Multimedia | Video
The inaugural Garden Center Executive Summit took place Feb. 18-20, 2019, in Denver, Colo. Take a look at highlights from the conference where owners, executives and managers of independent garden centers in North America gathered to learn and network. This video slideshow showcases some of the top moments from the engaging, educational event.
Watch here: bit.ly/gceshighlights
Each month, we ask readers a different question about their retail operations, inviting them to answer via email or social media. You can send your answers to associate editor Giovanni Castelli at email@example.com.
THIS MONTH’S QUESTION:
“What do you to prepare for Mother’s Day weekend? Do you run any promotions or special events for the occasion?”
Answers to this question will be published in a future issue of Garden Center.
What’s trending on Instagram
It is no surprise that coverage from the inaugural Garden Center Executive Summit dominated social feeds. Industry professionals gathered in Denver, Colo., to collaborate and learn together from some of the top leaders in the business. The conference was a huge success, and highlights can be found by searching #GCES19 on all social platforms.
5 stories in brief
Top industry news from our website
1. Extreme cold impacts EAB
Early February’s sub-zero temperatures in the Midwest could kill off a large percentage of the invasive insect’s larvae.
2. The Sill expands
The NYC-based company opened its first Los Angeles store, and also launched The Sill Forum, inviting IGC experts to participate.
3. Cornelius Nursery adds store
The new Katy, Texas, garden center will have approximately 4,000 square feet of indoor retail space.
4. National Pollinator Network grows
The million-plus gardens add up to a network of approximately 5 million acres of enhanced or new pollinator habitat.
5. Award winners
Proven Winners Illuminati Tiny Tower Philadelphus and Peppy Le Pom Punica granatum win 2019 Green Thumb Awards.
Weather may be a safe, small talk topic that can help you break the ice at networking events or breeze through an awkward, long elevator ride, but for our industry, it’s a serious business conversation.
Last year, weather was top of mind for retailers, suppliers and consumers, as snow fell and temperatures stayed low until the end of April, making it an unusually long, cold month for many areas of the U.S. Weather was a primary concern for retailers who completed our 2018 State of the Industry Survey, second only to staffing and far outpacing economic worries, as the season was compressed for many.
We’ve all heard the adage — there’s nothing you can do about the weather. Although you can’t command clear, sunny skies and 75 degrees Fahrenheit on Mother’s Day, there are proactive strategies garden centers can take to make the most of a rainy weekend (or four) during peak season. Basic knowledge about climate trends can go a long way, too.
As you’ll read in this month’s cover story on page 14, weather only repeats about 15 percent of the time year-to-year, so chances are, this April will be better. (Fingers crossed).
You can also ease your customers’ climate concerns by teaching them about eco-friendly gardening practices, empowering them to do their part to help the environment. Read Leslie Halleck’s column on page 22 for her five tips.
Whether the weather is frightful or delightful, we all spend much more time indoors than in years past, which could be one reason why we’ve seen a surge in the popularity of houseplants in offices, hospitals and homes. Read about the latest tropical plant trends from growers, retailers and other experts and their 2019 predictions on page 64.
Weather came up in conversations at the Garden Center Executive Summit in Denver this past February, too, as our gorgeous view of the Rocky Mountains was obscured by stubborn clouds for days one and two of the educational conference. The sun finally came out day 3, but the weather didn’t spoil the event — attendees were indoors, learning from the thoughtful, insightful and compelling lineup of speakers, many who are your peers and leaders in the industry. Read takeaways from the inaugural event starting on page 32, and look for announcements about the 2020 Garden Center Executive Summit soon.
All photos courtesy of respective companies
Small Single Hole Planter
Featherock’s Small Single Hole Planter is available in a small half crate of 32 pieces or a regular crate of 64 pieces. Each option has its benefits, with the small crate reducing weight and freight cost, and the regular crate earning an additional 10 percent volume discount. The Small Single Hole Planter is Featherock’s most popular sized pumice planter! Try it as an accent in a fairy garden or as the star of a succulent arrangement workshop.
