Capital Press | Nursery Capital Press Sun, 12 Jul 2015 15:16:20 -0400 en Capital Press | Nursery Topiary, sculpted plants shape up as theme for Farwest Trade Show Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:17:14 -0400 CASEY MINTER After 42 years of highlighting the latest advancements in the nursery industry, the Farwest Trade Show is gearing up for another annual gathering.

The theme of this year’s gathering will focus on a less traditional aspect of the nursery industry: topiary and sculpted plants.

“In past years we’ve had the year of the conifer and the year of the acer … this year we are doing sculpted plants,” said Ann Murphy, Oregon Association of Nurseries director of marketing.

The theme of each year’s Farwest Trade Show allows attendees and exhibitors to focus on unique features of the extensive and multi-faceted nursery industry.

“Each year we try and look at a different aspect of the industry and where we think Oregon excels and provides a showcase for that quality,” Murphy said.

Murphy hopes this theme will allow the momentum of last year’s 15 percent increase in attendance to continue. Ornamental horticulture is one of the state’s largest industries, with annual sales of $744 million and nearly 75 percent of nursery plants grown in Oregon shipped out of state. The Farwest Trade Show gathers the industry’s leaders at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Ore., from Aug. 21 to 23.

The show averages nearly 6,000 attendees and 500 exhibitors. With so much of the business being conducted out of state, networking and communication are vital. Murphy believes that even with technology’s ability to bridge distance and facilitate communication, there’s a lot of benefit to be had in gathering industry members from around the country to one place.

“As some of these face-to-face opportunities become less frequent, shows like this become more important. Even if they’re once a year,” she said. “Farwest is a bit of a family reunion, we like to say.”

Todd Nelson, owner of Bountiful Farms, a nursery specializing in topiary plants, agrees that this year’s Farwest Trade Show will be beneficial and busy.

“The reason we go is to draw new business,” he said. “I have a lot of hopes that this year will be busier, we have seen an increase in tours (at Bountiful Farms) and increased interest from our customers, so I know that things are a little more lively.”

Many of the species featured at the show are common topiary plants: arborvitae, European box, holly, bay laurel, myrtle and privet to name a few. Murphy believes a focus on topiary plants will be friendly both to the eyes and the cash registers of industry members.

“I think there’s an opportunity for our retailers to up-sell some of these sculpted plants and encourage people to be creative with them.”

Creativity is inherent in plant sculpting, and the Farwest Trade Show will offer plenty of opportunities to experience that creativity.

“It’s utterly amazing what you can do with an arborvitae, breathtaking. You can have a patio umbrella from plant material, they’re using plants in restaurants as screening, there are monsters, leaping dolphins, people sitting on a bench weaving, plus your more traditional spirals and pom palms,” Murphy said.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for people to showcase that.”

Selling, growing nursery plants? There are websites, apps for that Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:11:27 -0400 CASEY MINTER The importance of an online presence in the digital age has made an impact on the Oregon Association of Nurseries.

In January 2013, the OAN released a new website that serves as an online and interactive form of their traditional print publication, The Nursery Guide.

The website — — is designed to encourage connectivity between growers and buyers, whether they are seeking new varieties of plants to purchase, looking for new markets for old plants or looking to resupply their inventories with materials.

“The goal of the nursery guide is to create awareness of Oregon growers and Oregon plants,” said Ann Murphy, director of marketing at the OAN.

Since the site’s re-launch in 2013, buyer interest has taken off. OAN’s old Nursery Guide website peaked around 30,000 site “hits” per year. In 2013, however, the OAN recorded 90,000 hits, tripling the outreach. And the number is still growing. As of July 14, the website had recorded 73,000 hits since January 2014. With almost half a year left to bring in visitors, the website is on track to far surpass last year’s growth as well.

“The next big push is to add E-commerce capabilities so office staff intervention isn’t required when a nursery wants to purchase additional listings,” said Murphy.

The website has a multitude of features to assist growers and buyers when searching for a product.

“The new site offers advanced search options, including filtering results by zone and type of plant,” Murphy said. “The site now offers thousands of plant photos and descriptions, and every OAN member has an online profile that can be enhanced with photos and descriptions.”

This customization is helpful in the saturated market of plant varieties and products, especially because the OAN is constantly updating the website to add more content. On average, 200 new plant listings are added every year.

The most recent update is a mobile device-friendly version of the website that can be accessed from smart phones and tablets for users on the go. This is one of many modern adjustments the OAN is making to make interactions as smooth and efficient as possible.

The redesigned, mobile device-friendly website is not the only new possibility that will be featured at the Farwest Trade Show. There are several other ways to connect with many in the nursery industry, including several apps that are going to be displayed at the show.

