An unexpected crowd, plus news from B&B, AAS and NGB

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ellen Wells Subscribe
Buzz
COMING UP THIS WEEK:
New Plants Part II
More Than Expected
Speaking of Ohio
Bower & Branch
All-America Selections
National Garden Bureau
A Cool Mandevilla Combo
Don’t Forget!

New Plants Part II

Did you enjoy last Thursday’s New Plants webinar? Well, then you’ll be delighted to know we’ve got a second one for you coming up Thursday, July 13.

This New Plants Part II webinar will recap highlights from the northern portion of the California Spring Trials. Fellow Spring Trials bobblehead, Chris Beytes and I will cover at least 100 new varieties from several dozen companies, including Proven Winners, Syngenta, Danziger, Benary, Sakata, Takii and many more. We’ll show you great new annuals, perennials, succulents, potted plants, POP and display ideas.

So, tune in Thursday, July 13, at 1 p.m. Eastern/Noon Central to catch all the above. Sign up at www.ballpublishing.com/webinars. (You can watch the archived version of Part I at the same website. Just scroll down a bit.) Thanks to our webinar sponsor PanAmerican Seed, you get to watch this webinar for FREE! 

More Than Expected

You know how it is: You plan an event, one you’ve held before, and you have a pretty good estimation for how many people might arrive. Based on previous years you’d say 3,000-5,000 people. You’ve got parking, staff ready to go and things for visitors to do. You’ve got this.

Then folks start coming. And coming. Somehow your quaint little festival had been picked up by social media and exploded.

That’s what happened the weekend of July 8-9 at Luvin Lavender in Madison, Ohio, a small, 1.5-acre lavender farm set among other small wholesale and mail order nurseries. An estimated 8,000 people showed up (downgraded from an early estimate of 20,000!), many driving upwards of an hour or more to take in the lovely scents and scenery. The traffic was backed up for miles on the two-lane country road, and the local fire and police finally had to shut down parking.

What exactly happened? The festival was picked up by the website Only In Your State and apparently wrote an “embellished” article about the event; i.e. the photos were not of the Luvin Lavender farm, the size of the farm was exaggerated and the number of education sessions was WAY more than they were offering. Once the event was posted to Facebook, all of Ohio saw all of the wrong information. (Note, the story linked above is the corrected version.)

How do you handle something like this? Transparency is a hot word nowadays, and the folks at Luvin Lavender handled the situation with truthfulness in order not to disappoint. They sent a correction to the website, and also posted a clarification on their own Facebook page, a portion of which was this:

“We do ask you to please understand that we are a small operation with a yearly increasing lavender field, and that each field that we put in takes several years to reach its beauty. We currently have 1 1/2 acres only of lavender, which is 3,500 plants, half of those are under 3 years old.

“We do not want anyone to be disappointed after seeing the picture of the field and this is why we are making this statement. Thank you for your understanding; we are trying hard to make a lovely place for everyone to enjoy but it takes time.”

Kudos to Luvin Lavender for clarifying and attempting to have visitors come with realistic expectations. Their sentiment was a touch too apologetic in my opinion, but I imagine they were expecting carloads of unsatisfied visitors. This tale has two obvious lessons:

  • Set a Google alert with your business’s name—and check it every day to see what is being said about you and your goings on.
  • Honesty is the best policy. It’s an old adage but so very true.

How would you have handled the situation? Weigh in below or shoot me an EMAIL.

Here’s the local paper’s REPORT on the event. See how Luvin Lavender responded to crowds via their FACEBOOK PAGE.  

Speaking of Ohio

I’ll be at Cultivate’17 in Columbus, Ohio, beginning this Saturday, July 15. If you’ve gotten a spot on the retail tour—you’ll see me there! Grab your coffee early and I’ll see you on the bus at 8 a.m. sharp.

I’m planning on attending a bunch of sessions this year, and if there are any that have caught your eye, let me know about it and I’ll try to get there. Otherwise, I’ll either be walking the show floor or attending the Interior Plantscape Awards on Sunday or participating in the Retail Merchandising Contest on Monday afternoon. If you’d like to meet up at any point to discuss issues, what’s going on at your store or in the industry, or have a new product you’d like me to take a look at, LET ME KNOW! I’m happy to get together and chat.

