I LOVE FALL

…at least when my college football team is winning.

No, just kidding – fall is my favorite gardening time of the year in spite of a few Gator losses.

A Saturday morning in the garden can be wonderfully chilly and brisk and breezy. You’re not dripping with sweat or scratching mosquito bites after a half hour’s digging. The weeds have slowed down and you can finally keep up with them, pulling escapees as you come across ’em. Spring is a time of drought, but fall usually brings regular rains as the first winter cold fronts roll through. Plants can develop roots all winter even though the tops are dormant or even totally brown.

I lived in South Florida until I was eighteen. There was no change of season, so our tropical landscapes looked pretty much the same year round. Now I live in northern Florida, and am amzed that the tree leaves change color with the first frost, ornamental grasses turn brown and make crackly noises as they blow and rub in the wind, fall-blooming perennials show off with bursts of oranges, yellows and reds.

My favorite fall-blooming perennials are Odontonema (Firespike), Russelia (Firecracker Plant), Tecoma Stans (Yellow Bells), Senna bicapsilaris (Cassia), Clerodendrum paniculatum (Pagoda Plant), and Asters like ‘English Countryside’. Cool season annuals like Violas and Snaps are popular, but more people should try Nemesia, Diascia, and Erysimum. They take the cold as well and make a bigger splash as they grow, spread, and bloom continuously.

So remember that the old slogan “Fall is for planting” is really quite true. You’ll feel wonderful just being outside exercising your muscles. In this less hectic time of year, the landscape dons its spectacular autumnal hues, flowers produce fireworks and then go to seed, and the cooler nights harden the plants and prepare them for a winter’s rest. 

Anyone for a cup of cocoa?

OOPS, WE DID IT AGAIN!

Last year’s $500 Sweepstakes was so successful that we’re doing it again in 2011..

Win a $500 Shopping Spree at Grandiflora!

The more you buy, the greater your chances of winning!

Just place an order over $500 from now till October 1, 2011, to earn one chance to win a $500 plant credit at the nursery. For each additional $500, you get another entry. A $1000 order gets you 2 chances. $2000 order earns you 4 shots at the prize. $20,000 gives you 40 chances!

A few simple rules…

You must take delivery within one week of the order date, and the order must be paid within terms to qualify.
The $500 minimum is just for plants purchased, and does not include freight or sales tax.
The drawing will be held at the Landscape Show in Orlando on Saturday, October 1, 2011.
You need not be present to win. We will contact you.
The $500 Shopping Spree certificate must be used fully by November 30, 2011.
Employees of Grandiflora and their families are ineligible to participate.

Call the nursery for more details.

Grandiflora Recycling Broken Plastic Pots

We finally did it!

After years of collecting a mountain of broken plastic pots in hopes that someday a recycler would appear to haul them off (and pay us for them), our dreams recently came true. The hero who came to our rescue is Timothy from East Jordan Plastics. He showed us how to gather, sort, palletize and shrink-wrap our trays and pots, and he offered us a small bounty per pound to cover our labor costs. Tim arranged the 53′ trailer that came to pick up our 28 pallets stacked almost 8′ tall, and the loading operation proceeded like clockwork. Several weeks later we received a check for almost a thousand dollars.

Recycling is good for the environment, and sometimes pays small cash dividends as well.

GRANDIFLORA EXHIBIT WINS AWARD AT THE LANDSCAPE SHOW

Grandiflora has won another major booth award at the FNGLA’s annual trade show in Orlando, The Landscpae Show, formerly known as the Florida Nursery and Allied Trade Show (FNATS).

We took second prize in the Large Island category with our four spaces filled with blooming plants and old car parts. The deconstructed pickup truck fit in well with the show’s theme, “Shifting Gears”, and our sign proclaimed “Get your sales in gear with Grandiflora”.

