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Trending Now in Europe

One of the best parts of my job is to track trends, and one of the best shows for trends is the annual IPM Essen show in Germany. Each January, 1,600 exhibitors from 50 nations get together to show off the latest in horticultural everything. It is truly the best horticultural trade show on the planet.

For the first time, I saw packaging geared toward people who know nothing about plants, and products that were completely consumer proof. I’ve been attending this show since 2006, and I have not seen so many innovative ways to sell plants — ever. I’ve been preaching for years that Gen X (my generation), as well as Gen Y and younger — the folks who theoretically have money to buy plants right now — know very little to nothing about gardening. In fact, it has been proven time and time again that they don’t even like the word ‘gardening’ or the term ‘garden center’ because they conjure up images of getting dirty and sweating hard. Gardening is hard work. If most people don’t know how to garden, and many are not wanting to get dirty and sweaty, how the heck will we ever sell them plants? We must approach it in a different way.

plants nouveau, new plants, herbs, trendsTwo of the most innovative products I saw were more about packaging than anything. One was an amaryllis bulb dipped in a special wax that holds in moisture. It holds in moisture so much that whoever buys it never has to water it. Never. Really. It takes all of the guess work out of growing them. It’s foolproof. Grab one, place it on your dining room table and watch it grow.
Another really innovative package was for herb and veggie gardening (pictured). The bareroot plants or seeds were sold in a cardboard package with a picture of a delicious dish on the front, a recipe on the back, and the plants needed for that dish inside. Want to make homemade lasagna? Here’s your tomato, basil, oregano, rosemary and garlic starts; grow them in your garden, follow this recipe and voilá — homemade lasagna. It’s brilliant, and it makes so much sense for people who know nothing about plants. It also ties growing plants to cooking food, and we need to do more of that.

I saw some clever gift plant packaging at the show as well, including bulbs packaged in a way that resembles Lindt Truffle bags. Each one had a special, ruffled, pink tulip inside. One gift plant I found was incredibly clever and targeted perfectly to Gen Y shoppers. Cyclamen were died in pastel shades to match a palette of pastel-colored eye shadow. I know what you’re thinking — no gardener would ever! But these were not for gardeners. They were for people who like makeup and maybe have never put a finger in the soil. They don’t know it’s fake. To them, it’s beautiful. When it dies, they can go buy a new one. The marketing that went along with thesgift plants, cyclamens, make-upz, new plants, plants nouveau, trendse was fabulous. They are called Make-Upz cyclamen (pictured), and they sell them in color-coordinated pots and gift bags. I know my friend, who owns a salon, would be all over these for her spa.

dyed cyclamen, make-upz, new plants, gift plants, trends, plants nouveau

We must focus on new ways to sell plants to people who know nothing about plants. The Europeans finally get it. Will we ever get it?

The most interesting trend

I saw this summer while traveling in Europe to visit trade shows and breeders was the annualizing of perennials. What does that mean? It basically means breeders are selecting perennials that can be planted as a tiny input late in December or at least before the beginning of March, and then sold as a pot full of blooms that same year.

That’s nuts, right? What about plants that need to be vernalized? Apparently, vernalizing perennials takes too long, costs too much money and just isn’t cool anymore. And you guessed it, it absolutely means perennials that need to have a cold winter to bloom are no longer showing up in mass quantities in the marketplace.

Beloved plants like Lobelia cardinalis, some echinaceas, dicentra and others are falling out of favor with growers because they can’t be planted and brought into bloom in a few months.

What’s the good news? The cost of perennials has gone down and the new “annualized” perennials make the greatest displays in retail garden centers. In some cases, perennials like campanulas and anemones (top right) and some succulents are being sold as gift plants.

There were two cool marketing ideas that caught my eye. One was full of emotion and one showed use. I’m learning so much about how little today’s consumers know about plants, and the more I think about it, the more I realize we need to tell people how to use them. more lips, trends, new plants, gift plants, plants nouveau gift plants, more lips, trends, new plants, plants nouveau

These two ideas could help. The More Lips campaign is an overarching POP idea to put emotion into buying common gift plants. More Lips = more love, and more kisses for the person who gave the gift. The campaign was all about love, and the black and white posters had photos of people kissing, children kissing their parents, and even new moms kissing their babies. It was very powerful. There were bench wraps, plastic sleeves and tags to match.

