February 25, 2009

Park Brothers Launches New Consumer Website

Park Brothers Farm has launched a new consumer website dedicated to the branded Charley’s Vegetables line. The site explains that Park Brothers “started this website to help new and veteran gardeners grow successful gardens full of tasty vegetables.” Users can search for information on specific vegetable crops (cucumber, cantaloupe, eggplant, etc.) and uses a chatty tone to speak to consumers on a more personal level.

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February 19, 2009

Proven Winners Idea Book Wildly Popular

Proven Winners has been promoting its Gardener’s Idea Book in January and February ads in major consumer publications with great success. All told, they have received more than 21,000 requests for the free book, which features colorful inspirations for mixed containers. Those numbers are three times the amount of people who requested the books during the same period last year, so members of Proven Winners are optimistic for a great gardening year. The top six sources for requests are: Star Radio in San Diego, Backyard Living magazine, KIIS radio in Los Angeles, Martha Stewart Living magazine, Country Living magazine and P. Allen Smith’s Newsletter. Check out an online version of the book here. Proven Winners also asked consumers about their anticipated spending for the spring, and the results were very encouraging. More than 56 percent of those who responded said they would buy more plants than last year, while nearly […]

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February 11, 2009

Empower With Plants & Flowers

So much of what is going on in the world is just beyond our control. As an industry, we have an opportunity to help people transform their homes and yards into sanctuaries for calm, beauty, enjoyment and resilience during these trying times. While our national and local economic recoveries will take many years, a home can be transformed, brightened and productive in a single season. The first Saturday in February, I attended Cleveland Botanical Garden’s fourth annual Sustainability Symposium to learn more about our region’s most passionate gardeners. I had attended two years ago and was wondering if the interest would be as strong and what the audience would be most interested in. In the trade, the consensus seems to be sustainability is not as important when people are pinching their pennies, that saving money trumps all other interests. But this was a more affluent group of gardeners and community […]

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February 10, 2009

Taking It To The Teleflora Ad

Appalling? Genius? Downright awful? Whatever you thought about Teleflora’s 30-second Super Bowl commercial, it got people talking. In fact, it was among the most talked-about ads in the week after the big game. First off, if you haven’t seen the ad, watch it here. The commercial debuted during the second quarter of the February 1 game, and its premise is that hand-arranged flowers are a better value than flowers delivered in a box. We asked our readers what they thought of the commercial in last week’s eNewsletter, posing five choices to them in our Benchrunner Barometer. The choices were (1) I loved it; (2) I liked it; (3) I thought it was OK; (4) I hated it; and (5) I didn’t get it. Judging from the poll results, the commercial was apparently OK. Thirty-nine percent of respondents thought the ad was OK, 19 percent hated it and 18 percent didn’t […]

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February 10, 2009

Industry Segments Duke It Out

Teleflora isn’t the only company competing for Valentine’s Day commissions or sales the wrong way this year. GivingPlants.com, which teams with growers to bring flowering potted plants to consumers, deliberately attacks the Colombia cut flower business–a V-Day competitor–in a video that appears on its website and YouTube. You can view the 60-second video titled “The True Story of Cut Flowers” here. The video is just another example of an ad campaign of one company that attempts to undermine another segment’s product without promoting the benefits of its own. GivingPlants.com has a great website and beautiful products, and it should build a campaign centered around that. It’s unfortunate many U.S. cut flower growers have been affected by the growth of the Colombian market, but the Valentine’s Day message we should be delivering is to buy more plants and flowers, regardless of who supplies them. If a consumer chooses to buy cut […]

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February 10, 2009

Positioning Your Products For V-Day

Roses don’t necessarily have to dominate the floral scene come Valentine’s Day. A good-looking product, like the African violets Holtkamp Greenhouses packaged in pink sleeves this year, can drive sales–even for plants that aren’t traditionally marketed for Valentine’s Day. Holtkamp planned to ship the violets on Monday and Tuesday of this week in packs of 30 as part of a “super special.” It was selling them for $1.35 each, plus boxing and shipping, and making them available Thursday and Friday.

