Anything exciting happening in horticulture that you can tell us about?
JPT: Theme gardens, such as butterfly or fragrance gardens, are
beginning to become mainstream. Also,
environmental or green garden types such as roof top gardens are cutting
edge. From a big-picture design point of view,
the garden as simply another room of the home to be lived in is exciting. I also note that gardeners are, sometimes
reluctantly, beginning to accept animal life as an integral part of the
gardening experience. So we’re seeing the melding of
gardens and birding and the resultant understanding of the need for an ecosystem
that is not sterile and devoid of life.
What frustrations are people in the nursery business experiencing today?
JPT: Heh, sheesh, gads. Besides
the normal business issues of operating cost going up and retail pricing being
forced down, we find that our newer customers do not share the culture of growing or
an understanding of basic plant needs. This results in sprinkler systems which run all the time rain or shine,
or the reverse – no water when a plant needs it. Of course this is also an opportunity to reach out and provide
educational services, which would differentiate our business as independents
from the large national chains.
ideas about how garden centers can help to educate gardeners? And what do you
think of our suggestion that all plants carry both common and Latin names?
First to the name. We try
to use common names along with botanically correct names. Most of the
time this is simple – Acer/Maple. However, some plants have a plethora
of common names and deciding which
one to use becomes an exercise in frustration. On top of this, we have
botanical name changes such as Chrysanthemum to
Dendranthemum and then back again. I
think some Sedums went through a scientific reclassification too. I
think the key is informed staff and great
What do you think of all this press lately about the decline of gardening in
JPT: First reaction is that
negative publicity reinforces negative, from a garden center perspective, so I am not amused. But
careful reflection notes that there is a trend among our customers for ready-now
gardens, with no-maintenance. Traditional gardeners received a certain pleasure in watching plants
grow and evolve. Now, perhaps because
many do not expect to stay in one home for longer than ten years, if that long,
the “fun” of the process is gone and it is results only that are sought.
[Photo: Trillium cuneatum from the National Arboretum’s Photo Gallery.]