This kind of point-of-purchase marketing grabs the attention of a shopper looking for something to take to their sweetie or maybe someone who just had a new baby. It was well done and I think it would work in grocery stores and in the gift plant section of any garden center or home store. I would buy them. It was like Anthropologie or J. Crew meets Hallmark.

Check out the tags for hedge plants called Privacy Makers (top left). It’s not really showcasing new plants, but new ideas for their use. This booth had everything from beech trees grown to perfection for making a proper hedge, to hydrangeas and common evergreens used to make a hedge around your patio or property. The tags and signage showed couples and families behind the hedges enjoying meals, glasses of wine and play time. It was such a wonderful way to portray how hedges can be used in any garden hedges, new plants, privacy makers, plants nouveau, trendsspace.

The last thing I saw that blew my mind were the fully fruited, probably 20-year-old espaliered pear and apple trees in several displays. For $400 to $500, someone could take one home and plant it without all the hard work of training it for the first five to 10 years. This is a great way to carry on a very specialized gardening skill without having to teach someone how.

Marketers keep talking about the do-it-for-me generation — well, here you go. We do it for them and the art of espaliering a fruit tree is not lost forever. Seems like a win-win situation to me.

Angela founded and co-owns Plants Nouveau, LLC., a company that specializes in introducing and marketing new plants to the nursery industry. angela@plantsnouveau.com

Archives, E-Letter, News

Their Memories Are Amazing!

Welcome to The Weeding Gnome
By: Angela Treadwell-Palmer & Plants Nouveau

— April 3, 2015 —   IMG_8578

Their Memories are Amazing!

Ella, my 8 year-old daughter had a spa party sleep over with 5 of her friends last Friday night. They were up until 3:30am! I think they all had a great time. They were a little droopy eyed when they went home with their parents.

I noticed a few things watching this group of energetic girls flounce around my house. Keegan, her 12-year old brother volunteered to help me and be the party DJ. He played today’s pop music. They knew every word to every song he played and sang them all with hands on hips like they were backups in a Taylor Swift concert.

I didn’t grow up with pop music. My dad only listened to a few people. My brother and I hated it, but it was what it was.  Pop music was not part of our culture. Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor and Van Morrison were though. When I got to college, I didn’t know much about pop music, so I was kind of out of the loop. Remember those cassette tape and then CD of the month clubs you could join in the late 80’s/90’s? I joined them all. I wanted to have the music everyone else knew because I felt uncool.

I soon found out Jimmy Buffett was way cool and so was I because I knew every word to every dang song he sang – thanks to my dad. Kids would be like, “ How do you know all the words to these songs?”  and I’d be like, “ It’s all I ever heard growing up.  It’s all my dad played.” Kids thought my dad was cool. He was, but I was severely pop deprived.

Not like today’s kids.

Imagine first and second graders singing phrases like this from the most recent Bruno Mars hit, Uptown Funk;

“Stop, wait a minute. Fill my cup, put some liquor in it”

Or this line from I’m So Fancy by Charlie XCX:

“Trash the hotel. Let’s get drunk on the mini bar”

Really makes you feel proud when you’re driving around with a few 8 year olds in the backseat and they belt out these lines. Do they have any idea what they are singing?

Let’s hope the answer is No.

I don’t remember songs having such nasty, inappropriate lyrics when I was growing up.  Songs were nice.  Maybe that’s because I was pop deprived, but I’m thinking times have changed. Although my brother and I did find it super cool to sing Damn, That Traffic Jamby James Taylor.  We would giggle every time. Today, just about every stinking song is about sex, drugs and drinking. Even sappy country hits.

What hasn’t changed?

The fact that a child’s ability to memorize or remember things is amazing.

So why aren’t we capitalizing on this each and every day in schools, in garden center displays and in marketing plants to consumers?

We are trying, but we are not doing a great job. The produce industry is rocking though.  How many kids now call every clementine they see a Cuties™?  Sorry Halo™, you tried, but you were a couple months too late.

They ARE still just clementines people, right?

I worked from the car dealership yesterday while waiting for my Mini Cooper to be serviced. They have a great snack bar there. There’s even fruit. I thought it was so interesting when one of the sales guys walked up to the box of clementines clearly marked Darling Clementines – another brand – and he said, “ A cutie!”

Marketing at it’s finest. Way to go produce marketers. You’ve made Cuties the next Kleenex™.

Here’s my question – what can we come up with to market plants or gardening that every 8 year old will remember and repeat?

Food for thought.

The person or company that gets it right will change history and make gardening as popular as pop music.

A girl can dream, right?

