Natives Are A Competitive Advantage At Homestead Gardens

Homestead Gardens Perennial Area
Homestead Gardens’ buyers select native perennials that will not become invasive within its delicate coastal and river region.

Native plant sales have become a big part of our success at Homestead Gardens, due in large part to our location. We are next to the Chesapeake Bay and Severn River near Annapolis, Md. When any of the homes in Anne Arundel County that are along the river begin a landscaping project, they have to reforest with native plants. It’s a county law. Based on the amount of landscaping they do, they have to reforest with many trees and shrubs.

On our website, we have a link to “Marylanders Plant Trees” (trees.maryland.gov), a state-run program that offers tips on the proper native trees to plant along with a coupon to our stores and others that participate in the program.

As a result, we attract a lot of business from these waterfront homes. It’s made natives a category that has increased every year that we’ve been open.

We Commit To The Category

We have two locations: our main store is in Davidsonville and our smaller second store, where I am the nursery manager, is in Severna Park.

At the Severna Park location, I have all the natives in one area where people can shop for that entire category in one spot. I try to give it as much size as any other individual category, although it’s growing quickly enough that it now has more space than my azalea department. It takes up a fair percentage of our plant yard, about 10 percent overall.

I try to display all the native trees with the shrubs. To draw attention to it, we have included concrete statues of a Maryland Terrapin, a popular mascot in our area.

A lot of people are stunned that we have the native selection that we do and how much they can choose from. Most people are used to seeing two to three options at the other stores they might visit. They come here and there’s 50.

Lately, our best-selling varieties are the ones that attract birds, such as serviceberries and viburnums. Any plant that is tied to outdoor birding is becoming more popular. These varieties may include Amelanchier ‘Autumn Brilliance,’ Cornus sericea ‘Baileyi,’ Cornus alba ‘Ivory Halo,’  Viburnum nudum ‘Brandywine’ and Viburnum dentatum ‘Blue Muffin.’

We maintain about the same margin for our native plants that we do for the rest of our materials. Just-in-time deliveries tend to work best for us. We use about 10 to 12 different vendors for this category. All of them offer natives along with several other plant types.

We Help Our Customers Make The Right Decision

Because our county is giving many of our local residents a list of shrubs to choose from, we have a built-in customer base. They simply have to decide which to buy, and we can help them make this decision.

In many cases, they’ll want northern or southern-type native plants, things that don’t handle our conditions well. A lot of it is based on where they grew up around the country. I try to steer them toward trees and shrubs that are hardier for our local climate.

Water restrictions are always possible in our area, although it’s been a few years since they were enacted by the county. If Northern Virginia or Southern Maryland experience a drought during the summer, watering regulations may be put into effect. This is when having those native plants in the landscape can be beneficial.

We will soon be doing more marketing on our website for our native selections. We have a new web designer, and he is creating a section that will list the native plants we carry.

Customer Service After Planting

In the summer of 2002, Homestead Gardens hired Gene Sumi as its garden horticulturist. Sumi, who started working at an early age in his father’s landscape maintenance business in Garden Grove, Calif., had worked for many years with the Behnke Nurseries Company in Beltsville, Md.

Today, Sumi is the educational coordinator at Homestead Gardens, where he manages educational programs to benefit customers and staff. Included in these programs are garden seminars and workshops held on and off the nursery premises, coordinating group tours at Homestead Gardens and overseeing the Golden Spades, a gardening group for senior gardeners that meets monthly at Homestead Gardens’ Davidsonville and Severna Park locations.

Leave a Reply

More From Retailing...
Pollinator-friendly perennials are a big hit with eco-concious consumers

May 27, 2016

Which Pollinator Terms Appeal Most To Consumers?

A team from the University of Florida tested several promotional phrases, from the specific ("butterflies" and "bees") to more general.

Read More
IGC App For 2016 Shows

May 26, 2016

IGC Shows Release Free Apps To Help You Plan For Both The Chicago And Philadelphia Shows

Free event planning apps for each show are now available for download in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

Read More

May 23, 2016

Ian Baldwin Sees Several Garden Trends Developing This Spring

The garden industry consultant reads the mid-spring tea leaves and sees several trends emerging.

Read More
Latest Stories
Pollinator-friendly perennials are a big hit with eco-concious consumers

May 27, 2016

Which Pollinator Terms Appeal Most To Consumers?

A team from the University of Florida tested several promotional phrases, from the specific ("butterflies" and "bees") to more general.

Read More
IGC App For 2016 Shows

May 26, 2016

IGC Shows Release Free Apps To Help You Plan For Both T…

Free event planning apps for each show are now available for download in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

Read More

May 23, 2016

Ian Baldwin Sees Several Garden Trends Developing This …

The garden industry consultant reads the mid-spring tea leaves and sees several trends emerging.

Read More

May 23, 2016

Manhattan’s Urban Garden Center Suffers Second Di…

Two years after a nearby gas explosion destroyed the store in Manhattan's Spanish Harlem, Urban Garden Center had a four-alarm fire that disrupted a popular train route, and the garden retailer is now dealing with an angry community.

