On a beautiful and sultry West Chicago afternoon, scores of landscape contractors and growers wandered the 9 acres of Ball Horticulture Co.'s well-manicured grounds. They were there as part of the company's Landscape Day, a chance to see what new varieties will be available in the coming years.
“We tend to talk about the pretty" when it comes to flowers, says Marvin Miller, Ball’s market research manager, but we often neglect the economic benefits — improving property values, drawing tourists and creating jobs.
Attendees also got the rare treat to hear Ball President and CEO talk about the history of the Ball trial gardens. To hear what she had to say about the site, click on the video.
While there was certainly lots of "pretty" to talk about, contractors got a chance to hear Ball employees explain everything from the latest varieties to the latest way to grow them. They also got to hear from a panel of experts about how growers and contractors can work together to make their operations more profitable.
The panel included: Steve Zylstra, Zylstra Greenhouses, Kalamazoo, MI; Bob Jones, SpringCreek Growers, Magnolia, TX; Ed Mrozinski, Acres Landscape, Wauconda, IL; and Bruce Hellerick, Senior Horticulturist (and LM columnist), Brickman.
According to Jones, clients have been trying to save money by reducing the number of color change-outs -- maybe skipping a spring or winter. The other big trend, Hellerick says, is the move away from annuals. Whether it's because of the U.S. Building Council's LEED program or just an attempt to save some money, people are moving away from annual installations, he explains. "I like annuals," Hellerick says. "I'm very nervous for the industry right now."
Zylstra responded by saying, "There's a lot of market out there. We need to do a better job of selling."