The GrowIt app is designed to help stoke interest in gardening, whether that interest is recreational or professional.

Allan Armitage, a speaker at this year’s show, has also designed an app for retailers and homeowners. The app, called Armitage’s Greatest Perennials and Annuals, features photos, descriptions and advice on a variety of different plants, as well as the garden centers in your area you can visit to find them.

Finally, the OAN has produced an app for the Farwest Trade Show that attendees can use to navigate the showroom floor, check the schedule, find exhibitors and give feedback.

All of these apps are available on iPhone and Android.

Trade show offers networking opportunities Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:10:51 -0400 CASEY MINTER Networking at the Farwest Trade Show, and any trade show, is one of the biggest advantages of attending. Even in this digital age where communication can happen in an instant, having the freedom to connect with someone face to face is oftentimes a better way to create business opportunities.

Luckily, networking and association are key aspects of the Farwest, and this year will highlight these opportunities in more ways than one. There are three distinct networking events arranged for this year’s show, as well as an entire weekend of possibilities to connect with people and create relationships.

The first of these networking events occurs from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, at the second floor VIP lounge in the Oregon Convention Center. This event is focused on representing and connecting youth in the nursery industry, and is hosted by the Young Nursery Professionals.

According to the USDA, the average age of farmers in the U.S. is 58, and farmers are among the oldest U.S. workers across any industry. Josh Robinson, a 28-year-old co-owner of Robinson Nursery, is an anomaly in this industry, Because of this he saw the need for a resource dedicated to younger industry members, and helped found the YNP.

“As the baby boomers are getting further along it is going to be harder to replace them with younger people,” Robinson said. “Essentially our goal is just to connect young people, start a network and accelerate the rate you can grow as an individual.”

The YNP invites attendees ages 40 and younger to participate in the meet-and-greet on Thursday. Sid Raisch, one of this year’s seminar speakers, will be presenting at the event. After the speech, there will be plenty of time for questions and time to mingle with the others who attend.

“That last little bit of the meeting is when friendships are really made,” Robinson said.

Later on Thursday will be the third annual Pub Crawl. Kicking off at 6:30 p.m., this event invites all attendees out into the eclectic brewery scene of Portland. Those who wish to participate can find a “beer sherpa” at the end of the show on Thursday and will be taken to the two participating breweries to enjoy some of the Pacific Northwest’s finest craft beers.

“It’s the first night of the show so it not only allows people to get to know someone but allows them more opportunities to begin relationships and foster them throughout, and of course after, the show,” said Allan Niemi, Oregon Association of Nurseries director of events and education.

The last networking event is the 4th annual Women in Horticulture meeting at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Aug, 22, This is an opportunity for women attending the show to connect with other women in the industry and create relationships.

“Women are an underrepresented segment of this industry, so we thought it was important to provide an opportunity for the women to connect with each other,” said Ann Murphy, OAN director of marketing.

Q&A: Matt Gold, OAN’s outgoing president Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:04:35 -0400 CASEY MINTER Matt Gold, the outgoing president of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, owns and operates Gold Hill Nursery in Hillsboro, Ore.

His family has been in the nursery industry for over 50 years, and he looks forward to continuing that legacy.

Capital Press recently interviewed him about topics important to the nursery industry.

CP: What have you seen change in this last year in the nursery industry? How is the industry doing?

MG: I think last year a lot of people were feeling positive about the industry and this year it seems to be more consistently positive. People are selling through their product and there is still a fairly broad shortage of material which is helping the growers get better pricing on their product.

I think things had a slow start this year, but things really redeemed themselves in April and May.

On the production side in general people are feeling that there is a decent shortage of employees. We’re competing with other industries that we share our labor force with — construction and landscaping. People are starting to want to produce more than they have in the past and now that there is a demand to produce more there’s not enough employees to be able to do it.

CP: What did you enjoy about being the president of the OAN?

MG: It was really cool to go to (Washington) D.C. and see how important our association is and how we have a united voice on major concerns. We talked to our different legislators on issues that concern the industry: immigration reform, water scarcity, the bee issue.

It was impressive to see upfront how our association can have an impact. Instead of being so ideological that we close doors, we had conversations with politicians that may have different ideas than we do, but seeing the level of cooperation and reasonable thinking on how we approach different issues was impressive.

CP: Do you see that cooperation as pushing the industry forward, out of the recent economic downturn?

MG: Yes. One of the key functions of the association is to help strengthen its members. When we talk about the recession and how people made tough financial and budgetary decisions, I can only see all these things that the OAN does for its members. These resources are pretty expensive for someone to replicate on their own.

