NEWS on the GROW By Catherine Evans

National Garden Month has been deemed an unqualified successby its sponsors. More than 600 garden centers and 35 green group organizationsparticipated in the month-long celebration.

National Garden Month began in 1986 with a presidentialproclamation. “In spite of world events and a late-arriving spring,”says Jeff Gibson, marketing manager for sponsor Ball Horticultural’s SimplyBeautiful, “attention and interest was high, especially among independentgarden centers.” The entire effort in attracting the participation ofindependent garden centers was to demonstrate the power of a nationalpromotional campaign. This kind of campaign drives traffic through garden centerdoors and generates media attention usually reserved for big box stores.

“Independent garden centers staged seminars, set updisplays, conducted contests and handed out giveaways with the support ofmanufacturing partners,” notes Gibson, who added that support includedlocal and national PR as well as national television spots on HGTV and TheWeather Channel. Cable networks, including HGTV; newswires, including theAssociated Press; and major market media, such as The Washington Post andPhiladelphia Inquirer all highlighted the campaign. Special promotional spotson local Weather Channel outlets and in-store banners at participating gardencenters provided additional reminders to consumers to celebrate the power ofgardening.

According to Gibson, the kickoff for National Garden Monthat the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., was a key initiative in thesuccess of the re-launch. It brought major national manufacturers and consumergroups together under one unified banner. For more information on National GardeningMonth, visit www.garden.org.

SAF Assists in HIPAA Privacy Rule

Despite rumors to the contrary,a representative of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rightsrecently reassured the Society of American Florists (SAF) that new health-careprivacy standards do not prohibit flower deliveries to hospitals. Thestandards, which were established under the Health Insurance Portability andAccountability Act (HIPAA) and went into effect in April, have caused someconfusion among hospital personnel, patients and the media in recent weeks.

Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule,hospitals must maintain a directory of patients’ names, their locations in thefacility and general health conditions. If a patient asks to be excluded fromthe directory, the hospital cannot disclose any information about that patient,making direct deliveries or visits by non-hospital personnel to those patientsimpossible. However, hospital personnel can still deliver flowers directly to thosepatients.

While the Privacy Rule does notprohibit flower deliveries, some hospitals have imposed their own restrictionson deliveries. In that instance, florists should contact hospitaladministration for further direction.

Proven Winners Rides to High Sales

In a new way to help promote itsnew Infinity New Guinea impatiens series, Proven Winners is holding a contestfor U.S. and Canadian growers who purchase cuttings through a licensed ProvenWinners propagator. The winner of a one two-year lease on an Infiniti G35 SportSedan will be selected during a random drawing held April 2004, and the winnerwill be presented with the car during the 2004 OFA Short Course. All entriesmust be received between June 1, 2003 and March 31, 2004; each order equals oneentry. As an added bonus, Proven Winners is also rewarding the broker salesrepresentative that writes the winning order by giving him or her a check for$1,000. The Infinity series starts off with 17 cultivars and was developed byGerman breeder Ludwig Kientzler. For more information on the contest, go towww.provenwinners.com.

Economy up in 1st Quarter

According to a new U.S CommerceDepartment report, the U.S. economy is up 1.9 percent for the 1st quarter ofthe year. Originally, economists were only predicting a 1.6 percent increasefor the first three months of the year. However, even after the slight growth,the economy is still below normal.

Economists are predicting thatpeople are still feeling the effects of the war and unemployment rates, whichis why the country is still at a low. However, because of the 1st quarterincrease, the predictions are that the economy will be slowly getting better,as the 4th quarter of 2002 produced only a 1.4-percent economic growth.Predictions are for a 2-percent increase in the 2nd quarter of 2003.

In other economic news, theDepartment of Labor is reporting that new claims of unemployment benefits havelessened in the past few weeks by 9,000. However, in late May, unemployment rose83,000 to an 18-month high.

