Thursday, February 10, 2011

Let's Hear It for the Rookie Gardeners

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, it would obviously be appropriate to talk about cut flowers, flower arranging, ways to drop hints to your significant other that you want flowers, or helpful hints on how to help cut flowers last longer, but I decided against it. Sorry, Charlie Kremp.

Two weeks ago I attended the American Nursery & Landscape Association's (ANLA) NEW (!) Management Clinic. This was NOT your ordinary horticulture industry conference, were one listens to keynotes every morning at 8am, followed by a number of same-old-same-old education sessions on leadership skills or profit margin analyses. The NEW (!) Management Clinic was incredibly energize, educational, fun, tech-savvy, contemporary conferecnes filled with speakers who were not afraid to tell it like it is. By the end of the week, Gen Y-ers were texting with Baby Boomers their new ideas for retail displays, and I'm sure Mark Zuckerberg's Data Miners discovered a flood of new Fan Pages for landscape designers and garden centers. Needless to say, I'm pumped for Spring 2011.

What does this have to do with Gen X/Y Gardeners? You are all a part of an incredibly important group of consumers whom some at the Management Clinic came to recognize as "Rookie Gardeners". You might be a Rookie Gardener if:

a. You think you lack a "green thumb", or might even say you have a "black thumb",
b. You know the location of the local garden center, but have never gained the courage to visit in person (websites are a start, but don't count as a 'visit'),
c. You think the "local garden center" is Home Depot, Lowes, CostCo, or Walmart,
d. Read Martha Stewart Living and/or visit public gardens, admire the beautiful plants and flowers but think "I could never do that" or "Where do I even BEGIN?!", or
e. An ensemble of All The Above.

Fear not. Rookie Gardeners are a team of many, and there are garden centers and florists in your neighborhood who want to help you. Rookie Gardeners are surprisingly also Seasoned "Localvores" - you know the best restaurants in town, buy birthday gifts from the artist and jeweler down the street, and can be seen every Saturday at the Farmers' Market. Where does one begin to find the best local garden center or florist if one only knows the Box Stores? Running a Google search for "Easton, PA garden centers" does not yield the best results - half of the stores I know aren't even listed. You might have driven past a store a few times, but do you remember the name to find their website ("Honey, what was that place called? Posey Place...? Posey Pods...?")? Here are some suggestions:

- Visit and download the iPhone app. It's a great resource for not only plants and gardening how-to's, but also provides a search for local garden centers by zip code.
- Visit Today's Garden Center and check out their list of Revolutionary 100 - these are the Best of the Best stores across the entire US.
- Contact your county's chapter of Master Gardeners, or chat with the women at your church - chances are they know where to get "the good stuff" and might even invite you to their next garden club meeting.

This Valentine's Day I encourage all of the Rookie Gardeners out there to use your localvore skills and visit a local florist or garden center. Check them out - see what they're list, introduce yourself (yes, put down the smart phone and say "Hi, my name is ___, I'm a Rookie Gardener."), and ask what's in store for Spring. Let them know you're new at gardening, and ask how a Rookie Gardener can get started on a kitchen herb garden. Pick up a couple succulents - they're SUPER easy to grow, as long as you have light and don't water too often. Chances are, you'll learn something new and you'll be on your way to becoming a Major Leaguer.

Plant on and rock on,

Song for the Garden: "Let's Hear It for the Boy" - Deniece Williams

PS: I want to make baseball tees that read "Rookie Gardener" on the front - who's with me?