At Tangletown Gardens, the Minnesota-based IGC is big on the benefits of biophilic design. For the unaware, the goal of biophilic design is to connect people to the environment and incorporate natural elements into building spaces and customers are responding with enthusiasm.
“We like to push the boundaries of design and encourage people to step out of their comfort zone,” says Carolyn Weigel, marketing coordinator.
Take a look at some of their evergreen offerings and use these tips to remind customers about the power of nature this spring.
This past year has been quite the ride for our industry. From the start of the pandemic when we didn’t know if IGCs would even be allowed to remain open to navigating state regulations to making sure our customers and communities can remain safe, garden centers have been spreading the joy of gardening in a dark time.
The resiliency of our industry has been inspiring in its ability to not only overcome obstacles as a business, but to provide people within our communities safe and healthy ways to improve their lives through the beauty, therapy and exercise of gardening. Your ability to adapt, adjust and come out better on the other end has led many IGCs to record-breaking years.
But we all know we can’t rest on our laurels. We owe it to each other to keep the industry moving forward and capitalize on the energy and the new customers coming to your stores. There’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the way the rest of the year will unfold but when things do return to normal, we will be ready and here for you with the launch of the Garden Center Conference and Expo.
This new event builds on the Garden Center Executive Summit, which for the past two years has been an educational roundtable event for IGC owners. One thing that we have heard from attendees and readers alike is the need for an event that brings together the industry’s top retail professionals for both high-level education and the chance to collaborate with their peers who are facing the same issues within their own operations.
That is the exact reason for launching the Garden Center Conference and Expo. Expanding upon the Executive Summit, we will have two educational roundtable tracks — one for executives and one for team leaders and management-level employees. We are investing in the industry and want to provide an opportunity to come together to learn, collaborate and grow together. IGCs can now bring their entire team for a 2 ½ day event that will allow each member to grow professionally and push their business forward.
Over the past 12 months we have all experienced things we couldn’t have imagined but came out stronger on the other end. It’s more important now than ever to collaborate and learn from these experiences, and there is no better place than in Orlando this coming fall at the Garden Center Conference and Expo!
Though figs grow best in Zones 8-10, they can be successful in protected locations in Zones 5-7. 'Little Miss Figgy' is best grown in containers in full sun. Containers must be brought indoors in winter. Large containers may be overwintered in greenhouses, garages or basements.
How long has it been on the market?
Introduced and patented in 2017, it is available from the Sunset Western Garden Collection and Southern Living’s DownHome Harvest Collection.
Grows to height/width
4–6' tall / 3–4' wide
Prolific, dark purple fruits in late summer
Dark green, deeply lobed deciduous leaves
‘Little Miss Figgy’ is smaller and more cold-hardy than comparable figs, yet she bears prolific fruits spring and fall. Attracts birds and butterflies, tolerates clay soil, drought and heat-tolerant.
Show with other ornamental fruit trees or pair with interesting fig recipes to give gardeners fun ideas and reasons to take one home.
Consumer care requirements
Water before planting. Plant in full sun to part shade. Dig a hole three times the width of pot. Backfill and plant 1"-2" above soil level. Water and add more soil if needed. Mulch plants and water regularly during the growing season but reduce watering in fall.
You don’t need to know a single note of music to appreciate the quality that makes Music of the Spheres® the Stradivarius of windchimes®. These symphonic-quality chimes are carefully tuned to A440, standard orchestral pitch. Their rich harmonies transform the outdoor environment, giving rise to their motto: world peace, one backyard at a time!® Superlative musicality, design, engineering, and materials create a perceived-value product customers appreciate.
Quality components and painstaking hand-craftsmanship make the chime highly durable and weather-resistant. The tempered aluminum alloy tubing is custom-manufactured to exacting specifications and will never rust. The tubing is coated with a sleek black corrosion-protective finish that provides durability in all kinds of outdoor environments (acid rain, salt air, etc.). Heavy gauge polished stainless steel rings provide sturdy support and enduring beauty. UV-stabilized synthetic braid cordage is highly resistant to abrasion, ultra-violet degradation, rot and mildew. Solid UV-stabilized polyethylene clappers provide superior tonal quality and outdoor durability. Seven and fifteen year warranties result.
The elegant design features central tube suspension, with smoothly polished tube ends to prevent cord abrasion. Their unique interchangeable/ detachable windcatcher provides activity control thusly: The chimes are designed to play in eight to ten mile per hour breezes. By replacing the windcatcher that comes on the chime with a larger windcatcher, less wind is needed; conversely, when the chime is installed in a windy location, a smaller windcatcher will be useful.
The founder, the gifted musician Larry Roark, used his degree in music theory and his knowledge of physics to recreate musical tunings found throughout the world. The chimes he created are available in eleven different musical scales and seven different sizes, each a half-octave deeper than the next.
By hanging multiple chimes in the same musical tuning but in different sizes in proximity, you can create an ensemble or singing-in-parts effect. You can also blend musical tunings by adding companion scales. By combining the tunings and sizes, your customers can literally create a backyard symphony. Two chimes sound awesome together, but adding more make for an amazing experience. Retailers find it a snap to sell multiple chimes to the very same customers to enhance further their backyard ambiance.
Once the customer has experienced for himself the difference their music makes in his quality of life, Music of the Spheres windchimes will become his go-to gift for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and even new baby and memorial gifts. When he realizes that all components and the windchimes themselves are 100% American-made, his decision will be even easier!
Making your decision to carry Music of the Spheres easier is their 90-day guaranteed buy-back program, and several display options.