Got any brilliant ideas, email me!

What’s new with Plants Nouveau?

We launched our totally new, very beautiful website this week. Check it out.
www.plantsnouveau.com

We will be adding and updating it regularly. Check back often to see what’s going on. Featured plants, Featured breeders, Travel highlights and always – lots of pictures and plenty of information about each plant we introduce.

If you love it or hate it – let me know. We’d love some constructive feedback because as I’ve learned from many, a website is never finished.  It’s like a garden, you add and rearrange it all the time and you never, ever stop.  When you stop – it dies.

A huge shout out to my former roommate and fellow University of Delaware grad, Hendrik-Jan Franke and his amazing team at Bright Orange Thread in Wilmington, Delaware. They did a fantastic job of bringing my wildest dreams to life in a website that is easy to use and so easily changed, that we will be set for years.

If you need a new website, I highly recommendwww.brightorangethread.com.

In other news, I still have 1 foot of snow in the back yard. It’s so depressing that I went out to a local garden center and bought $103 worth of forced bulbs. A girl has to do what a girl has to do – and my last amaryllis bloomed this week. I was desperate.

Happy Spring and Happy Easter to all who celebrate and of course…

Happy Weeding!

Angela

Angela Treadwell-Palmer
Founder and Co-owner, Strategic plant finder, In Charge of Magic
Plants Nouveau, LLC.


Angela’s Garden Notes
Syringa vulgaris ‘Elsdancer’
Tiny Dancer

With spring quickly approaching in most areas of the country, I long for the scent of lilacs. Do you have a smaller garden , but still long for the scent and blooms of a traditional lilac?Growing only 4′ tall at maturity, Tiny Dancer rarely needs pruning. Found by our good friend and horticultural master, John Elsley, Tiny Dancer is the perfect lilac for smaller gardens.

In the fragrance of Tiny Dancer past meets future with a memorable scent. Too long considered a leggy plant for old-fashioned gardens, this lilac has a compact form, making it ideal anywhere hard-working, low maintenance plants are needed.

In addition to the cold-hardiness expected from a lilac, Tiny Dancer boasts remarkable heat tolerance, growing and blooming where few lilacs have gone before.

Even in Zone 8, violet-purple buds open into lavender flowers, ranking it among the dogwoods and azaleas as a benchmark of spring. Large panicles measure 4 to 5 inches, and the large florets make each cluster appear luxuriously full. Foliage and flowers are in perfect scale, one complementing the other. Re-blooming lilacs just don’t put on the spring show our Tiny Dancer does. The fragrance will knock your socks off. Try it and let us know how you like it.

Want to learn more about Tiny Dancer, use this link.

Archives, E-Letter, Weeding Gnome

Cloth Napkins & Garden Gnomes

November 25, 2014

The Weeding Gnome

Each November, I like to reflect back on the year, the seasons, the garden and all who have touched my soul. In this week’s Weeding Gnome I Give Thanks.

Dear Reader,
I am thankful for:

My children – who are troopers and deal with unexpected stops along the way during every road trip to forage or identify plants and check out new garden centers.

Finally meeting new friends like Jeavanna Chapman in person – after chatting for years on Social Media. Nothing beats meeting people in person.

My travels. Since I work from home – travel is so important for me. I get to see old friends and new and see what’s going on in the world – literally.

My husband Drew, who has become the best hole digger and sod remover this side of the Mason Dixon line. Without him, we’d be paying for lots of labor in the trail garden. He admittedly enjoys sitting on the deck after gardening and looking out at his hard work. He prefers to do this while tasting one of my Plants Nouveau gardening cocktail creations.

My business partner Linda because she’s the yin to my yang and we make a really good team.

People who walk past my garden and ask about the plants and if they can have a piece. They are the reason I do what I do and passing the information along is what gardening is all about.  I’ve had more people stop this year than ever before. Maybe that’s a good sign that gardening is becoming more popular – or at least that they are curious.

Our breeders, for without them, we would have no company and no plants.  I am very grateful for their trust, their humor and their loyalty.

Our licensed growers.  If they didn’t believe in what we do, we would not be here and no plant would ever make it into a consumer’s hand.

The birds who frequent the feeders outside my office window – for without them, it would be a very lonely, colorless winter.

My trial garden, because living with the plants is the best way to get to know them.

Cloth napkins & Garden Gnomes – because they are fun to collect, they define me and have become a part of everyday life in my family.

And finally you.  You listen to me.  You inspire me.  You feed my mind and for that – I am truly thankful.