We’re farmers by nature, and we want to be in the business of growing our crops, but in the process of that we have to make business and political decisions that are forced upon us. It’s nice to have that resource available to us. A large nursery could afford to have some recourse, but a small one couldn’t. The OAN can really help with those small ones especially.

CP: What challenges do you see in the coming year facing the nursery industry in Oregon?

MG: This probably sounds like a broken record, but immigration is going to continue to be an issue for us. How do we plan for future growth and expansion if we don’t have a good outlook on what our labor pool will be like? That’s not a new challenge but it’s still something we have to deal with.

Also water issues, both quantity and quality, are on the horizon. There’s no quick fix and I know the OAN is spending a lot of time on it. That’s something I appreciate about the OAN. It’s terrible to admit, but I don’t really care a lot about water. I have it and it does what I need so I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. But in the big picture that’s not a good way to think about water. We need to be aware about water quality and availability so we can have a seat at the table when it does matter to us.

New Varieties Showcase: Compact, colorful cultivars highlighted Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:04:03 -0400 CASEY MINTER The 2014 Farwest New Varieties Showcase will once again highlight the latest, most interesting new plant varieties.

This year’s showcase will bring attendees face-to-face with a sprawling, colorful display of annuals, perennials, shrubs, conifers and shade and flowering trees.

The diverse assortment of plants at this year’s showcase is meant to inspire creativity in the landscape, garden and home.

“Every year we have a different display, but this year we have a tremendous diversity in plant material,” said Ann Murphy, Oregon Association of Nurseries director of marketing. “I’m really excited to see the plants.”

Some varieties worth noting include Marley’s Pink Parasol Japanese Snowball, with its weeping pink flowers and light, sweet cotton candy fragrance; the Afterburner Tupelo, which displays glossy, green foliage in the warmer seasons and bright, burning red foliage that lasts well into the fall; and the Lemon Lace Elderberry with its contrasting, bright foliage that is a great way to add a color to a woodland garden.

The plants are not only attention grabbing and beautiful, but also will help boost sales at the cash register. Nineteen companies are bringing 52 plants to the New Varieties Showcase, with over 2,000 square feet of the show floor dedicated to it.

This will be the seventh year that the Farwest Show will feature the New Varieties Showcase, and it has become one the show’s largest components, Murphy said.

One variety in particular has special relevance to this year’s showcase, and to Oregon. The Oregon Snowflake Flowering Currant is from Ryan Contreras, a plant breeder and assistant professor of horticulture at Oregon State University. This compact cultivar is the first to come from OSU’s new ornamental plant breeding program, a program that aims to continue pushing the boundaries of how people view and grow ornamental plants.

The Snowflake Flowering Currant has several characteristics that make it a good addition to this year’s showcase.

“The most distinguishing characteristic is its dissected foliage. Most currants have a very smooth foliage, this looks more like a Japanese maple style than your typical currant,” Murphy said.

What also makes this plant variety special is its compact, manageable size. Whereas many currants grow over 15 to 20 feet tall, this will stay 4 to 5 feet tall.

“It’s good for all those smaller yards that are more popular now,” Murphy said.

Show attendees can vote for their favorite plants throughout the Farwest Trade Show floor. The People’s Choice award winners will be announced after the show. There will also be a team of judges evaluating each variety on its performance in a landscape, its value to the landscape and its potential to do well in a retail environment.

The judges will vote on the Best of Show as well as three other commendable additions to the nursery industry.

See it at Grower’s Showcase, Demonstration Stage Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:03:14 -0400 CASEY MINTER The Farwest Trade Show’s Grower’s Showcase and the Demonstration Stage offer two unique ways to experience new products, plant varieties and techniques.

The Grower’s Showcase is a new addition, highlighting the theme of this year’s show. The showcase is dedicated to plant sculpting and topiaries in various stages of growth.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for people to showcase the theme, and also have demonstrations on how something like a spiral or double spiral can appear out of an arbor vitae,” said Ann Murphy, Oregon Association of Nurseries director of marketing.

This theme, alongside the Grower’s Showcase, will highlight the marketability of sculpted plants, and the creativity that goes into making them. Throughout the show hours there will be multiple demonstrations on how growers shape topiary plants. Whether they do it with pruning shears or cages, Murphy says it is an impressive art.

“These people are artisans, they’re professionals. In 20 minutes they can make art appear out of this plant,” Murphy said.

Experts from several nurseries will demonstrate the different techniques in shaping plants, and these demonstrations will also be paired with information on marketing this unique style to customers.