A few years ago, fairy gardening captured the world by storm and the demand for fantastical accessories and tiny plantscapes was in full force. Now, fairy gardening has evolved into miniature gardening, and it’s capturing much of the same market that found appeal in fairy gardening. It’s the latest boom in the small plant category, and we talked to three IGCs to find out how retailers are making the most of “mini.”
What’s the difference?
Fairy gardening and mini gardening share a lot of the same qualities, but it mostly boils down to differences in marketing and accessories (or lack thereof).
“Over the years it’s expanded into so many more categories beyond fairies, whether it’s gnomes, animals or frogs. Just about everything you can think of is now available in miniature,” says Kris Shepard, owner of Caan Floral & Greenhouses.
As time went on, and accessories expanded, the “fairy” moniker tended to overlap with the term “mini gardening.” Shepard says the terminology created more mass appeal, since the fairy gardening category slanted toward the female demographic.
“We probably peaked on fairy gardening three or four years ago. We’ve cut our SKU counts and space allotment for it down some, but it’s still very viable,” Shepard says.
According to Mark Leichty, director of business development at Little Prince of Oregon Nursery, the focus on fairy gardening is more about creating whimsical scenes with little buildings and accessories, whereas miniature gardening focuses more on the plants.
“I think that there are still people involved in fairy gardening, but we don’t get nearly as many calls about it as we do about small plants for small spaces, both indoors and outdoors,” Leichty says.
At Little Prince of Oregon Nursery, the mini gardening category captures a similar demographic as its houseplant category, which primarily tilts toward young women.
“I think that’s the biggest demographic that we’re seeing our biggest sales growth in,” Leichty says.
Like Leichty, Shepard says the demand is hot for plants, and less so for accessories.
“I think the fairy garden or miniature plants haven’t really slowed down, but the accessories have come off of their peak that we had around 2017, 2018. We see it on the decline for sure and we’ve adjusted our inventory levels appropriately,” Shepard says.
Adjusting for demand
Ray Weigand’s Nursery has had an altogether difficult experience with the fairy and miniature gardening category over the past couple of years. Wendy Bohn, event coordinator and online store manager, says the IGC got out of the category last year due to several reasons.
“Unfortunately, kids want what they want and when they were told ‘no’ sometimes helped themselves. Parents would occasionally return the pieces they discovered once home, but that was far and few between,” Bohn says. “Pieces that were played with while their parents shopped created breakage that would just get left sitting there, or we would find them spread out around the nursery.”
As more companies started carrying and making pieces, demand was reduced because accessories were easy to find everywhere. Another issue was the keeping and care of the plants.
“It was a very high labor department between the tiny plants requiring watering twice a day, pricing individual pieces, unpacking them, inventory control and then the constant cleaning and straightening up of the entire area,” Bohn says. “It would take a couple of people a day to manage it. We made the decision to eliminate it and clearance out the remaining pieces.”
The nursery repurposed the category by expanding its water gardening department. The extra space gave way for more lifestyle displays of patio water garden bowls, concrete, tabletop and natural rock fountains, along with natural rock Japanese-style lanterns, Easter Island sculptures and Buddhist-styled Zen pieces, Bohn says.
Supply and support
However, Ray Weigand’s Nursery still carries some of the specialty alpine miniature plants, and many of the annual varieties can still be used for maintaining customers’ existing mini or fairy gardens, Bohn says. An assortment of 2-inch tropical terrarium plants can also be found in the houseplant department for indoor fairy or mini gardens.
At Little Prince of Oregon Nursery, they’re ready to answer the call of customer demand. They grow at least 30 different types of small plants, which work as container houseplants or garden plants. Tender succulent varieties like echeveria and crassula are especially popular in the Pacific Northwest, he says.
“We already had a significant collection of small dwarf plants and we see a growing trend for people who want a small plant, say for a tabletop arrangement or something indoors that’s easy to care for. We’re working at building up our collection of teeny tiny plants,” Leichty says.
At the height of the fairy gardening craze, Ray Weigand’s Nursery held classes to support the hobby. Bohn says they hosted workshops for adults that averaged $50-$75 per person with a max of 30 people per workshop.
They also held less expensive workshops that were simplified and smaller for kids and also offered birthday party packages. The birthday packages included a minimum of 10 attendees, a $25 per person set price, and an 8-inch low bowl terra cotta pot with some plants, a fairy and a couple of accessory pieces.
While they didn’t offer the birthday party packages during the busiest time of year, Bohn notes that they helped fill some space after a majority of the annuals were gone during the slower summer months.
At Caan Floral & Greenhouse, fairy gardening classes were halted due to COVID-19.
“Obviously with the pandemic year, we didn’t really have any of these in-person seminars and workshops like we traditionally had for several years prior. We would hold probably 10 or 12 a year,” Shepard says.
A good way to get involved
Mini gardening can be a good way for garden centers to get children involved because it makes gardening more accessible and less intimidating for them, especially as they grow older. Plus, it can instill a passion for gardening at a young age, Shepard says.
At Little Prince of Oregon Nursery, they often share photos of miniature plants on their social media channels to draw in new gardeners. Mini plants can act as a gateway to gardening because they’re “entry-level” plants, since they are easy to care for. As the mini gardening trend expands, Leichty predicts mini outdoor gardening will take off in the next few years.
With the customer eye on mini plants, the nursery does its best to capture what’s left of the fairy gardening market through search engine optimization via Little Prince of Oregon Nursery’s online store (which launched during the pandemic). ‘Fairy gardening’ is one of the nursery’s main SEO keywords, so when customers search for that, the nursery’s website directs them to miniature plants.
“We have not slowed down this year. This has just been the craziest year imaginable for us. And as we figured out how the nursery industry was going to adapt and react to COVID, we didn’t expect it was going to be so intensely busy and that sales would be so strong,” Leichty says.