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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June 27, 2011

Medical Marijuana: The Three Issues To Consider

Here’s the latest post from Senior Online Editor Sara Tambascio’s Sara’s Green Space blog. I didn’t think I was a conservative, but all this talk about medical marijuana, grow lights and garden centers has me squirming in my chair. I’ve probably been to more Dave Matthews Band concerts than the average person, but I’m still nervous Googling “medical marijuana” on my work computer. What will the IT department think? You’ve probably heard by now that Scotts wants to target the pot market. This news, combined with all the talk about hydroponic production has generated a lot of discussion at our office. Should we cover hydroponics? Our readers have shared their opinions with us. A few retailers say they sell supplies on the downlow. One reader of sister publication Today’s Garden Center said that when customers ask for supplies, staff is told to say, “According to federal law, we cannot sell […]

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June 22, 2011

Cuttings Farms Solidify Broker Relationships

Costa Rica’s Florexpo has joined forces with Ball Horticultural Co. and GroLink will no longer be an intermediary for Athena in Brazil. Ranked at No. 10 on our Top 10 Cuttings Producers report, Florexpo produces between 150-180 million cuttings a year in more than 100 acres of greenhouse production. While its market leadership is in perennials and groundcovers, Florexpo also produces annuals, succulents, herbs and grasses. The farm started out as a cut flower producer and switched over to cuttings and developed that business in North America through a partnership with broker McGregor Plant Sales in Carlsbad, Calif. The program then expanded to include sales with additional brokers, McHutchison and Gloeckner, while McGregor coordinated marketing, variety selection and trials. Florexpo recently dropped McGregor and picked up Ball as a broker partner. "After careful review of our existing relations with brokers, our board of directors decided to continue doing business with […]

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June 14, 2011

Perspective: John Bagnasco, GardenLife

You’d be hard pressed to find someone more in tune with the gardening public and the supply side of our industry than San Diego radio personality and writer John Bagnasco of GardenLife. The program is Southern California’s leading source for gardening advice, sharing scientific breakthroughs and new gardening ideas. He also was an editor and radio personality for Garden Compass. Bagnasco holds a degree in horticultural marketing from Michigan State University. He then went on to be a buyer for some of the nation’s leading garden center chains–Frank’s Nursery and Crafts, the Nurseryland division of Sunbelt Nursery Group and Armstrong Garden Centers. He also knows the mega grower side of things as marketing director for Altman Plants in Vista, Calif. His latest project has been working with Log House Plants and Plug Connection to market and produce the SuperNaturals line of grafted vegetables. GG: What are the hot trends in […]

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June 14, 2011

OFA Short Course Trade Show Sells Out

The OFA Short Course trade show is sold out and a waiting list has been established. More than 550 companies will occupy 1,550 exhibit spaces in the seven-acre trade show. Industry suppliers and attendees from more than 20 countries will participate in the 2011 OFA Short Course, July 912, at the Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. For additional information, contact OFA at 2130 Stella Court, Columbus, Ohio. Learn more onlinea at www.ofa.org.

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June 3, 2011

New Jersey’s Value Of Floriculture Crops Increases

New Jersey now ranks eighth in the nation in expanded wholesale value of floriculture crops, outpacing Pennsylvania and Maryland. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistic Service reports the value of New Jersey’s floriculture crops is up 7 percent from the 2009 mark. “By purchasing the plants grown in the Garden State, consumers are ensured the plants are acclimated to the climate to grow and thrive,” says Douglas H. Fisher, New Jersey’s Secretary of Agriculture. “The purchase also helps support New Jersey’s farmers.” Bedding and garden plants sales were $110.5 million in 2010, an increase of 3 percent from the previous earlier. New Jersey also had $12.4 million in cut flower sales, up from $11.4 million in 2009. “Benefits received from buying produce locally consists of higher quality flowers, less fuel spent on transport and supporting the local economy,” says Dominick Mondi, executive director of the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association. Visit the Jersey Grown website for promoted nursery […]

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May 24, 2011

Home Depot Is Spring King Among Hardware Chains

Despite a miniscule decline in sales, Home Depot’s first-quarter profit rose 12 percent because of its ability to reduce costs. Its rival Lowe’s reports an even bigger drop in first-quarter sales. Lowe’s reports net earnings of $461 million for the quarter, a 5.7 percent decrease from the same period a year ago. Sales for the quarter decreased 1.6 percent to $12.2 billion from $12.4 billion in the first quarter of 2010. “We delivered earnings per share within our guidance for the quarter, despite lower than expected sales,” says Robert A. Niblock, Lowe’s chairman and CEO. “During the quarter, we faced ongoing economic pressures, unfavorable weather conditions and tough comparisons to last year’s government stimulus programs. While we are focused on competing effectively in the current environment, we are also working diligently on our commitment to deliver better customer experiences. We are building momentum in 2011 behind our transformation from a […]

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May 6, 2011

Perspective: Matt Stuppy, President, National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association

Matt Stuppy may be young but he brings a long-term perspective to the greenhouse industry as fifth-generation owner and president of Stuppy Greenhouse Manufacturing in North Kansas City, Mo. He’s also the current president of the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association (NGMA), which brings the structures, equipment and environmental controls segments together. As an agricultural engineer, he has been actively involved in NGMA’s codes and standards committee, which is currently addressing new codes related to energy consumption. GG: How is the business you are running today different than the one your father or grandfather led? MS: The business has been changing ever since it was started in 1873. That’s probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned from our family history. Fortunately, we have had the foresight to change with the industry. We’ve gone from a rose grower to a wholesale florist to a greenhouse design and construction company. The fact that we’ve […]

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May 3, 2011

Standards Committee Hosts Annual Meeting

Leonardo Academy reports that significant progress was made during its fourth national face-to-face meeting of the multi-stakeholder Sustainable Agriculture Standards Committee. Standards Committee members and observers convened at Gap Corporate headquarters in San Francisco, Calif., and those participating remotely were able to join the meeting online. Standards Committee members discussed and then passed motions to approve aligning the principle statements, including criteria, indicators and metrics developed by the economic, environmental and social criteria development subcommittees. These subcommittees play a key role in the standard development process because they are responsible for developing the specific proposed sustainability requirements for their subject areas. These requirements are then reviewed and approved by the Standards Committee. The committee approved the proposal for an agricultural production sustainability plan to support producers in developing their implementation strategies to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Agriculture Standard. They passed motions on proposals for the future tiers and […]

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