Color Is Contagious

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Color Is Contagious

Colorful landscapes attract the attention of gardeners and the media. Today, more businesses have caught the bug to enhance their corporate images with color. This increase in demand from landscapers can extend the growing season and be very profitable for growers.

A stunning example is the corporate headquarters of Missouri Employers Mutual Insurance in Columbia, Mo. The company’s two acres of distinctive gardens include annuals, perennials, native plants, a waterfall and a walking trail. The color prompts complimentary calls to the newspaper and requests to speak at garden clubs.

“We wanted color to compliment our facility. We want to be a good corporate citizen,” says Greg Flippin, grounds manager. “We feel a commitment to give back to the community.”

Missouri Employers Mutual Insurance does indeed. The company is a partner in education, and it plants flowers at a local school for even more color. Plus, employees enjoy relaxing in their beautiful environment.

The company’s landscaper is Creative Surroundings, Inc. (CSI), a business founded on color. An artist with a horticulture science degree, Gloria Gaus added color to her first landscaping contract. Soon, businesses were calling to request her services and today, her staff includes horticulturists, a landscape designer, Master Gardener, irrigation technician and state-licensed pesticide applicators. CSI designs, plants and maintains exterior and interior landscapes for 50-plus companies. Its distinctive designs have won many awards.

Gaus works closely with local growers who trial and recommend plants. “We like tried and true varieties with continuous bloom, less deadheading, low maintenance, disease resistance and texture,” she says. “They must look good at 40 miles per hour.” Favorites are Misty Lilac Blue Wave petunias, Zenith marigolds and Profusion zinnias.

“Her crop timing helps me,” says Jeff Oberhaus, owner of Vintage Hill Farm & Nursery. After his retail sales peak at Mother’s Day, he uses space to finish cell packs and 4-inch pots for her to plant in May. “Gloria is open to the unusual, such as Prairie Sun rudbeckia and Brittoniana ruellia for texture.” Exposure of his plants in corporate landscapes increases inquiries and his retail sales.

Bob Trinklein of Trinklein Brothers Greenhouses enjoys working with landscapers like CSI. It’s profitable.

“Landscapers have contracts to fill regardless of the season. Their orders can fill my empty space,” he says. “Plus, they want large pots of instant color and are willing to pay a fair price for quality plants.” Trinklein supplies pansies in the spring and mums in the fall.

Shelter Insurance was a pioneer in colorful landscaping in Columbia. Its decorative five acres are a destination for enthusiastic gardeners. Their walking trail winds to well-labeled trials, lily ponds, a waterfall, a garden for the visually impaired, roses, cactus and thousands of annuals and perennials.

Joy Long, in-house landscaper for Shelter, designs and manages planting and maintenance. She researches catalogs and visits trials for unusual varieties that resist root rot and perform well in Missouri’s tricky soil, weather and ice. Local growers supply the plants. Current favorites are ‘Supertunia Vista Bubblegum’ petunias, Cora vinca, sweet potato plant, lantana and coleus.

“Working with landscapers is easier than with homeowners,” nurseryman Bart Piotter says. “They are hort trained, knowledgeable and know what they want and when.” Piotter selects perennials, trees and shrubs with proven performance in his trials and other trials.

Colorful landscaping is contagious. Columbia caught it. When America in Bloom judges visited this year, they found color has sprouted at offices, hospitals, banks, restaurants, strip malls and on street corners planted and maintained by Adopt A Spot volunteers. Even Wal-Mart added landscaping with color at its store.

Color increases demand and profitability for growers who recommend and supply cultivars with performance, constant color, and lower maintenance to landscapers. Catch the bug!

Mary Lu Parks is a garden writer in Columbia, Mo. She can be reached at maluparks@centurytel.net.

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