BALCONERA Stone window box planter
Discover the perfect way to bring your patio to life with the BALCONERA Stone window box planter. This versatile planter can be placed on decks or hung from railings as a window box planter with the BALCONERA brackets (sold separately). The BALCONERA comes with an easy-to-lift liner. LECHUZA’s signature water reservoir supplies water to your plants as needed. The water-level indicator shows when the reservoir needs to be refilled, taking the guesswork out of plant care. For sales, contact Nancy Feldman at firstname.lastname@example.org and 609-589-1853.
The garden stake is a practical accessory to enhance your green space. These little and colorful bird stakes are a charming way to add wildlife to your garden, surely bringing a smile to your face. We offer seasonal styles as well as our year-round pieces, handcrafted by Mexican artisans. Each bird stake measures 8” x 6” x 31.” Rustic Arrow, email@example.com, 956-729-7741.
Glass Flower Pinwheels
Echo Valley has been producing fun, innovative metal wind spinners for over a decade. For 2019 they are raising the bar with their collection of nature-inspired glass Pinwheels and Windwheels. The three models comprising their new floral pinwheel series are produced from colorful textured glass panes framed in steel wire silhouettes with a 2.5” GID globe adorning them. At 38” (assembled), they are versatile in the type of settings they can be used and will naturally draw the eyes attention to them when in motion. Available now, each model ships in an attractive, shelf-ready display box for easy merchandising. Call Echo Valley at 800-592-9678 for more information or visit them on their website.
Corinthian Bells Plum
Our popular Plum finish is now available in the Corinthian Bells line. Corinthian Bells are our best-selling windchimes and our flagship brand for over a decade. For over 30 years, QMT wind chimes have been proven sellers for independent gift shops, garden centers, and florists. Our family-owned company takes pride in our individually tuned chimes. Each is proudly made in the USA.
Arco Iris Mosaic Magnum Fireplace
Echo Valley takes a bold new approach to open-flame lighting with their exquisite Echo-Flame Accent Fireplace and Accessories line. Their initial release features vessels produced from metal, ceramic and glass. Their new Arco Iris Mosaic Magnum Fireplace adds color and radiance to the patio, deck or yard by day and creates a relaxing ambience by night. The unit comes with a stainless-steel insert and snuffer for Echo-Flame’s new single-use 10.6 oz. gel-fuel cans (sold separately). The fuel is certified safe and produces a 6” crackling flame that will last 2 hours. Available late April, call Echo Valley at 800-592-9678 for more information or visit them online at their website.
The YULA collection of LECHUZA Self-Watering planters complement the decor of any interior. The wick irrigation system provides the plants with a constant supply of water. No repotting! Simply insert the “wick on a pick” into the bottom of the grow pot and then place into the YULA. Fill up the water reservoir, and when the water level indicator shows the reservoir is empty, it’s time to refill, taking the guesswork out of watering your plants! For sales, contact Nancy Feldman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at 609-589-1853.
Sloggers shoes and boots are a staple at back doors across America. Known for their colorful and playful print designs, Sloggers are available in five waterproof styles — garden clog, slip-on shoe, ankle boot, 10-inch boots and 14-inch boots. Sloggers’ signature all-day comfort insole supports and prevents foot fatigue while the outside materials take on rain, mud and dirt with ease. After wearing, hose them off and leave at the back door for the next project and/or adventure. Made in the USA. For ordering, email email@example.com. For style availability, visit the website.www.sloggers.com
Watch your plants take root with the new AccelaROOT 32-cell tray. These jumbo plugs give you 32 “homes” for your seedlings and cuttings. This finely crafted tray is made to help you jump start growth. Once you’ve started to sprout, plugs come out of the tray cells easily to be transplanted into bigger pots or a garden setup, letting you start all over again — with the same tray. No more equipment to buy!
