Houston report, plus Hort Couture, GCA awards and fun with pallets

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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Ellen Wells Subscribe
Houston-Area Report
What DMC Is Doing
New Petitti Store
News from Hort Couture 
GCA Bathroom Awards
Speaking of Wingard’s
Resized Pallets
Finding Your Edge
Make a Splash
Two Final Things …

Houston-Area Report

Buzz was off last week but that doesn’t mean we weren’t hard at work, checking in on garden centers in and around the Houston area. News reports of the massive flooding and general devastation are hard to fathom for those not affected by it.

I spoke with Nancy at Nelson’s Water Gardens in Katy, Texas, about 20 to 30 miles outside of downtown Houston. Even for a water garden retailer, I would say that was way too much rain to deal with. But all was well with them, Nancy said, with not much clean up required. But she indicated some customers lost a lot, if not everything. Like many of the fortunate, the Nelsons and their crew were out in boats helping their neighbors. Here are Peter and Rolf Nelson out and about rescuing folks from the rising floodwaters (grabbed from their Facebook page).

Kevin Berry at Buchanan’s Native Plants told me that being in Houston Heights, they were up above much of the flooding. Like the Nelsons, they got to work helping others. Buchanan’s became a drop-off point for much-needed relief supplies, and as of last Friday, they collected eight truckloads.

Friday was Buchanan’s first regular business day since the storm, and “while we’re not selling a lot, we are trying to help a lot, which is good for us.” Buchanan’s hosted a fundraiser complete with music and free food and beer, with 100% of the proceeds going to a local charity. “We wanted the garden center to be as active as it could possibly be,” Kevin said. “Everybody in the city is trying to get involved in some way, and this is just a piece of what we can do to help.”

As for what he’s heard about the status of other garden centers in the area, he said there are a few that are not doing well—and that goes for growers, too.  

What DMC Is Doing

If part of your ethos is to support businesses that do good things in the community, then include the Dallas Market Center on your must-visit list when you next head to market. They’ve established DMC Cares to help with the Harvey recovery. The goal is to create $1 million in support via financial and product donations from its vendors. Short-term, they’re collecting essential items requested by Dallas County to support shelters and hosting a large-scale clothing drive to gather apparel of all types and sizes from manufacturers. Long-term, to support recovery and rebuilding efforts, DMC will be accepting home décor and lighting products from exhibitors, and will work with local and regional agencies to distribute them. 

News from Hort Couture

Hort Couture has news for you retailers. They’ve just announced that they are bringing on three new partners to handle all of their propagation and distribution for the next spring season. Those new partners are familiar names—Peace Tree Farm in Pennsylvania, Skagit Horticulture in Washington and Wenke Sunbelt, with locations in both Michigan and Georgia. According to Hort Couture’s Jim Monroe, they are moving to a more regional approach to production and logistics. Jim says these new partners are all quite familiar with the IGC channel and are well suited to serve IGC folks.

Hort Couture is also pairing up with three brokers—Ball Seed, Eason Horticultural and Fred C. Gloeckner—to help manage and sell the plant brand. They are also dropping the requirement for the branded container.  

Let’s Hear It for the Bathroom!

The 7th Annual GCA Best Garden Center Bathroom Awards were given out at last month’s IGC Show in Chicago. We all know how important cleanliness is when it comes to “the facilities” a shopper has available to her, and these awards recognize those IGCs that create not only a clean space, but also a comfortable restroom with a creative flair.

This year’s Gold Winner is Mesquite Valley Growers Nursery in Tucson, Arizona. Mesquite’s facilities are newly refurbished to be conveniently located as well as durable. The men’s, women’s and handicapped-accessible restrooms are made of marble, limestone, ceramic and glass to create a contemporary and chic décor.


Check out that sink!

Mesquite Valley Growers Nursery receives one free registration to GCA’s Summer Tour taking place next year in Seattle.

