Monday, August 20, 2007

Greetings from Holland!

I had the great good fortune to have been invited by Plant Publicity Holland to visit their delightful country. Specifically, I was invited to attend Plantarium, an annual trade show for Holland's perennial sector (, and tour a few garden centers and nurseries. I am happy to report I have arrived safely and have one successful day of touring under my belt already!

The day started off at the Flora Holland flower auction. I have the stats and figures somewhere in my hotel room, but I do believe they have a 55% share of the flower auction market. If that's for Holland alone or for the world wide market I would have to check. But still, that's a lot of the market, and it's a lot of flowers. They have separate auction halls for potted plants and cut flowers. The logistics are truly amazing. The flow of flower carts is quite rhythmic, and how the cart pushers don't run into each other, I just don't know. Like birds flying in formation. Anyway, here's a photo of the carts flowing in and out of the distribution hall.

After the auction, we traveled to two large garden centers. They can be best described as "destination" home & garden centers. Some quick trends I noted:
-espeliered trees are big here. The choices ranged from small "starter" fruit trees complete with at least one full-sized apple or pear hanging from a branch (!) to large 3-inch caliper deciduous trees like maple. I also noted espeliers used in public spaces, separating shops from public walkways along canals. Fall is the perfect time to plant trees, and an espelier with a fruit hanging from it is a great way to show "hey, look what you can get from this!"
-long colorful plant tags matching the fruit and the size and shape of the container. take a look at this plant tag and tell me you can resist these kids' smiling faces. of course you'll have fun with this fruit bush! the tag practically guarentees it!

-black and white (and grey and silver) are in! other colors too, but i was surprised at how much display space was dedicated to b&w themes.
-asian designs are in, too. and i was reminded that the Summer Olympics are coming up next summer. Start thinking about how you might be able to incorporate China and all of Asia in a display. And look at all the terrific material you have to work with!

The tours were enlightening not just about how the garden centers run their businesses, but also how consumers use these stores. They stores had cafes with really great food and great coffee. The cafes actually had patrons for lunch on a Monday afternoon! And folks were shopping for home decor and plants, coordinating one with the other. It was nice to see how this store fit seamlessly into the lives of their shoppers.

Well, that's it for now! I think I may be having a problem posting photos - looks like they are in reverse order and I'm not sure why. I'll try to get it right tomorrow!