Live from the Independent Garden Center Show


P1000220Here I am in Chicago at the big trade show for garden centers.  A trade show floor filled with pots, tools, gloves, shoes, and–of course–plants.  And a surprising number of GardenRant readers.  Don’t you people have anything else do to?

Some of the cool stuff I’ve seen:

Biodegradable pots.  Mostly made with rice hulls, although there are P1000223
some other ingredients in the works, too.  They’re pretty, they’re long-lasting, but they will break down eventually in a compost pile.

Very pretty copper-clad fiberglass pots from Copperglass Planters.  Really lovely and very lightweight, but could I bring myself to pay close to $300 for them?  Hmmmmm…

Little succulents packaged in a box like chocolates from our friends at Hort Couture.  They tell me that they followed all the GardenRant comments on their plants with great interest.  They do have some prettyP1000235
wild-looking plants coming out soon, so keep an eye on them.

A nifty and easy-to-assemble cold frame from Maine Made.  Even in California, it would be nice to have one of these to keep some basil going in inclement weather. Now,this is something I would totally pay 300 bucks for.

And finally, I met Friend of Rant Patti Moreno, who is in Chicago promoting a line of seeds, DVDs, T-shirts, and other products,which she has put together in a –what do they call it in retail–point of sale shelving unit or some such thing–and wow, was her booth busy!  P1000239_2

The thing is, everybody in the garden center industry is trying to read the tea leaves about how to appeal to two mysterious groups:  women and Gen X/Y.  As a woman and member of Gen X, all I can do is grumble about how all this speculation makes me feel like a zoo animal ("Women! People under 40! How strange! What do they eat?  Do they mate for life?")   But Patti is all too happy to speak up on behalf of both groups and tell retailers exactly what to do, and as a result there has been

a little flock of garden center owners around her booth all day. I had to shoo them away to get this photo.

That’s all the news for now. Will report more later.


  1. About the biodegradable pots – they really do look very attractive . . . wouldn’t it be rather sad to see them disintegrating in front of your eyes?

    Lucy Corrander

  2. I saw the cold frame and was going to bring it into my store until I saw the cost………..$225 wholesale. The red cedar “hobby” kit grrenhouse was gorgeous but carried a cost of $5000 wholesale.

    In talking to some of the vendors I know, they say there is a waiting list for vendors to get in the show. This seems to be a good replacement for the National Hardware formerly held at McCormick Place in Chicago.

    Anyway Amy good talk about organic plants. I am glad to see the Europe is getting off the “has to organic” bandwagon and looking instead for the “smallest total (environmental) foot print” method. That just makes more sense period.
    Too many consumers buying organics just because it says organic forget my mantra “You may applying an organic pesticide but it is still a pesticide. Followed by the best practice statement….Right plant right place!

    In response to the comment on the biodegardable pots.they last for a few years and then fall part before your eyes. Many made from rice or cornstarch or sugar cane.

    The (overtired but love Chicago and can’t wait for the Casual Furniture Market in September) TROLL

  3. Hort Couture has a booth at the Farwest show in Portland Oregon going on now. My longtime supplier of perennials was next to them and a little pissed off I think when my employee was commenting about the Hort Couture plants. My supplier said Horts plants came from them. It is absurd that an East Coast Co is remarketing a northwest product here in the NW.
    My best customers are old with money and like good plants, not a lot of packaging waste.
    Found some awesome plants at great prices! Hope I get what I ordered.

  4. Hi Amy,
    I slipped in to listen to your presentation but had to stand in the back because I was in between appointments taping the” hot new products” for my blog. I enjoyed the brief moment l got to listen in.

    I met Patti as well and enjoyed some moments with her.

    As a garden design pro and television garden host, I’m not worried about reaching Gen X, Y, Z or women specifically because every generation produces gardeners and garden enthusiasts.

    The reality is that many of the young people who are not interested in gardening right now, will become very interested , once they become homeowners or parents. This is prime “nest-building’ time.

    Let’s not forget the emphasis on nature that the young generation is exposed to, and thier immersion in the techno virtual reality world. People will need to come up for air and a dose of eco therapy and the plants and trees in the garden will ground them to the real “dirt world” that surrounds them.
    Shirley B

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