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on the needs of Independent Garden Centers.
America's only association focused exclusively
on the needs of Independent Garden Centers.

Garden Centers of America:

Together We're Better!                          

This Year's All-America Selections Winners

This Month's GCA Member Profile

2017 GCA Summer Tour Destination Announced - Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA, Here We Come!

Next year's GCA Summer Tour is headed to Norfolk/Virginia Beach, for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at garden center's operations from Virginia Beach to Newport News to Richmond. Be sure to pack your notebook and camera to capture all the merchandising and indie retailing inspirations!

Among the list of destinations is Anderson's Home and Garden Showplace newly opened location in Virginia Beach. The 7-acre site opened in June and features a 25,000-square-feet garden center filled with a plant nursery, pottery, outdoor furniture, women's clothing and accessories, as well as a cafe called Sage Kitchen.

McDonald Garden Center, which has three locations in the Norfolk, VA, area, is also among the stops that will be included on the 2017 tour. The retailer's pop-up Garden Markets - open March through mid-July - serve as convenient, miniature-versions of the larger garden center for customers who want a quick shopping trip for just a few items.

2016 GCA Summer Tour Social Media Recap

In case you missed all of the coverage of this year's GCA Summer Tour in Portland, OR, here are some of the highlights from social media:

"Opening night festivities were in high gear as the 2016 GCA Summer Tour in Portland kicked off Sunday with a lively discussion on hot IGC retailing topics, including the importance of IGCs receiving early market rights to new plant introductions from growers. Owner of Mesquite Valley Growers Nursery, Thomas Birt, known for his ever-present white cowboy hat and a regular GCA Tour attendee, was among those taking place in the multi-topic discussion led by Tour Director Robert Hendrickson. The room traded insights on Internet sales, and those garden centers on the tour who are having great success with them shared their strategies. The three-day tour of Portland-area garden centers starts early Monday."

"Yesterday [Monday], GCA Summer Tour buses hit the Portland area under glorious, bright, sunny blue skies for a robust first day that took them to five leading garden centers. An amazing lunch was featured on the grounds of grower Sester Farms in Gresham, OR, who - along with the delicious mid-day meal - gave a tour of its growing grounds, a hands-on session on how to refresh tired plant material that's still in your sales area and a raffle with a grand prize of $3500 of delivered wholesale-valued plants from the grower, won by Sandi Hillermann of Hillermann Nursery & Florist in Washington, MO. Sester Farms generously provided all retailers on the GCA Tour with a $1000 certificate for free plants on any Fall 2016 orders. Two more busy days lie ahead, and weather reports call for a bright day, and spirits are sky high. For those who are missing this great networking experience among 120+ IGC retailers, make plans now to attend the 2017 GCA Summer Tour, just announced to take place in Norfolk/Virginia Beach!"

"First stop for Tuesday on the GCA Summer Tour Portland was Gardener’s Choice in Tigard, OR. One of the intriguing highlights from this stop includes these display units that are actually built on repurposed pallets. The overall concept for these is that when store management wants to rearrange display units, a forklift can easily be brought in to pick up and relocate the entire unit. It’s an experiment in progress for the store, but certainly an interesting concept - just another example of the insights you get by attending the GCA Summer Tour."

"On Tuesday night, the GCA Summer Tour Portland dined in the historic setting of McMenamins Edgefield - a renovated turn-of-the-century "poor house" that is now a restaurant, bar and entertainment center on the outskirts of the Portland metro area. Our special guest after dinner was Jeff Stone, Executive Director and CEO of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, (pictured with GCA Executive Director Jeff Morey). Stone spoke on the unique implications of the recent laws in the state of Oregon that legislated minimum wage on both growers and what the end effects will impose on finished plant prices from Oregon to retailers across the country, as well as the forced wage minimums on local Oregon garden center retailers. A lively discussion ensued for nearly an hour between the 120+ attending IGC retailers on the tour and Stone. This dinner and discussion followed a day of garden center stops that earned rave reviews from all. By every measure, there seems little doubt that this is the best GCA Summer Tour in many, many years!"


