News on the Grow By Catherine Evans

Long before Martha Stewart, there was Betty Crocker.

Betty was created in 1921 after a promotion for Gold Medalflour flooded Washburn Crosby Co., with questions about baking. To answercustomers in a more personal manner, the company created a fictitious kitchenexpert, pulling the name “Crocker” from a recently retired directorof the company and adding the first name “Betty” because it soundedfriendly.

Now imagine what that concept could do for gardening.

MasterTag did just that when they created and GPN/Lawn &Garden Retailer promoted Susan Ward. Many of you will remember Susan Ward fromlast year’s issues. She wrote a column about her garden center experiences asan avid gardener.

Susan Ward is a “personality” that was introducedto the horticultural trade by MasterTag. She is not a celebrity, expertgardener. She is not a household name with regular appearances on cabletelevision or in women’s home and garden magazines. She is not even real, yetSusan has a personality that female gardeners can identify with. Susan’s age,home life, career, family income and lifestyle closely match that of theprimary consumer of lawn and garden live goods. In other words, she is anidentifiable trust-worthy personality in an otherwise bland and generic displayof flowering plant material.

What do Betty Crocker and Susan Ward have in common?

* Both provide information, with personality, on topics ofgreat interest — cooking and gardening.

* Both provide a name and a face that their core audiencecan trust.

* Both deliver tips and help that is based on experience andpreference.

* Both have a group of experts behind them providing soundadvice and recommendations.

Using Susan

Articles from Susan Ward appeared in Scranton GilletteCommunications’ publications this past year. Both GPN and Lawn & GardenRetailer featured some of Susan’s articles. These articles included”Susan’s” preferences and suggestions and were written from theconsumer’s point of view.

Each of the articles was based on the results of consumersurveys conducted by MasterTag, but instead of showing dry charts and lists ofdull summary research, Susan Ward talked as a consumer about the things thatshe (and others) wanted from growers and retailers.

Given that better information is the hallmark of the SusanWard program, MasterTag will introduce it as an exclusive program toindependent garden centers. Better information and a unique, personalpresentation are what consumers expect from an independent retailer, and byusing a program such as Susan Ward, or one that you design for yourself, youcan give it to them.

MasterTag and Scranton Gillette wish to thank you for yourgood-natured participation in presenting solid consumer information in an easyto understand way and encourage you to explore marketing ideas that incorporatepeople, sensations, destinations or anything else that might increase sales.

–Bridget White

Colorado Drought Adds Some Water

The recent snow may have shut down highways and businesses,but that did not stop Colorado water officials from enjoying the weather.Aurora city leaders, who earlier this year had announced that residents wouldonly be allowed to plant trees, shrubs and perennials until May 3 due to thesevere drought in the state (see News on the Grow in March GPN), said the newsnow may allow them to ease the ban. Aurora received 40 inches of snow duringthe storm. Aurora and other cities are waiting until final snow pack numbersare released before announcing summer watering guidelines. In the meantime,Colorado State University and Denver Botanic Garden released the 2003Drought-Tolerant Plant Select Choices: Jamesia americana, Heuchera sanguinea’Snow Angel’, veronica ‘Reavis’, Gazania krebsiana, Paxistima canbyi, Violacorsica and geranium ‘La Veta Lace’, allowing Colorado residents to havealternative gardening sources.

ANLA Announces Headliners

The American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) hasannounced its headliners for the Convention and Learning Retreat in Boston,July16-20. Retired U.S. Navy Capt. D. Michael Abrashoff, best-selling authorDan McNichol of The Big Dig and the “Ambassador of Fun” Tony Brigmonwill speak to attendees.

The “Revolutionary Learning Experience” startsFriday, July 18 with “Big Thoughts Speaker” Abrashoff talking aboutgrassroots leadership, the process of replacing command and control withcommitment and cohesion by engaging the hearts, minds and loyalties of workers.Grassroots leadership is a principal that empowers every individual to sharethe responsibility of achieving success. On Saturday, July 19, attendees willlisten to McNichol about his role in Boston’s Central/Artery Tunnel Project andalso to the self-proclaimed Brigmon.

VIVA Varieties Available in Home Depot Garden Centers

Floragem, a marketing company that develops live good plantprograms for the retail market, recently announced VIVA! Herbs and Veggies arenow available at all Home Depot Garden Centers in California, Arizona, Texas,Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, and they will becoming to other states nationwide as the spring planting season commences.

