Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Facing Challenges

For the last two years at Russell's Nursery, we have been working hard at adding services to our business. We've added several services like marketing, merchandising, freight and several others. As the US economy continues to change, we saw the need to add more value to the plants we grow by adding all of these services.

In my travels as Director of Sales and Marketing, I've been to hundreds of independent garden centers across the US. I've discussed many of the reasons why we added these services to our business and why we wanted to be able to help all our retailers with challenges they are faced with on a daily basis. Some have been surprised that a grower that has been focus on growing the highest quality plants possible for the last thirty years would now add all of these services to their business as well. Just as we've always wanted to provide the best plants for our retailers to sell to their customers, we also want to provide the best services to help our retailers sell plants.

By working in partnership with our retailers, our combined efforts have enabled us to compete moving forward in an evolving retail world. Retail in the US in nearly every category has improved in many ways in the last decade. From brands that provide great visual merchandising displays in their store but also provide products at great value, to grocery stores that have redefined what the grocery experience is for customers. Independent business owners are faced with numerous challenges to compete for consumers.

Because of their size, “Big Box” retailers are sometimes not mentioned as retailers that are able to quickly change and evolve to provide and present product well to their customers. In the last two years, we've also seen major improvement within the garden center category at these Big Box retailers. This past year, they added QR codes and a membership garden club sign-up to their product labeling. They also started to carry product from numerous quality growers that historically haven't been offered at Big Box stores. Now they are moving into yet another area of retailing to better serve their customers.

In several locations across the US, some Big Box stores have created merchandising displays like above. These modest displays not only feature interesting plants many customers are unfamiliar with but they also use companion plants that consumers may also want to purchase. All of the products featured are also all priced at good values to customers. These displays that many would think would be limited to being located in the garden center area are located in the most prime location available at the very entry point of the store. Clearly, there is enough evidence to see that Big Box stores are paying attention to the garden center category.

At Russell's Nursery, we've never sold to Big Box stores and have no immediate plants to start. What we have been planning for the last two years is providing the marketing, merchandising, customer care, freight, and other services that help our retailers to not only compete with Big Box stores but surpass them in the category of plants we grow. Our commitment to provide great plants at great value and working in partnership with our retailers has resulted in many of them seeing selling out of plants in our category that they haven't seen in recent years.

We have been committed to growing our retailers' success by providing the best quality plants, marketing materials, merchandising concepts, and customer services we can. Knowing that the investments into all of these elements will lead to both of our successes.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Go West Young Man

All this week we we are participating in numerous parts of the Oregon Association of Nurseries Far West Show.

On Wednesday we will be hosting a guided bus tour through our 220 acre nursery and display garden. Thursday, the scene will shift to the trade show floor of the Far West Show at the Oregon Convention Center. Friday, our Director of Sales and Marketing will be speaking at the Far West Show seminar series on the topic of what is a plant worth. It's an action packed week at Russell's Nursery.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Water, Water, and even more Water

At Russell's Nursery we strive to provide you the best product possible to our customers as promptly as possible. There is only one thing that can delay that, Mother Nature.
Recently, she has been dumping buckets of rain on the Pacific Northwest, which has delayed our shipping dates by as much as two weeks for some customers. We are evaluating the harvesting and handling conditions of our plant material on an hourly basis. We are taking these extra precautions so we can provide the healthiest material possible to you.

We appreciate your patience and will continue to communicate with you the status of your order.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

'Gentsch White' Tsuga canadensis

The forest is a land with many personas.

There is Longfellow's "Forest Primeval" , with its, “murmuring pines and hemlocks, bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight…”. There is also Shakespeare's allusion to "Diana's foresters, gentlemen of the shade, minions of the moon". Both of these suggest an ancient, even eerie setting. If such is the case, 'Gentsch White' may well be considered as out of place.

This slow growing broad shrub has dainty, white-tipped foliage. 'Gentch White' may be thought of, then, as an elfin light, providing a cozy, comfortable bit of light and color in this rather dark and foreboding scene.

