Arkansas Green Industry PLANTS 2011 Day 2

Spent the morning running around the show. Got to talk to a few people, but not as many as I would have liked. Had some technical difficulties with the projector that took an hour and a half.

Here are the highlights from this afternoon’s nursery/garden center talks.

Bill Calkins – Ball IGC Business Manager

Communicating with consumers is key whether through ads or online or in person, garden centers have to be able to talk to and educate their customers.

Today’s consumers will visit your website before your store. Tell the story of your store to them online before they walk through the door.

One garden center’s best ad response was advertising in a high school football program – lesson here is go where the people are.

Do you know if your traditional marketing is working? Are you tracking it? If it’s not working, maybe it’s time to get creative.

IGCs have to have the best quality around. Consumers site quality and buying local as the top reasons to buy at IGCs.

Help your customers relax and enjoy their backyards or at least show them what is possible.

Retro and sarcasm resonates with younger demographics as long as you don’t go overboard.

Add a new gardener web page to your website!

Janet Carson – Extension Horticulture Specialist speaking on the current edibles trends

People want to grow their own produce, and we need to show them how.

Today vegetable gardening is cool compared to when we were kids and it was a chore.

Mixed herb containers need to be made up of herbs that grow well together.

Veggie gardening is up by 20% and community gardening is up by 60%!

Lettuce is a good started vegetable for new gardeners and can be used as an ornamental plant as well. Other nice edible ornamentals are eggplants and squash.

Peaches are the most sought after fruit tree by new gardeners and the most difficult to grow.

Blueberries are the best small fruit for everyone. There are also new ornamental varieties and even a pink one.

Interesting fact – We have the world championship tiller races in Emerson, AR.

Think seasonality with your vegetable offerings.

Do short gardening seminars at your store every weekend. Gardens are supposed to last all summer long and gardeners need help all summer long.

Chris Wiesinger “The Bulb Hunter” – The Southern Bulb Company

Oxblood lilies, red spider lilies – Huge opportunity for souther bulbs in the south in the fall.

Winter bulbs – narcissus italics more cold hardy with orange yellow center; roman winter blooming hyacinths that is very fragrant.

February bulbs – Heirloom Lent Lily dwarf narcissus, jonquilla narcissus, grand primo white narcissus

Spring – cemetery white iris likes dry environments, snowflakes ( very easy to grow), twin sisters narcissus last blooming of the season, Byzantine gladiolas, johnson’s amaryllis heirloom, rain lilies x grandjax and others are really nice

Gotta jump for now. I’ll try to get a wrap up posted later.

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