Perspective: P. Allen Smith

Perspective: P. Allen Smith

Starting out with a regional following, in the last decade P. Allen Smith has emerged as one of the top celebrities promoting gardening and outdoor living. You can find him on television, in books and magazines, on the web and at a number of in-person events, where he has built quite a following as a popular, folksy speaker. We had a chance to chat with Smith this summer to pick his brain on what women want.

GG: Why have you committed to a multimedia consumer engagement?

PAS: What we’re about is trying to help consumers live a fuller life, help them with creating beautiful outdoor living spaces by providing inspirational lifestyle ideas. With that as the goal, we look to every possible media platform. We like to have the same message across all platforms. It helps with our penetration and is a more efficient business approach. We need to try to reach the consumer in different ways. We need to appeal to her lifestyle. What we’re selling is lifestyle. For years it was petunias, azaleas and steel edging. We are an industry that sells lifestyle.

GG: What are consumers looking for today in terms of horticultural products, pursuits and information?

PAS: It’s important for our industry to understand our customer is a woman. We need to listen to what she is telling us. Part of what we do is create focus groups and listen to her. I want to show her inspiring ideas and back those ideas with ways for her to reach those goals. The ideas have to be attainable and achievable. While everyone has a budget and we need to be conscious of dollars, it’s really time that’s the issue. Finding time to do these projects is critical. Our customer seems to have more money than time.


GG: What can we learn from the cooking industry and other lifestyle segments?

PAS: We have a cookbook coming out in December, the sixth book in our series. We recently had our tomato festival that drew 200 people from 14 states for dinner. We showcased Bonnie’s tomatoes and served all fresh vegetables. In vegetables, I’m working with Bonnie Plants and Ferry Morse Seed. We’re bringing green goods into the kitchen. It’s lifestyle, connecting to cooking, something she does every day.
The fashion industry also has taught us a lot. The consumer is used to products being presented a certain way with packaging and messaging. It all needs to be consistent because that’s what she is receiving from other industries.

GG: Is florist-grade merchandise a new direction for you? Your holiday collection makes it easy to choose forms and styles in greenery.

PAS: Florist-grade merchandise lets us set in place a collection of styles that can be used as is. There’s just enough accent on the wreaths and greenery but you can add your own personal touch. We’re always encouraging her to add her personal touch. We’re beginning with the holiday season. She’ll be able to buy through websites. We’re putting partnerships in place to order directly, but we also have wholesale pricing so independent garden centers can order and offer these collections. We’re looking at other holiday collections and are pretty excited about it. We could have a bulb collection and show how you grow them in a container. We’re moving past, “Here’s a bag of bulbs.”

GG: What are you looking for from industry partnerships in select categories of goods?

PAS: They need to be high quality. We partner with the best. The management and ownership needs to understand about the female consumer and recognize the importance of lifestyle.

GG: Do you have any other thoughts on making it easier for consumers to buy horticultural products and simplifying purchase decisions?

PAS: First, you’ve got to inspire, show how to do, make sure it’s doable and achievable. It has to be a positive experience. One of the most damaging things is providing inaccurate information. You have to set realistic expectations. If you suggest a complete front and backyard makeover in a weekend, people walk away and say, “I can’t do that. I can’t have that instantaneously.” Our industry is a process, growing something, enjoying the growing space over time. That’s the message we need to get out, not instantaneous. Sure, you can throw a room together quickly indoors, but it’s harder outdoors. You need to keep their interest and help them manage their expectations.

GG: Are there voids, underserved niches beyond basic commodities? Is our industry doing enough to offer what the consumer is seeking?

PAS: I think they want quality products. We’re answering the price question. Consumers need help with growing, with care and how do I fit it into my life. Show me how and that it doesn’t take a lot of time.

GG: What are the most common questions you get related to plants and flowers?

PAS: The questions have changed in the last 15 years. Before it was, “I have a problem to solve,” the tomato hornworm question. Now it seems to be, “I have this environment and want to change the environment. What looks good with this?” It’s more about the larger picture of how all these things come together to improve our lives. How can I constellate all these products and make my experience more pleasurable? This has been good for our industry. We’ve become much better about putting good information on tags. Retail is a wonderful place to educate, where you can communicate with the customer directly. Or it could be picking up a package with well-done, accurate information.

GG: What advice do you have for growers and garden center retailers who are looking to connect with consumers? How can they be relevant?