Ella, my seven year old, modeling a vintage hydrangea at Terrain @ Styers in PA.
My Twitter friend, Jeavonna and I meeting for the first time – in real life!
Selfie with breeder Henk Holtmaat of AB-Cultivars in the Netherlands in May.
Good industry friends, Like Mark Highland of Organic Mechanics and fine growers like Pioneer Gardens make life a lot easier.
I wish for you a peaceful Thanksgiving, good times, great health, and most of all…Happy Weeding! 

 

Angela Treadwell-Palmer
Founder and Co-owner, Strategic plant finder,
In Charge of Magic
Plants Nouveau, LLC.

Archives, E-Letter, Weeding Gnome

Perennials for Fall Color

echinacea cone-fections milkshake fall color

When you think of fall color in your garden or selling fall color to your customers – do perennials come to mind?

They should!

Some coneflowers have excellent fall color. Echinacea Cone-fections™ ‘Milkshake’ has brilliant fall foliage. Not only does it look great all summer, but it feeds the birds with its bountiful seeds, and then – to top it off – it has brilliant spaghetti squash-yellow fall color.

What’s not to love about a plant named Milkshake anyway? Not only is it my all-time favorite coneflower, but it has incredible fall color. It’s quite possibly coneflower perfection. This could be the best double white echinacea for the mid-border. Milkshake is “regular” sized. It’s not tall, it’s not dwarf, it’s just the right size for all you coneflower traditionalists out there.

Blooms are held high on strong, sturdy stems and they do not age until fall. It’s as if they are fake flowers. Milkshake grows 36-40 inches tall and 24-30 inches wide.  It has proven hardy to USDA zone 5 and grows well from Vermont to North Carolina, from Minnesota  to Oklahoma and Texas.  It’s one versatile, hardy coneflower and we are proud to have it in our Cone-fections™ line.

The plant is also very sturdy and strong. Each mature plant holds 40-50 blooms (the same ones since early June…) high with great confidence and no sign of flopping. The blooms are large and fully double, and they are almost true white, with a hint of french vanilla milkshake-y-ness. Milkshake is one of the most asked about plants in the Massachusetts trial garden.  People stop and ask what it is, and if they can take some seed all summer long.

Read more about Milkshake here.

What other perennials have great fall color?  heucherella infinity, plants nouveau, purple leaved heucherella

How about heucheras (coral bells), tiarellas (foam flowers) and their hybrid cousins heucherellas (foamy bells)?  Some of them have brilliant fall color, like our Heucherella ‘Infinity’. Not only does it bloom until – well – it’s STILL blooming, so I’m not really sure when it will stop – hence the name – Infinity, but the chocolatey-purple foliage turns maroon,orange and pink when the temps drop.  Heucherella Infinity fall color

This new foamy bell – a hybrid of a coral bell ( Heuchera sp. ) and a foam flower (Tiarella sp.) is sure to please even the most discerning gardener. From the breeding program at Ab-Cultivars in the Netherlands, we bring you this amazing new heucherella that blooms to infinity and beyond.

Infinity has large, dark, chocolate colored, velvety leaves that work together to form a mounding, bushy perennial, making a statement in any garden. The deeply lobed, matte finished leaves look as if they’ve been covered in dark chocolate cocoa powder. Creamy pink buds open to cream colored flowers on two foot spikes that bloom continuously from the end of May to late fall.

Read more about Infinity here.

What else? Many of the new litShic=zaCHYRIUM PRAIRIE MUNCHKIN FALL COLORtle blue stems selections on the market have great fall color too, like our Schizachyrium ‘Prairie Munchkin’.

If you are looking for a native, ornamental grass that won’t get too tall, takes poor soils with little to no organic matter and loves to be dry?  Then this new selection is for you.  Prairie Munchkin was selected from tons of seedlings by Donovan Boehm of Boehm’s Garden Center in west, central IL.  Don selected it for the steel blue new growth, the perfect size for median and municipal plantings that require plants to be 3′ tall or smaller and for the fact that it does not flop in late summer or even winter, like most little bluestems do.

Prairie Munchkin even takes good garden soil – and it STILL does not flop.  That’s amazing since most little bluestems thrive in poor soils.  Schizachyrium Prairie Munchkin fall close

Prairie Munchkin is the perfect native alternative to the highly overused Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’. This new sturdy grass will make a perfect 3′ tall hedge.  Use it in naturalistic plantings in a border or mass it in a hedge row for a very minimalist, modern look, Prairie Munchkin is certainly not “small” on uses or personality.