“What would be really interesting and fun is to give someone in the crowd clippers and see what it looks like,” Murphy said.

The Grower’s Showcase is sponsored by Macore and will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

Another feature of this year’s show is the Demonstration Stage. This stage gives exhibitors an opportunity to show their wares to an even larger crowd. The Demonstration Stage invites attendees to gather and share the newest technologies and techniques in an open setting.

“We call it speed dating, people will go on stage and have 3 minutes to tell what their product is and sell it,” said Allan Niemi, OAN director of events and education.

“It allows another opportunity for community forum, for exhibitors and people who see the exciting and new things to communicate.”

Niemi says that this is a good way to manage people’s time in the hectic, rushed environment that is the three-day Farwest Show. All the products demonstrated on stage will also be available at booths on the show floor, so any interest that is stoked during the quick presentation can be pursued in more depth at the demonstrator’s booth.

Innovation Day shows latest equipment Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:01:18 -0400 CaSEY MINTER This year the networking, learning and entertainment of the Farwest Trade Show will start two days before the show’s main floor even opens.

The Equipment Innovation Day, a new show feature, will be Tuesday, Aug. 19. This full-day event offers attendees the chance to see cutting-edge technologies and techniques in action in a real world setting.

“When you go to a trade show you might be able to see things in pictures or a video, but here you can really see it in action, you can ask questions and figure out how this applies to your own operation,” said Allan Niemi, Oregon Association of Nurseries director of events and education. “A lot of people are very excited about that.”

The event kicks off at Woodburn Nursery and Azaleas at 9 a.m. According to Niemi, the demonstrations here will focus on container production components and a variety of new equipment.

After 2 1/2 hours of demos and tours, attendees will enjoy an hour lunch and then head to Bountiful Farms Nursery Inc., where the focus will be on field production. Here they will showcase technologies including a new tree spade and two robots designed to transport and arrange potted plants en masse.

“People get two sides here: new equipment and new ways to utilize that equipment,” Niemi said. “There will be demonstrations highlighting how some production techniques are being used today, whether these nurseries are taking and modifying it themselves or using it in a unique way.”

Attending the full-day event requires a separate registration from the Farwest Trade Show itself, but it is open to anyone looking to make the most out of the broad range of opportunities during the week of the show. Exhibitors displaying their products and techniques at the Equipment Innovation Day must also be registered as exhibitors at the Farwest Trade Show, so any networking and contacts made during the tour can continue through the show and after.

The event is meant to address some of the hardest challenges facing the nursery industry today.

“We’ve had a lot of growers meeting with labor issues that are beginning to make an impact on the industry here. We’re looking to the European style. Europe has really done a lot in automation and technologies to help streamline their productions,” Niemi said. “Back in Europe, they do quite a few of these equipment demonstrations and field tours, so we wanted to create one out here, in the heart of nursery country.”

Niemi believes the benefit of this event, for attendees and exhibitors alike, is twofold.

“You’re able to get that one-two punch in not just promoting your innovations but the trends that are going to be prevalent in the years to come in the American nursery industry,” he said.

Attendees can register online up until the day of the event. There are options for attendees to utilize a bus service from the Oregon Convention Center to the two featured nurseries and back, or to transport themselves. The event is expected to end at 4 p.m. and those taking the bus should be back in Portland at 5:30 p.m.


For information on Equipment Innovation Day, go to

Volunteers help make Farwest Show a success Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:00:33 -0400 CASEY MINTER The 255,555-square-foot Oregon Convention Center doesn’t fill itself with all the plants, equipment, booths, displays and technology that will be present at this year’s Farwest Trade Show.

For things to go smoothly, dozens of volunteers are necessary.

The Oregon Association of Nurseries, the nonprofit membership-based organization that produces the Farwest Trade Show, relies on volunteer work to set up the annual event. Just planning for the show requires around 400 hours of work, and a lot of that work falls on the shoulders of gracious volunteers.

“It’s a lot to ask,” said Ryan Basile, chairman of the Farwest Trade Show Committee. “Usually volunteers put in around 20-40 hours each.”

But the work is necessary for the show to go on, and Basile believes that work is more important than ever.

“A lot of people cut out trade shows to save money, but the economy is coming back and people are looking for plants. I say, ‘Come back to us!’ Help support the industry,” he said.

Basile thinks that recruitment and advertising the show are two ways volunteers can be of special service to the OAN.

“That’s where volunteers can help,” he said. “If a volunteer calls someone, it’s better than an association (employee), someone who’s getting paid. It’s more personal with a volunteer.”