PAS: I just see so many people wanting to connect to their community. Become more engaged and more of a presence in your community. Host workshops and benefits with local nonprofits.

P. Allen’s Promotional Partnerships

For the last 10 years, P. Allen Smith has put together a portfolio of industry companies that are supporting his multimedia endeavors as sponsors in select product categories. These include:

New product lines that debuted at the Independent Garden Centers Show at Chicago’s Navy Pier in August include:

–P. Allen Smith’s Platinum Collection of annuals and perennials from Proven Winners.

–P. Allen Smith Edibles beginning with six blueberry varieties from Berry Family of Nurseries. Three are for Southern climates and three are for Northern.

–P. Allen Smith Holiday Collection of wreaths and greenery from the Berry Family of Nurseries.

–P. Allen Smith’s Garden Favorites, an expanded bulb collection from Van Bloem Gardens.

–P. Allen Smith Garden Home Structures from Yardistry that include screens, structures and decorative elements, like arbors and pergolas, for the garden. Cedar kits are easy to build with “Click & Lock Technology.”

–Eco-friendly hanging baskets made from recycled aluminum by Good Earth Manufacturing in Little Rock, Ark.

“These are things for the garden and home that I use in my own projects at the Garden Home Retreat,” Smith says. “These lines are things I know will bring much joy to gardeners all across the world.”

Leave a Reply

More From State of the Industry...
Biocontrols in a Greenhouse

November 3, 2017

Take Greenhouse Grower’s 2018 State of the Industry Survey

Growers and others associated with the greenhouse business often ask the Greenhouse Grower editorial staff where we get ideas for stories. The Answer: You! That's why we're asking you to please take some time to answer our annual State of the Industry survey.

Read More

November 1, 2017

Technology Is Changing the Game for Growers

Technology is sexy. There’s a fervor associated with buying the latest go-go-gadget — and a fear of missing out if we don’t. We all want that latest, most advanced smartphone, home assistant, or wearable tech, no matter the cost. And jobs associated with technology? Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter — offer some of the most competitive and coveted positions on the planet. Just look at the stir Amazon made when it announced it would build a $50 billion second headquarters, with cities from all over North America clamoring to be the one chosen, considering the significant economic potential. Technology and tech jobs are it — and it’s no wonder growers don’t feel jobs in horticulture can compete. But what if they can? If tech jobs are the future and the future of horticulture depends on technology, then we have a real opportunity to seize. Millennials who have grown up […]

Read More

May 23, 2017

USDA-APHIS Bulletin on Unauthorized Distribution of Genetically Engineered Petunias

On May 2, 2017, USDA-APHIS was informed that an orange petunia variety was potentially genetically engineered and had been imported and moved interstate without required authorization by APHIS. This led to testing of numerous petunia varieties, which confirmed this particular variety and several others are genetically engineered, and meet the regulatory definition of a regulated article under APHIS regulations. APHIS continues to work with the industry to ensure unauthorized GE petunias are not distributed in the United States.

Read More
Latest Stories
Biocontrols in a Greenhouse

November 3, 2017

Take Greenhouse Grower’s 2018 State of the Indust…

Growers and others associated with the greenhouse business often ask the Greenhouse Grower editorial staff where we get ideas for stories. The Answer: You! That's why we're asking you to please take some time to answer our annual State of the Industry survey.

Read More

November 1, 2017

Technology Is Changing the Game for Growers

Technology is sexy. There’s a fervor associated with buying the latest go-go-gadget — and a fear of missing out if we don’t. We all want that latest, most advanced smartphone, home assistant, or wearable tech, no matter the cost. And jobs associated with technology? Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter — offer some of the most competitive and coveted positions on the planet. Just look at the stir Amazon made when it announced it would build a $50 billion second headquarters, with cities from all over North America clamoring to be the one chosen, considering the significant economic potential. Technology and tech jobs are it — and it’s no wonder growers don’t feel jobs in horticulture can compete. But what if they can? If tech jobs are the future and the future of horticulture depends on technology, then we have a real opportunity to seize. Millennials who have grown up […]

Read More

May 23, 2017

USDA-APHIS Bulletin on Unauthorized Distribution of Gen…

On May 2, 2017, USDA-APHIS was informed that an orange petunia variety was potentially genetically engineered and had been imported and moved interstate without required authorization by APHIS. This led to testing of numerous petunia varieties, which confirmed this particular variety and several others are genetically engineered, and meet the regulatory definition of a regulated article under APHIS regulations. APHIS continues to work with the industry to ensure unauthorized GE petunias are not distributed in the United States.