The steel blue foliage persist throughout the heat of the summer, then the flowers appear and the foliage slowly turns a shade of strawberry blonde, then to shades of tan, blue and deep maroon for fall, finally settling in for a long winter’s nap with a bright shade of tawny for the remainder of winter.

Read more about Prairie Munchkin here. 

There’s lots of perennials with fall color or really cool seed heads that make the autumnal garden more beautiful, so don’t forget about them when designing or planning or selling for all season color.

 

Archives, E-Letter, Weeding Gnome

Time to Buy the Mums

WEeding Gnome, wood block, plants nouveau

Welcome to The Weeding Gnome By: Angela Treadwell-Palmer & Plants Nouveau

— November 14, 2014 —   

It’s Time to Buy the Mums

Wow! Time sure does fly. The Polar Vortex is making its way across the US, yet it seems like we were just trying to fit in our last summer beach day. Where does the time go?

Seasons change. Speaking of seasons, while preparing for a lecture on European trends for the Independent Plant Breeder’s Conference a few weeks ago, I had an epiphany. Before you say, “Ut-oh, here she goes”, or run away screaming, please read on.

I’m always trying to equate European trends and gardening habits with selling more plants, so I started looking at the times of year American’s buy plants. I came up with a few times, but the time of year when people go out to buy their fall mums was by far the most popular.

For a few years, my kids have been making fun of fall mums. I must confess that this is all my fault. I’m not a huge fan. I love many plants in the Chrysanthemum genus, but the ones we see each year on people’s front porches, in their pots, and planted along gas station curbs make me want to gag.

It all started one day when we were shopping at a local apple farm. I over heard not one, not two, but three couples say, “It’s time to buy some mums”. Of course, my cynical mind goes directly to questioning why. And then I repeated – It’s time to buy the mums- It’s time to buy the mums- It’s time to buy the mums – in a very low, maniacal voice. My kids loved it and now every time we are out in the fall and they hear someone say something about getting mums, they look at me and whisper, “It’s time to buy the mums!”, quietly, so no one can her them.

I know – I’m a bad mother.

I knew it when my now 12 year old, then 7 year old yelled “Old as dirt!” out the car window as we passed an elderly driver that had been holding us up. They retain and repeat everything we say.

684d4472-16d6-4ffa-be0b-c01aaf402147Lest I digress any further, let’s get back to why consumers feel the need to buy mums in the fall. Who told consumers mums were the one and only plant they need for fall decorating? Why do they NEED them? I l know garden centers try to sell other plants in the fall, but honestly, the majority of plants going out the door are mums.

I get it. They are buying plants and I need to get over it. Mums are pretty, I suppose, but the horticulturist in me says there are so many more exciting, more utilitarian plants that they could be buying – and that goes for more exciting forms of mums too.

But that’s totally NOT the point!

The point is these folks are buying plants and we want people to buy plants. We want people to garden. Are the consumers buying mums really gardeners? Should we feel lucky they buy anything?

And then it dawned on me. To these consumers, it’s a tradition, it’s not really gardening. Hmm…think about that. It’s NOT gardening. The main complaint we hear from consumers is gardening is too much work, right? That’s what all the latest market research says too. Buying mums and poinsettias isn’t considered work to these consumers, but I hate to tell them – whether they like it or not, they ARE gardening. Hehe – we tricked them into it.

Here’s a question – what else can we “trick” them into buying? I use trick in a non-literal way, but you know what I mean. Perhaps a better word is “train”? I analyzed the times each year when people who don’t really garden go into a home store, apple farm, garden center, etc., and buy “traditional” plants. So, there’s Easter, when they flock to roadside stands for lilies. Then comes Mother’s Day, when the traditional gift is a lily or forced hydrangea. Then there’s fall when they must get their mums. Finally, there’s Christmas when a large majority of American’s rush in to get a poinsettia and a Christmas tree. Don’t forget about Christmas trees – they are plants too. 

I thought about these times and then came the epiphany-a light bulb if you will.

If we want to sell more plants and get more people gardening, how do we make more plants part of our American traditions?

The person or company who taught people to buy mums in the fall was brilliant. It’s been happening for decades. I’ve got a gut feeling those same people are buying poinsettias and Christmas trees too. I’m not sure how long the Easter/Mother’s day plant tradition has been going on, but I’m guessing at least as long as I’ve been alive – and probably MUCH longer.

