Archive for January, 2011

It’s been slow all week here in the office and even slower today since it’s snowing.  However, we are as busy as ever planting in the greenhouses.  So far this week we have stuck thousands of cuttings and have planted impatiens, polemonium, osteospermum, petunias, mandevilla and more combo pots.

Right now three of our sales reps are in Mobile, AL at the Gulf States Horticultural Expo.  Our Booth is #1112.  Stop by and say ‘Hi’ to them if you are there.

stepables Stepables® on display in our booth #1112 at the Gulf States Expo.

Elfin Thyme Stepable® liners and Confetti Garden liners in the propagation houses

elfin-thyme-plugs  confetti-liners1

More Early Plantings – Pentas, Geraniums, Tropical Hibiscus and Hardy Ferns

butterfly-pentas caliente-geranium-baskets

geraniums-6in Tropical-hibiscus

hardy-ferns1 hardy-ferns2

Snow Pics – been snowing for about an hour when I took these. 

snow2 snow4

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If you are interested in learning more about how to utilize social media in your marketing plan, you might want to consider these free webinars.

Free Webinars on Social Media 

When: 1 p.m. EST, February 15 & 22

What: 30 Minutes to Social Media Mastery. A special two-part series, sponsored by Proven Winners, where you’ll learn important tips and tricks to help your garden center attract and retain more customers through social media strategies. Presented by social media expert and garden blogger Jean Ann Van Krevelen.

Sign up at: www.ballpublishing.com/webinars

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BrochureInsideDec13b Last year we became the authorized Stepables® grower for the south.  After discussing the varieties amongst ourselves and with knowledgeable people, we picked out about 30 varieties to grow.  We learned a lot our first year growing them.  The biggest lesson is that we didn’t grow enough.Thyme-red-creeping

During the summer, we planted some of the few leftovers in one of the flower beds here at the office.  As most of you will remember, last summer was pretty brutal around here with the heat and lack of rain.  Due to my travel schedule, the flower beds were not watered as often as necessary (my wife is in charge of keeping them watered).  Plus we like to see how much punishment some of the new stuff can take.  (We are currently seeing how much neglect two Plentifall Pansy containers can take).

We learned more about the Stepables® from that trial and pared this years list down to 27 Stepables®. Based on the ones we trialed through the summer, here are the five that I think are best for the South.  This list is so small that we did not have any left of the others to trial.Mazus reptans Alba

  1. Wooly Thyme
  2. Veronica Georgia Blue
  3. Elfin Thyme
  4. Creeping Wire Vine
  5. Mazus Alba

Based on what we learned growing the Stepables®, here are five varieties that will do well as long as they are grown in shade and kept watered.

  1. Variegated Pennywortleptinella x platts black 5
  2. Irish Moss
  3. Scotch Moss
  4. Miniature Brass Buttons
  5. Platt’s Black Brass Buttons

For more information on Stepables® go to www.stepables.com or visit our Stepables® page.

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young-dianthuus We starting our early plantings a couple of weeks ago and are now gearing up for non-stop planting.  We’ll soon be planting all day long all week long and a few Saturdays too if we get behind.  We’ve got a good crew so I don’t think we’ll get behind but you never know.

Most of our early stuff are baskets and containers, but we have to plant a few items like dianthus and Wave petunias so early due to their long crop times and our need to have them ready by the first of March.

Here is my crew planting salvia.

transplanting-salvia empire-burgundy-salvia

Babies ready to be planted – Dragonwing Begonias, Fuchsia, Impatiens and Voltage Yellow Osteospermum

dragonwing-begonia-plugs fuschsia-liners

impatien-plugs voltage-yellow-osteospermum-liners

In production – Cabbage, Wave Petunias in pink pots and baskets, Combo Baskets, Combo Deco Pots and a house with a Hypoestes, Plumbago, Ornamental Grasses and a few other items.

cole-crops2 first-6in-waves

first-combo-baskets first-combo-pots

first-wave-baskets greenhosue

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Spent the morning running around the show. Got to talk to a few people, but not as many as I would have liked. Had some technical difficulties with the projector that took an hour and a half.

Here are the highlights from this afternoon’s nursery/garden center talks.

Bill Calkins – Ball IGC Business Manager

Communicating with consumers is key whether through ads or online or in person, garden centers have to be able to talk to and educate their customers.

Today’s consumers will visit your website before your store. Tell the story of your store to them online before they walk through the door.

One garden center’s best ad response was advertising in a high school football program – lesson here is go where the people are.

Do you know if your traditional marketing is working? Are you tracking it? If it’s not working, maybe it’s time to get creative.

IGCs have to have the best quality around. Consumers site quality and buying local as the top reasons to buy at IGCs.

Help your customers relax and enjoy their backyards or at least show them what is possible.

Retro and sarcasm resonates with younger demographics as long as you don’t go overboard.

Add a new gardener web page to your website!

Janet Carson – Extension Horticulture Specialist speaking on the current edibles trends

People want to grow their own produce, and we need to show them how.

Today vegetable gardening is cool compared to when we were kids and it was a chore.

Mixed herb containers need to be made up of herbs that grow well together.

Veggie gardening is up by 20% and community gardening is up by 60%!

Lettuce is a good started vegetable for new gardeners and can be used as an ornamental plant as well. Other nice edible ornamentals are eggplants and squash.

Peaches are the most sought after fruit tree by new gardeners and the most difficult to grow.

Blueberries are the best small fruit for everyone. There are also new ornamental varieties and even a pink one.

Interesting fact – We have the world championship tiller races in Emerson, AR.

Think seasonality with your vegetable offerings.

Do short gardening seminars at your store every weekend. Gardens are supposed to last all summer long and gardeners need help all summer long.

Chris Wiesinger “The Bulb Hunter” – The Southern Bulb Company

Oxblood lilies, red spider lilies – Huge opportunity for souther bulbs in the south in the fall.

Winter bulbs – narcissus italics more cold hardy with orange yellow center; roman winter blooming hyacinths that is very fragrant.

February bulbs – Heirloom Lent Lily dwarf narcissus, jonquilla narcissus, grand primo white narcissus

Spring – cemetery white iris likes dry environments, snowflakes ( very easy to grow), twin sisters narcissus last blooming of the season, Byzantine gladiolas, johnson’s amaryllis heirloom, rain lilies x grandjax and others are really nice

Gotta jump for now. I’ll try to get a wrap up posted later.

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