maria Zampini — June 1, 2012

Sometimes it’s the simple pleasures in life that are most enjoyable. I’m one of those Type A personalities that rarely sits still but, I will admit to once in a while relaxing on the couch on a Sunday morning. I’m a creature of habit, so I like to watch CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood (I love a man with a bow tie!) while reading the local newspaper, The News-Herald. Periodically the editorial column in the paper gives out what they call “Brickbats and Bouquets” to people, places and things they deem worthy, or not so worthy.

So, it hit me that we’re already at the halfway point in 2012; it’s hard to believe! Another spring has come and gone and as usual it was hectic, demanding and exhausting – yet fulfilling, encouraging and rewarding at the same time. As I reflect back on these first six months, I’ve come up with a lot of different topics I’d like to mention and I thought utilizing the “Brickbats and Bouquets” format just might be the way to relay my opinions to you this month. So here goes:

Bouquets: To America in Bloom for bringing us the World Famous Hortistician Dr. Marvin Miller, in his informative yet entertaining series of videos called, “Plants – They’re Not Just Pretty.” AIB also put out a free color brochure, “Discover the Surprising Side of Plants” and an accompanying Power Point presentation that summarizes the benefits of plants: They’re “beyond pretty” for people, communities, neighborhoods and even offices. Great marketing tools we could all utilize. Are you taking advantage?

Brickbats: To Boxwood Blight. The thought of potentially losing such a stately crop like boxwood, well, just plain stinks. Enough said.

Brickbats and Bouquets: To Mother Nature for giving us a sunnier spring, but on the flip side making it so warm that plants bloomed 3 to 6 weeks ahead of schedule. A longer selling season perhaps, but plenty of toasted plants for both growers and consumers. Then again, she is Mother Nature and she can do what she wants, when she wants.

Bouquets: To those companies, that, regardless of their size, can turn fast as a speed boat and not slow like a cruise liner, to anticipate changing times and meet the needs of their customers and business. For example, when Mother Nature came calling early, they reacted quickly in shipping products to their retailers, who in turn took advantage of the warm weather and customers just itching to get their hands in the soil.

Bouquets: To the American Nursery and Landscape Association and OFA Board of Directors for collaborating on a joint venture focusing on lobbying and education for the betterment of their membership. Here’s one member who is counting on the partnership thriving and hopefully eventually expanding to the next level. Time will tell.

Bouquets: To C.L. Fornari, a garden writer from Massachusetts and a GWA Regional Director. At she’s made an inspirational commitment to make a difference by starting her one-woman national marketing campaign called “You Can Grow That!” She is motivating and uniting bloggers across the world to dedicate the fourth day of every month to reminding the public that plants and gardening enhance all aspects of our lives. She has thrown the pebble and created a ripple we can all benefit from.

Brickbats and Bouquets: To social media (that means you, Facebook, BranchOut, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, to name a few) for giving us a world of technology at our fingertips, providing marketing opportunities never before seen. On the other hand, we now somehow must find time in our already overbooked schedules to post pictures and commentary – and in most cases, receive no increase in pay for additional work duties.

Bouquets: To those companies and their leaders who know they need to reach out to Gen Y and aren’t afraid to empower those from that group in order to reach them. A fine example is Stacy’s Greenhouses in York, S.C. Tim Brindley tapped two young people, Steve and Toshanda, to create their YouTube videos. It doesn’t matter one iota that neither is from the horticultural industry, they are passionate about what they are doing and it shows!

Bouquets: To PLANET for its “Day of Service,” encouraging members to lead by example to be good stewards and humanitarians. Participants give back to their communities by organizing beautification projects.

Bouquets: To HGTV for realizing that the “G” has been silent for too long, and granting The Agricola Management Group the exclusive license to launch the HGTV HOME Plant Collection. With 95 percent consumer brand recognition and 75 percent of consumers excited about the prospect of buying HGTV plants, this could be brand-tastic.

Brickbats: To our government (D, R, I and any other affiliation in D.C.) for still not having enough guts to tackle real immigration reform. Spending time, effort and money on things like investigating steroid use in baseball is so much more relevant and beneficial for the American taxpayers, isn’t it? Looking forward to all the election rhetoric for the next several months – not.

Bouquets: To the ANLA Knowledge Center for providing quality business education on demand, such as “Charlie’s Angle” featuring professor and Ellison Chair Charlie Hall. Charlie’s easy-going, Southern charm makes ag economic lessons on current issues understandable and well-worth watching each month.

Bouquets: To the National Green Centre for its Sweet Melissa Fashion Show and the industry and consumer outreach associated with this event. (The event, now entering its third year, will be staged as “Plant Fashion” at the National Green Centre in St. Louis in 2013.) Their partnerships with industry and consumer publications means this is the best bang for the buck when it comes to promoting new plant introductions, especially for us “small fries.”

Bouquets: To my green industry friends in Australia: the Nursery and Garden Industry Australia, especially the Queensland division; Executive Director Don Scott and his wife Roslyn; all the National Convention attendees and my Aussie family at Flemings Nurseries for my wonderful, two-week trip Down Under. I had the time of my life, and I hope to be back among my Aussie friends soon.

Ready or not, I’ll be back next month in American Nurseryman, too. Until then, take care and I hope to see you at the trade shows this summer!

Maria Zampini is the president of UpShoot LLC. Her company’s focus is “living, sharing and supporting horticulture” through new plant introduction representation including LCN Selections. She can be reached at [email protected], and her website is

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