Proven Winners will not host a stop at California Spring Trials in 2020 and will reevaluate in following years whether or not to rejoin the tour.
With attendance slightly declining at the event in recent years, the company hopes to broaden the pool of horticulture industry members who can learn about its plant introductions, said Jeanine Standard, who handles media and public relations for Proven Winners. Many brokers attend Spring Trials, but only some growers, retailers and landscapers have a chance to do so, she said.
“For us, we are respected for having marketing innovations and new approaches, and this is definitely in that category,” Standard said. “And we'll be the first to say that there is no guarantee at anything we do. But we felt it was time to try a different approach — something that more of our audience could participate in.”
Brokers can still learn about introductions through an app, and they and others can view videos and catalogs and other print materials, Standard said.
In a video showcasing new varieties, Proven Winners could add information that would be useful to different segments of the horticulture market, including brokers, growers, retailers and landscapers.
“If we show the varieties to the brokers, we can add cultural information to it for the growers,” Standard said. “We can add point-of-purchase and packaging information to it for the garden centers. And for the landscapers, we can segment out the plants that we feel best suit their needs.”
In addition, industry members can still visit member companies Pleasant View Gardens in Loudon, New Hampshire, and Four Star Greenhouses in Carleton, Michigan, as well as licensees Nordic Nurseries in Abbotsford, British Columbia, and Sobkowich Greenhouses in Grimsby, Ontario.
“There's beautiful trial gardens there,” Standard said. “We're going to be taking more advantage of those locations to show the plants off in-person at different events.”
The timing of new introductions will depend on different variables, such as when Proven Winners will have plants available that it can feature in photography and video, Standard said.
“There’s just a lot of decisions yet to be made,” she said.
Spring Meadow Nursery
Spring Meadow Nursery will also not participate in the event in 2020, and it will reexamine how to introduce shrubs to nurseries, breeders and media, said Natalie Carmolli, marketing and promotions specialist at Spring Meadow Nursery.
"The decision to discontinue participation in the California Spring Trials is one that we support," Carmolli said. "Only recently have woody plants been a part of CAST, and in many ways it was still largely seen as a herbaceous plant preview event, so in actuality we are less impacted by the change than our partners."