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February 10, 2009

The Cart Compromise

Imagine a woman in search of great plants at a garden center. Maybe she simply needs plants to fill out her garden. Maybe she’s in search of great-looking blooming potted plants for the back porch. Whatever the woman seeks, she’s on the prowl. She locates the plants she wants from a distance after only a few minutes in the garden center. There are a bunch of them seated on a rack. Having found the plants she originally sought, the woman feels relieved. But then she sees a problem: Up close, the plants barely resemble themselves. Because the plants are wedged tightly between the rack’s shelves, there’s little room for them to breathe–let alone bloom. The plants are withering, stricken from lack of sunlight and parched from days without water. What she thought was a true find is more like a dud. So, disappointed, she turns away, wondering why she made […]

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February 3, 2009

Rough Brothers Retooling Online

Rough Brothers Greenhouses added several useful components to its website over the last few weeks, including an ask-the-experts forum and an online parts catalog featuring the company’s most popular parts, components and equipment. You can pose your structures questions on the new forum at www.roughbros.com/forum. Experts will answer questions on design, construction, operation and maintenance, among other things. You can browse the questions already asked, or post a response to a previously asked question. The online parts catalog, meanwhile, can be accessed here (http://roughbros.thomasnet.com/). You can view Rough Brothers’ curtain systems, cooling and ventilation, glazing, heating, steel tubing, aluminum profiles, lighting, controls, irrigation, benching, fasteners and accessories.

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February 3, 2009

Virginia’s ‘Beautiful Gardens’

A horticultural association in Virginia has created a new plant introduction program for 2009 called Beautiful Gardens, complete with promotional materials for independent retailers. The introductions are all tested across the varied climatic zones throughout Virginia to ensure customers are successful with the plants they buy. The program, created by the Virginia Nurserymen’s Association Horticulture Research Foundation Inc., is available to independent retailers in Virginia and was made possible through partial funding from a local grant. The group established 1-acre test sites in Glade Spring, Halifax County and Blacksburg, as well as at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. The plants in the program so far include the following:–Cercis chinensis ‘Don Egolf,’ Chinese Redbud –Helleborus x hybridus Pine Knot Strains, Lenten Rose –Agapanthus x Monmid ‘Midknight Blue,’ Lily of the Nile – Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake,’ Oakleaf Hydrangea –Ilex x ‘Virginia,’ Holly –Thuja x ‘Steeplechase,’ Arborvitae –Buxus x ‘Green Velvet,’ Boxwood –Stokesia laevis […]

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January 23, 2009

White Flower Farm Kicking Off Spring With Contest

White Flower Farm recently released its Spring 2009 catalog with more than 145 tomato varieties, and it’s taking tomatoes a step further this year with its Great Tomato Celebration Recipe Contest. The grand prize is a trip to White Flower Farm in Litchfield, Conn., where the winner will spend a day at the nursery working in the gardens, visiting the greenhouse and touring the property. Recipes must be original, and fresh tomatoes must be a key ingredient of the recipe. A written description of what makes the dish tasty must be included, and each contestant may submit up to three recipes. For more information, visit www.whiteflowerfarm.com. Entries are due March 15, and winners will be notified by the end of April. To enter, email entries to [email protected] or send by mail to: Tomato Recipe Contest White Flower Farm P.O. Box 50 Litchfield, CT 06759-0050 Christopher Kimball, publisher and editor of […]

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January 23, 2009

Colors To Look For Come Spring

Ball Horticultural Company took a look late last year at consumer color preference information and published data from leading forecasters. It concluded rich shades of purple, energetic shades of yellow and bright accents in orange will be the hottest color trends this spring. “Color has always been the number one factor in what people purchase,” says Diane Hund, director of marketing for Ball. Here are three varieties from Ball that match the color preference the company expects consumers to gravitate toward come spring: Purple ‘Purple Flash’ ornamental pepper has striking flashes of bright purple foliage among the dark leaves that contrast well with small, glossy black fruit. These heat-tolerant plants are great for mixed containers and in-ground plantings. Yellow ‘Lucky Pot of Gold’ lantana has a unique compact habit that makes this item a top choice for small pots, baskets and mixed containers. Lucky’s gold tones will give gardeners energy […]

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January 21, 2009

Smart Marketing Tops TPIE Agenda

Health and beauty go hand in hand. The ability and importance of marketing and selling products that promote both was one of the main takeaways from the 2009 Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) last week at the Broward County Convention Center in Ft. Lauderdale. “Tag It Tropical” was this year’s show theme for the annual industry gathering, which is known for a trade-show floor with aisle upon aisle of awe-inducing colorful foliage. The three-day event presented by the Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association dedicated a healthy portion of its conference programming to inspire attendees to look beyond a plant’s form, and focus more on its function. To Your Health There is plenty of research to back the benefits of plants. The ability to help produce the very air we breathe should be enough reason to want plants around at all times. Over the years, these kinds of studies and […]

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