NEWS on the GROW

July 3, 2003 - 08:45

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

National Garden Month began in 1986 with a presidential
proclamation. "In spite of world events and a late-arriving spring,"
says Jeff Gibson, marketing manager for sponsor Ball Horticultural's Simply
Beautiful, "attention and interest was high, especially among independent
garden centers." The entire effort in attracting the participation of
independent garden centers was to demonstrate the power of a national
promotional campaign. This kind of campaign drives traffic through garden center
doors and generates media attention usually reserved for big box stores.

"Independent garden centers staged seminars, set up
displays, conducted contests and handed out giveaways with the support of
manufacturing partners," notes Gibson, who added that support included
local and national PR as well as national television spots on HGTV and The
Weather Channel. Cable networks, including HGTV; newswires, including the
Associated Press; and major market media, such as The Washington Post and
Philadelphia Inquirer all highlighted the campaign. Special promotional spots
on local Weather Channel outlets and in-store banners at participating garden
centers provided additional reminders to consumers to celebrate the power of

According to Gibson, the kickoff for National Garden Month
at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., was a key initiative in the
success of the re-launch. It brought major national manufacturers and consumer
groups together under one unified banner. For more information on National Gardening
Month, visit

SAF Assists in HIPAA Privacy Rule

Despite rumors to the contrary,
a representative of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights
recently reassured the Society of American Florists (SAF) that new health-care
privacy standards do not prohibit flower deliveries to hospitals. The
standards, which were established under the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act (HIPAA) and went into effect in April, have caused some
confusion 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 the
facility and general health conditions. If a patient asks to be excluded from
the directory, the hospital cannot disclose any information about that patient,
making direct deliveries or visits by non-hospital personnel to those patients
impossible. However, hospital personnel can still deliver flowers directly to those

While the Privacy Rule does not
prohibit flower deliveries, some hospitals have imposed their own restrictions
on deliveries. In that instance, florists should contact hospital
administration for further direction.

Proven Winners Rides to High Sales

In a new way to help promote its
new Infinity New Guinea impatiens series, Proven Winners is holding a contest
for U.S. and Canadian growers who purchase cuttings through a licensed Proven
Winners propagator. The winner of a one two-year lease on an Infiniti G35 Sport
Sedan will be selected during a random drawing held April 2004, and the winner
will be presented with the car during the 2004 OFA Short Course. All entries
must be received between June 1, 2003 and March 31, 2004; each order equals one
entry. As an added bonus, Proven Winners is also rewarding the broker sales
representative 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 by
German breeder Ludwig Kientzler. For more information on the contest, go to

Economy up in 1st Quarter

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

Economists are predicting that
people are still feeling the effects of the war and unemployment rates, which
is why the country is still at a low. However, because of the 1st quarter
increase, 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, the
Department of Labor is reporting that new claims of unemployment benefits have
lessened in the past few weeks by 9,000. However, in late May, unemployment rose
83,000 to an 18-month high.

Wholesale Prices Fall

Even with the war in Iraq coming
to a close, wholesale prices decreased 1.9 percent in April, making it the
largest 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 of
goods before they reach store shelves, was a complete turn-around from March,
when higher energy prices, affected by the war, helped raise wholesale prices
1.5 percent.

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

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

Pennsylvania Cracks Down on Container Sizing

In a recent move to prevent
deceptive advertising tactics in the green industry, the Pennsylvania
Department of Agriculture (PDA) is going to begin spot-checking container sizes
at retail outlets starting July 1, 2003. Many meetings have been taking place
about container and labeling sizes between PDA and Pennsylvania Landscape and
Nursery Association (PLNA) to work on the issue -- that Pennsylvania law
requires container and labeling advertisements to be completely accurate by
reflecting the exact measurement of the actual container volume or size.

The law is applicable to all
plant containers, including those measured by volume such as gallon or quart
and those measured by size such as 4-inch. The PDA will accept the ANSI Z60.1
standard for nursery pot sizes, e.g., #1 pot, #2 Á pot, etc. For
example, if the pot is labeled as a 1-gal. container but doesn't actually hold
that amount, advertise or label it as a #1 pot container, if it is a #1 pot
according to the standard.

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

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

APHIS Amends Regulations

In order to help prevent the
spread of plant diseases into the United States, USDA has decided to amend
regulations, requiring additional declaration to appear on the phytosanitary
certificate that accompanies all Pelargonium spp. (geraniums) and Solanum spp.
imported into the United States, except anything imported under the Canadian
greenhouse-grown restricted plant program.

The extra declaration must
clearly state that the plant material was produced in a production facility
that has been tested and found to be free of Ralstonia solanacearum race 3
biovar 2 or that Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 is not known to occur
in the region the materials were produced. The USDA has recently discovered
that geranium plant material coming into the United States poses a risk of
carrying 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 taking
attendees to member facilities in Virginia during a September 18-21 tour. The
tour is scheduled to end just as ANLA's Legislative Conference begins. The Grower
tour offers unparalleled educational opportunities by going behind the scenes
at a variety of growing operations to show the successful strategies employed
by nurseries growing a huge assortment of plant material. The tour also
provides networking opportunities as well as non-tour functions.

The tour will begin in
Washington, D.C., Thursday afternoon to go to Ingleside Plantation Nurseries
for a tour and wine tasting. After settling in Williamsburg, Va., Friday and
Saturday stops include: Mobjack Nurseries, Brent & Becky's Bulbs, Bennett's
Creek Wholesale Nursery, Lancaster Farms, Lilley Farms & Nursery and
Historyland Nursery. On Sunday, September 21, attendees will arrive back in
Washington, D.C., in time for the opening reception of ANLA's Legislative
Conference. For additional information go to

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