Greenhouse Canada

From the Editor: August 2018

Colour, convenience and context

July 10, 2018  By Greta Chiu

It’s issues like these where you get to really see where consumer trends are headed.

In our July edition, we looked at a cross section of Quebecker’s favourite plants in addition to my own picks from the California Spring Trials (CAST). Some of the common denominators identified were: unique-looking or uncommon varieties; vibrant colours; ‘vintage’ pastels; cool patterning; different-coloured foliage; lots of purples and pinks; and sunflowers

Did you spot the photo on our cover this month? While out in California, Mel Sawaya of Focus Greenhouse Management captured a hummingbird hovering over some salvia (see his perspective on CAST on pg. 12.) Which is the perfect segue into current garden trends.


There’s a growing group of consumers who are looking for ‘more’ to their purchase. Beauty is good, but they want meaning and purpose behind the choices for their garden or patio. As you’ll see in our cover feature of the New Varieties supplement this month, pollinator-friendly and drought-tolerant options continue to be consumer favourites – and the trend shows no signs of stopping (pg. 10 of ‘New Varieties’ supplement).

Not quite making last month’s spotlight were all the indoor and home gardening edible displays. Be it cherry tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, bok choy or basil, these plants don’t just look good, they need to taste good too. But to make them really consumer friendly, some effort is needed to guide the consumer on proper plant maintenance and harvest. Tim Duffin of Burpee dishes out key tips later on (pg. 26).

To further highlight the intersect between ornamental and edible, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre has partnered with Freeman Herbs to work on a growing market: edible flowers. Flavour, texture, impressing guests – these are all factors that the study is looking at to identify consumer favourites.

‘Easy care’ was another highlight of this year’s gardening trends, which speaks to the preference for convenience. For many young city dwellers, the internet is a  hyperspeed shortcut to common errands. Need to get from point A to point B? There’s an app for that. Need groceries? Order them online and have them delivered. With the opening of the Amazon Plant Store, plant purchases are becoming digitized as well (pg. 22).

As the Financial Post reported earlier this year, 62 per cent of surveyed Canadian retailers experienced a rise in the value of their online orders between 2015 and 2016. What’s more, 71 per cent saw an rise in ‘conversion rate’, a statistic that indicates the number of visits resulting in a purchase rather than simple window browsing.

Personally, I’m a fan of the in-person purchasing experience – smelling, feeling and seeing the plant with my own senses. Plus I get to ask questions and get recommendations from the garden centre staff.

But businesses in this domain understand the importance of face-to-face contact. They make consumer rapport, in-person interactions and quick responses their top priorities – practices that should extend beyond the digital store.

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