December 27, 2011

Take The Guesswork Out Of Plants

Take a stroll through Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma or even ABC Carpet in New York City, and observe what’s around you. What are you looking for? The answer is a story. It’s that story, told in colors, textures, marketing and promotions material and through customer service, that sells the products in those stores. And, it’s where growers can really take a page from the home furnishings industry. Growers can use stories to convey the message that plants really aren’t as difficult as they seem. They can also learn how to satisfy a picky retail customer and the key to separating quality from price. Judy George, a longtime home furnishings retailer who now has her own line of products (Judy George International), excelled at changing the way customers viewed purchases of big-ticket items like furniture. In fact, as CEO of home furnishings retailer Domain, she traveled the country to ask women […]

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December 22, 2011

State Of The Industry 2012: An Overview

Greenhouse Grower surveyed more than 100 readers online late last year, asking growers about their annual sales, their sales expectations for this year and how they’re coping with labor costs. The typical grower who took our survey, as you’ll see in this whitepaper, is the Midwestern grower/retailer with less than 50,000 square feet of greenhouse space. But we generated feedback from growers throughout the United States and of all sizes and kinds (e.g., grower/retailer, wholesale grower, young plant grower). Data in this whitepaper is, however, presented in three forms, reflecting: 1. Growers of all sizes 2. Growers with more than 500,000 square feet of greenhouse space 3. Growers with less than 500,000 square feet of greenhouse space For example, growers with more than 500,000 square feet and those with less than 500,000 differ on the factor that will be most important to their success in 2012. The majority (69.2 percent) […]

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December 6, 2011

A Look Back On 2011 Sales

More than 100 readers took a recent survey with questions about their 2011 sales and their sales expectations for next year. Looking back on 2011, the majority of those surveyed (61 percent) say their sales were up this year compared to 2010. Nearly 20 percent of those surveyed say sales were only up less than 5 percent; nearly 19 percent say their 2011 sales were up between 5 and 10 percent over 2010; 7 percent even say their sales were up more than 20 percent over the previous year. Still, a number of growers experienced poor spring weather and, consequentially, poorer sales than 2010. More than 13 percent of those surveyed say their sales were down at least 10 percent compared to 2010. “Record rainfall in 2011 killed spring traffic,” says a Midwest grower/retailer with less than 50,000 square feet of greenhouse space. “Hopefully 2012 will be a little […]

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December 6, 2011

Your 2012 Sales Expectations

Setting a lofty goal to boost sales by more than 10 percent next year? You’d be in the minority judging from results of a recent Greenhouse Grower survey, in which 29 percent of growers indicate they expect sales to be up 10 percent or more. The largest percentage of growers surveyed (34 percent) expects sales increases to range between 5 and 10 percent next year; about 16 percent expect sales to be up less than 5 percent while 12 percent expect flat sales. Only a handful of growers are forecasting sales declines in 2012. Greenhouse Grower also recently asked growers about the factor that’s most critical to their 2012 success. In recent years this question has been a point of contention for growers. Some argue the weather is the most critical factor – and always is – while others say the economy has had a huge impact on the greenhouse […]

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November 9, 2011

Vegetable Gardening Gaining Momentum Behind Burpee

Burpee and "I Can Grow" have created more than a dozen community and school gardens across the U.S. Burpee Home Gardens is now accepting applications for the 2012 “I Can Grow” Youth Garden Award. Now in its third year, the program continues to support urban school and community gardens in cities across the United States and build awareness of the Burpee Home Gardens brand. Success stories from last year’s program include the Waterford School District near Detroit, whose garden yielded nearly 1,000 pounds of vegetables donated to a nearby hunger relief organization. Plants were made available to Waterford through Bogie Lake Greenhouses in Michigan. To date, the Burpee Home Gardens “I Can Grow” program has provided more than 8,000 vegetable and herb plants and created 16 community and school gardens nationwide. “We’ve seen interest in school vegetable gardens gaining momentum from coast to coast. Burpee Home Gardens recognizes the importance […]

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August 29, 2011

Growers: Hurricane Could Have Been Worse

Anthony Van Hoven was driving to pick up his brother in Washington, D.C., when the 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the area around Battlefield Farms in Rapidan, Va. Van Hoven, Battlefield’s president, didn’t feel the earthquake while he was driving. His operation felt it, though, along with the impact of Hurricane Irene last weekend. Fortunately, the earthquake caused minimal damage and the hurricane really didn’t affect Battlefield at all. “The earthquake just freaked everybody out, breaking some water mains and pipes attached to the buildings,” Van Hoven says. “Besides that it didn’t do too much–just cosmetic damage. It was more scary than detrimental.” A number of other growers along the East Coast feel as fortunate as Van Hoven after Hurricane Irene came through. Peace Tree Farm experienced wind gusts as high as 50 miles per hour in Kintnersville, Pa., but because owner Lloyd Traven and his team thoroughly prepared, the operation avoided […]

