It’s Not All About Plants

Calibrachoa 'Yellow Chiffon'are one of the many plants that have undergone quiet improvement.

Most times I travel, observe, absorb and then, I often forget. Every now and then, before I forget, I put these thoughts down on paper. I will try not to bore you with Twitter-like musings, but here are a few things I have noticed.

Remember The Little Guys

From the California Spring Trials to Top 100 lists, it seems we are always talking about the big guys. These large retailers and growers (read: box stores and their suppliers) have earned the kudos.

The immense power of the box stores dictates cultivar choices, production
decisions and schedules of growers. It certainly influences sales decisions of many brokers as well. I enjoy visiting these growers. I love speaking with them at the Trial Gardens at UGA, am interested to learn about their tribulations (big places, big tribulations) and admire their business acumen.

It seems that as the big get bigger, however, the small disappear. You would think that if a grower was not in the big-grower club, its demise was all but assured.

But the reports of the death of the little guy have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, many independent retailers are thriving. Homestead Gardens in Maryland, Hicks Nursery in New York and Georgia’s Pike Nurseries are but a few whose abilities to maintain their character — along with their businesses — I truly admire.

I love visiting the many retail growers who remain true to their own voices, like Rick Berry at Goodness Grows Nursery in northeast Georgia or Chris Baker at Baker’s Acres in Central Ohio. Such people maintain their philosophies of providing a unique shopping and gardening experience to their clients. This is what keeps their customers coming back, even in lean years.

I applaud the persistent efforts of independent growers like Luci and Mack Furlow at Seasonal Color in northeast Georgia and Tom Winn and Ken Frieling at Glasshouse Works in Ohio, who boast unexpected pleasures in every aisle. It is not easy competing with the big boys, but for every large retailer and Super 100 grower, there are dozens of high-quality smaller businesses that give no quarter. They are often quirky. They are sometimes worried, but they are always proud of their success.

Hyped Plants Improve

I used to detest the hype about a number of new plants, in particular, the hysteria about plants like cape daisies, osteospermum and argyranthemum. Five years ago, most osteos and argys disappointed by June, even in the Midwest. Similarly, the hype about heat and humidity tolerance of certain dahlias, lobelias and some begonias was simply delusional.

There is no doubt that these genera are far better performers today than even five years ago. Lobelias that were pooping out by the first of June are now still looking good on July 15. Similarly, dahlias, boliviensis begonias, annual phlox and calibrachoas are all better, each catching the eyes of growers and consumers. Without a doubt, a number of cultivars are still nags, but we now have more thoroughbreds than ever.

I love promoting good plants, and I still believe we can do the right thing. The first right thing is building good plants — and we are succeeding. The second right thing is for all growers to grow the right cultivars based on greenhouse production and landscape performance for their market — and we are getting a little better. The third right thing is getting those best cultivars in front of customers, like the small landscapers and my daughters. We are still failing miserably at this, however, I am patient.

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Jim Devereux, Green Fuse Botanicals

June 24, 2017

Green Fuse Botanicals New Vice President is Focused on Helping Growers Succeed

Jim Devereux, who will oversee production, sales, and marketing for Green Fuse, says he hopes to bring genetics to the market that break from traditional production methods for finished growers.

Read More
Ushio Sakazaki feature

June 22, 2017

Japanese Breeder Ushio Sakazaki Wins Medal of Excellence Award for Industry Achievement

From Supertunias to Superbells, this innovative Japanese breeder has used wild genetics to create game-changing plants that help consumers reconnect with the beauty of nature.

Read More
CallaFornia Red

June 20, 2017

Dümmen Orange Enters Calla Market With Acquisition of Golden State Bulb Growers Portfolio

Golden State will continue to supply the market through September 2018, at which time Dümmen Orange will assume supply and delivery of much of Golden State’s product line.

Read More
Latest Stories
Jim Devereux, Green Fuse Botanicals

June 24, 2017

Green Fuse Botanicals New Vice President is Focused on …

Jim Devereux, who will oversee production, sales, and marketing for Green Fuse, says he hopes to bring genetics to the market that break from traditional production methods for finished growers.

Read More
Ushio Sakazaki feature

June 22, 2017

Japanese Breeder Ushio Sakazaki Wins Medal of Excellenc…

From Supertunias to Superbells, this innovative Japanese breeder has used wild genetics to create game-changing plants that help consumers reconnect with the beauty of nature.

Read More
CallaFornia Red

June 20, 2017

Dümmen Orange Enters Calla Market With Acquisition of G…

Golden State will continue to supply the market through September 2018, at which time Dümmen Orange will assume supply and delivery of much of Golden State’s product line.

