Cultivate roundup, plus learn something this summer

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Ellen Wells Subscribe
The Winners Revealed!
Other Retail Winners
Quick Note About Tariffs
Where Next?
Talk Shop at Shop Talk
Summer School
Summer’s End
Finally …

The Winners Revealed!

I hear Allison Westbrook and Mason Day did their best Chris and Ellen imitations (not) to announce the winners of the Young Retailer and Young Grower Awards at Cultivate’s Unplugged on Monday evening.

Give a big round of applause to Madison Rae Landa Williams, this year’s RBI/Green Profit Young Retailer Award winner! As co-owner of Boulevard Flower Gardens in South Chesterfield, Virginia, she is taking on the reins of a long-established family business and sticking to the numbers game. Smart strategy, I’d say, considering how the depth of those emotional family connections to place and product can easily lead to unwise business decisions. Read Madison’s YRA essay HERE and stay tuned for Jen Polanz’s cover story on Madison coming up in the September issue of Green Profit.

YRA winner Madison Rae Landa Williams (fourth from left) with runners up Morgan Huston (Birdsall & Co., Englewood, Colorado) to Madison’s left and Tanner Jones (Helmi’s Gardens, Columbia, Missouri) at the very right.

Who won the Nexus/GrowerTalks Young Grower Award? That would be John Terhesh, head grower at Willoway Nurseries in Avon, Ohio. That’s him standing to Madison’s right, with Brian Austin (Dutch Heritage Gardens, Larkspur, Colorado) and Tonya Diehl (Sunny Farms, Sequim, Washington) rounding out the line. Congratulations to them all. To make it this far, they really are all superstars.  

Other Retail-Related Winners

Madison isn’t the only retail-related winner to congratulate. The winners of the Retailers’ Choice Award also deserve some praise and a few shout-outs. A group of retailers just like yourself, along with The Garden Center Group’s Danny Summers and Sid Raisch, helped sort through the plethora of plants and products at Cultivate to determine which are most worthy of your retail consideration.

They came up with 15 winners, with a vast majority of them being plants this year, interestingly enough. Over the next few weeks, I will tell you about all of them, but for now, here are the first two:

The NewGen Buxus introductions, Independence and Freedom, from SynRG (a collaboration between Saunders Bros., Willoway, Sheridan, Overdevest and Pride’s Corner). I included those in last week’s buZZ! as items I’d miss seeing at Cultivate and items you should keep an eye out for. Guess I was right! Briefly, these two boxwoods are essentially a new era in genetics in a time of worsening boxwood blight and leafminer issues. Read more about it HERE.

Proven Winners’ Aquapot. Since I wasn’t at the show, I spoke to Marshall Dirks to ask exactly what the deal is with this pot. As far as they are aware, it’s the first ceramic self-watering pot, and it’s frost-resistant, too (“We don’t recommend people fill it with water and leave it out for the winter,” he joked). Lots of benefits to it—it’s not plastic, it’s self-watering, which means less water and fertilizer waste and leaching, it doesn’t leave ring marks on porches and the plants inside require less frequent attention, and so on. Landscape designer Jack Barnwell holds the patent, and long-time pottery designer Michael Carr has done the pot designs. There are eight or so styles and several sizes, too. They’ll have two lines—one for the home gardener and one for commercial or municipal (or very large residential) use. Available via BFG, and I believe they’re taking orders from folks now or very soon for Spring 2020.

The other big news, Marshall tells me, is that all Michael Carr pottery will now be branded as Proven Winners. Hey, that is indeed big news! I'm assured there will be more information coming about this in the next week or so. I'll keep you updated. Who doesn't like Michael Carr pottery, after all?

Oh, and there's one more bit of Proven Winners news, too. They are dropping California Spring Trials. I'll let bossman Chris Beytes give you the scoop on that in his upcoming Acres Online.


Quick Note About Tariffs

Jen Polanz wanted to pop a quick note into buZZ! to mention—and ask about—the impact of tariffs. Take it away, JP!

In some of my conversations with retailers and vendors at Cultivate'19 in Columbus, the topic turned to tariffs. Many different types of vendors are already seeing the impact of 25% tariffs on products from China, including LED light manufacturers and other industrial manufacturers. 

It's been difficult to figure out who exactly has been impacted on the retail side by tariffs, though. I heard of some vendors submitting pricing to their distributors that reflects potential increases just in case their products are included within the next several months. 

One vendor I talked to who hasn't had to deal with tariffs on their product yet said retailers were pushing back, and no one wanted to be the first to raise their prices, instead expecting the vendor to eat the cost. That may benefit the retailer initially, but potentially forcing quality vendors out of business won't help in the long run.

Are you a retailer or vendor impacted by or worried about tariffs? Drop me a line at I'd like to get a better bead on this situation.

Where Next?

Many of you have the Perennial Plant Association’s 2019 National Symposium, July 28-August 2, on your agenda. It’ll be hosted in Rosemont, Illinois, (with easy O’Hare access), and will be held in conjunction with the All-America Selections and National Garden Bureau—for the first time ever! Think about how that’ll really expand the educational and experience palette.

