November 15, 2012
Anna Ball
Anna Ball
The 33rd annual Canadian Greenhouse Conference, held Oct. 3-4 at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls, featured two days of education sessions and a trade show with over 300 booths.

The pre-show bus tour on Oct. 2, visited flower, vegetable and nursery operations in the Waterdown and Simcoe areas. A sold-out trade show provided ample opportunity to visit with exhibitors and network with colleagues during the two days, and the educational conference offered plenty of professional development opportunities for greenhouse growers and garden centre operators. A popular feature was the new plant display showing flowers and vegetables available next year.  

Anna Ball, ceo of Ball Horticultural, was the lunchtime keynote on Oct. 4. She addressed a packed room with some insights on ornamental horticulture trends.

The first trend she touched on was plants with a purpose. “Gardens of tomorrow will be more than just about beauty. The relationship between plants and people is changing,” she said, showing examples where green walls and green roofs are used in Asia and Europe as bio-lungs.

Ball offered statistics and locations where landscaping has demonstrated reduced crime. She spoke of the health benefits offered by vitamin G (for Green). Ball noted it is more difficult to sell plants for a purpose, than simply for beauty, as selling beauty is an emotional proposition.

On the subject of everyone talking about Generation Y, Ball weighed-in by saying that generation wants plants for a function, and is more likely to garden with a community. Her company has held focus groups with members of Gen Y, and has heard comments such as, “Everything in garden centres is geared to baby boomers,” and, “Put plants where I shop.”

Anna Ball suggested that, in order to reach the upcoming generation of gardeners, it might be time to look into alternative distribution opportunities, such as pop-up stores, or simplifying our online offerings.

Another trend Ball spoke about is called product blending. She said we get too wrapped-up in categorizing plants. “Who cares it if is a seed annual, vegetative annual, perennial, or tender perennial? To the consumer, it’s just a plant.”

Ball cautioned not to get too concerned about trends, noting that for every trend, there is a counter-trend.

Finally, Ball said we need to make gardening easy, and make decorating fun and accessible for all ages.

This is the second year that The Canadian Greenhouse Conference has been held in Niagara Falls.