Read More
Plantpeddler Variety Day

June 14, 2017

Plantpeddler Hosting Variety Day on Aug. 4 in Cresco, I…

The free event will allow attendees to tour Plantpeddler’s trial gardens, which include more than 1,200 varieties of vegetative annuals displayed in large containers, baskets, window boxes, and beds.

Read More
Jonathan Babikow, Emerald Coast Growers

June 9, 2017

New Head Grower at Emerald Coast Growers is Excited abo…

Jonathan Babikow, Emerald Coast Growers’ new general manager/head grower for its Lancaster, PA, location, talks about his favorite perennials, the advantages of growing in Pennsylvania, and his future hopes for his career.

Read More
Petunia 'Amore Mio' (Danziger)

June 8, 2017

AmericanHort Update on Genetically Engineered Petunias

AmericanHort is actively assisting affected plant breeders, distributors, growers, and retailers as the genetically modified petunia regulatory response continues. Since the last update, there have been several changes to the list of petunias confirmed or suspected of being genetically engineered and therefore unauthorized to be imported or sold. Also, the list of recognized laboratories for petunia variety confirmation testing has expanded. Most importantly, petunia varieties on the USDA-APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS) list require an APHIS Form 2000 for importation. APHIS also began requiring that any Petunia spp. Shipments, not including regulated GE varieties, must be accompanied by a list of variety names. This resulted in some inspection delays at the USDA-APHIS plant inspection station in Atlanta over the past two weeks. In response, AmericanHort has negotiated a more flexible approach with APHIS, and new guidance has just been posted for importing Petunia plants, cuttings, or seed. The new guidance allows […]

Read More
Bailey Expo

June 8, 2017

Bailey Nurseries Expo to Take Place in Late July in Min…

This year’s expo will focus on bridging the gap with Millennials and non-gardeners through creative marketing, engaging in-store displays, and heightened customer service.

Read More
Scaevola Mix from Suntory

June 6, 2017

How Was Your Spring? Let Us Know by Taking Greenhouse G…

Please take a few minutes to answer Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 Spring Recap Survey. The deadline for completing the survey is June 20.

Read More
Eason Horticultural Resources Hot New Perennials Booklet

June 6, 2017

Eason Horticultural Resources Releases New Perennials B…

“Hot New Perennials for 2018” is a compilation of information shared with Eason from a broad range of perennial young plant producers, breeding companies, and breeder representatives.

Read More
Beedance Bidens Yellow (Suntory Flowers)

June 1, 2017

Recommendations for Successfully Growing BeeDance Biden…

Anne Roberts of Meadow View Growers says growers in northern states can take advantage of cooler temperatures early in the season and grow BeeDance Bidens varieties with less heat.

Read More

May 30, 2017

Danziger Launching New Interactive Marketing Programs D…

The new campaigns include a focus on Danziger’s Amore petunia series, using videos and displays to help attendees “share their love” for Amore.

Read More

May 25, 2017

Genetically Modified Petunia Update: Breeders Take Swif…

Now that the initial shock of genetically engineered petunias is wearing off, breeders continue testing for tainted stock and look toward the future. On the consumer side, uncertainties remain.  

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
Petunia F1 African Sunset from American Takii

May 22, 2017

Genetically Modified Petunia Update: Question and Answe…

AmericanHort’s key role interfacing with the USDA on the recall of genetically modified petunias has helped the horticulture industry rapidly address the problem. Senior Vice President Craig Regelbrugge talks about recent updates, the impact on the industry, and where it goes from here.

Read More
Eason 2017 spring trials report

May 16, 2017

New California Spring Trials Report Now Available From …

The report features genetics from 21 different breeding companies and information gathered from the 15 different stops on this year’s tour.

Read More
Schizachyrium scoparium The Blues

May 13, 2017

How Ornamental Grasses and Sedges Can Play a Role in Po…

Grasses and sedges provide food, shelter, and support for pollinators and the birds and mammals that keep insect populations in balance.

Read More
Asclepias with a bumblebee

May 8, 2017

How to Choose the Best Native Plants for Pollinator Gar…

The popularity of native plants is rising as gardeners become conscious of the need to plant more pollinator gardens. The challenge is to select the right plants to put in them.

Read More
Allan Armitage Of Naked Ladies and Forget Me Nots

May 2, 2017

Allan Armitage: How Growers Can Be Creative to Take Gar…

Our industry does a good job of making things convenient for our customers. It’s time to take it a step further.

Read More