More from the 2010 Independent Garden Center Show
October 27th, 2010
Dateline CHICAGO: Another “first” this year was participating in the Independent Garden Center Show, which took place in Chicago, August 17-19th.
The fourth annual trade show for independent nursery owners and their staff gathers thousands under one roof for seminars, tours, a mega trade show, and serious networking.
The who’s who of the garden world comes to the IGC Show. I’ve wanted to check it out for a couple years, so when I was invited to make a presentation on the “Most Inspiring Garden Centers and Specialty Retailers,” I jumped at the chance to participate.
You can see some hightlights of that talk here. I had a wonderful audience of engaged and energized nursery owners. And I am encouraged by the response from these retailers interested in sharing my ideas and themes with their employees and staff.
I participated in a second presentation with Robin Avni, a friend and colleague who has invited me to be an associate in her Lifestyle Insights consultancy. I’m one of a group of like-minded “real women” experts who have come together to use our talents and knowledge to help corporate clients serving the female consumer.
For the IGC Show audience, Robin and I presented “The Female Gardener: Mommy to Maven.” Our presentation shared some of the research and insights collected by Lifestyle Insights in the past 12 months. We want garden center owners and garden-related companies to think about the female consumer not just by obvious demographics of age, ethnicity or economics but by her life stages. We’ll be sharing more about our research in the coming months, but suffice it to say, Robin and I both felt that the presentation was a good way to have a conversation with the gardening industry about who “she” is (and “she” is a powerful consumer to serve).
There were other fun aspects to attending the IGC Show, including hearing from keynote speaker Jamie Durie of HGTV’s Outdoor Rooms. Jamie’s electrifying talk was not long enough – in fact, it’s a bummer that he was sort of cut short due to timing, since he had so many inspiring things to share with American nursery owners and outdoor living retailers.
Here are a few of his comments that resonated with me:
Luxe-scaping is one of Jamie’s design terms. He likes to start a landscape with Shapes First, Plants Second. Once you decide on the shape (“Embrace the plant’s architecture,” he explains), you can choose site-adaptable and regionally-appropriate plants to reflect the shape.
Jamie talked about “planting into the hard-scape,” an idea that helps to soften the architectural elements of a design. He showed images of one of the garden staircases designed by his firm Patio that caught my eye and nicely illustrated this concept. The wide stone-tread staircase has shallow risers that are planted to give a soft, green contrast to the hard-edged stone. This made me think of a succulent staircase at Ed and Susie Bealls’garden in Rancho Palos Verdes we saw recently (photo, below).
It’s easy to get swept up in Jamie’s passion for enjoying the garden all year long. “Control your environment with built structures” and use new, technological and design features to do so (especially if you live in cooler climates). For example, Jamie uses overhead heaters as well as under-deck and under-patio warming systems. Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are de rigeur for all-season garden living.
Jamie shared some of the ways he has developed and expanded DurieDesign, his overall brand. His advice could apply to anyone interested in staking out a position in the horticultural industry. I certainly found it useful. This isn’t comprehensive since I wasn’t writing notes as quickly as Jamie was speaking, but are some highlights:
Be able to state clearly your business Description, Expression, Attributes, Promise and Theme.
Study your brand personality and strategy. For Durie Design, the theme of “well-being” represents lifestyle and balance. There is a spectrum that goes from the tangible (what you do) to the intangible (why you do it). In between are the How and Who of your brand personality.
DurieDesign’s brand attributes includebeing Inspiring, a Design Authority, Accessible and having a Positive Energy. Know and communicate your brand promise. For DurieDesign, that means “connecting design and innovation wi the mind, body and spirit.” His brand theme: Let’s Go Outside. “People are intrinsically connected to plants.” Yes, that’s so true!
In the coming weeks, garden and design writers and their publications will be obsessing about “what’s hot” for the 2011 gardening season. I venture a guess that many of those must-have products, plants and ideas were introduced at IGC. I’m going to share my favorite new products — my “picks” — very soon.