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Well, it’s been about two months since we blogged last.

Oops.

Like everyone in this industry, we here at Lawn & Garden Retailer are still trying to figure out how to work social media and all our electronic products into the mix of all the other things we have to do at the office! Summer’s been crazy.

Just before the OFA Short Course, we were working overtime to finish our redesign of our sister magazine, GPN, in time for the July issue, which we hand out at the show. It looks gorgeous, and we’re so proud of it…whew!

Check it out:

Short Course kept us all super busy, too — we’ll be discussing all that in the next episode of Hort TV, which will be out at the beginning of August.

Photos from Short Course are up on our Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/lgr-and-gpn.

What have you been up to this summer?

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…I’d say we’re holding up.

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Folks, you’d better be getting some shuteye as I write this!

My flight to Amsterdam — the first leg of my Garden Getaway Tours journey — left Chicago at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, and suddenly it’s Friday morning. And…I forgot to sleep on the plane. But I did get to finish a book and dream about all the beautiful gardens I’m going to see over the next 10 days!

But gardens look better, I think, with a bit more rest. Here’s hoping I make it to Edinburgh with no problems and can meet up with Gary and my group feeling refreshed!

Just checking in…stay tuned for photos and lots of garden talk!

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Boxes of beauty!

It’s that time again…
Little boxes full of little plants have started arriving from all points in the United States. As editors, the plant companies like to send us new varieties to try out in our home gardens so we can give them feedback on how well they grow in the area.

New from Skagit Gardens

New from Skagit Gardens, coreopsis 'Coloropsis Salsa'

Yesterday, the first shipments came to the office.
From Greenheart Farms, a miniature rose called ‘Sorcerer’.
From Skagit Gardens, a wealth of little starts: dianthus ‘Scent First Passion Pink’; euphorbia ‘Ruby Glow’; dicentra ‘Burning Hearts’, one of my personal favorites ever; coreopsis ‘Big Bang Cosmic Eye’; and coreopsis ‘Coloropsis Salsa’ and ‘Coloropsis Jive’, new introductions at this year’s California Spring Trials.

I know more are on the way.

In previous seasons, I’ve had to surrender my little guys to other co-workers — I didn’t have anywhere to put them! — but this year is different. I now have some window box planters and plenty of space just outside my apartment building to tinker and toil in the soil. Really looking forward to it!

Here’s hoping my thumb turns just a little green…

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Stirring the Pot?

The following post is solely the opinion of Managing Editor Paige Worthy and does not reflect the position of Lawn & Garden Retailer magazine as a whole.

So, I wrote a story for our May issue about Groupon, a collective buying program that lets businesses offer thousands of potential customers a great deal to come in and try out their business. Read up for a moment, then come on back and check this out.

I posted a link to the piece on Facebook yesterday — I’m proud of the writing and think this is an important new business idea for garden centers to know about — and it really struck a chord with one of my friends, who owns a garden center near Rochester, N.Y.:
Give me a break. I can’t seem to look past the thought; the only way to get traffic in the store is to create a 50% off sale. Especially if you are the “best of the best” in your town.
We take advantage of these type of giveaways at our local restaurants. It doesn’t mean we would eat there more regularly without the give away. In fact we don’t … until there is another offer. It just means if they allow me to pay $25 and get $50 in food; why not. Cuts down the grocery…um I mean gardening bill. And they are right, I don’t spend but a few cents more than I have to in order to get my full $50 worth of Thai dumplings…
But really now…this is not a good (Profitable) business practice. It only reinforces that now not only will GCs put their plants on sale at 50% off at the end of the year; they can be suckered into doing it at the height of their season with a new coupon…Oh and I have to pay a % fee out of my 50%. Doesn’t that help make the margins tank.
Ok..I’m done..the rant is over, I’m going to bed and dream a profitable dream. Now go put one dislike in the other column for me.

Well, all right. I’m happy to generate any sort of dialogue with the stories in our magazine, of course. Because that means people are reading and thinking about these things — great news!
But yikes.

