41 Chapters
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6. Great Ground Covers Take Care Of Problem Areas

Carolyn A. Harstad Indiana University Press ePub

Ground covers are Nature’s carpets that clothe soil in a variety of green array and make this flowering world all the brighter and more beautiful.

—Daniel Foley

Dwarf Crested Iris

Ground covers are special friends. Most of us have a variety of friends. Each has a distinct personality with character traits and idiosyncrasies that we may like or dislike depending on the timing or our frame of mind. Some are always there, others may move in and out of our circle. But whatever the characteristics, each friend is important to us.

In many ways, the plants in our gardens resemble our human friends. Consider the perennials. These are the bold, colorful friends that brighten your day and can always bring a smile. Shrubs may not be quite as outgoing but are steady and will not disappear when the going gets tough. They lack the innate flashiness of those happy-go-lucky perennials but are probably your “classy friends.” Trees are those incredible friends you realize are above you in so many ways, yet stand tall and firm, ready to protect you in any crisis. Ferns calm and soothe your troubled spirit, bringing softness and serenity. Vines scramble to the heights to please, happily shielding you from unpleasantness as they climb. Grasses change through the seasons, sometimes small and inconspicuous, at other times waving wildly, demanding attention. Sometimes they are just plain, usually unobtrusive green; some of them, given time, become bright and colorful. They may be changeable, but are pleasant to have around. It is good to have variety in our circle of friends. But one friend is missing in this analogy: the one who is never demanding, never asks for extra attention, yet is “always there for you.” In the gardening world, that friend is a ground cover.

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1: Position

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1 

Position

1.1  The Evolution of the Garden Centre

Plants have been an essential component of life throughout human history,

­initially as a food source, but increasingly for their ornamental and aesthetic values. The development of home ownership and single household occupancy dwellings helped create the ornamental horticulture market that is seen today.

While plant nurseries are a long established concept, the use of the term

‘garden centre’ is far more recent and ill defined. Stewarts garden centres in

Dorset are amongst a number of businesses who claim to be the first in the UK, having seen the concept of growing hardy plants in containers for sale in Toronto,

Canada, in the mid-1950s (Stewarts Garden Centres, 2014). An embryonic industry using similar techniques was developing in the USA at this time. Regardless of the precise date, the sector has developed rapidly and has changed in all recognition from the earliest examples.

What have been these drivers for change?

1.1.1  Development of technologies for container plant production

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9: Productivity

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9 

Productivity

Productivity management, in essence the optimal use of resources in meeting the needs of the customer, is a preoccupation of all managers. The outcomes of this optimization should result in a surplus or profit for the business. In whatever sphere, although a loss may be sustainable in the short term, a continuing reduction in capital will put the whole business or initiative in jeopardy.

However, the obvious challenge for many garden centres is to understand how well they are doing. Clearly turnover can be measured against projections, but as these were defined by the business itself, this becomes an exercise in identifying how well the retailer is performing against their own estimates.

Other sources monitoring the retailer’s performance, such as the bank, are again only measuring against the business’s own projections, potentially against a business case that was presented in order to secure the loan or overdraft.

What would be more useful, therefore, would be to evaluate performance against others in the sector, thus giving a better understanding of where the business has the potential to improve significantly – changing the focus of management time and effort.

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4. Superb Shrubs Absolute Essentials

Carolyn A. Harstad Indiana University Press ePub

One of the great pleasures of gardening lies in that basic promise of a garden—that each is its owner’s attempt at creating a personal paradise on earth.

—Allen Paterson

Sweetfern

When homeowners plan their landscapes, they usually begin by creating a want list. As noted in the previous chapter, the first item on that list is a usually a tree. The next item is invariably flowers. But let us not hasten to the consideration of annuals and perennials.

Are trees and flowers important? Of course, but shrubs are even more so. In fact, they may be the main component necessary to unify your home landscape. As the chapter title states, they are absolute essentials. Some will question that statement, so pause for a moment to decide whether you agree. What qualities can a shrub bring to your yard? Do they really serve any function other than to disguise the foundation of the house?

