What’s in Store for Garden Centers in 2012


| 10/7/2011 11:43:36 AM


Tags: Walters Gardens Inc., Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, EarthBox, Brunnera m. 'Jack Frost', vermiculite, garden centers, vegetable gardening, Cindy Murphy,

CindyMurphyBlog.jpgLast week, two of my co-workers, my boss, and I drove up to Grand Rapids at an ungodly hour unfit for man or beast.  Ok, admittedly, the hour is not so early to bother anyone but The Perpetually Late, and that would be me!  (Although I’m usually up by 5am, I had to leave home an hour and a half earlier than I normally do, and it’s always a struggle for me to get out of the house on time.)  We were headed to the last trade show of the season, where we placed the bulk of the garden center’s hardgood orders for next spring.  Despite the ungodly hour, the van was alive with excitement.

Field trip!  Remember as kid the excitement surrounding field trips?  Going on a field trip meant a day away from the classroom, a break from the routine, and a change of scenery.  For me, the enthusiasm never waned. 

Although this last trade show was in late September, August seemed to be the field trip month for us at the nursery.  During the month’s second week, our college intern and I went to Walter’s Gardens, Inc. in Zeeland, Michigan, just a short drive up the road. 

Walters Gardens, Inc., founded in the 1940s, is the largest bare root perennial wholesale grower in the United States.   With 1,500 acres and 500,000 square feet of greenhouses, they grow over 1,5000 perennial varieties, shipping between 15 and 20 million perennial liners to independent garden centers, wholesale growers, and landscape companies each year.  On the grounds are extensive display gardens, open to the public with no appointment necessary (though they do like a phone call beforehand).

Walters Gardens display gardens   

I’ve been to Walters’ display gardens in the past; with nearly 100 new varieties added to Walters’ offerings each year, it’s never the same garden twice.  I’m responsible for ordering perennials for the nursery; seeing how plants grow in a garden helps me choose what I’ll order, and Walters Gardens is one of the suppliers I use.  Things look different in a catalog, and behave different in a garden than they do in pots.  A tour of the display gardens in August after the plants have bore the brunt of all the excessive rain, heat, and humidity this summer threw at them, gave me a good idea of what perennials I’ll place on our fall order for spring delivery; I don’t want to carry something at the nursery that isn’t going to stand up well in customers’ gardens.   

Cindy Murphy
10/16/2011 7:37:27 PM

I've never been trick-or-treating in the snow, Michelle - not with the girls, or even when I was a kid. Winter jackets are usually needed, (such a drag to cover up your costume with a coat), but never snow boots. It's been close many times though; the closest was the year it snowed Halloween night, but it was after all the ghoulies were safely tucked in bed. This might be the year though, (shudder at the thought); they are forecasting snow for this week. Way too early in my book. Snow by Thanksgiving is nice. Snow on my favoritest of all holidays - pfft!!!


Michelle House
10/14/2011 9:58:29 PM

Cindy, you would surprised how many times my kids and my grands have gone trick or treating in the snow. lol.


Cindy Murphy
10/13/2011 7:10:10 AM

Birdhouses are definitely fun, Stepper. Hubs and Shannon built one this spring; it was a simple thing made from a kit, and painted electric blue “so the birds can find it”, Shannon said when she picked the color. It was a good choice; within two days of hanging it, we watched a sparrow busily taking twigs and grass into the house. Simple is good, but a many compartment birdhouse would be fun too…oooo, like one of those purple martin high-rise birdhouses in the sky. There is the risk, of course, of a colony of fairies moving in, but that might not be such a bad thing either – the strange happenings might include your garden growing like gang-busters, fertilized by fairy dust. Or you could just get an EarthBox. Thanks for perusing, and enjoy your day!





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