By the way, this comment comes from someone I consider to be incredibly tech savvy. He’s doing a lot of fun things for his business with Facebook and Twitter, and I believe he’s having some degree of success with it, too. (Though, like most hort businesses I follow, this garden center’s activity seems to have dropped off considerably now that the garden centers’ peak season has begun…)

So, I’ll now comment on his comment.
(more…)

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We’re live!

We’ve been working on something new here at Lawn & Garden Retailer and GPN for a while now…and we’re finally ready to show it to you.

It’s our new website, www.CaliforniaSpringTrials.com!

We’ll be tweeting, updating Facebook, uploading Flickr photos and blogging throughout the week, but this site brings it all together — plus information on the exhibitor locations and other logistics. Forget all the other sites: This is your No. 1 resource for the trials, Floriculture’s Fashion Week! The trials are the opportunity for breeders and other industry companies to show off their best and brightest products for the coming year, whether it’s a bolder red geranium or a wild new sport — or the coolest packaging since the birth of the cardboard box.

Here’s what Tim, editorial director of GPN, wrote in his recent editorial:
We know California Spring Trials can a hectic week. Figuring out where to go and what to see in a limited amount of time can be a challenge. Which is why, last month, we debuted our new website, www.californiaspringtrials.com.
This website is designed to make your life a bit easier by providing you with all the information you need if you plan to attend California Spring Trials. All of the trial locations’ addresses (and maps), phone numbers and e-mail addresses are listed to make planning your trip a little less complicated.
And if you are not going to Spring Trials, you can follow along with us on www.californiaspringtrials.com too.
GPN’s editorial staff will be tweeting, blogging and posting photos and updates to our Facebook accounts from the different Spring Trials sites to give those of you who can’t make it out west an idea of some of the things we are seeing.
The California Spring Trials are only a week long, but www.californiaspringtrials.com will live on throughout the year. After the trials, we’ll have additional information on the exhibitors and things we saw posted on the site. We also will be shooting video during the week for Hort TV that will uploaded to the website once we return.

Check out the site, or become a fan on Facebook.

Even if you’re not a grower or garden center, this is a fabulous insider’s peek at the flowering underbelly of our industry. Who doesn’t need a few more beautiful varieties to lust after until they appear in garden centers in a couple of years?

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Lots of things happening in the Lawn & Garden Retailer “newsroom” lately…I hate to say that I’ve been too busy to blog, but there it is!
I’ll be back next week with another Garden Getaway Tours blog. In the meantime…

People get serious about Spring Trials!

Spring is finally starting to creep back into the Chicago area, and there are a few events this weekend to help kick it off. First, in the northwest suburbs, Proven Winners is holding its second annual Outdoor Living Extravaganza event tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Rolling Meadows.

I’ll be attending that with our publisher, Bob. There’s a fantastic lineup of speakers, including Tim Wood, the “plant hunter” and all-around horticultural genius at Spring Meadow nursery. He wrote for us back in 2008, and I heard him speak at the Mid-Am show a couple of months ago. It’s fascinating to hear him talk about the breeding process, and I delight in how excited he gets when he gets to show off new varieties.
We love us some plant geeks around here.

Meanwhile, back in the city, the Chicago Flower & Garden Show kicks off Saturday morning at Navy Pier. It runs until the 14th, so you’ve got plenty of time to get down there if you’re anywhere near the Chicago area. I had the opportunity to talk with creative director Daniel Stober at Mid-Am too; this year involves horticultural companies taking themes from theatrical productions. These displays are sure to be whimsical and beautiful.
There are also potting parties that benefit local charities; at the end, participants get to take home a beautiful container they made themselves! I love it. Hoping a lot of younger gardeners make it down for this beautifully reimagined show. I’ll be headed down there next week.

We’re so excited for spring around here. California Spring Trials — and our annual trip out to the West Coast — are just around the corner. Watch this space for photos and updates from the road. The yearly deluge of beautiful new varieties will begin soon, too: The editors get shipments of plants to test out in our own gardens. Great fringe benefits!

Please leave us a comment if you stop by — we love to get to know readers better!
Or find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/LGRmag
…or Twitter!: @lgrmag

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