As shipping for the year winds down, work on the 2004 spring catalog winds up. For nearly a month, we have been locked in our offices to focus on putting together the new catalog. I am getting a bit tired of pizza slices slid under the door, but we have found that such confinement increases the creative process. Finally after dozens of edits, the main text is ready including over 110 new plants. Unlike many nurseries who put the catalog together and then order the plants, we grow most of our own plants and try to have them at a saleable size before they go in the catalog. This allows us to fulfill a higher percentage of orders and be sure that we have the correctly named plant. We’re just finishing the photo selection process and have pictures of all but three plants…so close, but yet so far.
Another part of the fall catalog process is to re-examine costs and pricing. The last 2-3 years have been really tough on nurseries; mail order, wholesale, and retail. We continue to lose nurseries at an alarming pace because of the difficulty in remaining profitable after the nursery passes the “don’t need to make money, mom and pop stage.” If you’ve always been curious about the variability of nursery pricing, be sure to read the excerpt from “So You Want to Start a Nursery” on this website.
An opportunity of a lifetime presented itself, when in October, I was invited to address the 600th anniversary meeting of the Hortus Club of New York. What a wonderful honor to be able to share this special occasion with a group composed of a who’s who of horticulture in the New York region. It was great to have the chance to speak in the hallowed halls of Wave Hill to many old friends while meeting many others who I only knew by name and reputation. The trip was complete with a visit to the nearby New York Botanic Gardens. Dr. Kim Tripp, formerly of the JC Raulston Arboretum, has done an amazing job as Vice President for Horticulture in overseeing the transformation of the gardens. The work of Kim and her staff is nothing short of mind-boggling.
October took Michelle and I on a trip out to Portland, Oregon to speak for the Western Region of the International Plant Propagators Association . If you haven’t been to Portland, this is truly a mecca for plant nerds. I was fortunate to spend a day at one of my favorite nurseries for unusual plants, Cistus Nursery. The nursery has been completely expanded since my last visit and is a must visit if you are in the Portland area. Cistus is owned by Sean Hogan and Parker Sanderson, two of the top plants-people in the country today. I was also able to visit Rare Plant Research and visit plantsman Burl Mostul who has introduced a number of plants into US commerce. Burl’s website specializes in caudiciforms of which he has an amazing collection. A final day of touring took me back to Terra Nova Nurseries to look at the latest from their breeding programs. This is always a visit that never ceases to amaze. If your gardens are full, buy new property now…you will need it.
October was an important month for our PDN extended family as Garden Curator Adrienne Zazzara tied the knot with Jon Roethling of the JC Raulston Arboretum. We’d like to wish both the best of luck in their new life together.