Feb 7, 2012
Welcome to Culture Connection!By Jasmina Dolce

Welcome to GPN‘s latest newsletter, Culture Connection!

Each month in GPN, we feature all sorts of informative articles and coverage on new variety introductions, how to grow them, and how to be successful with them in GPN‘s Culture Connection section of the magazine. However, not everything makes it to print! So that’s where this newsletter comes in. Every other week, I’ll share with you new and exciting tidbits happening across the industry, spanning all things culture. This industry is really all about the plants, and that’s what my focus will be.

I look forward to cluttering your inbox, and if there’s any information you would like included in a future issue of the Culture Connection newsletter, please shoot me an e-mail at [email protected]. If there’s a trial going on, I want to know about it. If there’s a new, innovative series in the works, fill me in. If there are environmental conditions affecting the way a crop is grown, let me know. Is there a new greenhouse product out there that’s going to change the production process, tell me. And I’ll do my best to spread the word.

Under the Sea Coleus Wins Garden Idol Award

Last month, ANLA hosted its third annual Garden Idol competition at Clinic in Louisville, Ky. Hort Couture’s Under the Sea coleus was voted winner of the competition.

For those of you unfamiliar with how Garden Idol works, it’s basically horticulture’s version of American Idol. Companies are able to showcase their top varieties through skits and videos, and voters use text messaging to vote for their favorite.

“ANLA was trying to build awareness for new varieties and get people excited,” shared Jessica DeGraaf, Hort Couture program manager with C. Raker & Sons. And it worked! Hundreds of people attended the live Garden Idol performances, not to mention the competition was streamed live online.

We were first introduced to Under the Sea coleus at the 2011 California Spring Trials, and according to Jessica it was one of the hottest items introduced last year. And at ANLA Clinic, people were amazed with the leaf structures and variation in color.

One thing to point out is that most people associate coleus with shade and partial shade conditions. “We actually trialed them at Raker this summer, in a lot of heat” said Degraaf. “We trialed them in full sun and full shade, and they performed just as well in the sun as they did in the shade.”

Under the Sea was also trialed at the Dallas Arboretum last year with positive results. So for those of you looking for an easy-to-grow, heat and shade loving coleus, this might be a good addition to your program. As DeGraaf said, “someone with a brown thumb could grow these!”

Check Out HGTV Home Plant Collection at Spring Trials

Just in time for Mother’s Day, HGTV and Agricola Management Group will launch the new HGTV Home Plant Collection in retail stores and garden centers starting May 6. Initially, the collection will be available to a select group of the nation’s top retailers and independent garden centers located in key geographic areas. New markets will be added to the collection’s distribution through 2013.

Growers and retailers will be able to preview the 2012 plant material and some new selections for 2013 at the California Spring Trials next month. The HGTV Home Plant Collection will be joining Dümmen at Edna Vineyard in San Luis Obispo from March 25 to 29. The launch will feature select annuals, mixed containers and hanging baskets designed to perform well in consumer gardens and outdoor living spaces.

I had the chance to speak with Randy Hunter, CEO of Agricola Management Group, last week, and he shared his excitement about the new collection, stating this is going to be a great opportunity for growers and retailers alike to be involved in a very unique national program.

“According to a recent study, HGTV has 95 percent consumer brand awareness,” he shared. “What that’s going to do for growers is give them the confidence to know there’s a marketplace of consumers eager to buy products branded under the HGTV name and it will also be supported with a very comprehensive marketing strategy.”

Planning a Trip to the California Spring Trials?

Well, look no further! Check out the digital edition of the 2012 California Spring Trials Companion for all your planning needs. Each spring, the GPN staff travels along the California coast to learn about all the new variety introductions and marketing programs. Traveling throughout the week can get a bit crazy, so we know how important it is to get and stay organized. That’s why we created the Spring Trials Companion.

We’ve compiled all the trial locations, participating companies, contact information, directions and maps. You can use this information to set up appointments and create a schedule that works for you. You’ll also find a list of recommended restaurants and hotels in each area.

Happy planning, and be sure to stop and say hi if you see us along the coast!

Jasmina Dolce

Jasmina Dolce is managing editor of GPN magazine. She can be reached at [email protected]

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