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Garden Centers of America:
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This Year's All-America Selections Winners

This Month's GCA Member Profile

GCA Summer Tour 2017 Initial Lineup & Host Hotel Announced - Newport News, VA, Here We Come!

Next year's GCA Summer Tour is headed to Virginia, June 25-28, for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at garden centers' operations from Richmond to Newport News to Virginia Beach. Be sure to pack your notebook and camera to capture all the merchandising and indie retailing inspirations!

Here's a sneak peek at what's in store for next summer's tour so far:

  • Atlantic Garden Center, Virginia Beach
  • Anderson's, Virginia Beach
  • Anderson's, Newport News
  • Norfolk Botanical Gardens, Norfolk
  • White's Nursery & Garden Center, Chesapeake
  • Ken Matthews Garden Center, Yorktown
  • Sneed's Nursery & Garden Center, Richmond
  • Cross Creek Nursery & Landscaping, Richmond
  • The Great Big Greenhouse & Meadows Farms Nurseries, Richmond
  • Merchants Square/Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg

Registration is open. More details and exciting destinations are coming soon!

GCA Tour organizers are also excited to unveil the GCA Summer Tour 2017 host hotel is the Newport News Marriott at City Center. This hotel is located in the new downtown neighborhood in Newport News, just steps away from dining, shopping and entertainment. To reserve your room, click here or call the hotel at 757-873-9229. Be sure to tell them you are booking for the Garden Centers of America event.

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!"


June 25, 2017 5:00 PM (EDT) • Newport News, VA
August 15, 2017 (EDT) • Navy Pier, Chicago, IL
August 15, 2017 10:00 AM (EDT) • Room 324, Navy, Pier, Chicago, IL
August 16, 2017 11:30 AM (EDT) • Room 324, IGC Show, Chicago, IL


The Massat Family
The Growing Place, Naperville/Aurora, IL

The Growing Place Celebrates Eight Decades of Gardening Excellence

The Growing Place has been family-owned and operated since its humble beginnings in 1936 as a field-grown perennial farm, Emma's Perennials, when it earned the reputation for growing the finest perennials in the Chicago area. Eighty years later, with two locations in Naperville, IL, and Aurora, IL, The Growing Place has fostered and expanded on that reputation to become a destination for a large selection of plants, accents, containers and display gardens, while in the midst of transitioning ownership from Rich and Carol Massat to their children Michael and Becca Massat.

The Naperville store, which is the original site of Emma's Perennials, boasts more than 4 acres of a botanical garden-style nursery for customers to explore that's mainly outdoors under the cover of mature trees. Only the gift shop and cash register stations are indoors or undercover.

The 18-acre Aurora location is home to The Growing Place's production facilities, supplying perennials, herbs, vegetable plants and mums for both locations. Started from bare ground in 1989, the Aurora location has grown into a garden oasis under the shade of mature trees. A majority of the shopping areas are outdoors, with the exception of the cash register stations and historical 19th century farmhouse that was moved to the property in 2000 to serve as the gift shop.

Both locations create a garden oasis for customers through its 1-acre Learning Gardens on-site that are filled with more than 800 well-labeled plants. The themed gardens demonstrate common situations such as sunny borders, dense shade, miniatures and wet tolerant areas. These gardens are designed to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, as well as showcase long-blooming plants and cutting flowers – and not to mention, inspire customers.

"We have had several customers describe our locations as a park-like atmosphere," Michael, Aurora's Regional Manager, says. "I'd say they use our properties as such, too. They come to just enjoy a little bit of time to themselves."

Carol expands, "Michael really hit on one of the things that sets us apart, and that is our garden centers are almost a retreat and a bit of an oasis for customers. They come here even when they don't need anything, because they want to relax and enjoy the atmosphere of our places."

The Massats pride themselves on the uniqueness of their stores and properties. It's something they acknowledge that sets their brand apart from other local indies and big boxes. It's uniqueness that also caught Becca's and Michael's eyes when they were on the 2016 GCA Summer Tour to Portland, OR, and taught them how they could better embrace their business' uniqueness.

"Being in Portland, what really struck me the most was how each garden center embraced their uniqueness," Michael says. "We saw garden centers on a hillside. We saw garden centers that were just massive with a huge amount of inventory. Each stop did something individually to distinguish themselves. We're really working that way, too."

"Our property is a huge draw for people," Carol says. "And we also make a point to be very welcoming and make the environment comfortable to shop in."

Becca, Naperville's Marketing Manager, elaborates, "We do a good job of providing classes and education for the customers. Almost every weekend we host a class or an activity."

With this being their first GCA Summer Tour, Michael and Becca found the networking with other GCA members to be extremely beneficial.

"It was nice to get to know other people that are in the same industry," Becca says. "We talked about the issues plaguing our industry and discussed possible solutions."

"Networking and informational sharing are the best takeaways," Michael says.

'A Good Idea'

This year marks The Growing Place's 80th year in business, and to celebrate, the retailer hosted a special party for its loyalty program members, called Growing Rewards. The event raised funds for a local charity through a silent auction and a raffle, while entertaining guests with live music and a wine tasting.

Specials throughout the evening were themed to The Growing Place's 80th anniversary. The retailer took $19.36 off customers' purchases of $80 or more, while some merchandise was marked down to $19.36. The Growing Place handed out commemorative buttons that customers can bring back all year for $2 off their future purchases.

The Growing Place traces its history back to 1936 when it was called Emma's Perennials. Emma and Fritz Glatzhofer opened Emma's Perennials selling field-grown perennials, which were propagated and planted directly into the ground in 4' x 12' beds.

In 1973, Emma and Fritz's nephew Rich and his wife, Carol, took over the business, continuing its tradition of field-grown perennials. "At the time, it sounded like a good idea," Rich jokes. "More than 40 years later, I can definitely say it turned out that way."

Soon, Rich and Carol made the switch to growing in containers, making it possible to offer high-quality perennials, annuals, roses and edibles throughout the season. The name was changed over to The Growing Place in 1976.

Now, Rich and Carol continue to actively manage both locations while grooming the third generation – Michael and Becca – to take ownership of The Growing Place in the coming years.

Growing its own nursery stock is still paramount at The Growing Place. To ensure the quality and reliability of their plants, the Massats use products that are approved for organic gardening, striving to use natural products and practices whenever possible, such as beneficial insects.

The retailer has taken its cumulative knowledge and experience from the cultivation of many plants throughout the years and presented it for customers through the "Growing Place Choice" plants merchandising technique. These plants are a mix of natives and ornamentals especially chosen by The Growing Place's expert staff because the plants are strong performers year after year. The "Growing Place Choice" label can be found on plants that fit into this category.

Taking their extensive plant knowledge further, the Massats assemble and publish a 200-page plant guide annually. The plant guide is printed on recycled paper and published online at the retailer's website,

"It's a cornerstone for us," Carol says. "Rich's aunt and uncle started a perennial list that was three sheets of paper stapled together. Then we took it one step further, expanding it so it includes annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs and other helpful information. Each year it's a little bigger and more involved."

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.
©2016 Garden Centers of America
2873 Saber Dr.

Clearwater, FL  33759


 The IGC Family

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