Begin by imagining a typical affordable ranch-style house set on a plot of green grass. The entire street is filled with similar houses planted squarely in the middle of each rectangle of turf grass. Except for the house, the grass stretches nearly unbroken on both sides of the street.

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One An Inviting Garden

Moya L Andrews Quarry Books ePub

Won’t you come into my garden?
I want my roses to see you.

Richard Sheridan

Those of us who love flowers, to an extent that other people might find hard to understand, have an intimate relationship with them. This relationship deepens as we ourselves mature and learn more about their distinctive features and how they impact us. We may start out responding to their colors, shapes, and forms, sensing that we feel something quite special in their presence. Perhaps we then begin to recognize the other attributes that particularly delight us, and yearn for flowers that have special perfumes, or ones that evoke memories of people or of places that were meaningful to us in our childhood or times past. At some point in our evolving understanding of the significant part that flowers play in our existence, we realize that flowers really are an essential aspect of our identity, and they can affect how we actually feel day by day.

We realize that they serve as our symbols of the seasons. We wait to see the first spring flowers each year and we feel a deep need to mark each event by savoring the flowers that are associated with special times. We look for the daffodils in the spring, Easter lilies at Easter, poinsettias at Christmas, and so on. Also, instead of just waiting hopefully for someone to give us flowers, we come to the understanding that they are essential to our well-being. So we become more proactive in seeking out opportunities to have flowers. At this point we usually give ourselves permission to buy flowers for ourselves. Fortunately, nowadays flowers are available year-round, and it is a happy thing for us since we can so easily pick up our favorites and pop them into our grocery carts as we shop for food. Flowers, we have come to understand, are indeed food for our souls.

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One: Shrubs Are Versatile

Moya L. Andrews Quarry Books ePub

No two gardens are the same.
No two days are the same in one garden.

—Hugh Johnson

Shrubs, and for that matter all plants, are characterized by their form, their texture, and their color. Form and color change with time and seasons, and while texture may become more apparent as a plant grows, its defining attributes are usually consistent. The weight or mass of shrubs in a landscape is always greater than that of herbaceous perennials and annuals, but less than that of trees. The outline or silhouette is related to the shrub’s form, but it will change with growth and also will be seen differently depending on the perspective from which it is viewed. The light conditions and the amount of obstruction presented by neighboring hardscape and buildings, as well as other plants, will also contribute to the way a shrub’s silhouette is perceived by a viewer. At different times of day shadows will also be cast by garden shrubbery, and every shrub will, of course, be seen differently in various seasons. In winter when there is snow cover, the silhouette of a deciduous shrub will be quite different from the one the shrub presents with its summer or fall foliage intact.

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6: Developing Staff

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6 

Developing Staff

People are still the driving force behind any organization. Even if a department does not have direct contact with the purchasing customer, they still have a wide range of ‘internal’ customers within the organization with whom they interact.

The efficiency of all these interactions has a dramatic effect upon the success or failure of the business.

The challenge with any form of staff development within a business is calculating the financial benefits. It is easy to define the costs of staff development, through the collation of invoices and measurement of time spent off the job, whereas the improvements to production are less easy to measure. For organizations where there is a pressure on cash flow, the budget for personal development is an easy target as there are fewer directly measurable gains – the Return on

Investment (ROI; Kaufman and Hotchkiss, 2006).

However, lack of skills can bring a number of inefficiencies into an organization; while these are not easily measured, all combine together to prevent the organization from working at its full effectiveness.

