Tag Archives: Horticulture

Old or New Traditions for Christmas at Your House?

1-08-06 christmas tree 011

Image by takfoto via Flickr

Do you have a live tree? Does your family go to a Christmas Tree farm and cut one down? Do you go to the nearest corner lot and pick a tree from the selection they have? Do you shop your local box store for your tree?  Do you patronize your local garden center?   

I ask because there are many options out there for those that still choose to have a live Christmas tree.  Personally if I had a real tree, we’d either cut it down ourselves (we did this for years) or visit the garden center.  I’ve never been a fan of the pop up tents  that literally materialize over night, set up lights and sell trees for much less than the local store that is there for you all year. Just my opinion. I’m blogging, you get to hear it. 

oh christmas tree, oh christmas treeNow…if you choose to have an artificial tree, how often do you replace that tree?  I have a sister that must get a new one every couple of years, myself…mine is several years old.  I chose the artificial so that I don’t have to water it, I can leave it up for 8 weeks if I want to, it looks real and I’m not picking needles out of my carpet until July and mostly because Christmas trees just don’t smell any more!  I have no idea why…it’s too bad though.  Instead, I’ll use a pine scented candle or potpourri.    

   Let me know what your family does for a Christmas tree. I can suggest that if you go with the live trees, be sure to set them out in the yard after Christmas for the birds!  They love them and it’s good winter protection for them!

Have a blessed Christmas to you all!

 

English: A Christmas Tree at Home

Image via Wikipedia

Cheap Trees Prices Won’t Last!

A tree nursery using gutters to decrease growi...

Image via Wikipedia

Why Tree Prices Will Increase –

This was posted by Bold Spring Nursery.  Very interesting information.

    Usually price increases are a sore topic. In our current economic climate, cost cutting has become a way of life as businesses fight to conserve cash and preserve margins. The unwelcome news of a price increase from a supplier is usually the last thing a buyer wants to hear. The ornamental tree business has been no different. Growers have suffered a crushing over-supply of trees which was, in fact, developing 6 -7 years ago, but was masked by the frenetic pace of construction through the middle part of the decade. When the bubble burst in 2007-2008 the demand for trees was reduced dramatically, beyond what few of us have ever witnessed. Since that time, growers, desperate to maintain a market share, have reacted by cutting prices for each of the last 3 years to the point where prices, on some items, have reached 30-year lows.

    Unlike many businesses, tree growers cannot simply downsize their company to a scale that matches their sales. Existing inventory requires upkeep and that costs money. Like everyone else, growers have aggressively cut costs to try to staunch the negative flow of cash. That is a tall order in a world where the costs of raw materials such as burlap, diesel, and plastic have only increased. So, in many cases, fertilizer, pesticides, pruning, and staking have gone by the board. The results of excessive cost cutting are evident in the marketplace this year and many growers are simply not capable of supplying trees of adequate quality.  For most growers, even the cost of culling bad trees is daunting when cash is tight and so the trees sit around, on display in the fields or, in the case of containers, growing increasingly pot-bound.

    The other major area of cost cutting has been a sharp decrease in tree-planting in nurseries. Many cash conscious growers have realized that if they cannot afford to maintain what they have, then there is little point in putting more trees in the ground. As a result, tree planting has declined 70-80% over this period. This reduction occurred progressively: first by about 20% in 2008-2009 and then an additional 30-40% in each of the two following years. This trend has only just begun to become evident, with many smaller-sized trees and evergreens becoming scarce this spring. Over the next two years the breadth of shortages will increase dramatically and progressively, as more gaps appear while the old inventory outgrows the market, becomes ruined from neglect, is sawed down to increase spacing, or grubbed out entirely to prepare fields for re-planting.

    Growers are watching carefully to see which items are selling out and they will raise prices whenever market conditions allow. This is not a matter of greed as much as survival. Most nurseries are just hanging on and absorbing losses, if they are even doing that. We are all watching while prominent nurseries fail, unable to continue in an economic meltdown that was nearly impossible to predict.

    The shock waves from the sub-prime melt-down will continue to be felt, but will soon be felt in different ways. The crash of demand will be followed by a crash in supply caused by a reduction in the number of nurseries that have been willing and able to continue to risk investment in the planting and maintenance of quality inventory these last three years. And just as the construction boom masked the over-supply of trees 5-6 years ago, the construction bust is masking the currently developing shortage. When we experience even a modest resumption in new construction, the shortages will be difficult to manage.

    It is important for businesses to educate their customers for what is coming. There is a special challenge for those who are bidding projects that are further out. There is a shocking gap between the desperate pricing of 2010-11, and the prices of, even, the over-supplied market of 2007. But when scarcities become prevalent, prices will return to their former levels, and eventually go higher still. That market of shortages may be much closer than you realize. Buyers should be prepared for price increases in fall 2011 and very large increases in 2012 and 2013.

Applicants, Friend or Foe?

     With the spring season comes the HELP WANTED signs and here come the applicants! We get large waves of unemployed coming in the door to fill out applications. Because we are a wholesale nursery and a retail garden center, we get  a wide variety of people coming in the door.

  Some are teenagers looking for work after school and weekends. Some are immigrants, some are the average Joe just out of work and looking for something to do. Some are just so over qualified, you don’t know how they could even be interested! Some are mom’s with extra time and want something “fun” to do. Some are seniors that would like to get out of the house. We get plant lovers, people with no knowledge that the “green side goes up”, ex-factory workers….you get the idea!

