The challenge of marketing extraordinary trees
At Iseli Nursery, we strive to grow high quality plants and deliver them to our customers in premium condition and in a timely fashion. Through the feedback from our garden center customers, we have been very successful at achieving this goal.
There are a few plants that we have selected to include in our catalog that have extraordinary features and yet, in early spring, when our customers take delivery of the majority of their stock, these plants look a little rough. Our challenge is to help people see the silk purse rather than the sow’s ear.
For example, when the home gardener makes their autumn purchase of tulip, daffodil and other flowering bulbs, they understand that for the winter months and into early spring, all they will have to show for their garden dollar is bare soil. And yet, just weeks after the first leaves begin to appear, they can rest assured that their patience will be rewarded with a spectacular spring show of colorful flowers lasting three or four weeks followed by some weeks of drooping and yellowing leaves and then bare ground again for almost a full year until the show repeats.
Our challenge is to help our garden center and landscape professional customers understand the nature of those few plants that have incredibly redeeming features for several months, but also take a back seat in the garden the rest of the year.
Unfortunately, when the garden centers are receiving flats of pretty flowers in spring, these few challenging trees do not look their best.
Ask anyone who has fallen in love with Pinus contorta ‘Chief Joseph’ and you’ll likely hear the same thing. The exciting feature of ‘Chief Joseph’ is that it begins to turn an incredibly bright yellow as the cooler weather of autumn ensues. The color becomes brighter and more intense through winter and into early spring, giving a golden glow during the dreary winter months. Then, here in Oregon, as other conifers begin to push their new foliage and look their best, the bright yellow needles of ‘Chief Joseph' begin to turn brown leaving the tree particularly unsightly until its new growth begins to emerge, its new needles unfurl and later, the older brown ones drop leaving a very nice looking light green tree. While other ornamental trees and shrubs are doing their thing, ‘Chief Joseph’ patiently waits for his time to shine with the return of autumn. As those other plants become dull or even die back to the ground, ‘Chief Joseph’ carries the burden of providing a spectacular winter display.
We believe the incredible color display that ‘Chief Joseph’ provides in the dead of winter is worth a few weeks of burned foliage. The intense color display lasts for several months when brightly colored flowers are long gone and during the growing season, it makes a sturdy backdrop for those other colorful choices.
We hope you agree and will give this premium conifer a try. Your customers will trust your garden knowledge and be rewarded with a spectacular autumn and winter show for many years to come.