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Seven Autumn

Moya L Andrews Quarry Books ePub

Pronounced:

ah-NEM-oh-nee

Also known as:

windflower, lily-of-the-field

Family:

Ranunculaceae

Colors:

pink, white, rose

Zones:

4–8

Height:

2½–5 feet

Description: There are approximately 120 species of perennial types of anemones, native mostly to the North Temperate Zone, often to mountainous regions. Leaves are usually more or less divided and form a ring below the flowers, which are held high in umbels on stiff stems. Their sepals are the showy part of the flower and there are no actual petals, but many stamens and pistils. The fall-blooming tall anemones are usually referred to as Japanese anemones (A. japonica) and are single pink flowers that were first found growing near Shanghai by Robert Fortune, a nineteenth-century plant explorer. The current name derives from the fact that they grow well in Japan. Some are hybrids and spread by rhizomes to form large clumps. ‘Honorine Jobert’ is white, ‘Queen Charlotte’ is a semi-double pink cultivar, and ‘Margareta’ is a double pink. A. tomentosa var. ‘Robustissima’ is the most hardy and adaptable.

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Five Spring

Moya L Andrews Quarry Books ePub

Pronounced:

er-AN-this

Also known as:

winter aconite

Family:

Renunculaceae

Colors:

yellow, white

Zones:

3–7

Description: There are about seven species of these low-growing perennials native to Europe and Asia. The leaves are palmate and dissected and look like a frill of green beneath the flowers, which are made up of five to eight sepals. The actual petals are modified into small nectaries. Though the small tubers are sold in bulb catalogs, aconites are best propagated by division.

Cultivation: E. hiemalis (hi-MAL-is) has sessile 2- to 6-inch-high yellow flowers in early spring, when it blooms with the snowdrops. It can be grown in zones 3–7 but likes cold and thrives in shaded moist sites. Since it is an ephemeral, it should be planted where it won’t be disturbed when it dies down later in the season. It increases over time into colonies, and its acid-yellow blooms light up the landscape even amid patches of late snow during early spring thaws. Put a few little blooms in tiny bottles indoors so that you can admire them up close.

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Six Summer

Moya L Andrews Quarry Books ePub

Pronounced:

jer-AY-nee-um

Also known as:

cranesbill, true geranium, hardy or wild geranium

Family:

Geraniaceae

Colors:

magenta, pink, purple, violet-blue, white

Zones:

4–8

Height:

up to 2 feet

Description: These are mostly short-statured, long-lived perennials with mounds of palmate (hand-like) leaves that are often toothed or lobed. Some species have colorful fall foliage. Blooms are simple cups with five petals. Members of the species may be tender or hardy and some may be evergreen in mild areas. Native to Europe, they are sometimes confused with the annual pelargoniums from South Africa which are also referred to as geraniums and are grown in pots during the summer. All are easy-care and pest-free.

Cultivation: They thrive in full sun or partial shade, though in hot summers they enjoy more protection from the sun. After the first flush of bloom (usually spring) is past, cut them back to an inch from the ground, and new leaves will grow and some varieties will re-bloom. Divide them in spring or fall. Useful as ground cover to discourage weeds, they combine well with dicentra, pulmonaria, celandine poppy, and coral bells in light shade. They are staples in cottage gardens and are pass-along plants.

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10: Future Responsibilities

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10 

Future Responsibilities

10.1  Introduction

The future influences the present just as much as the past.

Fredrich Neitzsche

Attempting to look ahead within any business is fraught with difficulty as it is truly a trip into the unknown. That said, the manager needs to be trying to interpret trends and fashions in order to stay ahead of competitors and to meet the future demands of their customers. As identified in the very first chapter, McNair’s Wheel of Retailing theory identifies that retailing does not remain constant. Only those businesses that innovate, adapting to changes within the marketplace, will survive. Sometime this means radical overhauls of practices and product offers.

This is not a new phenomenon, even in horticulture. Many of those businesses with a long horticultural pedigree have only been garden centre retailers for a matter of a few decades – their earlier fame founded on the supply of seeds, bulbs or as growers of nursery stock. As highlighted in Chapter 1, the size, style and ambience of garden centres has also changed rapidly, and there is no reason to perceive that in its current format it is indeed the finished article.

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10. Rain Gardens Cleansing Storm Water With Native Plants

Carolyn A. Harstad Indiana University Press ePub

When you plant a rain garden in your yard, you mimic some of the benefits of the natural landscape.