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August 15, 2011

Penn State Student Earns AFE Scholarship

Penn State University’s Amy Hinkle has been selected for the second year in a row as the winner of the American Floral Endowment’s BioWorks IPM/Sustainable Practices Scholarship. Hinkle is majoring in horticulture science with a minor in agribusiness Management. Her special interests are in floriculture, greenhouse management and retail horticulture. Hinkle is working this summer at Tschetter’s Flowers of Oskaloosa, Iowa, a small, family-run floral farm that grows specialty cut flowers. As the head employee, Hinkle manages the field crew three days a week and delivers flowers to florists two days a week.

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August 1, 2011

BFG Buys Wetsel, Inc.

Horticultural distributor Wetsel, Inc., was acquired by BFG Supply today. Celebrating its 100-year anniversary, Wetsel distributes a full line of horticultural supplies spanning lawn and garden, grower inputs and turf and vegetable seed in 14 states in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest from its warehouses in Virginia and Pennsylvania. “We at Wetsel look forward to the future opportunities this joining of two great companies offers,” says Jon Oliver, who manages Wetsel’s supplies for growers. Based in Burton, Ohio, BFG Supply Co. serves growers from 14 fully stocked service centers covering a 17-state region and has become the largest horticultural distributor in the Midwest.

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July 26, 2011

Sunnier Days Ahead After Stormy Spring

Spring brought some of the most inclement weather we have seen in 10 years, with unusually cold temperatures and rain across most regions of the United States. In some areas, the season did not start until mid-May. In some regions, the season started and stopped three or four times. Those who fared the best were companies that could respond with good product whenever the weather broke, good selection and precision distribution. From all of those I talked to, the only part of the country that had a somewhat normal window of opportunity was the Deep South. And even then there were periods of stopping and starting. Contract growers may have been most affected. Word has it there were a lot of contracts that were not delivered because the weather-related issues stalled sales and the merchandise was not needed. With the poor weather conditions so widespread, it was difficult to sell […]

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July 25, 2011

Perspective: Jason Parks, Parks Brothers Farm

An independent retailer who dismisses the box stores as a threat these days is in need of an awakening. Considering the strides the box stores have made in their garden centers the last few years, the Home Depots, Lowe’s and Walmarts in your area are as big a threat as ever to the health of the independent garden center channel. Jason Parks, the operations manager at Parks Brothers Farm in Van Buren, Ark., is well aware of this growing threat to IGCs. As a Top 100 Grower and the largest greenhouse operation in Arkansas, Parks Brothers has built much of its business around independent garden centers in the South. Parks, therefore, is a big proponent of IGCs continuing to differentiate themselves from their big box competition. We caught up with Parks recently to get his perspective on the health of the independents in his region and pick his brain about […]

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July 6, 2011

Adrian Bloom Has A Passion For Perennials: Industry Achievement Award Winner

So much of what we take for granted in today’s perennials market we owe to the pioneering efforts of a globally influential plantsman, Adrian Bloom of Blooms of Bressingham. Whether it’s investing in the best plants and rewarding breeders for their efforts, using micropropagation, establishing a retail brand for plants or re-envisioning the landscape, for 35 years, Bloom has been ahead of his time. The original Blooms of Bressingham nursery was founded 85 years ago by Adrian’s father, Alan Bloom, in Oakington, Cambridge in the United Kingdom. It was moved to Bressingham 20 years later. Together, the Blooms built a worldwide recognition for perennials, which included breeding and selecting more than 200 plants, many of which are still in production today. A few of the most popular include campanula ‘Blue Waterfall,’ crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and geranium ‘Rozanne,’ which launched at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2000 and became the Perennial Plant […]

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June 28, 2011

Dutch Breeder Builds North American Presence

Already a global giant in young plants and cuttings, Beekenkamp is an up-and-coming breeder specializing in blooming potted plants, notably begonias. During the European Flower Trials, we visited with Sales Manager Martijn Kuiper, who will be growing Beekenkamp’s presence in the United States and Canada. Growers were first introduced to Beekenkamp varieties through Floremara, a joint venture between Beekenkamp and Holtkamp Greenhouses. Now Beekenkamp will be working with additional brokers, including Express Seed, McHutchison, McGregor Plant Sales, Norseco and Northern Innovators. The Waterfall pendulous begonias have been a big hit so far, including the bright orange ‘Encanto Falls.’ Other items include a full line of Elatior begonias and poinsettias, dahlias, asters, helleborus, lavender, celosia and New Guinea impatiens. Beekenkamp will have a booth at the OFA Short Course and Kuiper will be visiting growers and field trials this summer. His plans are to move to the United States and build […]

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