Growing New Gardeners

A gardener in the making: Robin Siktberg at 16  working at Sunnybrook Farms.

What you do matters, even if it seems insignificant at the time. There has been a great deal of talk in the greenhouse industry about how to get younger generations involved in gardening. We have talked about it too.
Appealing to new gardeners is a focus of two of the priorities of Greenhouse Grower’s Grow Initiative – Cultivate New Customers and Invest in the Industry. Sometimes it is just one tiny thing that flips the switch for someone.

In my case, it was a neighbor who was passionate about plants. From kindergarten on, I used to hang out when she gardened, “helping” her weed. But I was really hooked when she formed a neighborhood garden club with a few other kids, and we propagated African violet leaves, mint cuttings and spider plant runners. Thirty years later, I still have a descendant of that spider plant. I became a lifelong gardener (and plant buyer) because someone took the time to show me how.

My first job in horticulture was at Sunnybrook Farms Nursery in Chesterland, Ohio, a third-generation grower-retailer operation. It was an ideal place for a kid who loved plants − they sold everything from cacti to perennials and grew most of their own herbs. I learned propagation, potted bare-root perennials and unloaded endless trucks of annuals. I worked the cash register, loaded plants into cars and wrote plant labels. And always, the watering.

In the late summer we harvested armfuls of field-grown herbs and hosted an herb fair. To this day the scent of sweet Annie and basil instantly make me a teenager again. Once more, someone took the time to teach me – I worked there all through high school and graduated certain that my future was in plants.

I was right. At Ohio State I was immersed in plant identification and worked in the greenhouse learning production techniques. Afterwards, as the horticulturist at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, I managed seven acres of gardens, taught classes on all kinds of topics and met many impassioned gardeners. Working as editor at the Herb Society of America was no different – they had equally impassioned (dare I say obsessed?) gardeners.

I loved every aspect of this industry with which I’ve been involved, and I’m excited to dig in as the new editor of Greenhouse Grower. This position blends two lifetime passions of mine – writing and plants. I’m glad to use them both to help provide the information you need about your structures and equipment, production techniques, business trends and ideas, and new varieties – everything for which this magazine is known.

What are you doing to make a difference? We need to grow young gardeners as well as plants. It could be a marketing program that cultivates new customers or support of school gardening efforts by offering money, equipment, expertise or plants. It could be through educating retailers on how to keep plants healthy so their customers have success with their purchases, or it could be through a personal relationship, as I had. I’d love to hear about what you are doing – because it matters.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Growing New Gardeners

  1. The little kids next door, ages 2 and 4, come over everyday to see the greenhouse. In early spring we talk about how the sun warms the inside and helps the plants grow. This year they planted pumpkins and watermelons from seed. Their favorite part is taking a new plant home every day. Also the neighborhood day cares come over and pick out plants for mother's day.

  2. I sell plants at a Farmers' Market in a rapidly growing suburban area outside of Houston, TX. I talk to and encourage new gardeners every Saturday. There are lots of 1st time homeowners who want to grow vegetables and herbs, perennials and annuals. They're ready to listen and learn. I'm there every week so they can come and talk to me about any problems they might be encountering. And, because I grow my stock myself, I have what is in season and will do well for the area… further ensuring their success.

More From Varieties...
Youngs Plant Farm Trial Garden feature

January 21, 2017

Don’t Miss the Southern Garden Tour This June

Growers, retailers, and all industry professionals are invited to the 2017 Southern Garden Tour, which is hosted by Young’s Plant Farms, Sakata, and Metrolina Greenhouses, and will be held June 6-8.

Read More
Gaillardia 'Mesa Red'

January 21, 2017

2016 Pike Creek Horticulture Center Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for The Pike Creek Horticulture Center in Kenosha, WI.

Read More
Anna Chernyavsky

January 20, 2017

New Director of Sales for Bedding Plants and Perennials at Danziger

Anna Chernyavsky, who joined Danziger in August 2016, will be in charge of the U.S. and United Kingdom markets.

Read More
Latest Stories
Youngs Plant Farm Trial Garden feature

January 21, 2017

Don’t Miss the Southern Garden Tour This June

Growers, retailers, and all industry professionals are invited to the 2017 Southern Garden Tour, which is hosted by Young’s Plant Farms, Sakata, and Metrolina Greenhouses, and will be held June 6-8.

