THE EFFECTIVENESS OF RETAIL SHOW GARDENS

January 28, 2008
Written by Allison Finnamore
There’s nothing like them to help sell consumers on new introductions and industry trends, notes an industry expert. The displays not only show how well the plants perform locally, but also how they can be used.

Many greenhouse operators and landscapers in Eastern Canada tend to be cautious when introducing industry trends.

Lloyd Mapplebeck of the Department of Environmental Science at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, addressing the New Brunswick Horticultural Congress, said gardening trends in the region tend to lag a few years behind rest of the continent.

But growers shouldn’t see this as a disadvantage, he added. Instead, they should incorporate new products into display gardens, an added draw to the garden centre. These gardens show customers how well plants perform in local conditions and how they can be used; in short, they can influence shoppers not quite confident with new introductions.

Among emerging trends, Mapplebeck said gardeners in the region are looking for low-maintenance, all-season plants that work well with container plantings. Fitting these criteria are native plants. Perfectly matched to local conditions, these plants also require fewer pesticides, an added bonus to those wanting to garden more organically.

Homeowners also buying more perennials. These are on the upswing “and will be for a long time.” On the other hand, ornamental grasses, popular in other regions, haven’t shown up in great numbers yet.

Homeowners are also buying more hardscaping products for their yards. This involves more landscape lighting, water garden features, stonework and container gardening to blend with the natural environment.

One trend unique to the region, and especially in Nova Scotia, is a result of one of the worst storms in memory. In September 2003, Hurricane Juan toppled many trees in the Halifax area. Previously shaded areas are now in full sun, prompting homeowners to adjust their gardening strategies.

Allison Finnamore is a freelance writer and photographer in New Brunswick.

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