While there's nothing like face-to-face networking and personal contact to seal the deal, the Internet does serve an important function in the nursery and landscaping businesses.

"People are shopping on the Internet, of course," said Dan Johnson, marketing coordinator for Olympic Landscaping and Irrigation, Fife, Wash. "But when it comes to landscaping, people are shopping for companies to do business with."

That's why it's important to have vendor contacts and information online, said Elizabeth Peters, director of communications and publications for Oregon Association of Nurseries.

"We utilize the Internet to make those types of introductions," she said.

The association's website hosts a nursery buyers' guide, maps to retail and wholesale nurseries and a robust component tied to its annual trade show.

"We're going to expand that to give a lot more features and tie in with the Farwest Show. It's an online component year round, 24-7," she said.

-- Carol Ryan Dumas

The Internet is not a big industry competitor when it comes to sales, said Ann Bates, executive director of the Idaho Nursery and Landscaping Association.

"It's very hard to get products online from this industry. What we're trying to change more than anything is putting information on our website," she said.

Whether it's information about events, a directory of growers and suppliers, or legislation and links, it's all meant to benefit the association's members, she said.

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