   Some funny things happen when people come in to apply. We get those that want to work RIGHT NOW and don’t understand that breathing isn’t the only requirement for the job. Interviews don’t seem to be these people’s forte for when called to come in for just that….they don’t show up at all.

  Then you have people that harass you…they come in everyday, want to talk to the person in charge, want to bully their way in…just so you know….this doesn’t work too well!

 Then the other day, we had this dear gentleman come in. We have on the application a place when they can put a person’s name to contact in case of emergency…he left this spot blank. Then where the line is for that person’s phone number would be he put in “911”.  We all got a chuckle out of that one.

  I think there should be a class offered (and maybe there is) on the right way to conduct yourself when applying for a position. What to wear (and what not to), what to say and communicate on the application, how to follow-up so you’re remembered and not feared…you know the basic stuff!

   Although we have many that apply…with the economy and that we are mostly seasonal…we have to work hard to “put the right people on the bus” and then after they are hired…get them in the right seats! That takes finesse! Wish us luck! The sign is down so we are now sorting through the candidates and we’ll see what happens!  Happy Spring everyone!

Just admit you’re wrong…it happens

 

This was sent to me by Spring Meadow Nursery and it was so on target…I had to share it! Enjoy!

Being Wrong
No one likes to be wrong.  But if you’re putting anything out into the wider world, not only will you be wrong at some point, but someone will point it out to you.  If, for instance, you write a newsletter or produce a catalog, every bad link and typo (and actual errors) will be noticed and reported back to you. 
And that’s OK.
If you aren’t making mistakes, you’re not trying to move ahead.  And if you’re not trying to move ahead, you’re falling behind.  It’s like introducing new plants; some are good, some are not-so-good.  A great plant might be wrong for your climate, production system or customer base.  But a nursery that doesn’t make an investment in new plants will eventually be holding a nursery stock auction.  Don’t let fear of failure keep you from growing new crops, or you will be behind your competition and stuck with an inventory of plants that no one wants to buy.
Umair Haque takes an even bolder tack in his ‘Fail Bigger Cheaper’ blog post.  He might be a little extreme in some of his statements, but the central premise of budgeting some failure into projects is a good one.  If you absolutely, positively can’t fail, you can’t try anything new.
Now, telling someone they are wrong or that they have failed is another subject.  While accepting correction gracefully is important, giving it graciously is just as essential.  

Right or wrong, be kind to one another.

Face to Face isnt’ Dead!

In the nursery industry, January kicks off the trade show season. MANTS is just ending, Mid Am is next and CENTS is at the end of the month. Those are the big three that start the year.

  Although booth space is not inexpensive and the time it takes for travel,  set-up, man, and take-down the booth is great….the time you get with your customers face-to-face….is priceless!

  Back when I first starting attending the trade shows, the floors were a buzz with people taking orders, and deals being made. At night it was all about who could stay out the latest and how many clients you could entertain.

With the times, things have changed. Companies send less representatives, the customers being wined and dined are in smaller groups, many of us are older and out not nearly as late as we used to be. Money is tight and budgets are tighter, salespeople are traveling together.  We’re all being smarter about where our money goes but with that being said….

We are all still there. Year in and year out the nurseries are setting up, putting their best foot forward, forcing plants to be green and blooming in the dead of winter to show our plants to garden centers and landscapers who will be looking for what we sell in the spring. Our key people (many times the owners themselves!) are in their booths, shaking hands, talking about the industry, commiserating over the economy and sharing ideas to get to the other side! This industry shares like I’ve never seen elsewhere. The nurseries come together…we refer customers to each other, we ship together, we share solutions to problems, we even advertise together when possible. (I am so proud to be a part of an industry that works together like a giant team!) 

But the true spirit of the nursery is the customer….for without the customer….well…you know what would happen. Customers become important to you. You work with them each year, selling them what they need and learning who they are and about their families and what’s important to them. You make these “friends” and you miss them during the winter when the phones are quiet! That’s what the trade shows are all about! Bringing people together, to TALK to each other without email or cell phones…just an honest to God conversation! There is no better way to connect with your customers on a cold winter day! Personally, I can’t wait to get this next spring season underway! Hope to see you at the trade shows!

The beauty of Trees…

As a nurserywoman….I couldn’t help but share this with you.
 
TREES 
by JoyceKilmer  (1886-1918)
I think that I shall never see 
A poem lovely as a tree

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest 
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast; 
A tree that looks at God all day, 
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;   
A tree that may in Summer wear 
A nest of robins in her hair; 
Upon whose bosom snow has lain; 
Who intimately lives with rain.   
Poems are made by people like me, 
But only God can make a tree.

Perennial Armeria

Perennial Common thrift

Spring is Here!

Armeria splendens is an early riser! The foliage on this perennial is fresh and clean right out of the gate in the spring followed by these brilliant hot-pink clusters of flowers atop strong stems beginning in May and continuing into June! Prefers not to have wet-feet so provide well-drained soils.  Use in the front of your garden as it only gets up to 8″ tall! Provide full sun for these beauties and you won’t be disappointed!  This plant is great as a specimen or in masses in your garden…it’s up to you!  Zone 3 for this one!  Gilson Gardens offers this in both a one gallon container or a 3.5″ pot to meet anyone’s budget!