Happy New Year and let’s hope for a good, busy and safe 2016. It is always a bit odd writing these comments as the world can change a lot in the two weeks from my writing to your reading. Today is the Monday before Christmas and we are all thinking about Santa and a Christmas day of family, fine food, friend s and just enjoying being alive. It is our favourite time of year and this year we have the extended family down for a big lunch and some party time.
Sales have slowed down in the run up to Christmas but production is on the up. This period is one of the busiest for us in propagation as all the lavender are in perfect position for propagating and so are most of the Salvia and Penstemon. The lavender window is relatively short and it is critical that we get as many down now as possible. This needs all staff at work which is hard as so many want extra time off to get ready for the Christmas break. So like so often we need to find a balance between work and home – for us and our staff.
I have spent two Christmases in USA and three in UK and they are not quite the same. Yes there is lots of Yuletide cheer and everyone enjoys the pleasure of giving and receiving presents but in both countries the actual break is only a few days. Their big holidays are in mid year – their summer- so the country doesn’t grind to a halt. Whereas here the Christmas spirit rolls into the New Year festivities then into the holiday stupor. Several weeks of no work, no alarm clocks and just good times to enjoy what we have. The whole period is a great way to end one year and start the next.
2016 is looking to be a good year from most indicators. Employment is up, interest rates are still low and the US economy has started on an upward trend. Plants and gardening are still popular with the older generation and are becoming more so with the key 25 to 45 year olds. Also there is a lot of large scale construction underway in most of the major cities and there is still a shortage of supply in may areas of good housing. So whilst we are all enjoying this well earned down time it is appropriate to contemplate our production and marketing plans for the year.
The industry is quite buoyant after another busy spring with some stock shortages. What makes this even better is that it follows a busy autumn after a good spring in 2014. Greenlife is selling well with the full range of plants being used in modern gardens. People want to be different and they want to k now more about the plants they are growing. They are interested! The younger gardeners are hungry for knowledge are keen to k now the story behind the plant.
The only dark cloud on the horizon is the weather and the resultant movements in water stocks, bushfires and summer storms. Here in Victoria we are on high fire alert – probably the highest since the 2009 fires. SA has already had some bad fires and we have had a couple in the past week – one was only a few kilometres from our two nurseries. Most of the southern states are well aware of the water situation. Many catchments are already showing signs of low availability of both surface and underground water. For the nurseries this is a management issue in trying to keep plants healthy and growing using lower amounts of water. The fear is when the media starts talking water restriction and how that can scare the public into not buying plants.
Whilst we are often talking drought and fire I seem to remember many a year when the northern states were under siege from floods and cyclones. We are a big country and being a plant grower is never an easy or predictable business. Like most rural professions we can go from too cold to too wet to too dry to too hot in a matter of weeks. A sudden down pour or hail storm can destroy a year’s income or even a whole nursery. A bush fire can stop a community from buying plants. However I doubt there are many folk who would change their profession for a desk job in the city.
2015 has been a good year for Larkman Nurseries with an increase in production and sales and for this we thank all our customers and look forward to another successful year. From all of our family we wish you a happy New Year and hope that 2016 will be good to you and your families.