These lightweight, anti-fatigue pruners are based on our immensely popular classic Hydrofarm pruners, favored by legions of horticulturists. Their surgical stainless steel blades offer serious cutting capacity in a lightweight package. These snips feature razor-sharp, tapered blade tips for ultimate cutting precision. Titanium-coated surgical stainless steel blades hold a sharp edge longer. Their perfectly balanced construction and ultra-lightweight, ergonomic design is suitable for right- or left-handed use.http://hydrofarmgc.com
Clay Pot Irrigation
Dripping Springs Ollas
The most efficient irrigation system known to man. Our thick ollas are cold tolerant, are sourced from Baja Peninsula clay, are made by third-generation potters and are the biggest around, 2.9 gal/11 liters. Our medium “Happy Face” Olla has self-appeal and pulls its weight in performance inside containers. Our prices are very competitive, since our potters are in North America, and our ollas are shelf-ready. Free PDF signs to download! Call today for ordering information. Mary Kathryn Dunston, 804-695-7978.
Happy Frog Citrus & Avocado Fertilizer 7-3-3
FoxFarm Soil & Fertilizer Company
Happy Frog Citrus & Avocado Fertilizer is specially formulated with your citrus and avocado trees in mind. Nothing is better than the juicy, flavorful kick you experience when you taste a fresh lemon or lime, and no one can resist the smooth texture of a perfectly ripened avocado. This formula contains nitrogen for robust vegetative growth, as well as calcium and sulfur to address the specific needs of these beautiful and bountiful trees.
Chipmunk, Squirrel & Rodent Repellent
Naturally drive rats, chipmunks, squirrels and other rodents from premises, around homes, barns, stables, patios, garages, trash cans, wood piles and more. Biodegradable and people and pet safe.
Dew Right Tree Bag and Tree Mat Circle
Take the stress out of planting new trees with the DeWitt Dew Right Tree Watering Bag. This 15-gallon tree watering bag is designed to provide a drip irrigation system directly to tree roots over an extended period of time. Use with the DeWitt Tree Mat Circle to control weeds and conserve water. The perfect planting system for new trees. Both products are available in green to blend in with green landscapes. One Company. One Call. Over 600 Products!www.dewittcompany.com
Central Florida Ferns & Foliage
The Central Florida Ferns & Foliage Pixie Plants mix is a collection of ferns, foliage and succulents for glass terrarium gardens, container mini gardens or succulent gardens. Its fern selection includes Pteris, mahogany, maidenhair, bird’s nest, Boston types, Selaginella, Autumn, Korean rock and more; to Ficus, ivy, begonias, Peperomia, Fittonia, Pilea, Hypoestes, palms and baby tears. The 2-inch garden plants give mini gardens variety, texture and interest.
Hydrangea ‘Hortmagicri’ Everlasting Crimson PPAF
A compact grower, apple-green, lacy flowers open with a tinge of red. But, like a chameleon running from green apples to cherries, the blooms quickly become red all over, making this the acclaimed red variety in our Everlasting line! Crimson comes with a promise to delight you throughout the entire season. Strong stems and dark green leaves provide the perfect foil for ever-changing colors. Crimson ages to green with red highlights — a pleasing combination as the summer fades and nights begin to cool.
RETAIL DISPLAYS & SUPPLIES
Organic Potato Shipper
Netherland Bulb Co.
USDA Organic Certified potatoes in one convenient shipper display. The clean design and high-quality product are sure to bring in the most discerning customers looking to grow healthy food in their own backyard. Each display has 40 selling units of assorted potatoes.
Millside Industries Inc.
The MFG #4WGC-D cart features a double-tier deck, 4-inch-by-10-inch pneumatic swivel wheels on one end, 16-inch wheels on the other end, metal anti-tip steering, a 2-inch high cargo lip around the deck, a powder-coated finish and a 600-pound capacity.
Table Top Sign Holders
Collier Metal Specialties, LTD
COL-MET table top sign holders are made as a self-standing, one-piece design from prime galvanized steel and can be powder coated in green, brown, black, red, white and blue colors. Designed to withstand harsh outdoor conditions, they are an economical, durable alternative to plastic signs that fade and crack outdoors. Ten various sizes available. COL-MET is the largest manufacturer of galvanized steel nursery sign holders in the industry.
