The most beautiful flower in the world doesn’t amount to much if nobody is around to appreciate it. To that end, the marketing efforts by Walters Gardens have created mass awareness of some of the hottest new varieties of the past several years, as far as grower-retailer Rod Grasman is concerned.
As owner of Garden Crossings in Zeeland, Mich., Grasman has been a buyer of “100 percent” of the Proven Winners perennials line provided by Walters Gardens since launching his business in 2002.
“I think we grow roughly 350 different varieties of perennials, and I think the Proven Winners line is roughly 70 or 75 items in the perennial lineup,” Grasman says. “I’d say they supply us with about 250 other non-Proven Winners perennial varieties.”
What sets Walters Gardens apart as a company is its effective approach to creating buzz for new plants and getting both growers and end users interested in them, Grasman says. He gives the example of the ‘Denim ‘n Lace’ Russian sage that recently became a widely demanded variety in his market.
“The marketing they’re doing, they’re getting in front of the consumers and the grower as well. The consumer is coming to the garden center asking for a certain product,” Grasman says. “People were demanding that plant, and it had just hit the market. It’s been hot ever since. Obviously, it wasn’t me saying, ‘this is an excellent Russian sage,’ the consumers were demanding it.
“A lot of time, that happens two, three, four years down the road,” Grasman adds. “That’s how long it takes for a new plant to really get out there.”
Partnering with Walters Gardens has the added bonus of having a nearby, regional supplier, as well as the reputation Walters Gardens has in the industry.
“Walters Gardens is, realistically, probably only about 5 miles away from our facility,” Grasman says. “So, when you’re looking for a perennial supplier; they were known in the industry, so it was nice to have a perennial resource like that so close to us.”
In addition to providing an in-demand array of standout varieties, Grasman says Walters Gardens also goes the extra mile to assist Garden Crossings with merchandising, signage and other services at the grower/retailer.
“They’ve been a very good independent garden [center] supporter through the years as well,” Grasman says of Walters Gardens. “Our customers tend to love the product.”