August 02, 2016 (EDT) • Valley Forge Casino Resort, Philadelphia Metro Area, PA
August 16, 2016 (EDT) • Navy Pier, Chicago, IL
August 16, 2016 10:00 AM (EDT) • Room 324, Navy, Pier, Chicago, IL
August 17, 2016 11:30 AM (EDT) • Room 324, IGC Show, Chicago, IL


Gordon Schalow, President Schalow's Nursery, Marshfield, WI

Central Wisconsin Family IGC Biz Continues to Thrive

Celebrating its golden anniversary last year, Schalow's Nursery carries on the Schalow family tradition of hard work and satisfying its customers' needs in Marshfield, WI. Gordon "Gordy" Schalow, the company's President, continues to expand on his father's vision by adding more product offerings, services and – just opened this past spring – a new garden center building.

Gordon's father, David Schalow, started the business in 1965 after branching out from Dave's uncle's nursery and landscaping business. "My dad decided to go out on his own and really feature more on the nursery side versus design/build," Gordon says.

David's business had 10 acres of production fields. "That grew into clients wanting us to do the installation for them, so the focus shifted more on to a design/build and installation type of business," Gordon says. "But customers still wanted to come out to the nursery and buy plant material, thus the two divisions were developed."

In 1976, Gordon joined his father's business full-time just three or four years out of high school. Gordon's brothers, Rog and Mark, are also involved with the business. "We were all involved in the nursery, working in the fields and maintaining the plant material," Gordon says. "It started when we were children."

Although Gordon has taken over as Schalow's President, David still contributes to the business. But that hasn’t stopped Gordon from expanding on his father's dream.

"Back in my dad's day, the business focused more on plants, plant installation, and some plant care and maintenance," Gordon says. "We've taken it now to lawn installation, irrigation and a little snow removal." Schalow's landscape design services not only include residential properties, but also commercial and institutional projects as well.

Eight percent of Schalow's sales are from the retail nursery, while 60 percent is residential landscape installation, design/build and maintenance. The other 40 percent is attributed to commercial and institutional landscape design projects.

"On the retail side, we kept upgrading our display areas for plant material and took a big step this year into making a commitment in the future," Gordon says. "We wanted to let our client and customer base know that we’re here for the future."

Schalow's new 5,600-square-foot retail garden center facility is proof that Gordon and his business have a strong future ahead. The previous garden center, which is connected to the new building, was just a small checkout area of about 672 square feet. The new facility, located 500 feet north of the main design office, has conference rooms, office space, restrooms and the retail area. Gordon's daughter Katie, who is an architect, partly designed the new facility, which was constructed by Gordon’s son-in-law and his company.

The new garden center allowed Gordon to broaden his retail offerings to items geared toward DIY gardeners, including pottery, fountains and plant care products.

Gordon stays attuned to the happenings in the lawn and garden industry thanks to his membership in Garden Centers of America. "GCA gives us the direction as to what’s available in the industry, especially when it comes to trade shows like the IGC Show," he says.

Gordon and his team have attended IGC Show Chicago the last few years. "The IGC Show is great to see what's trending, and it opens you up to a good variety of vendors to work with," he says. "Some of the vendors that are there have been vendors of ours for years. It’s great to find product for the store like statuary."

Even though he's only been a GCA member for a few years, Gordon has learned a lot from GCA and other members.

The Promise of Excellence

"We're open to any and everyone's needs," Gordon says. "Sometimes, those individuals who contact us for a tree planting or a shrub or two will follow-up with a new patio or irrigation system that they want installed. It's important to cater to all aspects of our customers' needs."

Gordon's philosophy of delivering exactly what customers want goes back to the principles that his father instilled in him when he first started in the business. He says he makes sure to spend as much time with each customer as necessary to come up with an exceptional design concept. Then, when it's time for installation, his crew of experienced landscape architects and construction managers have the skill to deliver on those promises, making sure the client has a good experience from start to finish.

That exceptional experience translates to the retail setting as well. The garden center, which is open April through December while the design office is open year-round, employs a knowledgeable sales staff of horticulture and nursery specialists who are capable of assisting every type of gardening enthusiast and DIYer.