And… as much as I dislike mums, it IS brilliant. It’s on people’s calendars; built into their DNA and something they think they CAN’T live without. It truly is marketing genius.

Chew on this… How can we get people as excited about spring bulbs, summer perennials/annuals, ornamental grasses and the brilliant fall color of so many ornamental shrubs and trees, and I’ll even throw in other throw-away plants and cut flowers, as they are about mums? How do we make gardening an American tradition, much like it is in Europe?

I’ve got it! “Time to buy the Metasequoia glyptostroboides!”. Haha, I threw that in for my plant geek friends – you know who you are – but seriously… got any brilliant ideas?  I’d love to hear them.  Let’s chat!

Speaking of fall color, did you realize some coneflowers have excellent fall color? Not only do they look great all summer, they feed the birds with their seeds, and then they have brilliant spaghetti squash-yellow fall color.

(Sidebar: Can you tell my kitchen is being over-run with squash from my fall CSA share? And that the brilliant yellow color of the huge spaghetti squash sitting on my butcher block has been burned into my corneas? We MUST have that for dinner tonight.) What’s not to love about a plant named Milkshake anyway? Check out this week’s Garden Notes below. Not only is it my all-time favorite coneflower, but it has incredible fall color. It’s quite possibly coneflower perfection.

Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend, eat some squash, and Happy Weeding!

Angela

Angela Treadwell-Palmer
Plants Nouveau, LLC.
Founder and Co-owner, Strategic plant finder, In Charge of Magic


Angela’s Garden Notes 

Echinacea Cone-fections‘Milkshake’ PP#20594

This could be the best double white echinacea for the mid-border. Milkshake is “regular” sized. It’s not tall, it’s not dwarf, it’s just the right size for all you coneflower traditionalists out there.
Blooms are held high on strong, sturdy stems and they do not age until fall. It’s as if they are fake flowers. Milkshake grows 36-40 inches tall and 24-30 inches wide.  It has proven hardy to USDA zone 5 and grows well from Vermont to North Carolina, from Minnesota  to Oklahoma and Texas.  It’s one versatile, hardy coneflower and we are proud to have it in our Cone-fections™ line.

The plant is also very sturdy and strong. Each mature plant holds 40-50 blooms (the same ones since early June…) high with great confidence and no sign of flopping. The blooms are large and fully double, and they are almost true white, with a hint of french vanilla milkshake-y-ness.

Read more about Milkshake here.

You can subscribe to the Weeding Gnome right HERE and it will be delivered to your inbox each week.  It’s as simple as that.

Have You Recently Discovered a New Plant?
To learn more about what you should and more importantly should not do, , go to: http://www.plantsnouveau.com/new-plant
Archives, E-Letter, Weeding Gnome

My New Job & Lemon-Lime wins Gold

Welcome to The Weeding Gnome
By: Angela Treadwell-Palmer & Plants Nouveau

— October 16, 2014 —

My New Job & Lemon-Lime Takes the Gold!

SergioDear Reader,

No gnome picture this week because Sergio, my rusty metal chicken, requested a prominent spot. He told me he is tired of being rusty and he demanded a new paint job.

Okay rusty chicken who decorates my garden, I’ll paint you. But…you all know how I struggle with choosing paint colors, so we know this will NOT be an easy decision. Sergio is currently painted in primary colors, green, red, blue and yellow. Those were fun, but we should mix it up a little, don’t you think?

thema-logo.rightHave any ideas for at least 4 colors?

I would prefer they don’t include pink or purple, but I’ll try to keep an open mind. If I choose your combo, you’ll get a present from me. Something really special.

So, where else did I venture to this summer?

Plantarium. Not the Plantetarium where every school kid goes for their fourth grade field trip, but PLANTarium, the largest new plant introduction trade show in The Netherlands. It’s where all the cool plants get introduced. It is a surprisingly small show, but it attracts 17,000 visitors.

That’s more visitors than our largest plant-focused trade show in the US.

Let’s just say it is a concentration of super trendy ideas, awesome new plants and new ways to present new plants – all tied up in a small package under a few greenhouse roofs. While we were there visiting the show, three of our plants won major awards. Yes, whelenium, mariachi siesta, plants nouveau, plantariume rock it when it comes to choosing new plants. That’s right…Helenium, Helenium Mariachi Siesta, Plants Nouveau

We rock!