Read More
Gaillardia 'Mesa Red'

January 21, 2017

2016 Pike Creek Horticulture Center Field Trials Result…

Check out the 2016 field trials results for The Pike Creek Horticulture Center in Kenosha, WI.

Read More
Anna Chernyavsky

January 20, 2017

New Director of Sales for Bedding Plants and Perennials…

Anna Chernyavsky, who joined Danziger in August 2016, will be in charge of the U.S. and United Kingdom markets.

Read More
Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer BloomStruck’ (Bailey Nurseries)

January 19, 2017

Bailey Nurseries Hosting Spring Previews in February

The previews, which provide education, new variety information, and retail support programs, will take place in Illinois, Minnesota, and Boston.

Read More
Selecta Sponsor bed at Raker trial gardens

January 18, 2017

2016 C. Raker & Sons Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield, MI.

Read More
Joe Cimino, Sakata Seed America

January 17, 2017

Sakata Seed Names New Senior Sales Manager for Ornament…

Joe Cimino comes to Sakata with past experience at Sun Gro and Florexpo.

Read More
JinPin Flower Seedling Company partners

January 17, 2017

Ernst Benary Partners With Chinese Young Plant Grower o…

The partnership creates a new company called Jinpin Flower Seedling Company, which will focus on providing young plants to the rapidly growing Chinese bedding plant market.

Read More
Dipladenia Sundenia

January 11, 2017

New Tropical and Foliage Plants That Offer Hidden Benef…

Tropical and foliage plants can offer extra paybacks to your customers in terms of health-promoting benefits such as filtering the air, reducing stress, and absorbing noise. Consider these new varieties, hitting the retail market in 2017, for your product mix.

Read More
craspedia-golf-beauty-danziger-feature

January 9, 2017

Growing Tips for Craspedia ‘Golf Beauty’

Laura Robles of Mast Young Plants offers advice on ‘Golf Beauty,’ a novelty plant with can’t-miss yellow flower heads and silver foliage that blooms throughout the summer.

Read More
Bride with wedding orchids.

January 7, 2017

How to Stand Out in the Orchid Market

With the popularity of the Phalaenopsis orchid growing and its saturation in the market, orchid growers are hunting for new ways to stand out from their competitors.

Read More
California Coast

January 3, 2017

Expect Big Changes for California Spring Trials 2017

California Spring Trials 2017 will be here before you know it. Find out what you can look forward to and get a head start on planning and registering for your trip.

Read More
westerlay-orchids-feature

January 1, 2017

How Westerlay Orchids Solved Its Bacteria Problem

Water-borne bacteria was causing havoc with Westerlay Orchids’ production, so the company took preventative action to ensure the health of its plants.

Read More
nepeta-purple-wave-with-roses

December 30, 2016

Allan Armitage: Plants That Can Bring Success in the Ne…

Are you wondering which plants to grow? Here are some perennials, annuals, and herbs that are gaining popularity.

Read More
Honeybelle combo

December 27, 2016

19 New Combos for Containers Big and Small

Check out 19 combos and mixes new for the retail marketplace in 2017 that offer something for every container type.

Read More
sun-parasol-original-crimson-web

December 20, 2016

Suntory Launches Unrooted Cuttings Program for Sun Para…

While the domestically produced rooting program for the Sun Parasol will continue, growers who would like to purchase unrooted cuttings will have the opportunity for the Sun Parasol Original varieties and Garden Crimson.

Read More
santos flare

December 20, 2016

Ball Horticultural Expands Potted Plant Offerings With …

Ex-Plant, which specializes in potted plants, will become a part of Ball’s PanAmerican Seed division.

Read More

December 16, 2016

Please Take Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Poinsettia S…

Are plant sales up or down compared to last year? How did Black Friday set the tone for this season? What varieties and sizes were your best sellers? Did you try anything new this year to appeal to younger consumer demographics? We tackle all of these questions and more to help you understand the trends in Greenhouse Grower's 2016 Poinsettia Survey.

Read More

December 13, 2016

Dümmen Orange Shares Trends And Season-Extending Tips A…

As a purveyor of a wide collection of poinsettia and potted plant genetics, Dümmen Orange offered attendees a look at current trends – and a glimpse into the future – at its annual event in Columbus, OH.

Read More