Volunteers at the Farwest Trade Show help in several other ways, too. They help with the initial set up of displays, arranging plants and products and setting up booths. They also help during the show hours by roaming the floor and serving as ambassadors and guides. Some volunteers will also be acting as “beer sherpas” during this year’s Pub Crawl, guiding out-of-towners through Portland’s public transit system to the participating locations.

The work may be difficult, but the payoff is a smoothly running trade show. Basile and others at the OAN know that is as important as anything else.

“It’s really the best trade show for hours, plus the weather is always great,” Basile said. “You can bring the kids and bring your family, too.”

New products showcase focuses on efficiency Fri, 15 Aug 2014 08:59:58 -0400 CASEY MINTER The New Products Showcase at this year’s Farwest Trade Show will offer a multitude of innovations that have been developed in the past 18 months.

Among the selection at the show will be two new products that focus on efficiency, ease of use and environmental friendliness in dealing with common enemies of nursery and greenhouse growers. Both will be on display at the New Products Showcase.

The BASF Sultan miticide is a new class of chemistry that gives growers major might in the fight against malicious mites that may be attacking crops. The product offers growers rapid, targeted killing of all life stages of mites with long-term residual control.

The miticide is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and, according to the company, there is practically no toxicity to beneficial insects, including pollinators. There is also no observed phytotoxicity in tested ornamental species and it is compatible with Integrated Pest Management programs.

Gemini 3.7SC from Everris — formerly known as Scotts Global Professional — is a new, more effective and convenient way to prevent troubling weeds from invading woody crops, ornamentals and perennials. This liquid pre-emergent herbicide is designed to be applied with a handheld or tractor-mounted sprayer.

According to the company, it is the only liquid, pre-emergent herbicide on today’s market that features a combination of two common ingredients, prodiamine and isoxaben, These two active ingredients combine to provide a greater spectrum of control that prevents over 125 specials of broadleaf and annual grasses,

The herbicide is also effective with overwintered crops in need of preventing cold-season weeds like bittercress, oxalis and henbit.

Both will be available for display at the New Products Showcase on aisles 24000-25000 on the expo floor during show hours.

Seminars offer valuable information for all Fri, 15 Aug 2014 08:57:29 -0400 CASEY MINTER Perishable retail management, social media marketing, moles, gophers and systemic insecticides are among the topics that will be discussed during seminars at this year’s Farwest Trade Show.

The speakers that will be presenting are as varied as they are informative.

The seminars kick off with keynote speaker John Stanley. Stanley’s free session — titled “Don’t Serve Me … Make My Day!” — offers innovative new ways to approach modern day retailing.

“Independent retailers need to focus on providing an experience,” Stanley said. “The product can be sourced from many outlets and often at a cheaper price. This means the garden center customer has to receive more than the product.”

Stanley is well known for his skill in perishable retail management and creating rapid stock turnover. He has spoken at conventions and trade shows around the world, and will be returning to the Farwest Trade Show after a 20-year absence.

“He has a great message applicable to everybody about moving forward in this industry,” said Crystal Cady, Oregon Association of Nurseries event coordinator.

Stanley will speak alongside several other high-caliber presenters, including Allan Armitage, a well-known writer, researcher and consultant in the field of horticulture, and Michael Dirr, considered one of the world’s foremost experts on woody plants.

Another seminar not to miss is Kelly Norris’ “Growing a Nation of Gardeners: A Fusion of Public and Retail Horticulture.” Norris is a young, award-winning author and nursery man from Iowa who has proved to be a popular Farwest attraction.

“This is his fourth year and every time people leave after his seminar they’re saying, ‘We want more Kelly!’” Cady said. Pesticides and pollinator protection are also key subjects at this year’s show, and one unique aspect of the seminars is the opportunity for Spanish-speaking attendees to be engaged. Because of the growing number of Hispanic attendees — who made up 20-35 percent of the show last year — every pesticide seminar offered will have a Spanish translation, and two of the seminars will be offered in Spanish only.

“A lot of the workers are Hispanic and they’re out in the plants scouting for diseases and applying the pesticides,” Cady said. “The nurseries are eager to educate their workforce.”

This is one way OAN is adapting to the changing industry. Stanley’s keynote seminar, which focuses on change, will encourage industry members to be open-minded.

“Many retailers are having problems selling in the new environment,” Stanley said, “We have a consumer that once attracted to gardening stays with gardening all their life. They are not looking for product, they are looking for inspiration.”

Stanley’s keynote seminar is offered free of charge at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, in room C123-124.

He offers this advice to those looking to excel in rapidly changing times: “Do not think outside the box, throw the box away. Look at the millennium consumer and how you will attract them into your business.”