Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Athens Select June 30th Meeting

Two business trips down, I was now on my third in a span of a week! I headed to Georgia to meet with the Athens Select group for the annual board meeting. I was excited about this trip because this would be my first visit to Athens and the UGA Trial Gardens. I got there later in the afternoon so I didn’t have anytime for any visits that day. We did get to stay at Dr. Armitage’s awesome lake house overnight, making for a relaxing evening! The next day I was up early to visit the trial gardens on campus, as the meeting was at the field trial site. I went to the gardens early just in case I would not have time after the meeting for a visit. It was a great site to see, so many plants packed into a small area, Unfortunately, it was dreary and had rained the nigh before so I could not get any good pictures and boy did I try! Well, maybe I got a few but I hate pictures of wet plants so most were trashed. Luckily, the meeting got out in time for another visit before I had to leave to catch my flight. The sun had come out by then and dried the plants. The sun also provided better lighting for some fantastic shots, which are in the slide show at the bottom of my post!

The Athens Select Board meeting went well. We saw the field trials, many plants will still need more testing. We did decide on a new Gaillardia for the collection. I know what you are thinking, “Another Gaillardia on the market, plus you already have two in the collection now!” Personally, I feel the same way, hmm, maybe these were my thoughts. This is why I voted to only include the one that we eventually chose, as there were 3 in the running. This one is much different than other Gaillardias on the market and in the collection, which is a must! It has a nice full bi-color flower, lemon yellow outer ring with a rosey red inner ring. The things that stands out the most though is the habit. This one is very full, high branching, short, all with NO pinch and NO growth regulators. This is great for growers who are wanting to grow smaller sized perennials, it looks good in quarts as well as one gallons. Also it is not high maintenance like other perennials and will not get floppy like other Gaillardias.

From the meeting I learned a lot and met a lot of great people in our industry. You will see a lot of what I learned reflected on our availability. We have added many of the Athens Select plants as well as tweaked pricing to reflect patent fees and tags. With all Athens Select plants tags are automatically included, the price of the tag is included in the price of the liner as we are trying to keep things simple. I have changed this on all items that automatically ship with a tags, so hopefully our availability will be simple and easy to read, sometimes all of the fees involved just make things crowded and confusing! To help support the program we will carry most all of the collection, we will have some on open stock availability but my goal is to get customers to pre book orders as well cannot hold these items for very long before they get overgrown. Also the Southern Living collections of perennials that are part of the Athens Select program will now be listed on our availability. For these, there is a tag/pot requirement. Currently we do not have the tags in stock but I will get with PDSI to get tags to a customer if they should order some of the collection and not have the tags. Unlike the Southern Living shrub collection, customers do not have to be in the grower group to grow this selection of perennials, they just need to meet the tag/pot requirement. Pots are only required for one gallon and higher, so 4” and quarts will not need a special pot, just a Southern Living tag. Well this is all I have to report from the meeting. I am always learning new information! Enjoy the pictures!

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