Strange Market

Sales patterns have been strange this year which makes our faith in the computer to do prognostications for us to wane.  To start with we are already sold out of quite a few items.  I inquired to the computer keeper and I am told that it is the small volume items that we are sold out of.  In other words we are sold out of a lot of things but not a lot of plants, or, stated another way, we are sold out of many varieties of plants but not many pots of plants and here is the reasoning: because spring was cold and late the big commercial landscaping accounts have yet to start buying—they are still getting ready to get ready.  We assume that once things settle down that they will take what we have predicted and planned for—large amounts of Nepetas, Rudbeckias, Liriopes, Echinaceas, and other common items that have not been selling yet.

And then the garden center retail type market is going gang busters.  This is not our traditional big-time market, although we do not go out of our way to avoid the retail trade.  And, we are getting more organized about trimming and spacing and staging production such that we have consistently on hand good looking material that does well with the retailer.  We think that with the shut down, close down, stay in place business, people are enthusiastically buying plants to improve their houses or yards.  Our computer was not able to predict either the virus epidemic or the draconian measures that state governments have imposed, for the first time in history, upon the populace because of it.  The retailers like our smaller volume specialty plants and so we sold out of many of them.

Because we are not good at predicting either the weather or the pandemic things, we plan on going through life without taking these things into account.  If we do sell out of everything by the end of the year we will be happy and proud and difficult to live with because of our lucky guessing.  Besides all of the externalities going on, there is always a slight shift in plant popularities each year.

We see an increase in grass liner sales and we like it because we do a pretty good job of making them and we make them in the winter when we have the staff to do the work.  Right now, for example, we have 400 flats of Ammopnila breviligulata which is Dune Grass to normal people, in a 2 ½” pot.  No one else grows this in a peat-bark mix, but it does well for us.  Our Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ (PP#22,048) is ready to pot up and we have lots of it.  This is one of my near-favorite plants—it is spectacular looking, is in good demand, and most of it dies in the winter giving us an automatic market for the next year.  We have a bit of a conscience and so we are busily building up stock of its potential replacement.  Brent Horvath of Intrinsic has developed a hardy grass that is a replacement, although not nearly so ornamental, which is now called: Bouteloua gracilis ‘Honey Comb’.  This was erroneosly listed in our 2020 catalog as being called Boutelouea g. ‘Honey Blonde’.  For some reason the name was changed.  The patent has been applied for.  We will keep you posted on availability.  And we have lots of new production S. ‘Tara’ looking good.

We have a whole lot of seedling Calamagrostis brachytricha and Sporobolus heterolepis coming up, now 3-4 inches high and very thickly seeded.  My conscience will not bother me if they are sold now.  You may run into some of the sales personages who have a conscience when you try to order them; be firm and persistent.

Another strange trend is hostas.  That bloom was off that rose for some years and now all of a sudden we are sold out.  We are potting some up now and we can pot up unlimited quantities of ‘Summer Fragrance’.  For years we have not pushed ‘Summer Fragrance’, a taller variegated sweet smelling bloom, because it tended to flop in a one gallon container when grown pot to pot.  Otherwise it is a reasonable plant.  We also have lots of ‘Love Pat’ in the field, which is, likewise, not on the production schedule.

I like the idea of these blogs although it took a while for me to get warmed up.  At first I thought that they were for your entertainment but now I have discovered that I can use them to tell about my personal problems.  My enthusiasm is over-flowing.