After we finished up our visits at California Pack Trials this year, Delilah and I made a stop off at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad. It’s gorgeous–a 50-acre strip of ranunculus in every color you can imagine, an All-American Rose Selections garden and a fantastic fountain garden. More than 150,000 visitors see the Flower Fields every season and pay $8 per adult, $5 per child. Just to look at flowers! It costs more to take some home with you. And the day we were there, it was mobbed. Groups were being driven around on a tractor like a hayride and photographers were lined up along the flower beds to snap photos of little kids surrounded by bursts of color or just for close-ups of singular ranunculus buds.
How do they do it? The hayrides are just the beginning. In addition to the guided tours, the Flower Fields also includes a Sweet Pea Maze–which the adults seemed to be enjoying just as much as the kids–a walk down Ecke memory lane in a historic poinsettia display, composting classes, freshly made kettle corn and, of course, the famous strawberries and shortcake. The Flower Fields isn’t just about flowers. The flowers are the anchor of the Flower Fields, but a trip there is about the entire experience.
What experience does the consumer have when buying your products? Do your plants anchor an experience? A lot of what we saw at Pack Trials was about plants anchoring an experience, first at retail and then at home with the consumer. Marketing and merchandising ideas were everywhere. See a rundown of the ideas presented in our MarketWatch section beginning on page 70.
Of course, the new varieties are the main attraction at Pack Trials. There were some notable ones out there this year, as judged by the esteemed members of our Medal Of Excellence judges panel. The winners of our Medal Of Excellence awards for varieties, including our new Readers’ Choice Award, will be announced at OFA Short Course. Stay tuned!