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  • If you have been stocking thesame trees and shrubs for 5-10years or more, you are probablymissing out on sales. Recentbreeding advancements and renewed customer interest have made the back lot, where most people relegate this category, a much larger profit center than it was even last year.

    The new trees and shrubs are hard to miss. With a combination of bright blooms, unique shapes and bet- ter marketing support, they bring to the stores vibrancy that consumers want in their homes. Growers say recent sales make it clear: If customers can’t have a big plant, they want one that makes a bold statement.

    The old favorites — magno- lias, Japanese maples and camellias — will stick around, but the demand has increased for a plant that is a little more dynamic and a lot more accommodating.

    Going Smaller If people’s houses aren’t shrinking, the

    lots they are on are, said Tim Wood, prod- uct development manager for Spring Meadow Nursery, Inc., Grand Haven, Mich. They don’t want to angle for space with a plant that looms too close to the house or pushes up against the windows.

    “No one really wants a 12-ft. forsythia any longer,” Wood said. And, fortunately, with a lot of the plant breeding that’s done, there are three or four choices of dwarf forsythia that aren’t going to get any bigger than your window in your house. So, you can put them around your deck or close to your house, and you’re not going to be fighting it.”

    Katie Bloome, public relations coach for Monrovia Growers, Azusa, Calif., noticed customers’ attraction to smaller varieties of old favorites. A dwarf Japanese maple can bring the same amount of beauty into a smaller space as the larger version. They can even provide the focus of a container garden. Now that space is so important, these compact gardens can maintain their look in a smaller area. �

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    Bright color and small stature are the most prominent trends with this season’s trees and shrubs.

    By Jen Hubert

    Top: Make sure you have a variety of trees and shrubs at your store so you can cater to all of the latest trends your customers are looking for. Bottom: As people move onto smaller lots, they have less room for elaborate gardens. Plants like this dwarf Japanese barberry can add beauty to a garden while saving space. (Photo: Monrovia Growers)

    7 2 L A W N & G A R D E N R E T A I L E R A P R I L 2 0 0 6

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  • Seeing Color Some people want to intensify the standard shrub look. They want a

    plant’s foliage to have a little bit of flair, said Bloome. The foliage should be eye-catching — yellow, purple and black leaves are popular — because the foliage provides color even when the plant is not in bloom. Therefore, the lack of flowers will not keep the customer from enjoying the plant.

    “If a plant’s not in bloom, it’s pretty difficult for consumers to figure out what it is they’re buying,” said Wood. “It’s not like a lot of sales people are always around to answer people’s questions and tell them what it’s going to look like and to convince them to buy something. The plant has to really sell itself.”

    Wood keeps an eye on his company’s sales an

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