The core of the symposium is the three midweek days—Tuesday through Thursday—and will include a wide selection of ed sessions and tours. A highlight of the sessions is a panel discussion about “Riding the New Dutch Wave,” featuring designer Piet Oudolf, perennial expert Roy Diblik, Laura Ekasetya of Lurie Garden and designer Austin Eischeid. That lineup is why we go to conferences, people!

My favorite motto this year has been “You can’t win if you don’t play,” so I encourage you to get winning and sign up for the PPA National Symposium now. Registration for the event ends July 21—that’s this coming Sunday! Register at  

Talk Shop at Shop Talk

I bet a bunch of you have the upcoming IGC Show on your agendas, too. While it’s a great place to find products for sale, it’s also a superb spot for garden retail learning opportunities. This year’s educational sessions have been spiced up a bit to offer more nuggets of need-to-know info— a quick in-and-out, hear-info-and-go strategy of learning.

Case in point, the 25-Minute Shop Talk Retail Discussions. These take place in the IGC Networking Lounge—right on the show floor for that easy access—and are interactive sessions where speakers and attendees ask/answer/talk/share about the topics most important to you. The first Shop Talk session will be led by Dr. Bridget Behe on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m., right after her 11 a.m. keynote presentation, “Through Your Customers’ Eyes.” Bridget’s Shop Talk discussion will center on making your store signage more effective.

The other sessions include:


  • 3:00 - 3:25 p.m.—Online Selling: Do It—Don’t Do It?
  • 4:30 - 4:55 p.m.—Staff Selection & Retention Strategies


  • 11:30 - 11:55 a.m. What Forms of Media Do You Use to Advertise and How Often?
  • 1:00 - 1:25 p.m.—Dealing with Road Construction
  • 2:00- 2:25 p.m.—Getting Gen Z, Millennials and Young Families In Your Store
  • 3:30 - 3:55 p.m.—What Brings Customers Back In Summer?


  • 11:00 - 11:25 a.m.—How to Profit from the Houseplant Boom

Get yourself registered for the IGC Show at Oh, and don’t bother leaving the kids at home—this is an all-ages show!

Summer School

Turns out that learning stuff to develop your career and your business—like these IGC educational sessions—during the summer is the best time to do it. That’s according to a recent Fast Company article that you can find HERE. While summer is often the time folks take to hit the “get re-excited about work” reset button in the form of vacation, impact coach Katie Sandler explains there are four other things one can do to refresh and recharge your work and business goals. Those are:

Broaden your short-term thinking. “What happens is, you’re living your life and staying focused on your immediate needs, but not always on what you need to do to get where you want to go,” Katie says in the article. OMG, so true. Think about your long-term goals and then create an action plan.

Reinforce your skills. Sign up for a class! Book a professional development retreat! Read a book! And it doesn’t have to be a dry career-focused non-fiction book, either. Read anything—and do anything—that inspires you, speaks to you, inspires you to change your insights and actions.

Grow your network. Get out of your head and into someone else’s. See what others are doing. And don’t go into it anxiously and with a goal of getting a new job or business direction. Do it with the aim of growing yourself.

Practice self-care. Maybe you do take that vacation or staycation. Maybe you promise to visit three art museums. Maybe you take an exercise class or go for nature hikes. Again, the aim here is to grow yourself in some way, to find something that inspires you. (Me? One of my resolutions this year was to make one new dish each week. It’s really been a great way to get my creative juices flowing!) 

Summer’s End

It’s only mid-July, but it’s always wise to look ahead. I have two suggestions for what to do as summer slides into fall.

Impact Washington Summit. AmericanHort will host its second summit as Congress reconvenes after its summer break. They’re urging green industry folks to head to D.C. September 16-18 to learn more about issues facing the industry (hello, trucking?) and to make sure your issues and concerns are represented in Washington. You’ll hear from a bunch of different guest speakers, including EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Libre Initiative president Daniel Garza and a few others, all who will give updates and information about the topics that concern our industry the most. Help Congress know more so they can do better. Register for the event at GrowerTalks’ Jen Zurko went two years ago when the Summit premiered and found it “AWESOME,” she told me. “They had great speakers and it’s always good to see your representatives face-to-face.”

Cash and Carries. I wrote an article for the August issue of Green Profit about how you can recover from not having ordered enough (or anything) for the holiday gift-giving season. One tip I’m not sure I included in the piece was to find cash & carry events and get your stockroom stocked immediately. There are a bunch of cash & carry shows throughout the country, but I’ll tell you about two of them:

  • Los Angeles Christmas Cash & Carry Gift Show, October 4-6.
  • Atlanta Fall Immediate Delivery Show, November 5-7. More info HERE.

Finally …

Thanks to Jen Polanz for sending along this timely ARTICLE about a new garden created in Cape Canaveral, Florida. It’s not just any garden, either. It’s called the Moon Tree Garden and is on the grounds of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The garden was created to honor the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch, the vehicle and the event that took three brave astronauts to the moon.

The garden is planted with 12 trees grown from seeds that orbited the moon. How cool is that? Astronaut Stuart Roosa of Apollo 14 had taken some tree seeds with him when that mission orbited the moon. My question is, did he stuff his pockets with them or were they legitimately on the manifest?

Have faves from Cultivate you'd like to share? Send them plus any other comments, questions and suggestions to

Ellen Wells
Green Profit

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