Horticulture Industry on Display During Annual Wintergreen Conference

[Duluth, GA – Damon Jones, Reporting]
Perennials, natives, pollinators, no matter what you’re looking for, you’re likely to
find it here at the Wintergreen Conference as nurseries and vendors from all across the
US littered the trade show floor showing off their latest products as well as sharing information
with the attendees. [Chris Butts – Executive Director]
We bring in about 250 exhibitors in from all over the country, all under one roof so it
gives our green industry pros and landscape pros a place to come meet and network with
all these people that would take them months or years to find if they weren’t here all
under one roof. [Damon]
With the interest in urban gardening on the rise, trends in the industry have changed
over the past few years as having a spacious back yard is no long necessary to start a
landscape. [Allan Armitage – Horticulture Specialist,
UGA] Gardening on the deck, gardening on the porch,
the veranda, that is outdoor living but not necessarily having a big garden. Young people today are all about container
gardening on the deck, vegetables, flowers, shrubs, and their handy dandy barbeque. That’s what it’s all about today. [Damon]
With so many vendors, the whole spectrum of the horticulture industry was on full display
as pine straw, tractors, and everything in between were all organized in one location. [Keith Mickler – Extension Agent, UGA]
I mean, you wouldn’t want to go into a paint store and just see two or three colors. You want to go in and see the whole chart. So, you see the whole gambit of things that
you could do in your landscape from hardscapes to soft capes to plant material to water features
to metal structures, anything to improve the outdoor part of your environment. You know, so many people are moving to I want
to be outdoors more. I want to be able to enjoy the outdoors. How can I do that? I want it to be pretty. And hey, we’ve got pretty here for you. [Chris]
We have 250 total booths. It’s about 200 different exhibitors and that
includes everything from growers to hard good supplies, landscape supplies, nursery supplies,
anything that you would need as a landscape contractor or as a grower or as a plant retailer. [Damon]
Despite all that variety people looking to start up their own garden should not be overwhelmed
by the choices. In fact, the biggest advice for startup gardeners
is… [Allan]
It’s all about starting slow. You don’t want to be starting with a five
acres garden. What am I going to do? You won’t do anything. Start slow, a few containers, maybe a little
area where you are sitting that you just like to look at. And once you get the bug, you’re done, because
you’ll never run out of things to plant. [Damon]
Every year this show attracts more of an audience as the interest in landscaping continues to
grow. It’s a welcome sight after seeing the industry
struggle in the not so distant past. [Chris]
We had a tough time for this industry in the last recession and it was followed by drought. We lost about 40% of our licensed growers
in the state of Georgia, but since then, we’ve seen a big rebound where we are actually approaching
the old farm gate values at the peak of the economy. [Damon]
Reporting from Duluth, I’m Damon Jones for the Farm Monitor.

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