Ernst Benary of America Takes Plant Fashion Week To The California Spring Trial Runway
Ernst Benary of America gave growers a taste of the fashion world during the new variety promenade held during California Spring Trials 2016. Instead of making visitors come to the plants, Benary brought the plants to them, with models strutting their stuff on a runway with pots of new varieties in hand.
Benary realized that plants follow the same path as fashion. New introductions come out and growers get to see a few prototypes at trials. Eventually, new plants make it to market where they come under the scrutiny of consumers, who tell their friends about them. Plants, like fashion, follow seasonal cycles and trend in and out of popularity. Benary’s display centered around these concepts.
A Museum of Art featured Benary’s composite collection of new and brand-new varieties, along with a few plants from its independent breeding partner, Volmary. It was set up like an art gallery, complete with plants on pedestals, red carpets, and art-gallery seating.
In the Art in the Park area, visitors had the chance to check out the outdoor garden performance of Benary’s new varieties. Famous works of art lined the fence behind the display, each one with a twist — Success! petunias were incorporated somewhere into each picture. Pink Lady cocktails were available for visitor enjoyment and syringes of beer, for a shot of success.
Benary Brings Uptown Funk To Begonias
New from seed, the Funky begonia is a breeding breakthrough with both double and single blooms that was a key focus at Benary’s display. It’s a tuberosa type, with pendulous blooms that have double, shredded-petal flowers. Female flowers hang down on each side of the male flower. The plants grow upright at first, then trail later, which makes for easier shipping. ‘Funky Pink’ is the first color in the series, with more colors coming.
Following Begonia boliviensis ‘Santa Cruz’ and ‘San Franciso,’ the brand new white ‘Santa Barbara’ matches both for timing. Like ‘San Francisco’ and ‘Santa Cruz,’ it is a seed selection, but is slightly more upright.
Sprint Plus is a new series of Begonia semperflorens with seven new colors, including orange, that finishes a week earlier than the original Sprint series. Another new series for early spring sales is Speedstar Plus bellis with three new colors. It comes in a more reliable seed pellet and is perfect for high-density production.
The Success! petunia series has rocketed into Benary’s top five crops list since its introduction a few years ago, three new colors were added this year. The Inspire pansy series has one new color, Lemon Blotch, and Ocean is new to Inspire DeluXXe, with its extra-large sized blooms. Violas can be a challenge to sell because there are so many of them. Benary is planning a stronger marketing thrust for the Inspire line, to get it in front of more growers for trialing, so they can experience these proven garden performers for themselves.
Finally, new from Volmary is a new Thunbergia ‘Arizona Lemon Sunrise.’ Volmary’s Farina salvia also made an appearance in the variety Promenade.
It was refreshing to see Benary is letting its plants do the talking, without a lot of point-of-purchase material. Managing Director Matthias Redlefsen said during the variety promenade that plants that can’t tell their own story are destined to fail. It is evident the company plans to be a strong force in the market. Redlefsen summed it up well saying, “We’re here for good. We’re growing.”