Schalow's creativity helps the garden center and design office stand out for the competition. "Our designs are very creative," Gordon says. "Then we follow up that with a very knowledgeable staff – in-store and on design projects. We make sure to stay top-notch on everything, from our employee uniforms to the truck standards that are all based on our logo colors."

In addition to the store's staff and creativity, Schalow's is known for its green goods. Gordon and his production team grow 100 percent of the nursery's perennials, while other plants are sourced in.

Gordon says, "It goes back to the early days when we focused on plant material and plant installation, so we're still known for that – that's what drives people here."

Click here to read more Member Profiles.

All-America Selections Introduces Nine Exciting AAS Winners for the 2016 Garden Season

Anyone watching the movements of All-America Selections lately will notice an ever-increasing number of exciting and wonderful plants that are being named AAS Winners. This announcement is no different with nine new plants that have been trialed by horticulture experts throughout North America and deemed worthy of the All-America Selections® brand.
All of the following new varieties were trialed during the 2015 growing season and exhibited outstanding garden performance as noted in each of the following descriptions.
This grouping of AAS Winners for 2016 includes:
Geranium Brocade Cherry Night (National)
Geranium Brocade Fire (National)
Pepper Cornito Giallo F1 (National)
Pepper Escamillo F1 (National)
Pumpkin Super Moon F1 (Regional: Southeast and Great Lakes)
Salvia Summer Jewel™ Lavender (Regional: Southeast, Heartland, Great Lakes)
Strawberry Delizz® F1 (National)
Tomato Candyland Red (National)
Tomato Chef’s Choice Green F1 (National)
With this announcement, these varieties become available for immediate sale to the commercial market. Brokers and growers can purchase these varieties immediately. Retailers and consumers will find these Winners for sale for the 2016 gardening season as supply gradually becomes available throughout the chain of distribution. Garden communicators are free to begin writing about these varieties now, in preparation for next year’s gardens.
The first group of AAS Winners for 2016 was announced in July 2015 and are also interesting additions for the consumer’s gardens and table:
Bunching Onion Warrior (Regional Winner: Southeast, Mountain/Southwest)
Mizuna Red Kingdom F1 (National Winner)
Radish Sweet Baby F1 (Regional Winner: Southeast, Great Lakes)
A complete list of trial grounds and the judges behind our awards can be found here.
A complete list of all AAS Winners since 1932 can be found here. Note that this list of AAS Winners can be sorted by Flowers from Seed, Flowers from Cuttings, and Vegetables.

Geranium Brocade Cherry Night
AAS 2016 Ornamental Vegetative Winner
National Winner

Striking foliage with large double blooms of cherry pink make Geranium Brocade Cherry Night an AAS Winner this year.  Gardeners looking for unique and distinct foliage to accent their containers and gardens will be delighted with Brocade Cherry Night.  The bronze leaves with green margins are a remarkable and unusual addition to any design.  Add the double bright cherry blooms and this heat tolerant geranium is your winner for any planter, container or garden!  More Info...  Bred by Dummen Orange

Geranium Brocade Fire
AAS 2016 Ornamental Vegetative Winner
National Winner

This 2016 AAS Winner, Geranium Brocade Fire, has unique bi-color foliage with a nonstop display of orange flowers that gives it an exceptional look in any garden.  Geranium Brocade Fire is ideal for combination planters, landscapes and garden beds. This robust plant keeps its distinguishing foliage color and brilliant blooms throughout the hot summers then becomes a fantastic transitional flower going into fall.  The orange flowers contrast with the striking foliage making this geranium a much appreciated and talked about new annual winner. More info...  Bred by Dummen Orange

Pepper Cornito Giallo F1
AAS 2016 Edible Winner
National Winner

“DOUBLE YUM” was one judge’s response to our new AAS Winner Cornito Giallo F1 pepper, “The flavor on this one is totally a winner!”  Starting as small green fruits, this AAS Winner develops into bright yellow jewels with a delicious sweet and fruity flavor.  The peppers themselves are plentiful and durable, yet easy to eat fresh. Being an early bloomer, you will be able to enjoy these peppers throughout the growing season and well into the fall.  Plant Cornito Giallo F1 in your garden this year and you can join our judges in exclaiming “YUM!” More info...  Bred by Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Pepper Escamillo F1
AAS 2016 Edible Winner
National Winner