—Rusty Schmidt

Rain garden drawing

In a Minnesota Public Radio segment on rain gardens, Stephanie Hemphill noted that a good midwestern summer storm can dump a lot of water in one place, occasionally flooding into sewer lines or even spewing untreated sewage into lakes and rivers. She added, “Cities across the country are spending millions of dollars to solve the problem.”

Especially in urban settings, sunny rain gardens featuring civilized native plants solve problems and make strong statements. Properly engineered and planted, these gardens can be striking, channel roof and driveway runoff to good use, reduce chemical applications and mowing, and break up the monotony of turf landscapes. Progressive municipal governments bent on reducing surges of water and chemicals in storm sewers may offer expertise and even dollars for carrying out your plan. In times of tension between citizens and government, a community of interest is refreshing.

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Chapter Four. How to Install Native Landscapes

Susan E. Meyer Utah State University Press ePub

Mountain ash

Throughout the process of designing your native landscape, it has been necessary to keep referring back to the realities of your site. Now it is time to go outside and make those changes that need to be made in order to prepare your site for its new inhabitants, and then to plant them in a way that guarantees that they will prosper. This will require planning. Much of this process will probably be familiar to you from other landscaping and gardening projects you have undertaken, but there are some things that are unique about native plant landscaping, and these require careful attention. Just how complex the process will be depends on several factors. First, you probably need to deal with removing at least some of the existing vegetation on your site, whether it is lawn, foundation plantings, new weeds that inevitably show up uninvited in recently-spread topsoil, or longstanding infestations of perennial weeds. Second, depending on the nature of your soil, you may need to do some soil replacement or terracing/ berming, or both, to create the drainage that your plants will need. These kinds of modifications may also be necessary even if you do not have drainage issues, for example, if you are trying to create a congenial place for plants from much drier water zones. And, as discussed in the design section, terracing or berming can also be used to create topographic relief solely for design purposes, not specifically to meet the cultural requirements of plants. You may also need to make some grade modifications in order to implement the water harvesting system you have designed. These two steps can be relatively simple or quite complex, depending on the magnitude of the changes you need to make.

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2: Consumer Behaviour

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2 

Consumer Behaviour

It’s a simple question: ‘What does the person need?’ However, answering it is far more complex. The decisions and priorities that an individual places upon the purchase of specific products has been studied at length and help to form a framework within which a retailer may work, but there is a significant number of situations where human behaviour is not rational, too.

2.1 The Buying Process

Probably most fundamental to retailers is the understanding of the stages that surround the selection and purchasing of a product. These stages are often presented in the format shown in Fig. 2.1, all of which may be influenced by the retailer. Success is required in all these stages in order not only for a successful purchase to be made but also for repeat business to follow. It is easy for the retailer to over-complicate the decisions the consumer has to make.

Many garden retailers will pride themselves on the range of garden-care chemicals they stock (as a specialist retailer). However, if the choice of weedkillers

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1. Got Sun? Choose Natives For Your Garden

Carolyn A. Harstad Indiana University Press ePub

The more natives you incorporate into your garden, the happier the little creatures in your neighborhood will be.

—Douglas W. Tallamy

Butterfly Weed with Monarch butterfly

As I opened my front door, I looked down at two anxious little faces. Our eight-year-old neighbor girl and her blonde friend asked, “Can we catch butterflies in your yard?” “Of course,” I replied, “but you probably have some in your yard too.” “Oh no,” they both said solemnly, “you have the only yard with lots of butterflies.”

Not long after our 2003 move from Indiana to Minnesota, I attended a Wild Ones native plant conference. A landscape design professor from the University of Michigan was the keynote speaker. She had recently done a study on how people wanted their yard to look. The majority of those surveyed replied that they aspired for it to look like their neighbors’. And that is true of most people. Unfortunately, their omnipresent turfgrass lawns are sterile, neither attracting nor keeping birds, butterflies, and other wildlife content enough to stick around. Few yards include many native plants.

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