View: A Guide To Foreign Floriculture Awaits At Essen

View: A Guide To Foreign Floriculture Awaits At Essen

Bart Hayes, annual trials manager at The Ohio State University, says you need to attend the world’s largest floriculture trade show in Essen, Germany. He knows times are tough, money is short and you think your operation is not big enough to worry about what happens overseas. But the reasons for attending are endless, Hayes says, and he shared a few of the trip’s benefits with us.

Commitment To Promotion
Just walking the trade show floor is an education. The booths are elaborate and customer friendly. The social aspect of sales is not overlooked at IPM Essen and is, in fact, central to the booth construction. Less space is spent on racks for publications and information and more space for tables, chairs and amenities. Food and drinks are served during business talks. It is a different experience than I was used to.

Some of the companies have employees just to work the booth and serve food and drinks so the sales folks can do their jobs.
Ample amounts of time and money are invested not only in the manning of the booth and the space, but planning and design. The aesthetic appearances of the displays are nearly as important as the content. In an aesthetic business, like floriculture, this approach seems appropriate, but is not widely accepted in the United States–at least not to the same degree.

See The Trends Take Off
This seems to be the main force behind most trips to Essen. It is generally accepted that Europe’s markets are a few years ahead of ours, as far as trends, and in order to be at the head of the pack, you need to see them first. This is accurate, but a gross oversimplification.

European growers and retailers are very different than those in the United States. I would state this analogy: European floriculture is to fashion as American floriculture is to home improvement.

The approach the retailer has to the consumer in Europe is “buy this, it is pretty and you like pretty things.” In the United States, it is “buy this and it will make your home pretty.” This is not universal, but the use of flowers is still far more utilitarian in the United States than it is in Europe. So to say the trends in Europe are going to greatly affect the overall production in your greenhouse is an oversimplification.

If you visit and find that white and chartreuse are going to be the next big color scheme, you will not go home and change your production schedule to mostly white and chartreuse. Nor will a more naturalist theme cause you to renovate your retail space to a deep forest setting.

The benefit of seeing the trends in Europe is to see what works and how it can be modified to work in the United States. They don’t all translate or work in practice in the United States because our markets are very different.

Still, new greenhouse technologies and techniques are developed and implemented faster in Europe than the United States, so sticking three cuttings in a liner at once for a prepackaged combination, which is becoming popular in Europe now, should start becoming popular here, as well.

Energy savings and production seem to also be on the minds of companies designing equipment in Germany and the Netherlands. Small plants, or plants produced in small pots, have been a staple of Danish greenhouse production. They’re also so darned cute that I hope the trend catches on in the United States.

Inspirational Production
It is easy to look at your neighbor’s lawn, admire how green it is, and then sulk at how yours is not so green. But actually going next door, seeing that your neighbor doesn’t do anything special (just good lawn care like everyone is supposed to do) helps dissolve some myths and misconceptions you have held on to for too long.

I was fortunate enough to take several professional tours while I was in Germany: one to Westflowers’ operation in Södlohn and another to Dömmen’s operation in Rhineberg. Both operations were impressive and really made poignant contrasts and comparisons with similar operations I have visited in the U.S.

Westflowers ‘operation is big, by my standards, but the operation was perfectly suited to its needs and its level of automation was not as grandiose as I was expecting. Innovative and quality oriented, some novel solutions and simple, good growing practices along with superior genetics, allow Westflowers to command a high position in European production. Despite being “big” by my standards, its operation layout and practices were simple, effective and minimized the inputs necessary without removing the important hands-on growing that is the hallmark of quality plants.

Dömmen’s operation was as massive as I was expecting, but again, it did not have the gratuitous use of machines and automation I thought would be required to operate an operation so large. The operation did have a very unique growing and shipping system for young plants due to constraints on what they could ship (no trays, only plants). So a machine was used to streamline the consolidating and shipping process, but there were still people feeding flats into the machine. Labor was minimized, but not removed entirely, even on this massive scale because the cost didn’t justify it.

As an additional lesson, the special flats used by Dömmen are double spaced. Even though they are growing millions of young plants, the attention to quality is important enough to grow half as many plants as could be produced on a tighter spacing in order to achieve the level of quality that is their standard.

I suppose I was thinking the European production systems would be like stepping into the future and seeing the equivalent of flying cars and talking robots, or there was a missing cultural component they had mastered. However, my visit only made clearer that the difference between their greenhouses and ours are the languages spoken inside.

Good growing techniques and attention to detail is valuable no matter where you sell your product. There is no secret ingredient, trend you are missing or unrealized technology that explains the success and scale of the European market. The same basic principles that guide good production over there guide good production over here.

If anything, the trip the IPM Essen is less about what you can learn and more about what you already knew. Sometimes, it just takes a great trip to a great event to help you realize it.

Trends From Essen
Hayes also shared thoughts on trends he saw in plants, promotions and industry movements at Essen. Read about those trends.

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Miscanthus-Bandwidth EmeraldCoastGrowers

May 11, 2018

New Sterile Ornamental Grasses One Solution to Grass Invasion

Aggressive grass species can turn gardeners off to using ornamental grasses. Less fertile alternatives offer options for keeping grasses from taking over the garden.

