The Summer Solstice & Perennials

The Summer Solstice & Perennials

by Danny Summers

This message title may at first seem somewhat strange, but there is a connection.

Last Wednesday, June 21st, was the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. And it was also the Darwin Perennials Day at Ball Seed headquartered in West Chicago, IL. What a beautiful day to celebrate and share so much about this important category, Perennials. That Wednesday morning, I had the thought... it's the perfect day to be thinking about Perennials... the longest day of the year for the longest-running plant category (for herbaceous plants at least).

You may remember our April 24th edition of GROUPtalk when I shared an invitation from Darwin Perennials' Sales & Marketing Manager, Seth Reed about this year's Darwin Perennials Day at The Gardens at Ball Seed. He said:

"If perennials is an important category for you (and they should be) and especially if you have never seen this event or the trial and display gardens at Ball Seed Headquarters, you need to be there... June 21st, 2023."

Seth asked me to organize a program as their keynote presentation. My first thought was to engage and spotlight some of our Group Centers who are Perennial Stars!

Following this I also sent a message to our GroupEs eList asking who was planning to attend. At the same time, I asked Tim Quebedeaux to give me a report of the top Centers ranked for their percent of sales in the Perennial Category year-to-date 2023. First, here are a few details for the 2022 Year - Total Group (based on the 2022 P&L Study):

Percent of Total Sales – by Category - from 2022

  • Annuals: 15.0%
  • Perennials: 10.9%
  • Shrubs: 15.0%
  • Trees: 8.9%
  • Tropicals: 6.7%

Tim also told me that 10% in Perennial sales has been consistent through the growth years of 2020-2022, so that tells us Perennials has had similar growth as we have seen overall.

Tim's resulting report of all Centers ranking for selling the highest percent of total sales for Perennials gave me a lot of stats to study and work with in preparation for this special presentation at Darwin Perennials Day.

I was confident in having some of our Perennial Stars from Group Centers and that they would create an engaging presentation. I was right and they did just that. Here's a list of the participants that did such a great job:

When comparing Perennial Sales across all Group Centers, it is important to consider what plants are considered Perennials in their region. I mentioned this in my introduction of our sharing Centers last Wednesday. I said there is a "fuzzy" line between the Annuals and Perennials categories, as in some regions Annuals are another region's Perennials. What is hardy in one region may not be in others. And this is why The Group's Chart of Accounts are broad categories. We don't specify which plants are in a particular category because it may be different.

During the preparation for the program, some strong common threads emerged among Group Centers that were doing well in the Perennial Sales Category. Here are just a few:

  • Position Perennials Up Front - Parallel with Annuals
  • Perennials Typically Look Best during Summer and Fall
  • Spotlight Perennials to Build Return Visits/Sales in Summer and Fall
  • Use Theme Groupings/Tables to Help Create Sales
  • Group Perennials by Functions or Applications
  • Many New Customers are Showing Growing Interest in "Perennial" Benefits

As I introduced each Group Center and presenters, I provided some quick numbers for each Center's Perennial Sales as a percent of total sales, both 2022 full year and 2023 year-to-date. In addition to those who presented onsite, I also spotlighted two other Group Centers who are Perennial Stars... Buchanan's Native Plants and Gateway Gardens. Here are each Center's stats for Perennial Sales. Keep in mind both Bedner's and Hoerr have more opportunities ahead in the summer months being farther north, and the total Group average has been at 10% for the past three full years. Also, all three that participated last Wednesday are Retail-Growers and produce a large amount of the Perennials they sell.

Center-----------------------------------2022 Year%-------------2023 YTD% (as of week 23)
Barton Springs Nursery-----------------39.2%---------------------42.1%
Bedner's Farm & Greenhouse---------11.0%----------------------9.5%
Hoerr Nursery-----------------------------10.2%-----------------------8.8%
Buchanan's Native Plants--------------17.7%---------------------24.7%
Gateway Gardens------------------------19.1%---------------------18.7%

As you can imagine, the Centers that presented had the full attention of everyone present. They were sharing their real-world experience on what is working and how each leverages the power and attraction of Perennials to help their audience select the right plants for their needed application to be successful!

We have a large number of Perennial Stars here in The Group. We have 1 Center in the 40% range, 1 in the 30% range, 11 in the 20% range, and 9 others between 15 and 20%. All in all, we have 23 Centers above 15%, based on 2023 YTD. They are Perennial Stars!

A Special THANK YOU to these Perennial Stars: Zander Caruso, Brynn Daniels, Erin Melbert, Alexander Mohn, and Renee O'Brien, who helped make our time at Darwin Perennials Day at Ball Seed a time well spent as we provided a large number of attendees a glimpse of the power of sharing throughout The Group!


Sharing is at the heart of The Group and your ideas are very important. If you have any trouble logging into The Group WebSystem, please let me know. Are you and your staff all subscribed to our eLists such as GroupEs, Retail-Grower, Retail-Landscape, Owners-Only, and a number of others? Need help subscribing? Let me know so I can show you how you can sign up.

Thanks for sharing!

Danny Summers
[email protected]
Tel: 678-909-7770
Cell: 678-761-7145

REMEMBER: Your interaction (by phone and email) with Group Service Providers such as Tim Quebedeaux, Sid Raisch, John Kennedy, Jean Seawright, and of course Danny Summers are included in your retainer!

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