Kate Spirgen, editor
PORTRAIT BY AMBER SMITH

After spending a week touring the California coast, exploring the newest plant introductions and chatting with industry folks, I’m happy to say that the excitement about plants is palpable. It was the first in-person event for many of us in over a year and I couldn’t wait to have face-to-face conversations after far too many Zoom calls.

What I heard time and time again from plant experts at the trials was how easy it has been over the past year or so to get their friends and families involved in gardening. They’re fielding questions left and right about plant selection, fertilizers, pesticides, pruning and all sorts of challenges new gardeners face in their first few years. Their curiosity was peaked last year and they can’t wait to grow even bigger, better gardens this summer.

I’ve noticed this in my own circle as well. As I’ve learned more and more about plants over the past few years, I’ve shared that knowledge with my friends, family and even neighbors, who often share their tips and tricks with me as well. We’ve all been through the same struggles of wet springs, tough clay soil and pesky critters like rabbits, squirrels and deer. The more we talk, the more we learn and the more excited we get about new plants and techniques to try.

Even people who had never dug in the dirt before last year are now talking about their thriving geraniums and showing off their budding tomato plants on social media. They’re officially hooked and they can’t get enough.

While last spring may have been the introduction to the garden for many, those new plant enthusiasts are looking for more and more and more knowledge wherever they can find it. Of course, you can find a lot of information online, there’s nothing like a real, in-person chat to fuel that passion for planting. And what better place to have those conversations than the local independent garden center? So how are creating a space for conversation? I’d love to hear all about your efforts to create community and retain COVID-era gardeners!

And if you’ve been hosting events, educational sessions, workshops, happy hours or get-togethers of any kind, I’ll bet you’re seeing some of that same excitement at your garden center.

I’ve been hearing great things about spring sales from ticket sales to customer numbers to gross revenues. I hope those numbers look just as good going into the summer and beyond.

Kate Spirgen
kspirgen@gie.net