A Gold Medal went to Nandina ‘Lemon-Lime’ from one of our plant geek friends, Richard Davis in Virginia.
A Silver Medal went to Helenium Mariachi™’Siesta’ from AB-Cultivars’ breeder, Arie Blom.

And – as if that wasn’t enough for Arie…

A Bronze Medal went to Helenium Mariachi™’Fuego’ as well.Nandina Lemon-Lime, Plantarium, Gold Medal, Plants Nouveau

Want to see more award winners? You can see all of the new plants that won awards here.

Helenium Mariachi Fuego, Helenium, Plants NouveauI TOLD you these heleniums were different. Now that they’ve been awarded medals from the Dutch horticulture gods, maybe you all will believe me.

After visiting the trade show and collecting our awards, we went on to see our panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) trials, look at and evaluate all of the fruiting shrubs like snow berries (Symphoricarpos) and St. John’s wort (Hypericum), as well as coneflowers (Echinacea), coral & foamy bells, (Heuchera and Heucherella), sneezeweed (Helenium) and last, but not least our very exciting, up-and-coming completely mildew resistant bee balms (Monarda).

We stayed in Gouda (pronounced Howda – but try to hock a loogey while you say the H) had some really great Mexican food (yes, you read that right…) and witnessed for the first time, the Gouda cheese festival. We walked into town to purchase my required twice yearly allotment of kuminen kase – or cumin Gouda, for my very- worldly 12 year old son who can not live without it, when we got lost in a see of tourists and people from town. Everyone was there to witness the acting out of a fake cheese auction.

gouda cheese festivalIt was very interesting. And there was a LOT of cheese. gouda, cheese, netherlands, plantsnouveau

What else happened this summer? Oh right, my job changed.

How can my job change when I own my own company, you ask? All I can say is I didn’t ask for a new job, but I’ve got one, and it’s taking up a lot of my time. How and where people shop has changed – therefore, my job has changed.

You see, a whole lot of our plants are being sold in the new Cash & Carry market. This is a market we have tied to build for years in North America and it’s finally catching on.

What is Cash & Carry?

Simply put, it means selling plants where people shop for other things. For example, warehouse stores like Costco, groceries and by the check out of large chains. The plants are so beautiful shoppers can’t resist them and they end up with one or several in their carts.

It’s a total impulse buy.

Iplants at costco’d bet good money that the average person doesn’t go to Costco looking for plants, but there they are, in all their glory, at the front door- right as they walk in.

Better yet, it’s clear what’s for sale and how much they are. They only sell a handful of items at a time, but they have lots of them- sitting on pallets or carts, right as you walk in the front door. Shoppers can’t miss them, right? There’s no fancy signs, no cultural information, just a row of perfectly (we hope) grown hydrangeas (or whatever…) sitting there, catching everyone’s eye.

Sometimes they have Knock Out® roses, sometimes they have mums, pansies or seasonal plants. Sometimes they have huge arborvitaes that only people driving a Suburban or large pick up could ever take home.

Sometimes there is nothing.

They are not training customers to look for plants, but to be surprised by them. So surprised that they buy them right then and there, on the spot, without even thinking about what kind of care they need. Their customers buy them because they may never see them again.

It’s kind of like Marshalls and TJ Maxx. Granted, both of those stores always have certain things, but if you see something really cool that you want, you should buy it then because you never know if they will have that item ever again.

Due to this ever-expanding market, growers are selling lots of plants and people are taking plants home and hopefully planting them in their gardens.Costco_plants_spring

What’s not to love?

Well…who’s going to answer their questions? Who’s going to tell them how to make the hydrangea flowers blue? Who’s going to tell them anything about the plants they are buying?

There isn’t anyone, and THIS is the new customer service paradigm and the reason I now spend hours a week, which I’m certain will grow exponentially over the next few years, answering emails from consumers who bought our plants at one of these warehouse stores.

hydrangea, plants nouveau everlasting revolutionOur hydrangeas have a required tag. That tag has our website on it. Consumers go to the website, look around a little bit – not a lot, because 1/2 of the questions they ask are actually ON the website, then they email us. And it’s rarely one email and one easy question. It’s usually a Horticulture 101 class full of questions and several emails before they are satisfied with their knowledge enough to take care of the plant.

I actually like talking to consumers. I want them to love our plants. I want them to be successful. I know a lot about the plants we are introducing – as I should.