A number of the following folks will be at exhibiting at Cultivate …  

Bower & Branch

Bower & Branch just began its annual retailer enrollment period. If you’re not familiar with this group of indie growers and garden centers, they are the folks who offer consumers landscape-sized trees and plants both online and in member stores. It’s a real benefit for the consumer, allowing her or him to shop online, find what they are looking for, and have it shipped to their local Bower & Branch Garden Retailer for them to pick up or have delivered and planted. The program benefits retailers, too, allowing them to carry and maintain less in the store and create more of a showroom of plants than benches and rows of product.

Bower & Branch is looking to add qualified retailers and growers to its network in the Northeast, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. “We’ve moved beyond our initial proof of concept phase, and we’re looking for visionary retailers and growers who embrace technology and want to join our culture of boldly reshaping the green industry,” said president and CEO Sid Raisch.

There are three subscription levels, and rather than me explaining them to you here, visit Bower & Branch’s booth at Cultivate (booth 3516) or at the IGC Show in Chicago (booth 310). You can also go online for more information—bowerandbranch.com and IGCsuccess.com, or email Steve Maddox at SteveM@BowerAndBranch.com.  

All-America Selections

Last week I told you about AAS’s first three AAS Winners for 2018, but the organization has a whole lot of new things going on, such as:

AAS is celebrating its 85th anniversary. Just think, prior to 1932 there was no national, independent testing program and also no uniform standard for evaluating new varieties. You have W. Ray Hastings to thank for the concept and the founding of the organization. And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the establishment of Fleuroselect and the Japan Flower Selections means Ray had a quality idea.

AAS is also moving its offices. After 30 years in the same space, they’ve moved to a more modern location in the same town. Their new address is 5201 Walnut Avenue, Suite 3, in Downers Grove, Illinois 60515. You can even check out their new digs during an Open House on July 27, 2-5 p.m. RSVP by emailing Diane Blazek.

Three new board members join AAS. They are Chelsey Lenczyk of Bejo Seeds, Vaughn Fletcher of Fletcher Consulting and Jessie Liebenguth of Reiman Gardens. Congratulations and good luck to them! It’s an exciting time in the organization.

Read all about it in the 2016-2017 Annual Report. The report reflects what all they’ve been up to over the past 12-18 months—and it’s a lot! You can download the report HERE.

Stop by the AAS booth at Cultivate (#1313) and help them celebrate all the above.  

National Garden Bureau

AAS’s sister organization, the National Garden Bureau, just announced its four new classes of “Year of the” program for 2018. The garden promoting organization has chosen:

  • Year of the Tulip for its bulb crop;
  • Year of the Calibrachoa for its annuals crop;
  • Year of the Beet for its vegetables/edibles crop; and
  • Year of the Coreopsis for its perennials crop.

All great choices, and I especially love the selection of beets—one of my favorites to grow. The NGB Board of Directors chooses crops for the North American market that are easy to grow and that are genetically diverse with lots of new varieties to choose from.

There will be lots of publicity surrounding these "Year Of" crops, so take advantage of it! By the middle of November all of the fact sheets, flyers, handouts and signage that NGB generates for this program will be downloadable free of charge from the NGB website.

They’ll be at Cultivate, too, sharing space with AAS in booth #1313.  

A Cool Mandevilla Combo

I’m still obsessed with spotting mandevillas this year. I’m seeing them everywhere, as I’ve mentioned before: beautifying restaurant entries, lining the sidewalk by condos and simply as gorgeous porch containers. But honestly, they all have the same stuff in them—either petunias or cannas, and that’s about it.

Fellow mandevilla spotter Sietse Elsinga from north of the border has been sending me some great-looking combos over the last few weeks, and the last one was a beauty.

 

He spotted this Siesta mandevilla in a mixed planter in Oakville, Ontario. We’ve got some ipomoea for color contrast, some calibrachoa and bacopa for the spiller effect, and pentas and phlox to fill it out. Gorgeous—and obviously upscale.

If you’ve spotted an over-the-top mandevilla combination, I’d love to see it. Send it along to ewells@ballpublishing.com.  

Don’t Forget!

The deadline for the GCA 2017 Best Garden Center Bathroom Awards is coming up this Friday, July 14. Get your photos of your top-of-the-line facilities (and a brief description of the actual rooms and the concept behind the design) to BestBathrooms@gardencentersofamerica.com by 5 p.m. EDT. You just might win a free registration to the 2018 GCA Summer Tour headed to Seattle. Best of luck!

See you in Columbus, friends. Meanwhile, got something to share? Just drop me a line at ewells@ballpublishing.com.   




Ellen Wells
Editor-at-Large
Green Profit


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