Perusing Industry Mags

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Yesterday I was at my hairdresser’s appointment and I brought along a garden related trade magazine to read while waiting.  As I have mentioned in the past, I love reading these types of mags for people in the hort trade as research where I can check-out different trends, learn about marketing information, and be informed of new plants on the scene.  I envy the people who travel the world to report on these things for a living, and wish I had that job!

So I thought, let me share with my audience, primarily my gardening friends and landscape and container gardening clients, a few items which caught my attention as I think you would find them interesting too – plus you don’t have this magazine on your coffee table and I do!  So here it goes…

First was a full page ad regarding indoor and outdoor glazed pots and all weather black clay.  (Hmmm, if I had a store, I’d order these up to sell.)  But what caught my eye the most in the ad, to be honest, was the woman squatting next to the containers with plants, soil on the table, situated in a hobby type greenhouse, and the huge smile on her happy face.  Her bright eyes and the whole scene said to me…, have fun like me potting up plants.  In fact, the pots themselves were not super eye catching but the picture portrayed inspired the reader, at least in my opinion, to want to be her or do what she was doing. Which I am, but anyhow, good ad there.

Second was an article about tropical plants and their growing popularity.  It indicated that garden centers are adding more of these to their line-up because “customers are looking for new buying experiences.”  (Hmmm, I thought – tropical and succulents are always on my list for my Container Garden Parties, especially this year – These types of plants were my main focus for a June garden show I participated in.) I selected tropical plants and succulents for so many reasons.  They thrive in our humid heat during the summer, they don’t get many insect problems, they grow super large fast, some are very drought tolerant, and most are showy in containers with other pairings.  Plus many can be moved indoors at the end of the season (providing you have the space and sunny windows), or be overwintered.  The key is they are “different” from the typical stuff you see in the garden centers.  Everyone loved the unique succulents I offered this year in my mix.  And as a service, I teach my clients how to overwinter their tropicals for use every season going forward!

Third that caught my attention, as I flipped the pages, was an ad for a debris sack that you attach to your waist with a belt while gardening.  I thought my fellow Master Gardener friends, who perform garden maintenance daily as a living, would probably like this idea.  It allows you to just drop your pruned cuttings into the sack and it could serve to hold a few tools as well.  It was nice looking and not too heavy either.  It was just a glimpse and a pause on that item as I flipped the pages further.

The next item made me chuckle out loud. Would this have ever helped us in class when trying to learn how to identify trees via leaves?!  It was a paragraph describing a new iPhone app that recognizes leaves.  It is free and available via iTunes, and uses visual recognition software from photographs.  I will look forward to checking out this app when it becomes is available for the iPad.  However, I questioned how well it would function.  Some of the differences in leaf configuration require a keen eye and many parts can look a bit similar.  A petiole, for example, the leaf stalk, is so similar and small, but where it is position on the stem determines a leaf’s morphology, whether it is simple or compound.  But general leaf shapes and venation (vein patterns) can be distinct to the naked eye, however the leaf margins vary and there are many types out there from serrated to doubly serrated to dentate, to crenate to incised, to ….okay I did have to pull out my Dirr book to remember all of these.  The point is, yah an app would be fun to use, but I’m not sure it could correctly identify every leaf every time, but for a newbie; this could be a helpful tool to narrow down your choices as you learn to become a tree expert. 

Next, a quick paragraph stating that an ‘unkempt yard in close proximity to your home may reduce the value of your home by as much as 15 percent.’  Not surprising.  Good landscaping, curb-appeal, and general maintenance of your landscape will aid the overall value of the neighborhood and your home.  But one eye sore next door would reduce the sale of a home…potentially, or maybe that is a “for sure”.  Fortunately, strategic landscaping, when well done and placed, can hide eye-sores next door.  A believe me – this was a request more than you would imagine when I worked at a garden center.  Many people requested a “green wall” for more reasons than one.  What to do if your neighbor has a very messy yard?  Well, confrontation doesn’t always work and leads to more problems, yet a strategically placed beautiful landscape can do the trick and make everyone happy!   

Next -> Branding.  I read a portion of a branding article regarding why branding of plants is still beneficial to the consumer.  Basically think of Proven Winners, American Beauties, Endless Summer, Jeepers Creepers, Monrovia, Sara Superb Herbs, and Knock Out as examples of commonly seen brands in our local nurseries.  The idea is the plants behind the brand have met a certain level of standards, whether it is a consistent level of quality or performance.  Branding may give some gardeners a sense of assurance they are buying a good product – and not wasting their dollars.  However, I have some mixed feelings on brands.  You need to always look over the plant and make sure it is healthy regardless of the brand, but a brand alone doesn’t guarantee a plant’s success in your garden.  It is your care, placement in the right place, and sometimes luck.  I’m not saying I don’t’ believe in brands.  I recommend many of them in my designs, especially for new gardeners, because brands can help them start off on the right foot due to their tested and proven success.  Many branded plants also accompany their plants with a wealth of information on their plants tags or on the pots.  The pots themselves are actually excellent packaging (good decent sized pots (usually), large root systems, good soil, and also eye-catching colors on the pots).  The branders take excellent care up to the day their plants are delivered to nurseries for sale.  Sometimes branders offer a staging area or shelving systems to help the nurseries keep the plants well organized and displayed.  This usually leads to good care at the nursery too.  And brands are easy to spot in garden centers.  You usually see them right away due to their brightly colored pots which you begin to recognize. 

And I read also that…’garden spending drops, but competition between retailers remains strong’.  This is something I have been observing this year.  In fact, during my weekend vacation, I made the comment to my husband that all of the nurseries in our local area have grown this year.  Some may be due to the damage done by our prior winter heavy snowfall where some greenhouse structures were badly damaged, so they were rebuilt this year.  But many garden centers have expanded in general with new additions or areas to cover more acres at their centers.  And many have advertised even more this season.  I see more deals, coupon offerings, two-for-one’s, etc. 

But I do know this– gardeners shop at all or most available places usually.  They may have their favorite nurseries, but most plant-lovin’ consumers don’t just buy at one place anyways, they love to garden, they love to garden-shop, and this equals shopping around.  They return if they are treated with respect, see new items, get inspired and informed.  And they often shop around if they feel they can get a better deal or service elsewhere.  But overall, there are lots of choices for gardeners, and I personally think this is a great thing!  Along with all the cool research and marketing efforts that keep us happy in the garden and with our plant choices!  Cathy T

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