For the second year in a row, the National Garden Bureau (NGB) hosted five popular garden bloggers and writers on an informative and educational trip to California Spring Trials.
Garden writers as a group are very important to the industry, says NGB Executive Director Diane Blazek, as they are key communicators with the gardening public. Following last year’s success, another five influential bloggers made the trip in 2016 to gather information they can use for the next year or two in their individual blogs, stories, books, and more.
The garden communicators attending the 2016 Spring Trials were:
• Amy Andrychowicz, Minnesota: “Get Busy Gardening”
• Kylee Baumlee, Ohio: “Our Little Acre”
• Melinda Myers, Wisconsin: “Melinda Myers Growing Among Friends”
• Jenny Peterson, Texas: “J Peterson Garden Design”
• Christina Salwitz, Washington: “Personal Garden Coach”
Here’s how each of this year’s attendees, in their own words, describe their impressions of the event and the varieties and products they saw:
“The breeders showed us just how devoted they are to making life easier for gardeners of all skill levels and interests. I was impressed to see how much thought they are putting into introductions for drought tolerance, disease resistance, and growth habits that suit today’s shoppers. Even the labeling on the containers and tags has come so far. They are making it simpler than ever for customers to pick up a plant and quickly see what it needs. I’m excited to be able to inform readers about the focus on edibles that are functional and beautiful, as well as those plants with drought tolerance and hardiness for all kinds of climates.”
“I was really amazed at what goes on behind the scenes to get a new plant to the consumer — it’s a much longer and more detailed process than I would have imagined. As a designer, I am often focused on the end product and how to incorporate it into a landscape, but I appreciated knowing where the plants came from and how they got there. There is so much going on to bring healthier, stronger, and more beautiful plants to the consumer — from new petunia colors to innovative vegetables and fruits or coleus with later bloom times, the breeding information was fascinating to me.”
“I appreciated hearing from the breeders what made their variety better than those already on the market. It can be confusing and overwhelming for gardeners trying to select the best plant for their garden, so emphasizing the differences (more heat tolerant, better disease resistance, more compact) helps in the decision-making process. The displays were incredible, not only for marketing the plants but ideas homeowners could try in their gardens. I have lots of images and ideas to pass along to my readers, listeners, and TV audiences. The industry has made great strides toward making gardening easy for busy people and new gardeners. The ready-made combos, grab-and-go garden, and labeling makes it easier for people to know where and how to use the plants. I think we need to continue making it easier for new gardeners to get started, but not forget the large group of gardeners who are spending time and money on gardening. Once we capture those new gardeners, they will want to do even more.”
“Besides Spring Trials giving us an inside view of what’s the latest and greatest and yet to come, it was enlightening to learn more about how a new plant makes it from the breeder to the consumer. I’m impressed with how the breeders press on toward not just beautiful plants, but better plants — better disease resistance, better growth habits, better hardiness, better heat and drought tolerance, etc. Beauty is not just skin deep. Knowing the back stories on so many wonderful varieties just solidifies my opinion that if consumers knew more about how this all happens, they would marvel at how inexpensive these plants really are. The plants don’t just appear on the shelves by chance.”
“It was great to get a behind-the-scenes look at the industry. I especially loved all the fun ways that breeders used their creativity to introduce new varieties with big and bold displays. Those are the things my readers get most excited about, and I can’t wait to share those ideas (via photos) with them. I was also happy to see that some of the breeders were really focused on ways to entice consumer excitement, and make it easier for them to be successful gardeners.”
Blazek says NGB will continue to make this trip available to influential bloggers who are actively educating and inspiring both beginning and experienced gardeners.
For more information about this program and/or membership in National Garden Bureau, contact Diane Blazek.