Garnering alot of attention (and photos) was our 6′ tall pyramid of tires painted green and crowned with a shiny wheel to resemble a Xmas tree. This idea was shamelessly stolen from a similar “tree” in Felder Rushing’s yard in Jackson MS. (Thanks, Felder, for the idea). A bench seat from an old Ford gave us a comfy place to sit and shmooze with customers. Hoods and doors and radiators also littered – oops, I mean, classed up our booth.

To stay in theme, the salespeople wore mechanic’s overalls, complete with greasy rags. This was a very practical choice, with lots of pockets in the overalls for cards, glasses, pens, candy, etc. They also kept us warm in spite of the fact that most trade show halls are kept at or near freezing.

Anyone placing a $500 order at the show got one last chance to enter the drawing for a $500 shopping spree. The winning ticket, pulled at the conclusion of the show, belonged to Greenery Construction in Hardeeville. Congratulations, Greenery!

This ends the fall trade shows. Next up – January/February spring shows in Myrtle Beach SC, Atlanta GA and Mobile AL. Maybe we’ll see you there.

WINNING ENTRY FOR $500 GRANDIFLORA SHOPPING SPREE CHOSEN!

The winning ticket of our first $500 Sweepstakes was drawn at The Landscape Show in Orlando and it belongs to… Greenery Construction of Hardeeville SC!

They have won $500 of free plants. We had over 350 entry coupons in the pot for the drawing, one for each $500 of plants purchased from Grandiflora during August and September.

This promotion was so successful that our staff has decided to do it again for the fall/early winter season. Starting on October 1, 2010, any purchase of $500 of plants will earn a shot at the grand prize of another $500 shopping spree, with the contest ending and the winning ticket drawn on December 24, 2010.

A few simple rules:
The $500 minimum is just for plants purchased, and does not include freight or sales tax. Customer’s account must be current.
Employees of Grandiflora and their families are ineligible. You need not be present to win. We will contact you.
The $500 Shopping Spree certificate must be used fully by February 15, 2011. Call the nursery for more details.

Win a $500 Shopping Spree at Grandiflora!

The more you buy, the greater your chances of winning!

Just place an order over $500 from now till September 25, 2010, to earn one chance to win a $500 plant credit at the nursery. For each additional $500, you get another entry. A $1000 order gets you 2 chances. $2000 order earns you 4 shots at the prize. $20,000 gives you 40 chances!

A few simple rules…

You must take delivery within one week of the order date, and the order must be paid within terms to qualify.
The $500 minimum is just for plants purchased, and does not include freight or sales tax.
The drawing will be held at the Landscape Show in Orlando on Saturday, September 25, 2010.
You need not be present to win. We will contact you.
The $500 Shopping Spree certificate must be used fully by November 30, 2010.
Employees of Grandiflora and their families are ineligible to participate.

Call the nursery for more details.

Perennial Plant Association Meeting in Portland Oregon this Month

Ellen and I are eagerly looking forward to traveling to Portland OR next week for the Perennial Plant Association’s annual symposium. This is one of the best educational events we attend each year. Besides listening to interesting and timely programs presented by top authorities in perennial plant production, landscaping, and care, we get to see amazing botanical and private gardens as well as retail and wholesale nurseries that specialize in perennials. And of course, we have delicious meals, enjoy wonderful comradery, and have other fun adventures (like partying on a boat on July 4th anchored in the East River of NYC as fireworks exploded overhead, and then passing by the Statue of Liberty on the way back to port).

In the last few years, El and I have been to fantastic PPA meetings in St. Louis MO, Philadelphia PA, and New York City. St. Louis was memorable for tours of the Arch, Busch Brewery, and Missouri Botanical Garden, walks in the public gardens downtown, a river boat dining/dancing cruise on the Mississippi, and eating Ted Drewes frozen custard.  The Philadelphia trip had us at Swarthmore’s Arboretum in the morning, Chanticleer’s quirky garden at mid-day, and eating dinner at the conservatory of Longwood Garden that night. They really keep you hopping on PPA tours! In New York, we were surprised by the many perennial gardens at Battery Park, Central Park and scattered in pockets around the city, and the New York Botanical Garden blew our socks off.