VIVA! Herb and Veggie plants come in decorative pots and aredivided into six color-coded categories based on the primary uses of each groupincluding culinary herbs, tea herbs, health and beauty herbs, aromatic herbsand pet herbs, allowing consumers to easily identify the different varietiesand their uses by the associated color and icon on the plant tag.

GPN/MasterTag’s Marketing Innovator of 2002, Floragemdesigned VIVA! to inspire everyone to become a better gardener and isdistinguishable from other similar plant goods based on its custom-designedVIVA! POP materials and informative, easy-to-read tags. The VIVA! Program alsoincludes a wealth of product information and planting ideas

SAF’s 19th Annual Insect and Disease Management Conference

More than 100 attendees graced the Sheraton Safari Hotel inOrlando, Fla., for the Society of American Florists’ (SAF) 19th AnnualConference on Pest Management of Ornamentals, held February 23-25, 2003.

The three-day event provided attendees with educationalseminars, networking opportunities and greenhouse tours. The tours took thegroup to three successful Florida facilities: Jons Nursery, Eustis, Fla., whereattendees were able to see Jons’ successful water reclamation system; atAgri-Starts, Inc., Mount Dora, Fla., where visitors were guided through thetissue culture process; and Stewart’s Greenhouse, Mount Dora, Fla., which demonstratedapplication of beneficials for the group.

New this year was a product-roundup-type presentation wheremanufactures of pest and disease controls were able to spend about five minutestalking and discussing their products, which was a big success.

Pest and disease control manufactures were also able todisplay their products in the exhibit area, where most of the attendeesgathered to network during seminar breaks. This event is great for networkingas it is pretty small and separate breaks were scheduled to talk with growers,academics and manufacturers.

Talk amongst the attendees

Big talk among the attendees was aphids and what a problemthey have been lately. SAF and Ann Chase from Chase Research Gardens havegathered information showing aphid infestation is growers’ top pest problem.Due to the growing problem, many experts, such as Ron Oetting, University ofGeorgia, touched on the topic of aphids and treatment, as well as numerousother pests; leafminers, whiteflies, thrips and mealybugs were just a few.

Weed control was another topic I heard mentioned over andover at the conference. A pest in itself, weeds have become an annoyance thatgrowers often have to deal with and can do so now. Because of better research,more details on weed control is known, so it is easier than before to discuss.

Newer-found diseases, such as daylily rust and Ralstonia,were also touched on, which eased attendees nerves to hear the experts calmlytalk about the diseases and how they will not become as big of a problem assome predicted.

Discussing the most current problems and solutions showsthat the conference allows growers to get the best information possible. Don’tmiss next year’s conference, which will be held in San Jose, Calif., February22-24, 2004.

— Carrie Burns

Athens Select Releases Marketing CD-Rom

The Athens Select Marketing Association recently created anddistributed a CD-Rom featuring custom POP cards that provide a simple way forretail and garden centers to market Athens Select plants.

Each of the 19 POP cards contains a picture, consumer careinformation and the Athens Select logo. The cards can easily be customizedwithout special software. The CD also contains color photos of Athens Selectvarieties and instructions for printing and laminating the POP cards.

The CD is currently available through all Athens Selectpropagators. Shortly, retailers will also be able to download the POP cardsfrom the Athens Select Web site at

In other news, the Athens Select and Proven Selectionsmarketing groups have recently formed a marketing alliance under which the twoorganizations will promote a selection of Athens Select varieties under aco-branded Athens Select/Proven Selections plant tag. This move was prompted bythe recent addition of two Proven Selections propagators — Four StarGreenhouse and Pleasant View Gardens — to the list of licensed Athens Selectpropagators. EuroAmerican Propagators has been a licensed Athens Selectpropagator for years, as one of its founding members. Proven Selections is acomplementary brand to Proven Winners.

Four Star Greenhouse and Pleasant View Gardens will bemarketing Athens Select varieties under a co-branded plant tag featuring therecognized Proven Selections tag shape and logo together with the Athens Selectlogo. EuroAmerican Propagators will eventually join this marketing approach.All other Athens Select members will continue to market under the distinguishedAthens Select plant tag. The co-branded plants will reach the market in the2003/2004 winter and spring growing seasons.

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