The new eco-learning centers.

Open register , the blog of Garden Center Magazine asks about the current state of the "Fall is for Planting Campaign". Here in northern California fall is the best time to plant most shrubs, trees, and perennials yet the turnout by the consumer is less than satisfactory.

Of course we in the garden center business have no one to blame but ourselves. Somehow we are not getting the message through to the consumer. The folks at Garden Rant talked about this at length a while ago.

I don't know what the solution is but we are working on educating the customers that wants to be educated, our mailing list. People who receive our e-news and snail mail newsletter have already given us permission to inform them. We will continue to promote this planting season to them as a sort of "secret to success" that only they know about. Let's face it, the vast majority of consumers don't care that fall is for planting. There is a small percentage of the public that will accept the message. We'll focus on those people.

Garden centers need to be the voice of the "outside world". Many people are divorced from the realities of life outside. We think garden centers have a unique opportunity to become sort of "eco-learning centers". As more people feel the need to connect to nature they will want a place to learn, and share in the discovery of gardening and it's relationship to our well being. Garden centers are positioned perfectly to be that place.

We can't rely on horticultural industry marketing for "Fall is for Planting", which has to this point been ineffective. We'll have to go directly to the consumer. We will do this with e-mail newsletters, snail mail newsletters, our web page, my blog, workshops, and speaking engagements. We believe these methods are for us more effective than mass media.