Wholesale Prices Fall

Even with the war in Iraq comingto a close, wholesale prices decreased 1.9 percent in April, making it thelargest drop for wholesale prices in almost 17 years. According to the Labor Department,the decrease in the Producer Price Index (PPI), which measures the prices ofgoods before they reach store shelves, was a complete turn-around from March,when higher energy prices, affected by the war, helped raise wholesale prices1.5 percent.

Also according to the report,the decrease was more than double the 0.7 percent decline that economistspredicted for the month of April. But gasoline and home-heating oil pricesdropped a significant amount, creating a little good news for businesses andconsumers.

Because of the slow growth,policy-makers at the Federal Reserve are worried that the United States couldface possible deflation. It was indicated there is only a small chance of thathappening, but the decline could still cause a possible threat to the economy.Currently, members at the Federal Reserve are preparing to cut rates, which arealready at a 41-year low, to help with the possible threat of deflation.

Pennsylvania Cracks Down on Container Sizing

In a recent move to preventdeceptive advertising tactics in the green industry, the PennsylvaniaDepartment of Agriculture (PDA) is going to begin spot-checking container sizesat retail outlets starting July 1, 2003. Many meetings have been taking placeabout container and labeling sizes between PDA and Pennsylvania Landscape andNursery Association (PLNA) to work on the issue — that Pennsylvania lawrequires container and labeling advertisements to be completely accurate byreflecting the exact measurement of the actual container volume or size.

The law is applicable to allplant containers, including those measured by volume such as gallon or quartand those measured by size such as 4-inch. The PDA will accept the ANSI Z60.1standard for nursery pot sizes, e.g., #1 pot, #2 ç pot, etc. Forexample, if the pot is labeled as a 1-gal. container but doesn’t actually holdthat amount, advertise or label it as a #1 pot container, if it is a #1 potaccording to the standard.

The regulations also state thatif a pot is advertised or labeled by linear measure (41/2-inch pot), the potmust measure 41/2 inches on a side if it is square and 41/2 inches on theinside diameter if it is round. The PDA is not concerned if a label is on thecontainer but more if the size and volume is correct or not.

The PDA has tentatively set a90-day compliance period for industry members to reverse sizing and volumeproblems, giving them a cut off date of approximately September 1, 2003.Currently, PDA is working with PLNA to make everyone aware of the issue inorder to make the compliance fully understood. For more information about theregulations, contact (800) 898-3411 or go to www.plna.com.

APHIS Amends Regulations

In order to help prevent thespread of plant diseases into the United States, USDA has decided to amendregulations, requiring additional declaration to appear on the phytosanitarycertificate that accompanies all Pelargonium spp. (geraniums) and Solanum spp.imported into the United States, except anything imported under the Canadiangreenhouse-grown restricted plant program.

The extra declaration mustclearly state that the plant material was produced in a production facilitythat has been tested and found to be free of Ralstonia solanacearum race 3biovar 2 or that Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 is not known to occurin the region the materials were produced. The USDA has recently discoveredthat geranium plant material coming into the United States poses a risk ofcarrying the bacterial strain that causes potato brown rot.

ANLA Tour Heads to Virginia

The American Nursery &Landscape Association’s (ANLA) annual Grower Tour is planning on takingattendees to member facilities in Virginia during a September 18-21 tour. Thetour is scheduled to end just as ANLA’s Legislative Conference begins. The Growertour offers unparalleled educational opportunities by going behind the scenesat a variety of growing operations to show the successful strategies employedby nurseries growing a huge assortment of plant material. The tour alsoprovides networking opportunities as well as non-tour functions.

The tour will begin inWashington, D.C., Thursday afternoon to go to Ingleside Plantation Nurseriesfor a tour and wine tasting. After settling in Williamsburg, Va., Friday andSaturday stops include : Mobjack Nurseries, Brent & Becky’s Bulbs, Bennett’sCreek Wholesale Nursery, Lancaster Farms, Lilley Farms & Nursery andHistoryland Nursery. On Sunday, September 21, attendees will arrive back inWashington, D.C., in time for the opening reception of ANLA’s LegislativeConference. For additional information go to www.anla.org.






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