Double Face Hanging Sign
Collier Metal Specialties, LTD
One-piece design is popular for hanging baskets and maximizes your square footage of retail space. Also, the sign catches your consumers’ eyes from both sides of the aisles. Signs are constructed of galvanized steel material for years of use in all conditions. Available in various sizes.
Benches, tables and retail displays
Bartlett Bench and Wire
It’s not just innovation and price that have earned Bartlett Bench & Wire its reputation as a leading supplier of benches, tables and retail displays – it’s our quality, too! Each item is handcrafted in Maine by craftsmen with an eye for detail. We bring years of nursery and greenhouse experience to all our products. Our job is to make your business grow, and that’s a job we take seriously.
Organic Vegetable Shipper
USDA Organic Certified potatoes and garlic in one convenient shipper display. The clean design and high-quality product are sure to bring in the most discerning customers looking to grow healthy food in their own backyard. Each display has 40 selling units of potatoes and garlic. Talk about making the tastiest and healthiest garlic mashed potatoes ever!
Eckert’s Greenhouse & Perennials
Bring the “wow” to your garden center entrance with our pole displays. Bring the “wow” to your local cities with our Water-and Labor-saving baskets. Bring the “wow” to your retail customers with our Weekender Baskets. All of our baskets have an unheard of 10-year warranty. Our iron fits on any type of pole, round or square, 3 to 8 inches. Beautifying the U.S. and Canada from backyard to main street.
Outdoor Sign Hardware
This hardware is the latest addition to the SZELEKT Sign Solutions collection. The outdoor retail environment presents many challenges to any signage program. Our sign hardware has been designed to securely hold either banners or quarter inch thick rigid signs. This unique design can slide up and down to change signs and sizes in minutes. Choose to attach signs to structures, using our wall mounted options or choose to use our innovative post mounting systems. Discover quality sign hardware products at SZELEKT.COM or call 317-402-8400 for personal assistance. Made in the USA.
Whether it’s a whimsical fairy village that looks pulled from a storybook, or a rustic, campsite vignette so true-to-life that even the smallest details aren’t forgotten, there’s no denying the charm of a miniature garden.
The limitless creative potential of miniature gardening is one reason the hobby continues to attract devotees, both seasoned gardeners and newbies alike.
The tricky part, though, can be getting those customers into your shop when the popularity of miniature gardening has made it possible to find elements seemingly everywhere — from hobby and craft shops to big box stores.
Independent garden centers that have thrived in this market say it’s thanks to savvy marketing, carefully crafted showroom displays, and a well-stocked inventory — all of which help set them apart from competitors.
“Miniature gardening has been a very good category for us because it’s an area we’ve been committed to,” says Diane Giddens, who, with her husband, Richard, owns Oak Park Landscape & Water Garden Center in Swanton, Ohio. Their extensive inventory of miniature plants fills one and a half greenhouses and has helped them build a devoted, repeat client base.
“When I visit other centers, it seems they often have a very limited selection that’s almost an add-on to their gift department,” Giddens says. “But if you’re just dabbling in it, you’re not going to do that well.”
Interested in expanding or revamping your miniature offerings in 2019? Here are some things to consider.
1. Give customers a reason to visit and see new inventory
For the past five years, Oak Park Landscape & Water Garden Center has hosted an annual Fairy and Gnome Fest each June, which draws roughly 500 attendees over two days — mostly children and their parents or grandparents.
In addition to an array of miniature plants and features for sale, the event boasts hands-on miniature gardening opportunities, a costume party, face painting, photo opportunities with fairies, kids’ games, a treasure hunt, snacks, and more. “It’s very popular and makes the perfect photo and social media opportunity, since it’s kids and families enjoying gardening together,” Giddens says.
Oak Park has also hosted a successful Saturday morning kids’ club, which Giddens hopes to reintroduce this year, where staffers help children build their own fairy gardens and other garden projects.
