Why I don’t miss mainstream horticulture

I’ve been following a new online group of nursery professionals, where I recently saw this post which sent negative vibes deep into my soul:

“Is there a site that tells of all the new plants coming out for the new year or do you have to go web site to web site?”
– (name withheld)

This sounds like some people I used to work with.

First question. Why does this nursery feel like it needs to offer “all the new plants?” The implication is that they’re incapable of doing anything original and the loftiest goal they have as a company is just to try to keep up with everyone else. Of course my idea is that if you want some “new plants” go outside to a nice natural area and look around. There’s where the best plants are – not in some plant breeder’s catalog of overbred, boring, patented cultivars.

Next question. Does this person even like her job? Does she even like plants? The expression “do you have to” would seem to leave the burden of defense on her. And if the answer is no then what’s she doing in this job? I know, it’s not a perfect world. But someone who is really passionate about these plants should be asking “do I get to?” “can I?” “may I?” – I mean, at least make it sound like you’re excited about it!

Last question: isn’t this just a ridiculous request on the face of it? Does someone with enough industry experience (I’m assuming she has it if she’s researching this stuff) really expect someone is keeping a descriptive register of “all the new plants” for nurseries to be able to choose from? Have we thought about how many plants that is, or the practical impossibility of offering even, say, 5% of them? I guess what I’m driving at is, I only have a few years of garden center/retail experience, but that’s enough to know that the only way to be on top of bringing in “new plants” is for the retail buyer to maintain a close relationship with all of their suppliers that are marketing new introductions, who can then discuss those that are most appropriate and likely to sell in the market of that particular nursery. Of course sometimes it’s time to bring on new suppliers, but generally it’s the relationship that’s just as important as the plants.

Am I being too mean? To clarify, this isn’t meant as a personal attack in any way. And I fully acknowledge that I could be reading far too much into this post. Still, it’s worth considering as a reflection of the state of the industry. All too often the people in the horticulture industry (especially those in higher paid positions I might add) are not those who truly love plants and gardening. I know this because I’ve seen it myself in almost every nursery I’ve worked at, and in some cases I can tell just from visiting. Furthermore, many retail nurseries and garden centers in general have really lost their passion and/or niche, or never found it. In which case, why do they bother? I’m not sure.

To all those who defy this trend – who love plants and seek to know more about them – and who love the industry and are actively making it better, developing niches and setting trends – I salute you. I have as much to learn from you as anyone else!

In other news, I have made some slight modifications to this blog. Obviously I changed the title, since calling it just “newsletter/blog” was lame and it was time for a change.

I have added “categories” and assigned them to each post, making it possible to browse posts by category. This will be important as I attempt to broaden out and blog about a wider range of subjects in the future. I’ve selected five categories to be directly navigable from the bottom of the header, but I might change them – we’ll see.

I’ve also added a few new links and other favorite blogs. I hope to add to this list over time. If you would like to suggest any that are subject related (horticulture, gardening, plants, etc.) you’re welcome to do so here.

Finally, this blog has mysteriously received much more traffic in the last few days. So that’s nice – thanks for reading!

I promise this will be my last negative rant for a while. Happy new year!


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