Oklahoma City is much like Columbus, Ohio

In the middle of July every year I trek to Columbus, Ohio with 10,000 other greenhouse growers from around the United States and quite a few foreign countries to analyze the past growing season, to look to the year ahead and talk about the big issues facing the greenhouse and garden center industry.

Since I come to Columbus, Ohio every year it is interesting to watch its growth and development compared to our beloved Oklahoma City as there are many similarities between these 2 capital cities. A few years ago it came down to Oklahoma City and Columbus for an expansion NHL team and Columbus prevailed to become a big league city first and I often heard about that when visiting Columbus. Life often works out for the best as we likely would not have had the chance to host the NBA Hornets or now to land the new Oklahoma City NBA team if we had landed the NHL team. Many of these folks in Columbus would gladly trade their NHL team for our NBA team. Thanks to Oklahoma City voters and significant investment of Clay Bennett, Aubrey McClendon and Tom Ward we Okies have currently leap frogged the Columbus, Ohio crowd on the major league front.  

As a community they do a much better job of using color annuals, use far more perennials in their landscapes and are active mulchers to help manage moisture, weeds and temperature.  They also do a wonderful job of planting and caring for impressive large container gardens, also street light hanging baskets throughout their downtown and special neighborhoods like Short North, the Brewery District and the German Village and in many of their public parks. That carries over to more landscaping, color plants and container gardens at most homes and businesses throughout their community. This is an area where Oklahoma City and most communities in Oklahoma can really show improvement. Gardening in Oklahoma is a little more challenging and takes a little more effort since we get less natural rainfall, lots of drying winds and really hot summer weather. But with a little effort and some water we can easily succeed at making our downtown areas, parks, businesses, homes and neighborhoods more beautiful.

Our city leaders need to set a good example by improving our relatively poor efforts in our public parks, around our convention center arena, throughout downtown, Bricktown and in neighborhood centers. The greenhouse and garden center industries are in deep debate about how badly the slowdown in home building will affect future plant consumption. This is offset by the additional use of trees, shrubs and flowers at existing houses as more people stay at home instead of traveling. Many experts call this trend “staycations” where people stay at home and remodel their homes, add outdoor living areas, new flowerbeds, porches and patios. Growers are also faced with extreme inflation in many of their basic expenses with fertilizer up 70 to 300% in just one year, plastics for pots, flats and roof covers up around 40% since last season, fuel costs to heat and cool the plants and to deliver the plants up around 50% in the last year. These critical operating expense increases will force growers to increase their plant selling prices if they want to survive, This creates anxiety about how that will effect plant use and consumption.            

United States yard, lawn, plant and flower consumption is still less than 2/3 European per capita investment even with our dramatically bigger houses and yards so there should still be a fair amount of room to grow our plant use and consumption.     

Most everyone agrees with the goal of living a more sustainable lifestyle and most see the greenhouse and nursery industry with their oxygen producing plant crops as the original sustainable or green industry.  We are all discussing which practices we can improve to do an even better job of greening the environment without green washing or over promising as we see from so many products with every item trying to emphasize their green, sustainable or organic features.

After many years of declining vegetable sales there was a big increase in sales of vegetable plants and seeds this spring as more people got involved in planting vegetables to produce some of their own fresh food. This trend is likely to continue with higher food prices and the increasing interest in locally grown food. Some folks actually planted a vegetable garden, while others mixed a few vegetables in their flowerbed or grew a few vegetables in large containers. Container gardening of all types continues to grow and is an easy way to add color and excitement to your yard and home. Containers are easy to plant and add to your landscape during any season of the year with a little attention to selecting the right plants for the season and the location.

Shop some of the summer sales for special pricing on plants you have always wanted to try, mulch your flowerbeds and stay on top of your watering as we battle summer weather and enjoy some special relaxing and refreshing time in your yard.


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