Read More

March 2, 2017

Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Whitepaper Avai…

This year’s survey featured a record 975 respondents and tackled topics such as sales trends, technology, major industry challenges and opportunities, and much more.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Webinar

February 27, 2017

State of the Industry Webinar Available for On-Demand V…

The half-hour presentation includes an analysis of Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State of the Industry survey, along with insights from horticulture industry leaders.

Read More

February 11, 2017

Poinsettia Survey Reveals Growers Increased Poinsettia …

On average, growers responding to Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Poinsettia Survey said the poinsettia season was “good,”Here’s a glance at the outlook for poinsettias in the marketplace.

Read More

January 25, 2017

59 New Members of Congress Need to Hear from You, SAF S…

Retailers, wholesalers, suppliers, and growers coming to the Society of American Florists' (SAF) 37th Annual Congressional Action Days, March 13-14 in Washington, DC, have a lot of explaining to do. There are 59 new congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill, and this freshmen class needs a lesson about floriculture.

Read More
bouldin-lawson-pro-sticking-line-at-north-creek-nurseries

January 25, 2017

State of the Industry 2017: Growers are Ready to Invest…

Greenhouse Grower's 2017 State of the Industry Survey revealed that grower investment in technology is imminent due to the cost and availability of labor, to improve efficiency, expand their growing operations, and allow employees to concentrate on higher value jobs that are less labor-intensive.

Read More

January 24, 2017

Growers are an Aging Demographic, 2017 State of the Ind…

Owners and upper management of growing operations in the horticulture industry, not unlike others in agriculture, are aging, according to Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State of the Industry Survey.

Read More
Biocontrols and beneficials absolutely can be used in outdoor production, with the use of banker plant systems

January 24, 2017

Growers Becoming More Sustainable but Most Think Climat…

Greenhouse Grower's 2017 State of the Industry Survey revealed that growers are adopting biocontrols and organic production, yet 58% of growers said they don't believe humans can control climate change.

Read More

January 24, 2017

State of the Industry Survey Says 2017 Will be a Year o…

Growers, suppliers, and researchers who took Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State Of The Industry Survey say they are ready to drive change and profitability in horticultural businesses.

Read More
Moana plant yard

January 4, 2017

Green Industry Poised for Continued Economic Growth in …

Positive economic indicators point to 2017 being a year of modest growth for the green industry, according to economist Charlie Hall.

Read More

January 3, 2017

Growing Optimism for the Horticulture Industry in 2017

With a new administration and a new Congress, AmericanHort's Craig Regelbrugge says the horticulture industry has reason to be cautiously optimistic that regulatory relief could be on the horizon.

Read More
Bees on flowers

October 11, 2016

Bees Endangered? Here’s The Rest Of The Story

Recently, mainstream media reported that certain bee species have been placed on the endangered species list, but the situation isn’t as dire as one might think.

Read More
cuttings-facility

September 27, 2016

How Global Suppliers Of Unrooted Cuttings Are Working T…

The world’s top vegetative producers discuss how they continue to evolve to overcome challenges and embrace opportunities to help growers and the varieties supply chain.

Read More
OSU ATI Greenhouse

September 21, 2016

Your Support Is Essential For Current And Future Studen…

September is back to school time, and that means renewed opportunity to support the young people who are electing to pursue careers in horticulture. I continue to hear from growers of all sizes, from all over the country, that there just are not enough qualified graduates of two- or four-year horticulture programs. We also need to be active in promoting careers in horticulture to those who are not aware of the opportunities available. There have been some great success stories in this area recently. At University of Florida (UF) last fall, Anna Ball and Dr. Marvin Miller of Ball Horticultural Co. joined UF’s Dr. David Clark in an introductory environmental horticulture couse that’s open to any major. After the class, the line of students waiting to talk with Ball, Miller, and Clark was out the door. It is so important, Ball says, for each of us, individually and collectively to […]

Read More
young-plants

September 20, 2016

The Top Young Plant Growers, And Four Critical Challeng…

In Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Top Young Plant Growers Survey, growers discuss the latest challenges and opportunities in fulfillment, shipping, labor, and crop protection.

Read More

August 13, 2016

Plants Sales Are Up For Fourth Straight Year, According…

Growers declared spring 2016 to be a success in Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry: Spring Crops Recap Survey.

Read More