A wonderful sweet taste on a golden yellow pepper makes Pepper Escamillo F1, one of our 2016 AAS Winners.  An early bearing pepper plant with a compact habit makes it an ideal choice for any home garden. Gardeners will be captivated with the high yield of peppers per plant and how the fruit itself is held off the ground for easy picking and less rotting. This plant is a winner with its all around qualities of excellent taste either raw, cooked or fire roasted; its compact size and high yield. More info...  Bred by Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Pumpkin Super Moon F1
AAS 2016 Edible Winner
Regional Winner: Great Lakes and Southeast

Love the look of white pumpkins for your fall holiday decor?  Then you will love our first-ever white pumpkin AAS Regional Winner Super Moon F1.  Our judges loved the nice, eye-appealing ghostly white coloration on the large, blemish-free round pumpkins.  Grown for their size, up to 50 lbs, and their clean white color, these hardy plants are known for their early fruit development and vigorous growth. Their stems are tough, hardy, disease-resistant and unstoppable!  When done decorating with these beauties, consider trying the yellow flesh for roasting or in your fall harvest soups.  More info...  Bred by Seeds By Design Inc.

Salvia Summer Jewel™ Lavender
AAS 2016 Ornamental Seed Winner
Regional Winner: Southeast, Heartland, Great Lakes

The fourth AAS Winner in the Summer Jewel™ series of popular AAS Salvia Winners is the newest in color, Summer Jewel™ Lavender.  The unique flower color of dusty lavender purple is a delight in the garden and flower containers as well as a major attractor of pollinators including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. An extra bonus is how much the Goldfinch loves these flower seeds in the fall.  It’s a photo-ready moment when these complementary colors of gold and lavender connect!  The early blooming, stable, compact uniform growth, and continuous flowering of this plant are additional positives to this plant.  More info...  Bred by Takii & Co. Ltd

Strawberry Delizz®  F1
AAS 2016 Edible Winner
National Winner

What’s not to like about our first ever AAS strawberry winner Strawberry Delizz® F1?  These vigorous strawberry plants are easy to grow, from seed or transplant, and produce an abundant harvest throughout the growing season.  The best part though is the wonderful sweet strawberry burst of flavor from every handpicked berry. To enjoy fresh home-grown strawberries throughout the season, even in hot summer heat, look to Strawberry Delizz® F1.  These plants have a nice uniform and compact size making them perfect for containers, hanging baskets or garden plots. The hardest part of Strawberry Delizz® F1 won’t be the growing but having some strawberries left for anyone else to enjoy!  More info... Bred by ABZ Seeds

Tomato Candyland Red
AAS 2016 Edible Winner
National Winner

Tomato Candyland Red is the only AAS award winning currant-type tomato. Currant tomatoes are smaller in size than cherry-type and are ready to “pop” in your mouth straight from the garden.  Gardeners will appreciate the dark red, sweet flavored fruit that can be enjoyed throughout the season.  The tomato plant itself has a nice tidier habit than other currant-type plants with the fruit tending to form on the outside of the plant making them easier to harvest. More info...  Bred by PanAmerican Seed Company
Tomato Chef’s Choice Green F1
AAS 2016 Edible Winner
National Winner

Looking for a uniquely colored yet delicious tomato with which to impress your foodie friends?  Then look no further than this AAS Winner, Tomato Chef’s Choice Green F1. The newest addition to the Chef’s Choice series produces beautiful green colored fruits with subtle yellow stripes and a wonderful citrus-like flavor and perfect tomato texture. You’ll enjoy this disease free plant throughout the season with its dark green leaves and well-behaved form. You’ll be the envy of all your tomato loving friends! More info...  Bred by Seeds By Design Inc.
All-America Selections® was founded in 1932 and continues as the oldest independent testing organization in North America. Every year, new, never-before-sold varieties are trialed in our Trial Grounds and professional horticulturists determine which varieties will be deemed winners based on their garden performance. AAS relies upon a public relations program to inform gardeners about AAS National and Regional Winners that are announced three times each year.
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