, and we also know some of the anchors who shop at our store.” The weather patio eventually developed from those relationships, and it’s now seen with every weather segment on News 2. The patio is frequently updated with the latest garden color and […]

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June 24, 2008

Listening To Cassandra

I’m writing just after OFA – the Big Kahuna of greenhouse trade shows. There were trends to talk about, but first I want to share my story of Cassandra. Before horticulture, I majored in archaeology in college. Both fields involved being outside digging holes and ancient history has always held a level of fascination. I really believe that in a large sense what we are today is so often what we were in the past. And if you go back far enough in history you will run into Cassandra, a prophetess of Greek mythology fame who had an amazing curse. Cassandra could see the future, but her curse was no one believed her. Perhaps her most famous moment was in the city of Troy, where she said something like, "Do not let the big wooden horsey into Troy. It’s full of bad guys," or words to that effect. What does […]

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June 24, 2008

Need Diversification?

    How are you evaluating your target customers? Are you targeting big box customers or other markets? The recent growth in the big box stores has given horticulture a tremendous lift in the last ten years. The questions must be asked, “Where will the next ten years see healthy markets? Will big boxes lead the way? What other channels will be embraced by consumers?” Here is how a report card called the U.S. stock market has graded our industry’s biggest customers: The Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Lowe’s. In all three cases, the market gives them pretty low grades over their one and three year indexes. Whether this trend continues or not begs the question, how much should we focus on three customers and how much should we focus on diversification? Well-designed diversification reduces risk, increases margins and strengthens business. Even Wal-Mart is diversifying to attract more customers to its […]

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June 24, 2008

Is Fall For Planting?

Ah yes, that is the question. Naturally, if you’ve been anywhere remotely connected to the garden center industry, you would know that indeed fall is for planting (with apologies to the Sunbelt markets, where almost anytime is for planting except in the searing heat of the summertime). Why is fall for planting? It is absolutely proven to be the most effective time of year to plant shrubs and trees, among other things. It certainly is the best time to re-seed a lawn, start a new lawn by seeding or laying down sod. The basic question is what makes it such a good time to plant and the answer is simple. Plants that are put into the ground anytime from late August through late October in most Northern areas (apologies to the Zone 3, 4, and even 5 folks) are treated to a less stressful environment. Generally, rains are sufficient this time […]

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June 24, 2008

Cuts Bloom In Missouri

Cut flower growers are alive and well in Missouri. Not carnations or long-stem roses, but specialty cuts that are field grown in the spring through the fall. Each season brings to market new colors, textures and fragrances in a variety of annuals, perennials, grasses, wild flowers and woody plants. They sell to florists, wholesalers, supermarkets and farmers’ markets. Success Stories •  For 10 years, specialty cuts have built the business of Susan Jones, Wild Goose Gardens. “Our biggest priority is quality and freshness,” she says. Twice a week, she loads her van with fresh cuts for scheduled visits to the florists in Springfield who hand-pick their orders. “They get excited about really fresh flowers they can’t get from other sources,” she says. Some of their favorites are zinnias and lisianthus in the summer and ranunculus and snapdragons in the winter. She also sells to a Kansas City wholesaler. On two acres, […]

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