The Silver Award goes to Wingard’s Market in Lexington, South Carolina. Wingard’s recent renovations have added two new bathrooms for shoppers’ use. Each incorporates garden art, potted plants and other elements that are both decorative and for sale! Check out that tissue dispenser—clever, huh?

GCA gave out several Merit Awards, too. The Garden Mart in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, and Breezy Hill Nursery in Salem, Wisconsin, received recognition for their creativity in creating warm and welcoming restrooms. Got a renovation planned? Don’t forget the bathrooms—and don’t forget to submit your facilities for next year’s awards.  

Speaking of Wingard’s

Wingard’s retail and merchandising manager Andrea Snelgrove is on the cover of this month’s Green Profit magazine, thanks to her winning the 2017 Dümmen Orange Young Retailer Award. Andrea says she has found the most perfect non-job ever. How’d she find it? Read about it HERE.


Resized Pallets

GrowerTalks’ Chris Beytes spent a few days traveling through the Midwest. Take a look at what he spotted.

I’m always on the lookout for ways to use those ubiquitous pallets. I spotted these at Suburban Lawn & Garden in Overland Park, Kansas.


I couldn’t tell if they came that size or were cut down to size, and didn’t think to ask anyone. Regardless, you can figure out how to make them. They’re small enough to put on a bench top singularly or in multiples, and lend that rustic, industrial feel that works well with all sorts of greenery.

I like ‘em, Chris! Watch out for splinters.  

Finding Your Competitive Edge

When do you have a really good time shopping? When it’s fun, easy and you find what you’re looking for—and then some.

I ran across a recent ARTICLE about how independent retailers—both online and brick-and-mortar—are finding creative ways to be competitive in what has become an uncertain retail market this year. For example, surfing and snow sports retailer evo offers travel planning for snow and surf fans; womenswear shop Couleur Collection arranges its clothing by color and holds classes to teach customers how to pair the clothes they already have; and suit maker Alan David has traveling tailors and gives free alterations for the lifetime of its garments.

As the critical holiday-focused 4th quarter gets underway, finding the strategies that will give your store the edge can make or break your year. How will you find your competitive edge for the coming season? Weigh in below or drop me a line HERE.  

Make a Splash

We’re already up to Garden Media Group’s fifth trend to watch for, according to the PR firm’s 2018 Garden Trends Report—Make a Splash.

I was tempted to go out of order and not list this water trend, considering what’s going on in Houston. They’ve definitely had too much of it, and its power is something maybe all of us have a lot more respect for now. GMG points out that while most of the gardens at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show had water elements—pools, fountains, even water dishes—water is more than just “pretty.”

First of all, there is a health and well-being component to water in the garden. It’s not only critical for the growth of our plants, but the auditory and visual aspects of water provide a meditative quality that improves our mental well-being.

Second, by creating rain gardens we can slow down water’s power, filter it and capture it in order to recharge groundwater reserves. Some municipalities in the country are even paying households to install “rainscapes.”


Now, back to that “pretty” part: If you want to get inspired by how water elements can be used in the garden for both pretty and practical uses, the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show’s theme will be “Wonders of Water.” If you’ve never been to the Philly show, this is a great time to catch it.  

Two Final Things …

First, last week’s VIDEO from the IGC Show prompted Joyce Block to respond to the skeptical Jens by saying, “We carried the grass flip flops during the butterfly exhibit in 2016. I love mine!” Looks like something you have to try before you buy—and maybe you’ll be surprised!


Second, thank you to everyone who wrote in with possible causes of my mother’s suddenly scorched-looking plants. Those of you who suggested that perhaps the mulch was too hot to apply during really hot weather—I think you were onto something. Her plants have since recovered, and she is mighty happy about that. And I’m happy it wasn’t my application of old fertilizer! Whew!  

Thanks for letting me into your inbox again this week, folks. Got something to share? Just drop me a line at ewells@ballpublishing.com.   

Ellen Wells
Green Profit

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