By Brian Minter
By Brian Minter
If there was a clear message coming out of the Ohio Short Course (OSC)
in Columbus, Ohio last July, it was ‘adding connection value’ to our
Connecting to Different Gardening Generations
If there was a clear message coming out of the Ohio Short Course (OSC) in Columbus, Ohio last July, it was ‘adding connection value’ to our products. The changing attitudes and habits of Boomers, the huge movement to outdoor rooms and the discovery of the X/Y Generation’s needs and wants all create different desires for our products. Ever increasing quality, the introduction of new plants and effective display merchandising are all-important, but adapting what we sell to new opportunities is the key to future success.
Time poverty is still way up there as an issue in people’s lives. Everyone is looking for baskets, containers and plants that provide optimum enjoyment with minimal care. At the OSC it was nice to see the emphasis on wave petunias and how they are replacing traditional petunias in mass plantings. ‘Easy Waves’ are a natural follow up because of the name and performance. The other hottie is ‘Dragon Wing’ begonias – sun, shade, big, fast, easy, showy, no pests, no problems. The ipomoea explosion has happened not only because of the striking foliage, but also its extreme heat tolerance and easy care. In mid-summer our best selling baskets are these three items. They are the ‘big easy.’
Relating plants to lifestyle is something we are long overdue in promoting. The Ball Corporation has really taken ownership and leadership of this theme. It’s not about the plants, but rather about how we adapt plants to various lifestyle situations. Merchandising plants in contemporary pots is a step in the right direction, but imaginatively featuring them in a new situation is where we need to be. Case in point – isolepsis, that ‘bad hair,’ or ‘fibre optic’ grass, as we like to call it. We used to sell them in 4" pots – not anymore. Ball has displayed the new seedling
variety, ‘Live Wire,’ in a tall, thin, clear glass vase, filled with colourful stones. This ordinary potted 4" has transformed into a funky, indoor water plant – something any X/Y would love to have on their windowsill or computer desk. You won’t sell hundreds of made up ‘Live Wires,’ but you will sell lots more
4" pots, glass vases and rocks because you’ve given your customers a reason to buy them. This same philosophy can apply to Spanish Lavender, potted callas, streptocarpus and colourful new primula varieties. Ball is taking this one step further with branded lifestyle names like ‘Bloomz Calla Lilies,’ ‘Maracas Brazilian Fireworks’ and ‘Primlet Primulas.’
Plant passport booklets, which have a “story” spin for each plant, are now in the production stage. These booklets, sold with each plant, will be filled with interesting tidbits, odd facts, places of origin and family ties. Brilliant idea. Further information can be found at www.plantpassport.com.
Watch for ‘bling bling.’ Far out pot covers, pots, crazy ting ting, spray tints and wild glitter are so NOW! No plant is safe! From tropicals, flowering plants and cactus to new foliage varieties – they are all about to be bling-ed. Traditionalists will raise more than their eyebrows, but the X/Y’s will eat it up. Stuff that never interested them will suddenly be on their radar.
The outdoor room has also been ignored far too long. Neat plants in pots is where it’s at. Boxwood is leading the change with all kinds of new shapes, styles and varieties. Tall, narrow columnar trees like Dawyck and Red Obelisk Beech are hot in a pot. Tall, thin pots are in, as are bright colours to make them stand out even more. They also need to be arranged with lights for nighttime enjoyment, especially in the fall and dark, grey, winter months.
We have barely opened the door a crack on where our plants are going. Living archways – indoors and out, uniquely shaped cacti, topiaries and heightening artistic flair by “painting” with plants will soon be mainstream. I’m tired of hearing that gardening is out of fashion and on the decline. By adapting even everyday plants, we will sell to evolving lifestyles. With a lot of imagination and creativity, we are reinventing what gardening is. So lets have some fun, get hip and reconnect to a world we have taken for granted for too long. There’s a bright future out there!