The Eastern Performance Trials, brought to you by the Garden Centers of America (GCA), is coming up and according to Proven Winners, Goldsmith Seeds, Inc. and Sakata Seed America, there is more than one reason why commercial growers should attend this first-ever event.
From Monday, September 19 to Saturday, September 24, big names in industry will present their best 2006 introductions for review at six locations across the eastern seaboard. The assortment of plant material at the trials will include flowers, vines, shrubs, trees, foliage and perennials — all available through a number of breeder/marketer companies in the industry.
The site locations for the trials will stretch across the mid-Atlantic with Conard-Pyle in Philadelphia, Pa., being the most northern point and McDonald Garden Center, in Virginia Beach, Va., being the most southern.
Clint Albin, project manager for the Eastern Performance Trials says that commercial growers can expect to see a phenomenal display of super performers at every location. “What the growers will see here is the cream of the crop, and will likely become the ‘it’ plants retailers want to carry and home gardeners want to grow.”
Bob Humm, broker support manager for Yoder Brothers, Inc., western region says that this event is a great venue for commercial growers because it will give them a chance to see what their garden retailers are seeing. “By previewing the same plants garden retailers are previewing, growers can become better informed of the trends his or her retail customers are looking for in plant material.”
All of the new introductions will be displayed in an inspirational garden format, and a traditional merchandising format. Commercial growers can get a feel for upcoming design trends that will influence demand for particular varieties in the inspirational gardens, while also seeing what the product will look like on their customers’ shelves.
Participating vendors like Dave Konsoer, director of national accounts for Proven Winners and Gary Falkenstein co-president of Fischer USA, say that going to events like the Eastern Performance Trials keeps growers in the know on what is cutting-edge. “New and better varieties are coming along all the time,” says Falkenstein. “To get ahead of your competition, you must be willing to offer your customers something different, something better.”
The plants featured during the trials are hand-selected by the suppliers because they represent what the supplier believes will be the best-selling, out-performing or hottest plant they have to offer for 2006.
Still, some of the participating company representatives feel that the one-on-one time growers will get with suppliers is what will make the trials most valuable. The opportunity to talk with suppliers in-person is priceless,” says Robert Saunders of Saunders Brothers. This is truly the best way to get advice and information on how to grow new varieties,” says Saunders, talking with growers is something that he’s really looking forward to.
GCA is a non-profit association committed to fostering the long-term success and sustainability of independent retail garden centers in North America. GCA accomplishes this by serving as the primary forum for information, education and training. It promotes the exchange of ideas, profitability and positive consumer awareness of the individual member firms. For more information on the Eastern Performance Trials visit,
The Eastern Performance Trials is comprised of six host locations with three to five participating companies showing product at each location. Each company is featured at one location.
1. The Conard-Pyle Company, West Grove, Pa.:
North Creek Nurseries
The Novalis Group
2. Homestead Growers, Davidsonville, Md.:
Ernst Benary of America
Jackson & Perkins (Suntory)
Selecta First Class
3. American Horticultural Society, Alexandria, Va.:
Cherry Lake Tree Farm
4. Virginia Growers, Montpellier, Va.:
Prides Corner Farms
5. White’s Greenhouses & Nursery, Chesapeake, Va.:
Paul Ecke Ranch
6. McDonald Garden Center, Virginia Beach, Va.:
The Scott’s Company