Planning the transition from annuals to fall perennials.
July 11, 2016 By Brian Minter
August 2016 – Our fall season really begins in summer, extends through Thanksgiving and Halloween, and on into the Christmas season. It should be our second mini spring. Fall is loaded with opportunities if we do some creative thinking and careful strategic planning. Frankly, most of us do half the job when full throttle is needed. Setting the tone creates the sales.
In folks’ gardens, fall is changeover time, and they need some help planning the transition from annuals to fall perennials. Grasses, colourful conifers, hardy violas, heucheras, heucherellas and eye-popping mums are the sparks that light up this new season. Even tired summer containers need an autumn lift that can later give way to Christmas greens for the holiday season.
We have had great success with both fall containers and moss hanging baskets created especially for a fresh new look right from autumn going into winter. We use the many new colourful varieties of evergreen carex grasses that spill nicely, and blend in smaller burgundy toned heucheras and cool ‘Wave’ pansies. As focal points in these eye-catching containers, we use vibrant columnar broadleaves like ‘Sky Pencil’ holly and ‘Green Spire’ euonymus, along with yellow conifers like thujas ‘Forever Goldy’ and ‘Yellow Ribbon.’ These plants are surprisingly cold hardy, and when Christmas greens are added, they continue to look fresh and fabulous as holiday porch pots and baskets.
Mini pumpkins, gourds, dried corn, dried grain stems and mini rushes added to fall plants, planters and arrangements create huge sales appeal as well as value. Display them as gift items as well as with your home décor merchandise. Done well, this will give your customers ideas of how they can recreate the look on their own using all your décor material. You also need outrageous “Lady Gaga” containers to inspire the millennial demographic!
All this effort to attract an expanded customer base and increase sales should be synergized with other fall sales. Is your fall bulb display mouth-watering and “over the top?”
Colourful fall produce offers one of the most stunning store décor punches of the year. Pumpkins were created for display. We start this season in August and extend it until Halloween. Have you seen the diversity of pumpkins, gourds and squash these days? Wow! For food, crafts, table centres and indoor and outdoor décor, they rule. Add in corn stalks, all sizes of hay bales and fall branches in pots and it’s a fall sales bonanza. Differentiating ourselves from the box stores and produce stands by value-adding will significantly increase the fall experience and sales in your store. Starting early is important.
Fall transitions into the positive and family-oriented Halloween, a holiday opportunity that is now dominated by large retailers, but by being wise and strategic, we can get a nice share of that market back too. It should be a fun, funny and happy experience. Stay away from the gory, dark stuff. We love resin or plastic pumpkins that can be planted up or used as candy holders. We like cutesy scarecrows, witches, goblins, spiders and garlands that can be adapted to pots, balconies, doorways and arches – all are an easy sell.
As folks move inside from the summer patio, refreshing the indoors with resilient tropical plants is an opportunity I think we can vastly improve upon. By using the “value-added” themes of not only beautifying our inside décor but also demonstrating the scientifically proven ability of plants to clean the air of toxins and to make us feel better in terms of wellness, we continue to offer our clients more than just a plant. Recommending easy-care varieties that will tolerate the lower light levels of fall and winter is important. The dracaena family, pothos and philodendrons are great options. For blooms, peace lilies and the new varieties of anthuriums are great additions to any home, as is the colourful foliage of aglaonemas.
Younger folks still love tillandsias and bromeliads, especially creatively planted in funky and fun glassware, or grown upside down as your very own pet “jellyfish!”
Fall is a season of new opportunities! Taking it to the next level is very important because we all need that little boost before the Christmas season begins.
Brian Minter is co-owner of Minter Country Garden Store in Chilliwack, B.C.
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