Alec Charais

1. What are the goals and defining characteristics of the plants under the First Editions® brand?
AC: Each plant must have an attribute that allows the variety to stand out on its own merit; it must be unique in some way. Our approach when introducing a plant under the First Editions® brand means we have to bring a tangible solution to the end user. We pay close attention to market trends and buying habits as well. It’s no secret that people want compact plants to fit into small spaces. We also consider plants that not only provide long lasting beauty in the garden, but plants that growers can successfully produce, and retailers can sell with excitement and confidence.

2. What makes these varieties popular with garden centers?
AC: First and foremost, they sell, so that helps! Beyond that, First Editions® is unique in that the product offering allows for retailers in virtually any region of the country options for exceptional genetics. Some of the best-selling items in the Northern and Midwest markets, such as Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea and Little Devil Ninebark, are rivaled in the Southern market by in-demand varieties including Crimson Fire Loropetalum, Vintage Jade™ Distylium, and the intermediate sized Magic Crapemyrtles. Another big reason for First Editions® success is how loyal retailers have been to the brand and the growers that supply them. It makes for an extremely positive and profitable relationship for everyone involved.

3. What can garden centers do to help customers be successful with First Editions shrubs?
AC: Keep doing what you are doing. We spend a tremendous amount of time and resources to ensure the varieties in First Editions® have been rigorously tested, both in production as well as through our many regional test sites. Along with this, we do everything possible to support retailers by not only promoting retailers that stock the brand to consumers through the “Find a Retailer” locator on the website, but we provide additional support to the consumer through our #LetsAskAmy outreach. Think of Amy as your neighbor next door — only she is online! We have had so much fun watching Amy blossom from someone who was initially hesitant to tackle landscaping projects around her home to having the confidence to share her experiences with people just like her; people who want a beautiful yard but may not have the confidence to achieve it. We get all sorts of inquires that give us the ability to better understand garden center customers. Many people are simply wanting to know “where can I find this plant!?”

4. What advice do you give retailers to help them better merchandise and sell the varieties?
AC: Retailers are doing a great job when it comes to giving consumers good advice. People love to touch and feel our product, so keep doing that. Often, we all get busy and don’t leverage the power of the marketing that is available We have a lot of great tools — sell sheets, cultural information, images, and content available on both http://firsteditionsplants.com and www.baileynurseries.com/our-brands/first-editions/. Also, follow and share the great content we are publishing on our social media pages.

5. Are you working on any new shrub varieties that you’re excited to launch?
AC: All of the time! We have been extremely fortunate to recently introduce some real game changers for the ever-shrinking garden. Urban gardeners will enjoy our newest upright privet named Straight Talk, a strong vertical accent plant perfect for tight spaces. We have also had tremendous feedback on Cinnamon Girl Distylium, which is the most cold tolerant of this exciting and still relatively unknown Southern genus. Northern retailers, growers and landscapers will be excited to hear about a new, compact yellow-leaved dogwood called Neon Burst, which looks amazing all summer long. We could keep talking about these great plants all day!