On this year’s schedule are trips to Monrovia’s Oregon location and Terra Nova. We can’t wait to see what Heuchera-breeder Extraordinaire Dan Heims and our hosts at Monrovia have in store for us! Wouldn’t be surprised by an elegant dinner followed by a concert with a rock band and Dan playing the harmonica.

If you haven’t signed up yet, there’s still time.

(Longwood Gardens Water Lily Pond)

Grandiflora is now on Facebook

Attention all plant nuts, geeks and nerds -you can now find Grandiflora on Facebook!

So new, this Gaillardia 8-2009 has no name, only a number

 We will be using the site to post hundreds of plant photos and to keep our “fans” informed about our trade show, seminar and travel experiences. For instance, just recently Grandiflora exhibited at the Southeastern Color Connection in Greenville SC. On the way home, Pat and I stopped at the University of Georgia to look at Dr. Allan Armitage’s famous trial garden and to see what was performing well. When we got home, we uploaded many of the plant pictures to Grandiflora’s Facebook site. Go there for a sneak peek at the up-and-coming varieties that will be next year’s hot items.

GRANDIFLORA ENTERS THE INFORMATION AGE WITH A BANG

Because we carry about 2300 varieties of plants in multiple pot sizes, ordering from Grandiflora can be a long and involved task. Our Availability Sheet runs 10 pages with three columns of tiny print. The situation eased a bit a year ago when we started e-mailing the Availability. Receiving the file by e-mail rather than fax has saved many customers paper as well as their eyesight (since the document can be blown up to many times its size on their computer screens).

But then there’s the issue of placing the order. Some folks just mark up the already crowded Availability Sheet, fax it back and hope we can decipher it. Others create a separate list and fax or e-mail it back. Some prefer to give the order by phone directly to a salesperson. Those conversations often run over an hour, tying up the customer’s valuable time as well as that of our staff.

A New Way of Ordering

Now we have a new way to order that we think will speed up the process and eliminate errors. Instead of receiving our old Availability Sheet, we can now e-mail you an Excel version listing all of our highest grade material, the number in stock, and even comments about size and grade. There is an empty box next to each listing where you type in the number needed. When you e-mail this sheet back to us as an attachment, it automatically uploads into an invoice without having to re-key the data. Then our salespeople will call you back to discuss any shortages and possible substitutions.

To download the XL spreadsheet directly from our web site, after you have logged on, click on “Products”, then “Prices and Availability”, and then scroll down to the bottom of the list and click “Excel Availability and Order Form”. When it opens, just fill in the quantity column (Qty) marked with the red arrow. Save the document on your computer with your company name and the date and put it somewhere you can easily find it. It might be best to create a folder “Grandiflora Orders” to store these in. Last step is to send an e-mail to your favorite salesperson and attach the spreadsheet.

Open. Fill in. Save. Attach. Send. It’s just that easy. Give it a try.

Alan Shapiro, Gainesville Nurseryman, Wins Prestigious Balentine Award from Southeast Horticultural Society

The Southeastern Horticultural Society, based in Atlanta GA and responsible for staging the Southeastern Flower Show there, has presented the 2010 Robert McGee Balentine Horticulture Award to Alan Shapiro, owner of Grandiflora. This award, established in the memory of Robert McGee Balentine, a founding trustee of the Southeastern Flower Show, is presented annually to the individual that the Awards Committee feels has made a significant contribution to the field of horticulture in the southeastern United States.  

Previous winners have included Tony Avent, Don Shadow, Dr. Alan Armitage, Dr. Michael Dirr, JC Raulston, Dick Bir and Ozzie Johnston.  

The award was made on February 3, 2010, in the Cobb Galleria Centre at the opening night reception, a gala black tie affair that offered sponsors and eager attendees a sneak peak of the Flower Show.

For more information on the Southeastern Horticulture Society or its annual Southeastern Flower Show, you may visit: http://www.sehort.org/flower_show