Monthly or seasonal workshops offer another way to get miniature clients coming through your doors — especially when they offer hands-on opportunities to try new techniques or build new features.
At Colonial Gardens in Blue Springs, Missouri, visual coordinator Kristin Middleton offers popular monthly workshops that emphasize the creative, DIY-potential of miniature gardening — from how to build a water garden feature to incorporating handmade, whimsical trees made from wire and craft beads.
“Every month I offer a basic class where I teach participants the principles of miniature gardening, and then I offer another class where attendees learn a new technique to add to their gardens,” Middleton says. Popular recent workshops have focused on incorporating acorns and other woodland textures as well as fresh-cut flowers into miniature displays, for example.
2. Create an inviting showroom
At Colonial Gardens, the miniature garden showroom is framed by reclaimed wood salvaged from an authentic 1800s log cabin in an arrangement that not only packs ample visual appeal but also, strategically, requires customers to walk all the way through the showcase once they enter, because there’s only one entrance and exit. “We have all sorts of displays and little hidden surprises as they walk through,” Middleton says.
The area is full of pre-made, ready-to-buy miniature gardens created by Middleton that not only offer inspiration for shoppers but also are a popular item in their own right.
“I always try to have ones that are over the top, and they do sell,” she says. “My highest price one that’s sold so far was $450.”
Many of Middleton’s displays model ways that customers can creatively incorporate standard-size items into their miniature displays. For example, a small glass lantern transforms into a whimsical outdoor gazebo, when outfitted with a miniature garden table, while an old wash basin placed on a set of vintage table legs makes the perfect, no-bending-required miniature garden container. “People really do like little unique twists like that,” Middleton says.
3. Encourage intergenerational engagement
A key element in the popularity of miniature gardening is its appeal for both young and older gardeners alike — and in fact many shoppers buying miniatures are grandparents looking to build a garden with their grandchildren, Giddens and Middleton explain.
To cater to this market, it’s important to stock safe, non-breakable plastic figurines that aren’t so precious they can’t be played with energetically, along with your higher-price pieces.
In your marketing and newsletters, suggest fun ways that grandparents can continue the “magic” of their gardens with their grandkids, long after the hands-on creation aspect is complete.
“I had a customer who would buy items and mail them to her daughter, who secretly added them into the miniature garden. Then, her granddaughter would call and say, “Guess what the fairies brought to my garden today, Grandma,’” says Kathryn Newman, owner of the online specialty retailer MiniatureGardenShoppe.com. “It was a special way that they could connect with each other, even though they lived far apart.”
4. Emphasize holiday tie-ins and other small change-outs
Another way to keep customers engaged in your miniature inventory year-round is to offer an ever-changing array of holiday-themed add-ins and other, inexpensive elements that can easily be traded in or out to freshen up a display.
“The seasonal holiday items seem to be increasing in popularity. I get customers looking for not only Christmas or Halloween or Easter, but also Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day and all the other smaller holidays as well,” Newman says.
Similarly, for those wanting to give their displays just a little pop of something new, rather than a complete overhaul, small accessories like weather vanes or tiny baskets are always popular, Newman says.
Again, this is where having a large inventory comes in handy. “When I have an idea or theme in mind, I try to think of all the pieces or elements a person could need to make that scene,” Newman says.
5. Market miniature gardens as gifts
Finally, don’t overlook the potential to market miniature gardens as the perfect gift idea for birthdays, weddings, retirements — or even funeral memorials.
Middleton was recently asked to design a miniature garden as a wedding gift for a couple who loved hiking, for example, so she recreated one of their favorite vistas from Colorado, complete with figurine bears.
Similarly, Newman has seen an uptick in clients creating miniature gardens as gifts for retirees. “Perhaps they’re retired gardeners who are downsizing and don’t want a huge garden anymore, but they’re still gardeners at heart,” she says. “Miniature gardens offer the perfect gift to allow them to still get their fingers dirty, even if they don’t have the space or energy for a big garden any longer.”