Regardless of the consideration given it by the Kansas and Ohio Boards of Education, evolution is in fact a necessary component of business.  In the cut flower industry, where the success of a business is determined by the whims of weather, markets and buying trends, change is constant.  In the ASCFG, where the very nature of our product requires innovation and creativity, this is particularly obvious.
Growers who previously grew, sold and shipped almost exclusively dried flowers now produce fresh flowers, selling to local florists and farmers’ markets. Field growers are putting up hoophouses to extend their growing seasons, as they discover plants which can be grown earlier or later than their longtime favorites.  The grower/wholesaler/retail florist chain has been modified as growers extend their sales to event planners, weddings and floral designers.

Perhaps the most visible change is the shift to woody ornamentals production. It seems that every year a few more growers add a few more rows of shrubs to their land.  As Regional Meetings and National Conferences take us to farms across the country, it’s apparent that the increase in hydrangea, bittersweet, holly, viburnum or hypericum is no longer limited to “large” growers or specific growing zones.  The range of plant material used is staggering, and the ingenious methods growers come up with to harvest, store and ship woody branches are fascinating.
As we put together this issue of the Quarterly, it happened that several events involving hydrangea cut flower production occurred nearly at the same time, and it seemed only natural to feature the flower on the cover.  Gay asked what she should write about for her postharvest column. The Midwest Regional Meeting featured a tour of Dale Deppe’s beautiful home, surrounded by a collection of more than 100 hydrangea varieties. The topper was Pat Zweifel’s courageous confessional in his Regional Report about how not to start out in the hydrangea business. This edition is the unofficial Hydrangea Quarterly.
How has your business evolved since you grew your first cut flower? What plants are you growing now that you didn’t five years ago?  Is your market the same as when you started?  Tell us what you’re doing now that’s different from what you did before.  Email me, or call the office during a down time. But please, wait until after the Lancaster Conference.  See you there.