‘Gentch White’ is a dwarf Canadian Hemlock that likes partial shade, preferring to be protected from the full afternoon sun. It need not be relegated to the “deep woods” environment, however, as long as it is given some shade, or mottled sunlight during the warmest periods of the day. An annual shearing will also help to keep its fresh color, and maintain the compact shape.

This variety is very versitile, doing well in a variety of hardiness zones (zones 4-8), meaning that it can be a valuable addition to the garden in many places throughout the country.

'Gentch White', with its size (only about 4’-6’ in 10 years) and color, is a perfect choice for the small and medium size shaded garden area, whether used as an accent plant, or in small groups.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

'Compact Gem' Pinus leucodermis

You are sitting in the comfort of your car, as the engine pulls the incline through the Balkans…the gentle side-to-side rocking, and the clickity-clack of the wheels on the tracks allow your mind to wander….daydreaming … looking to the corridor, thinking you might catch a glimpse of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, with his charistic waddle, bustling along on the trail of a clue….

The train’s whistle breaks the spell, and you look out the window. Your eyes pan across the snow covered landscape…..how beautiful and serene, so distant from the generations of violence that have besieged this part of the world. The thick blanket of snow is interrupted only by numerous trees with long, glossy, deep green foliage…providing an exceptional color contrast in this peaceful scene.

These are the alpine origins of Pinus leucodermis - the Bosnian Pine.

Pinus leucodermis “Compact Gem” is a dwarf member of this Bosnian Pine family. The long, dark green needles, common to the species, are complimented very nicely by light colored terminal buds. This attractive color scheme is found on a slow growing (1”-3”/ year; 3’-4’/ 10 years), narrow, conical form.

“Compact Gem” is suitable in a variety of regions (zones 4-8). This, as well as its outstanding, compact size and coloration, make it a most welcome addition to all landscapes, from the small rock garden to accent roles in larger settings.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

'Ara Kawa' Japanese White Pine, Pinus parviflora

Some plants are very showy – in form and color – an almost brash, in-your-face,” Here I am, check me out….oh ya’, that’s right, I rock!”

Others are more subdued. They live their lives at the edge of the spotlight. Many are small, but no less beautiful, often being referred to as, “cute”. They make the most of their attributes of adaptability, consistency, and durability.

A third group is more laid back, in form or size, or a combination of the two. Subtle beauty is very evident, albeit not as flashy as those in the first group, nor as subdued as those in the second.

One member of this third, “laid-back” group is Pinus parviflora ‘Ara Kawa’. ‘Ara Kawa’ is a slow-growing, irregular, compact form of Japanese White Pine. Its dark blue green needles offset the intriguing, white, rough, textured bark. Small green cones, which begin as indigo, augment this color scheme.

The variety’s adaptability is evidenced by its hardiness. It is suitable for zones 2-9, which includes most zones in the U.S. Its compact size and slow rate of growth (2”-4”/ year to a maximum of about 5’ in 10 years) make it suitable for a variety of landscape settings, from larger rock gardens, to patio areas, and small to medium size gardens.

The feature that ensures Ara Kawa’s membership in the laid-back group, however, is its form. The attractive foliage and interesting white, scaly bark are found in an irregular, wind-swept, form.

This unique look, suggests an inherent attractive, suave “coolness” and unfaltering good looks reminiscent of a Sean Connery, Samuel L. Jackson, Denzel Washington, or a George Clooney. At the same time, however, there is the inherent “hip”, “funky” coolness that seems to be emitted from it’s entirety, from it’s very nature – think of B.B. King, Eric Clapton, or Bono.

One more thing: Don’t be surprised if you think you hear a jazz riff playing somewhere in the background, as you are enjoying the company of Pinus parviflora “Ara Kawa”. This is one “cool dude” of a plant.

[Sunglasses not included.]