This is happening to all of the “brands” and plant introduction companies who require tags on their plants. We want the tags on there, that’s not the problem. But what surprises all of us in this part of the industry is how we have become the customer service for stores like Costco. They don’t have plant people working there and I’m thinking there aren’t any plans to add any either. Why should they? hydrangea, everlasting revolution, plants nouveau

We are doing the job for them.

Hydrangea1212_Revolution-1But the more plants they sell, the more questions we get and some of the larger brands like Star Roses and Plants ®- the introducers of the Knock Out Roses, say they have several employees on board answering questions from consumers every day.

Whoa! I don’t have time for that. But I have to make time.

We want people to feel confident. We want them to enjoy gardening. We want them to buy more plants, right? So we have to suck it up and add customer service representative to our “other duties as required” section of our job descriptions. Or in some cases- hire more people, depending on how many emails come in.

I never dreamed 10 years ago that I, as a business owner who really has had little interaction with consumers, would be talking to consumers each and every day about our plants.Hydrangea1212_Revolution-2

It’s great!

The Internet makes this world a small, intimate place. A place we’ve never been before.

How long before we need full time customer service representatives? Costco and other warehouse stores are making a lot of money selling plants. Their margins are high. They have no special employees to pay to take care of the plants, so these items are icing on the cake and almost always extra purchases that never would have happened.

I’ve been preaching that we should take the plants to the people and this is exactly what they’ve done. People shop at warehouse stores and chains more often than they would ever shop at a garden center, so why not sell plants there?

If people are running in between work, soccer games and school events AND trying to garden, then why not make it easier for people to buy plants by having them right there, in the stores they visit most often?

It’s a wonderful idea.

But how long before we have to charge them for information because they are getting the plants so cheap and there’s no one there to help them? Apple and Microsoft charge for help. They give their customers one free year or so depending on the product- if they buy the “plan”. Could we do that? Could we teach Americans how to garden by having a club? Could it be a club that charges a fee, so there’s a perceived value for that information?

Would they pay? How would we set it up?

It’s a great thought to ponder. Can we make gardening a never-ending learning experience? Can we teach them more about plants than any garden center employee ever could? Would people value our information? Would it make people value plants and gardens and all outdoor life more or at all?

All good questions and thoughts I’m pondering daily as we enter this new paradigm where WE are the ones answering all the questions and where WE are the ones teaching people how to garden. Once these folks sending in emails find out I know something about gardening (OK, well…a lot), they start asking about other plants and general gardening questions.

People are hungry for information.

They don’t want to kill the plant they just spent fifty bucks on. They want to be successful and there really isn’t a great source of information in one place. There’s no website filled with information on how to grow plants, so I am quite happy to answer questions, teach them and learn what they know and don’t know, so we can improve our website and all of our information to help consumers be successful.

What do you think about this new paradigm?

Have a great weekend, don’t forget to read this week’s Garden Notes below, and Happy Weeding!

 

 

Angela

 

 

 

 

Angela Treadwell-Palmer
Founder and Co-owner, Strategic plant finder, In Charge of Magic
Plants Nouveau, LLC.

Angela’s Garden Notes for October 16, 2015
Nandina domestica ‘Lemon-Lime’ PPAF

Nandina, Lemon-Lime, Plants Nouveau, Richard DavisYou may have seen many heavenly bamboos with red foliage, but this is the first one on the market with lime green foliage. Brought to us from our good friend Richard Davis, former owner of the awesome Ivy Farm on the shores of southern Virginia, this new plant has surprised us with its resiliency, even in incredibly harsh winters. It completely defoliated for me in a cold zone 6 last winter and came back – good as new- this summer.

Each spring, the new growth emerges bright, limey chartreuse and then fades to grass green as the summer heats up. It’s a selection of Nandina domestica var. alba, so there is little to no seed set. I have not seen any and neither has Richard.Nandina,Lemon-Lime, Plants Nouveau, Richard Davis

Brighten up your borders and foundation plantings with this bright yellow spring color. It will add excitement and a much needed boost of color each year as your bulbs and early spring perennials start to bloom.This new selection has been licensed to the Southern Living Plant Collection and to growers north of that region. If you would like to be licensed or you would like to purchase plants, let us know.
It grows 4′ tall by 3-4′ wide and has proven winter hardy to a cold USDA zone 6.

Not only did Lemon-Lime win a gold Medal at the Plantarium this summer, it also won the Retailer’s Choice Award from the SNA (Southern Nursery Association). This plant is decorated with honors and it has only been in the market for two years. Way to go Richard Davis for having such a keen new plant eye and way to go Plants Nouveau for introducing award winners.