The grand reunion

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June 29, 2021

As I plan for my trip to Columbus, I feel like I’m attending the biggest family reunion of all time. I love summer trade show season, but I’ve never looked forward to being on the road more than I am right now. It’s also a wonderful feeling to interact with people again in my hometown. As I write this, the restaurants, bars, shops, and movie theaters are bustling with people, and so are the garden centers. That is certainly a cause for celebration, but I have to wonder, is that because it’s early summer and the normal buying cycle for plants, or is it because the so-called pandemic gardeners are holding on to their new hobby and spending their discretionary income on our products again?

Several weeks ago, Lloyd Traven, who owns Peace Tree Farm with his wife Candy Traven, tagged me and several others in a Facebook post. He linked to a beautifully written op-ed piece in the Washington Post by Alyssa Rosenberg titled, “While you’re waiting for post-pandemic life to resume, try growing something.”

Read it here: bit.ly/grow-something.

Lloyd posted, “This is a very important message for us all in the hort industry and grab for it NOW, because when we can go back to Italy and Tahiti and Australia and RESTAURANTS, we ALL will. Will that be an end to these golden times for horticulture? Or will we hold onto the millions who figured out that plants matter?”

If consumers are anything like the Post’s Rosenberg, green spaces have become a valuable part of life.

She writes, “My garden feels like the bridge that will carry me through the pandemic’s final weeks and months. If routine activities are slow to resume outside my fence, I can still foster an explosion of new life inside it. I know I’m not alone — and I invite any reluctant or space-pressed gardeners to join our numbers. Prolonged isolation inspired a renovation boom for those who could afford to reimagine their private spaces. But no new deck or finished basement inspires quite the same awe as something emerging from nothing — be it a bloom finally opening up from a coddled houseplant or a bulb planted last winter breaking through soil in search of sun.”

I know the masses won’t share her uninhibited passion for live plants, but if we don’t keep reminding consumers about how and why plants are important to mental health, spiritual health, the environment and the economy, we may lose them to blue-plate specials, craft beers and airplane tickets. Keep pushing those messages and let’s hang on to those purported 18 million new gardeners. Your innovations during the pandemic made me so proud, and I can’t wait to hear about them in person on the trade show circuit.

Kelli Rodda, Editor | krodda@gie.net | 216-393-0224