Spring Blooms in California

April 5, 2011 § 6 Comments

(Psst: At the end, there’s a contest opportunity!)

It’s cold and drizzly here in Boston, but it’s definitely spring in California. That was my conclusion after my recent 10-day business trip out there. Okay, eight days of business, two days of relaxing. But, still, the weather out there was decidedly un-New Englandish.

One of the … I’m loath to call it a perk or benefit … hmmm, okay, let’s instead say this: One of my day-job responsibilities is to travel to California each spring and drive from San Diego to San Jose (or vice versa), visiting plant breeding companies along the way. This designated week is the flower equivalent to the Detroit Auto Show, and each company displays their latest and greatest ornamental plant varieties. It’s me, my boss and colleague, and about a thousand other folks looking at flowers. Seriously, it’s actually a tough job. You have no idea.

Now, I’m not sure if I’d be revealing any industry secrets if I tell you, for a lot of these new plant varieties, it’s not that the plant is a new color or can do some sort of trick. Oftentimes it’s “more compact and uniform with better branching.” Man, if I hear that phrase one more time … It means this crop can be grown as “bench run,” or the commercial grower can grow whole benches of this stuff and ship it out all at once, and they can ship it safely (because it’s compact and well branched) without damage during transport. I.e., they’re increasing their margins. And when you sell your flowers to a big box stores, you need all the margin you can get. Think about that the next time you buy your 99-cent geraniums at Big Orange.

The real point with this post is that I did see some some unique flowers and ornamental plants that deserve a mention—even some new patio-sized veggies. Many of them won’t be available until spring of 2012, but I thought I’d share.

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Now, about that contest: I have about three packets of cherry tomato seeds to give away. Feel like trying your hand at sowing and growing them? The 5th person to comment gets them!

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