I just received this e-mail and I found it very interesting and it might be to the other members here also.
Tim Wood - The Plant Hunter
ANLA New Plant Pavilion
Posted: 12 Feb 2008 11:23 AM CST
I just got back from the ANLA Management Clinic in Louisville. Each year at the clinic, NMpro Magazine hosts their New Plant Pavilion where growers and breeders showcase their newest offerings. This year the pavilion featured 42 new plants. That's right - 42 new plants! There seems to be no shortage of new varieties.
While at the conference I heard someone say that we have way too many new plants. I agree - there are too many new plants. The problem is that there is no way that people, let alone nursery professionals, can digest so many new introductions, let alone grow them.
I see the same thing when I travel overseas. New plants are a dime-a-dozen. As I've said before the difficulty is not finding new plants, it's finding new plants that are better and superior, and that people will want to put in their yard.
To make matters worse, in one of the clinic lectures, one retail expert said that garden centers need to cut back on the number of plant varieties they offer. His point was that by offering so many choices, we are overwhelming the consumer. Again, I agree.
So what’s the Answer? In my opinion the free market will solve the problem. The best plants will rise to the top as growers, retailers and consumers vote with their pocket books. With this in mind, it’s very important for growers to be careful in introducing new plants or they’ll soon discover that they’ve wasted a lot of time and money.
To help me avoid making these kinds of costly mistakes, I’ve developed a check list that reflects the plants attributes I feel are needed to be successful. Here’s my simplified check list that I use when considering a new plant:
1. More Color. The trend in gardening or more correctly - yard decorating is color. Plants with a longer bloom season, multiples seasons of color (flowers, fruit, fall color), colorful foliage that lasts beyond the flowers, etc. are all high on my list.
2. Easy to grow. The majority of people do not know much about gardening. They want to plant it and enjoy it, so I look for shrubs that are dwarf or compact that requires little or no pruning. I look for plants (particularly roses) that do not have to be sprayed. And I look for plants that do not require special fuss.
3. Lastly, I look for plants that connect with our emotions. In other words, plants that make us feel good. Everyone likes to feel good. Who can resist the sweet fragrance of a Lilac or the joy evoked by a flock of brightly colored butterflies darting about a Butterfly Bush? Not me, and I suspect most people feel the say way. Certainly a rose connects with our emotions, but the need to spray it can negate those feelings - so even plants that connect with out emotions must be easy to grow.
The days of breeding plants strictly for bigger flowers are long gone. Sure big flowers are great. A Dahlia has a remarkable flower, but only the rare enthusiast is willing to overlook its ugly habit and excessive need for care. Times have changed, and so must the nursery industry.