Read More

May 10, 2018

Beekenkamp Plants Acquires Sunny Osteospermum Breeding Program

Beekenkamp took over all Sunny Holland sales activities in 2017, and now has ownership of the company’s entire breeding program.

Read More
Stokesia-Divinity-1-feature

May 6, 2018

Growing Tips From an Expert for Stokesia ‘Divinity’

'Divinity’ has large, white flowers that open with a hint of yellow in the center and then mature to a pure, long-lasting white.

Read More
Latest Stories
Miscanthus-Bandwidth EmeraldCoastGrowers

May 11, 2018

New Sterile Ornamental Grasses One Solution to Grass In…

Aggressive grass species can turn gardeners off to using ornamental grasses. Less fertile alternatives offer options for keeping grasses from taking over the garden.

Read More

May 10, 2018

Beekenkamp Plants Acquires Sunny Osteospermum Breeding …

Beekenkamp took over all Sunny Holland sales activities in 2017, and now has ownership of the company’s entire breeding program.

Read More
Stokesia-Divinity-1-feature

May 6, 2018

Growing Tips From an Expert for Stokesia ‘Divinit…

'Divinity’ has large, white flowers that open with a hint of yellow in the center and then mature to a pure, long-lasting white.

Read More
Panicum-Northwind-feature

May 4, 2018

Allan Armitage: Three Ways to Market Grasses as Great O…

I don’t expect my friends to know the difference between switchgrass and grama grass, yet I always try to do my best to enhance the visibility of these grasses.

Read More
Bailey-Nurseries-Tree-Art-at-US-Capitol

May 1, 2018

Bailey Nurseries Fills U.S. Capitol Front Lawn With Tre…

A 150-foot tree art installation was constructed on the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building to promote the planting of trees in an effort to combat climate, change while creating meaningful experiences that bring nature into people’s every day lives.

Read More
Carex-and-Onoclea

April 28, 2018

Kelly Norris: Why the Plant Experience Really Matters W…

For Millennials and other new gardeners, the features of plants such as natives aren’t terribly important. It's the benefits that are paramount.

Read More
Zinfin-Doll-Hydrangea

April 25, 2018

March Was a Month of Awards for Spring Meadow Nursery, …

After taking home a best new variety award at a Belgian horticulture event, Proven Winners held its always-popular Shrub Madness tournament to coincide with the annual NCAA Championship.

Read More

April 25, 2018

Armitage Scholar’s Final Thoughts on the People a…

"This trip solidified my desire to breed plants. Every time I was able to have a discussion about plant traits, genetics, and germplasm, I felt a thrill of excitement."

Read More
Gomphrena Truffula Pink (Proven Winners)

April 24, 2018

Armitage Talks Favorites From Danziger and Proven Winne…

From annuals that look like they came out of a Dr. Seuss book to breeding marvels in perennials and shrubs, the visits to Danziger and Proven Winners at California Spring Trials were exciting, to be sure. Here are some of Dr. A's favorites.

Read More

April 24, 2018

Proven Winners Reveals Marketing Efforts for 2018-2019 …

For the first time, the brand has generated one billion consumer impressions, and plans to keep that momentum going with a number of ambitious programs.

Read More

April 24, 2018

California Spring Trials 2018: New Plant Intros from Pr…

Check out the newest 2018 plant introductions from Proven Winners and Danziger.

Read More

April 20, 2018

California Dreaming Takes on a Whole New Meaning at CAS…

At California Spring Trials 2018, the Greenhouse Grower team witnessed the revitalization of a company, plus some awesome merchandising displays, and efforts toward automation.

Read More

April 19, 2018

California Spring Trials 2018: New Intros from Syngenta…

Check out the newest 2018 plant introductions from Syngenta Flowers, Hishtil, Jaldety, Cohen Propagators, Nir Nursery, Bailey Nurseries, and Sunset Western/Southern Living Plants.

Read More

April 19, 2018

CAST 2018: Dr. A’s Favorites From Syngenta Flowers, Bai…

From an exciting perennial to a new white begonia, Allan Armitage says these showstoppers deserve recognition.

Read More
GG-and-Benary-Team

April 19, 2018

Spring Trials Rookie Inspired by Connections

The Allan Armitage Scholarship recipient has added a number of industry connections during his time at California Spring Trials, and discusses what that means to him and his career.

Read More
Benary 2018

April 18, 2018

At CAST 2018, Sakata Captures Consumer Attention Spans,…

More than halfway through the California Spring Trials, the Greenhouse Grower team had a busy but fantastic day seeing dozens of our friends at American Takii and Benary, and spending time talking about the industry's past and its bright future.

Read More

April 18, 2018

California Spring Trials 2018: New Varieties to Watch F…

Check out the newest 2018 plant introductions from American Takii, Hilverdakooijj, Hem Genetics, Thompson & Morgan, Sakata Ornamentals, and Ernst Benary of America.

Read More

April 18, 2018

How the Horticulture Industry’s Past Shaped Its P…

Andrew Scheldorf, the winner of Dr. Allan Armitage’s California Spring Trials Scholarship, says the stories of plant origins help ground our industry to the people and places that have changed us.

Read More