This is a sign at the corner of Marshall Rd. and Hwy. 49 on the way to the nursery. Usually Cal-trans pulls stuff like this down quick, but maybe they figure itâ€™s worth the second looks it gets. This should put to rest any questions about the quality of our education system.
Over at "Garden Rant" they have an interview with Brent and Beckyâ€™s Bulbs. â€œBrent sayâ€™s business is just fine, growing steadily every year, despite the downturn in the bulb industry generally. (Some blame the box stores, others lazy gardeners.) B&B doesn't sell to the boxes at all but instead, appeals to people for whom planting bulbs is a â€˜fun sportâ€™. We know exactly who he's talking about - real gardeners, us.â€
I know at our nursery and our last nursery venture bulb sales have been declining steadily. I do believe that itâ€™s the same reason that bare root sales are declining. They are sold during a season that most people are not into gardening, fall and winter. In addition you have to plan ahead to get the beauty in spring. I wish more people weâ€™re into bulbs but the reality is they are not. I also think the chain stores have pretty much captured the low end of the bulb market. They buy and sell smaller bulbs, but at a very cheap price. Most people donâ€™t know the difference between all the grades bulbs come in and how that determines the quality of the flower.
In addition folks like Brent and Becky have captured the â€œcollector" market with a broad selection that canâ€™t be matched by a brick and mortar store. Bulbs are easy to transport compared to other plants. This is actually where I think the people who treasure the unusual should get their bulbs.
We in the garden centers sell more bulbs based on people noticing them when they come into the store. â€œOh, look they have bulbâ€™sâ€, or we plant them up with other flowers in a container and sell the blooming bulbs in spring. To that end I think there will always be a place for bulbs in the garden center, but I donâ€™t see the category growing much.
Which leads me to the post by Elizabeth at â€œGardening While Intoxicatedâ€. She mentions how she loves shopping on the Internet for her unusual seeds and flowers. She sayâ€™s â€œ I know many of my fellow garden blogger's are very familiar with ordering from catalogs, but for those who aren't, give it a try! You buy everything else in your pajamasâ€”why not plants? Or at least plants youâ€™re not going to be able to find at your local nurseries.â€ She also sayâ€™s â€œIâ€™ll be spending lots of money locally (oh yes, indeed), but the final clincher for online purchasing is that you donâ€™t have to wonder if your local places will carry your gotta-have plantsâ€”a nice bit of insurance for us compulsive types.â€
This is where the Internet shines, the sales of unusual, smaller sized plants that can be transported within a couple of days. I am sure that flower and vegetable starts, blooming annuals and perennials will still make up a large portion of our business, but I donâ€™t see the sales of bulbs and seedâ€™s ever being what it once was. Thatâ€™s o.k. though as it frees us up to focus on the areas that will provide the growth in the future.