Read More
Aerial_view_of_the_Bayer_cross_high_res

May 23, 2016

Bayer Sells Consumer Garden Products Division To French…

The sale to SBM Développement comes just as Bayer AG makes a bid for Monsanto.

Read More
rain on flowers weather FEATURE

May 16, 2016

Industry Consultants Say Early Sales Are Bolstering Poo…

It's been a roller coaster of a spring. Three garden retail consultants, who remain in close touch with more than a hundred garden stores collectively, report on what their clients are experiencing.

Read More
One symptom of Botrytis blight is gray, fuzzy sporulation on foliage and flowers, similar to that shown on the flower of this hibiscus

May 16, 2016

In-Store Plant Care Tips To Teach Your Staff

With the spring season still fresh on our minds, now is the time to reflect on some common disease and pest problems that occur in the garden center, recognize which problems touched your store, and identify solutions to quickly treat and control these problems in the future. Ideal solutions for the retail environment will be fast and effective with a short REI, have labels including edibles and ornamentals, present no or minimal odor and residue, bring no risk of burn or other phyto, and will not present a residual bee hazard. It’s a tall order, but we have solutions that fit the bill for some of the most common diseases and pests. The main foliar disease encountered in garden centers is Botrytis. This ubiquitous disease requires humid/moist conditions and can attack both dying and healthy foliage and floral tissue, producing characteristic gray, fluffy sporulation. Botrytis attacks healthy tissue with as […]

Read More

May 16, 2016

What Garden Retailers Will Want To Check Out At Cultiva…

Planning on attending Cultivate'16 in July? We've tracked down the things you'll want to do, from catching a screening of the documentary "Gangster Gardener" to checking out the new cultivars at The Ohio State University's trial gardens.

Read More

May 10, 2016

Spring 2016 Has Seen Big Sales Increases Despite A Wet …

Cool, wet conditions followed an early spring across much of North America. But customers didn't seem to care as much, and year-over-year sales are enjoying a significant boost, retailers are reporting.

Read More

May 10, 2016

An Internet-Based, Employee-Scheduling Tool Is A Hit At…

Owner John Heaton talks about how the scheduling tool has made life easier for managers and employees.

Read More

May 9, 2016

2015 Garden Sales Jumped 26% Over 2014

The National Gardening Survey is out, and 2015 was a big year in garden sales.

Read More

May 9, 2016

9 Practical Tips To Turn New Gardener Panic To Confiden…

Consultant Ian Baldwin has noticed panicked looks on millennial faces while they shop for plants. They have bought into the concept of outdoor fun with the kids or healthy home-grown food, but matching the dream with reality is another matter.

Read More

May 3, 2016

SNA’s Summer Tradeshow Is Revamped As SEGreen

SNA is hosting a new summer show, SE Green, in Athens, GA. It mixes a conference for Southeast-based landscapers, growers, and retailers, with exhibitors.

Read More

May 2, 2016

A Fire At A New Hampshire Garden Center Challenges Spri…

Petal Pushers Farm in Laconia, NH, suffered a two-alarm fire two weeks prior to Mother's Day Weekend. It is already back up and running, but is scrambling to replace its losses.

Read More

May 2, 2016

Surprise Customers With Over-The-Top Service On Busy We…

Customers coming to your store this weekend expect long lines, crowded aisles, and other annoyances. If you step up and wow them this weekend with great service, you'll have a winning formula: low expectations + high traffic + amazing service = lots of new and repeat customers.

Read More
PMA Floral Anaheim

May 1, 2016

Produce Marketing Association Plans Floral Supply Chain…

The PMA Fresh Connections: Floral events will unveil new market research and trends, while offering insights into the changing landscape of floral retailing.

Read More
Natureworks Monarch life cycle caterpillar FEATURE

April 29, 2016

Do Customers Really Care How Plants Are Grown?

The consumer uprising against neonicotinoids has roiled the industry over the past couple of years. In June 2013, someone applied pesticide to a tree in full bloom, using the product in an off-label manner. That misapplication killed tens of thousands of bees, capturing the attention of activists. A short three years later, that activism has led to policy changes for big chains like The Home Depot and Lowe’s. Several cities and towns across the country have banned the sale of neonicotinoids, as has the state of Maryland. All of this made me curious. How was all the publicity affecting consumer attitudes at local garden stores? Traditionally, customers have shown little interest in how flowering plants are grown, other than they like the idea that they are from a local source. They have been much more particular about food plants than they have ornamentals. So I sent questions out to a […]

Read More

April 26, 2016

How To Host A Spectacular Farm Dinner

Farm-to-table dinners are a great way to connect your customers with a love for nature and growing things. These three green industry companies have had a lot of success with their farm dinners. Find out what it takes to pull one of these dinners off successfully. Advice from Tangletown Garden’s Dean Englemann: You have to be certain you’re matching the ticket price to the experience, make sure you’re exceeding expectations. It can’t just be about the food. You have to deliver the experience. For us, we want to make sure there’s a lasting experience of connecting our food to families and dining. For lack of a better comparison, we want sitting in a field, eating food we grew and created, to be a religious experience. There’s almost a ceremonial aspect to these dinners. We’ve always thought that the shortest distance between the earth and people is the distance between the hand and the […]

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]