Archive for December, 2010

Simply Beautiful logoBall’s Simply Beautiful® Retail Report December 2010: Consumer Research Results – Vegetables & Perennials ( from Ball contains quite a bit of useful information.  I recommend that you ake a few minutes to read the whole thing, but in the meantime here are the high points:

Vegetables & Herbs

  1. 40% of those surveyed started with vegetable and flower gardening at the same time.
  2. Vegetable garden locations are determined based on the amount of sun and convenient access, but are most often placed “out of sight.”
  3. More than half of all “vegetable gardens” are actually in pots and containers.
  4. A vegetable garden is seen as functional, not beautiful.
  5. The #1 driver of variety decisions by consumers is flavor.
  6. Consumers look first for healthy plants. This means: “sturdy stalks”; “large size”; “watered and cared for”; and “flowers or buds” especially on tomatoes and peppers.
  7. 73% purchased veggies and herbs as plants, rather than seed packs.
  8. Newer gardeners are more likely to start from plants instead of seeds.
  9. Independent garden centers are the “primary store” for respondents but research shows that box and chain stores have more than 50% of the veggie and herb business.
  10. Casual gardeners plant veggies once each year. Enthusiastic gardeners plant twice.
  1. Perennials are the building blocks of a garden.
  2. Perennials provide spots of color, texture, shape and size to gardens.
  3. Males surveyed tended to like perennials due to “ease of use.”
  4. Perennials are considered a better investment than annuals.
  5. Perennials are for people who plan to stay put. They are a form of commitment.
  6. Consumers are drawn to perennials’ forgiving nature. It equates to less risk.
  7. Consumers love that perennials can be divided. Younger homeowners divide to fill space, while more experienced gardeners divide to share with others.
  8. Blooming shrubs and bushes are considered perennials by consumers.
  9. Most varieties are unknown to the majority of consumers and 50% of study participants say they would use more perennials if they were more familiar with them.
  10. The #1 source of perennial info is a plant tag. Comparatively, the top sources of info about annuals are friends and neighbors.

What I think we should take away from this:

  1. New gardeners are going to most likely start with vegetable plants (and annuals too) in containers.  While large plants are typically considered out of spec by IGC’s, consumers equate them to healthier plants that they can use in their containers for “instant gardens”.
  2. We need to do a better job as an industry in educating consumers on how to garden, on the benefits of annuals and perennials and informing them about the wide selection of plant materials that we all carry.

We are working on updating our websites and need your help.  If you have any suggestions or ideas on how we can improve our website and your experience when you visit, please let us know.  We want to make our websites as easy to use and customer friendly as possible.  You can leave comments here, email us or use our Contact Us form. 

We are currently adding the new stuff to the site, but I have plans to update a lot of the existing pages.  Let me know what you need and we’ll see if we can make it happen.


When I saw this, I just had to share it.  It just sounded way to familiar.  This was posted in this week’s Acres Online by Chris Beytes, Editor & Publisher for GrowerTalks and Green Profit magazine. 

The root cause—it’s historical

At one of our big greenhouse shows, an industry expert gave a talk that could have been directly addressing the issues facing Hines and other troubled green businesses. I’ve excerpted it for you here:

“… The talk among greenhouse operators constantly harps on the same basic complaint that we just aren’t making any money, or we aren’t making enough money … Wholesale and retail prices for flowers and plants haven’t gone up appreciably in the last 10 years. And yet the costs of operating a greenhouse have risen steadily.

“… I do very strongly believe that the reasons we aren’t making money in flower growing these days are business reasons and not because we don’t use the right fertilizers or water enough.

“ Look around among your flower-growing acquaintances. You know pretty well who is making money and who isn’t. There ARE people in this business making money. There ARE people in this business going broke. What’s the difference?

“They don’t follow the simple basic rules of successful business operations.”

Who said this?

George K. Ball, one of the sons of George J. Ball, in the December 1952 GrowerTalks—58 years ago! And yet the message remains timeless.
Which means one of two things: either the challenges facing our industry will continue to be the same no matter how much time passes, or in 58 years we haven’t learned a darned thing!

Updated 12-17-10: I added a new links.  Looks like more may come so check back for more updates

I’ve spent most of my morning reading some blog posts in response to Monrovia’s situation.  The responses on the Garden Rant by consumers and other industry professions are what I found most interesting. Here are  the links to what I have read: – Be sure to read the comments on this one.


Update: supplier’s viewpoint

How about you?  Are any of our garden centers going to increase/commit to Monrovia?  Are any of you gardeners going to specifically seek out Monrovia’s plants this spring?

Personally, I think their situation can be used as a blue print for a “Worst Case Scenario” for any nursery or garden center regardless of their size.  It all comes down to four things:

  1. What is your relationship with your customers?
  2. What value are you providing them?/Are you providing what they want?
  3. How are you communicating that value?
  4. Are you profitable enough to sustain that value over a long period of time?

We can all learn a thing or two from this.

Dear Green Industry Professionals,

This year our annual convention is being held at the Windham Hotel in North Little Rock (2 Riverfront Pl, North Little Rock, AR 72114, 501-371-9000.) The hotel is easy to get to, there is plenty of parking, and lots of places to eat in the area. We hope you will join us!

If you have not done so already, you can register online for PLANTS 2011 on January 5th and 6th. Go to

Contact the office and we will assist you with registration problems or answer questions – 501-225-0029

  • Get your pesticide re-certification classes as required by the Arkansas State Plant Board
  • Attend two days of trade show and seminars
  • Join us for the Sugar Bowl Watch Party on Tuesday night in the hotel lounge

Thank you,

Anne Fuller
Executive Director
Arkansas Green Industry Association

Peace Farm Organics
December 2010