April 5, 2010 Newsletter

In This Issue
Cut flower trials
Smaller and Faster
California Spring Trials
Stressed meeting expenses?
PLANET Day of Service
Driving Customers to your Store
New Floriculture Web Site
Color Up Close
2010 IGC Show
Using a Book Store Model
New Plants
Quick Links
Join Our List
Join Our Mailing List
Eileen Nelson
UW-Madison Department of Horticulture
Cut flower trials
Cornell University's 2009 Cut Flower Trials summary is now available online.  The summary includes trials in the field as well as in high tunnels. 
Summaries included:
  • Sunflower Bud Elimination Experiments
  • Rudbeckia Photoperiod Light Gradient Trial
  • Rudbeckia Photoperiod Lighting Study
  • Godetia Transplant Study
  • Lisianthus Transplant Study
  • Larkspur Topping Trial
  • Stock (Matthiola) Topping Trial
  • Stock Date of Planting Trial
  • Sunflower Daylength Screening Test
  • High Tunnel Tulip Trial
  • Variety trials for 10 different cut flowers
Cornell also does a lot of work with flower bulb research and information on forcing bulbs and using bulbs in the landscape can be found at the Flower Bulb Research site. 
Smaller and Faster is Cool - One Individual's Perspective
 This is a reprint from the Trey Pitsenberger's 3.26.2010 blog  "The Blogging Nurseryman". Our small garden business has sure changed over the last few years. Since we opened the nursery over five years ago the idea of what constituted a garden center has changed. Where as in the past we focused on ornamental's we now focus on edibles, or consumables. This was a survival move, and one that was made easier by being a small operation. The ornamental market here in northern California is decimated. In the past people would spot some cool ornamental plant, fall in love, purchase it, and then figure out where to plant it. Now the plant has to match a need the customer has. Screening a neighbors junk pile, providing shade, or preventing erosion, etc. Much less in the way of impulse sales.

In this new world the hardest part for myself is letting go of past ideas of what a garden center means. With change coming faster and faster every year it's a good to be a small operation that can make those changes quickly. Being a small operation does not mean you can't have a big impact.  Through the internet our reach grows every day, yet the physical operation actually gets smaller. This is a trend that I believe will continue. We prefer buying from smaller operations that are closer to our business model. The box and chain stores continue to consolidate who they buy from. It seems that soon only the largest wholesale operations will be able to service the box stores.

We have noticed an increase in people looking to buy from small, locally owned business. They even make a point of saying they are doing it. Perhaps people have finally seen the relationship between where they buy, and the local economy. Shop at the larger stores and where does the money go? Buy from your local, smaller operation and you can see the results. Of course you have to have what people want, and at a reasonable price.  Pull that off and folks will respond.

Thinking of starting a small garden business? Now is the time. Don't wait for the economy to improve. If your idea has merit then it will work no matter what the larger economy is doing. If you can start and survive now, when the economy does improve you will have no where to go but up. More and more people are realizing that the only really work security comes from owning your own business. At least you know your success or failure is your responsibility, not some unseen bureaucrat at corporate headquarters. It is a bit scary at times, but so many good things come from doing things that are a bit scary. Fear is a great motivator.

California Spring Trials
 Greenhouse Product News and Lawn & Garden Retailer have established a website that allows you to see what is new at Spring Trials without leaving home.  The season is busy, but if you have a minute check out their infromation on what is new and exciting.
Small Business Administration financial help
If your small business is stressed meeting expenses because of the ongoing recession, the U.S. Small Business Administration has a new loan program designed just for you.

SBA's America's Recovery Capital (ARC) Loan Program can provide up to $35,000 in short-term relief for viable small businesses facing immediate financial hardship. The program is designed to help small businesses ride out the current uncertain economic times and return to profitability. ARC loans will be offered as long as funding is available or until September 30, 2010, whichever comes first. If you want more information, or want to apply check it out.
PLANET Day of Service
Planning for the second annual Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) Day of Service on Earth Day, April 22 is in full force. This grassroots program is an opportunity for growers, garden centers, suppliers, and other green industry professionals to come together across the country for a day of giving back to their communities through volunteer landscape, lawn care, tree care, or interior projects.

If you're wondering how you can pitch in, click here for some ideas. You can coordinate projects such as refurbishing the landscape of a local cemetery with native grasses suitable for low-maintenance, installing native plants and a drip irrigation system in a neighborhood park, and cleaning up the shores and accesses of a lake.

Using Social Media to drive customers to your store
The ANLA Today Social Media Resource Guide takes a look at one of the hottest issues in business marketing from the unique perspective of the nursery, landscape and garden retail industry. Part 1 asks whether social media makes sense for your business and how to get started. In part two we look at using common social media tools for marketing and take an expert look at how to optimize them.
Register for free at the ANLA Knowledge Center to take advantage of all of t heir on-line helpful information.
Floriculture at Michigan State University
 Michigan Sate University has launched a new website developed for greenhouse growers of floriculture crops.  Articles focussing on production information of specific crop types are available for download.  Additional information on the site includes information on marketing, links to Plant Growth Regular Research and Greenhouse Energy Resources.
Current Greenhouse Alerts include disease updates for:
  • Botrytis blight
  • Phytophthora root rotPythium root rot
  • Downy mildew
  • Powdery mildew
  • Thielaviopsis black rot
Color Up Close
Syngenta Flowers has released the latest edition of its e-magazine, Color Up Close.  The issue contains tips for every seaon, new variety introductions, merchandising tips, and simple container receipts.
Click here to read Color Up Close.
2010 Independent Garden Center Show
This year's Independent Garden Center Show, scheduled to run August 17-19 at downtown Chicago's stunning waterfront Navy Pier facility, will present more vendors and new products specifically targeted for the garden center market than any other show in the world.
Learning about your Green Business from BookStores
In John Stanley's latest email news he compares comparing your green business to a book store model.
A list of the five key lessons that are explained in the body of the newsletter:
  • Make sure your sales team are knowledgeable about the products
  • Make sure the team can engage the customer to pass that knowledge on
  • Join in Social media websites
  • The Window display and counter display are critically important
  • Shelf Talkers grow sales
Click here to read the entire article.
He also has an excellent article on Signs that Sell and uses fruit marketing to illustrate his points.
"Research indicates that to maximise the sale you need to tell the consumer what the product is, provide three benefits and the price in that order. The strategy is simple ,but how often do you just see fruit on a stall with a name and price sign and know benefits. Consumers need to know the benefits of, for example, a Granny Smith apple over a Royal Gala apple."
"The challenge for you, is ,I believe if you get the message and presentation correct on the sign you can grow sales by about 20% compared to bad signage or no signage.
MNLA New Plants For Spring
The Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association has a gallery of photos and plant descriptions of new plants introduced at the Northern Green Expo.
Garden Center Magazine features Helenium in the Plants and Profits section of their March 16, 2010 issue including
  • when to suggest them to customers 
  • display and marketing ideas 
  • and notable cultivars
Perennial Plant Association Annual Conference
 The 28th Perennial Plant Association Symposium will be held in Portland, Oregon, July 18-24, 2010.  Link here for registration information.
Please forward this newsletter on to others. 
Eileen Nelson  (eonelson@wisc.edu)