Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What's all the buzz about bees?

Back when I worked at one of the local garden centers, I was often approached with this request from customers: "I want a bush that flowers which doesn't attract bees".  There are good reasons for wanting a plant that doesn't attract bees but for there are many more reasons to attract them.  According to the Garden Media Garden Trends of 2014:

·         one out of three bites of food come from plants pollinated by honeybees and other pollinators

·         1/3 of all honeybee colonies in this country are gone

·         Pollinators help 70% of the world's flowering plants to reproduce

bee buzzing in the caryopertisBees rely on flowers to supply them with food. Different bees need different flowers. Double headed flower such as double impatiens do not produce as much nectar and are more difficult for the bees to access the pollen. Single flower tops such as daisies, honeysuckle, monarda, tulips are more bee friendly.  Plant your flowers in clumps versus a plant here, a plant there.  Also, planning for the whole bloom season will help ensure that our bee population thrives. 
 Spring flowering plants include: Crocus, Hyacinth, Tulips

Summer flowering plants include:  Monarda, Echinacea, Foxglove, Hosta, Buddleia, Daisies, Salvia, Catmint, Rudbeckia, Honeysuckle, Caryopteris

Fall flowering plants include: Sedum, Aster, Goldenrod

Other things we can do to promote bee populations are to leave uncultivated sunny spots in the yard for ground dwelling bees. Piles of branches, dead trees, untreated wood, and bee houses/condos attract other variety of bees. 

Avoid using pesticides and herbicides. Use an Integrated Pest Management program instead.  Also, provide a fresh source of water.  A shallow bowl filled with twigs, stones and water will work. Just be sure to change the water on a daily basis.

If you are worried about being stung and really who isn't worried about that? I've managed to be stung several times while out working in the yard. One day I stuck a fork into the soil as I weeded and I hit a ground bee nest.  Whoops!  One time I put my hand on the garden gate without looking and my hand landed on a bee. The last time I was weeding along the slated fence, put both hands on the fence to get up and disturbed a small nest. Both hands swelled up like balloons. Bees generally do not sting unless the nest is disturbed, they are stepped on or rough handled.  They don't sting very often when they are foraging. 
Just remember we need bees to ensure that our garden plants, ornamentals, wildflowers and food crops receive adequate pollination.

Kate Williams, Sales Representative, Loma Vista Nursery

Official Start of Spring

The official start of spring is March 20th this year. At Loma Vista Nursery we are busy getting ready.

Potting of perennials started last week and the rose wake up will begin this week.

Potting of perennial plugs is done by hand in heated greenhouses to avoid harsh outdoor temperatures.

Rose wake up involves pruning and feeding the roses, and warming the houses. The outer layer of white plastic is removed from the house, leaving the second clear layer, so that we take advantage of sunlight during the day to warm the houses. Heaters keep the temperatures up at night. This gives the roses a nice flush of growth and has them ready for spring sales.

If you like to schedule a spring tour of Loma Vista's container farm, please contact your sales representative or call 913-897-7010 or email

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hurry up and wait

pond with geese
Loma's pond with geese patiently waiting for spring
By now most of us are more than ready for winter to be over and done with. The groundhog not withstanding, spring is just around the corner.

As it warms up over the next few weeks, and the night time temperatures get close to or above freezing, plants in our overwintering structures are going to begin to wake up. Tempting as it is to keep the doors closed and make use of the warmth, that may not be the wisest course.

Our aim at the nursery, is to bring things along slowly. Any soft new growth is primed to be frozen. Whenever possible, the doors will be opened during the day and left open if night time lows aren't expected to be more than three or four degrees below freezing.

Undoubtedly, there are going to be some winter losses, probably more from frozen roots than shoots. Affected shoots are a lesser issue, since most material will be pruned and the damaged shoots removed. The roots are of greater concern as problems may not show up until plants have fully leafed out.

But, it's the challenges that make this game interesting. And remember that patience is a virtue.

Jonathan McCombie, Grower, Loma Vista Nursery

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Distinction in the Marketplace

Create Distinction by Scott McKain

Today, your customers have a lot of options. Too frequently you hear tales of woe caused to small businesses by the "big box stores". The competition is definitely fierce. The marketplace is experiencing what Scott McKain would call a "collapse of distinction".

Scott McKain is a best selling author and an expert on distinction. Recently, I had the pleasure of attending one of his presentations. I thought it very fitting and applicable to our industry. So here are the cliff notes.


Collapse of distinction - what are you up against?

1. Copycat competition

2. More and tougher competition

3. Familiarity breeds complacency

 How can you create distinction and combat competition and complacency? Scott's plan is to use the 4 C's - Clarity, Creativity, Communication, and Customer Experience Focus.

Clarity: "You cannot differentiate what you cannot define."

In order to distinguish yourself, you need to define yourself. As a company, get specific about what you are but also what you are not. What makes you different, better?

Scott suggests using a "high concept" that encompasses who/what you are. For example, Hollywood uses high concepts to promote movies - Snakes On A Plane or Speed used "a bomb on a bus". Your high concept should be powerful, compelling, brutally brief, and congruent. Once you have your high concept, it should be incorporated into everything you do!

Creativity: "Creativity without clarity is void of devoid of distinction."

Find a creative way to do something different. Define every point of contact you have with your customers and prospects. Choose one specific area where you can be unique from your competition. Now develop a creative approach.

Enterprise car rental is one example Scott used. What do they do that is unique? They pick you up.


Communication via narrative resonates more with today's audience more than facts. Tell a story!

Customer Experience Focus:

Yes, the transaction with your customer is important. But what kind of experience is your customer having? Scott's advice is to ask yourself, "What if everything went exactly right?" What would that look like? What are the roadblocks? Clear those roadblocks and make it happen!

For more information on Scott McKain or to purchase his book, visit his website
Caitlin Hupp, Sales Representative, Loma Vista Nursery