Over at Garden Rant Amy wonders about organic growing of nursery crops. Teresa, a grower asks where the interest is? Wasn't this what everyone was asking for last year? No, it seems they like the idea of organic vegetable starts but you know what, they don't care when it's time to buy. They say they will grow them organically once they are in their yard, and the fact of the organic origins doesn't seem to matter. Sometimes being a nursery person can be a lonely occupation. Usually in a community there is one or two garden centers, maybe only one. While you may be on friendly terms with your competitor you really don't talk about business since you don't want to give away any "secrets" that might be applied by the competitor. I am not including the chain stores as I wouldn't know who runs the garden department anyway.
Spring is so busy you can't think, then comes summer with its heat and slower sales, followed by fall which we promote as planting time. Where is everybody? Why aren't people taking advantage of this season? Then comes winter with it's cold and rain and sales really slow down. Heck, some nurseries just close up for the winter. I can tell you right now that the mood of the nursery person going into winter is either relief that we have enough money to carry us until the following spring, or shear dread when we don't. I would say a good line of credit can be a nurseries best friend.
Oh well, we choose this profession and want to make it happen. We read the trade magazines, listen to the consultants, and go to the trade shows which only confuse us more. People only want flowers in color, they don't want to garden themselves (DIFM), drop the Latin Names (we're told the consumer just doesn't care), put a coffee shop in, basically just try to make gardening as work free and instant as possible. People supposedly just don't have the time to garden anymore.
What's an small independent to do. I find the trade organizations like CANGC(California association of garden centers and nurseries) to be ineffective in getting the message out. We don't even belong to this organization anymore. I think that when they sent our membership sign and it read "Trey Pitsenberger" instead of "Golden Gecko Garden Center" I realized they just didn't have it going on. You can bet my wife wanted to know why my name and not the company name was on there!
The solution is communication within the individual garden centers. I enjoy reading other nursery peoples experiences with these important subjects. Since we are generally separated by distance, the idea of talking to the "competitor" changes to talking with a fellow nursery person. There seems to be a freer exchange of information and experiences.
I would like to hear from more of you in the trade. Many of us are like Teresa who says, "This article has finally gotten me to step out of my silent reader status" and comment. I think many of us don't speak up because we are afraid of rocking the boat. We'll its time for the boat rocking to commence. We independents must speak up to the wholesale concerns that supply our plants, we need to speak up to the large retailers that continue to dumb down gardening and attempt to convince people that gardening is problem free (two year guarantee?)
We do have the power within our grasp, yet I think many of us are shy, worried, or just don't want to let our feelings and concerns out in the open. Our survival and future growth depends on the interaction with our customers and fellow nursery people.
I get a lot of feedback from avid gardeners all the time. This has been an unbelievable resource for me. I would like more of you in the trade to get involved, but only if your passionate about what we do. I know there are independent garden centers that really should not be in business, and they won't be for long. Passion, interaction with the consumer and other small nurseries is what keeps me going much of the time, especially when the consumer decides they have had enough of gardening for the year.
Spring can seem a long way off.
P.S. The above picture is of some Sassafras trees growing a few miles up Marshall Rd. from here. Very rare in California!