It has been a year since the Federal Election and little has changed. We still have a parliament that struggles to get legislation through and a Federal Budget that is running at a real deficit which just adds to our taxes. The US has had their election late last year and ended up with a mess. So far Trump hasn’t blown up the world and has done some of what he promised but not a lot. He has put the media on notice with his complete disdain for the established protocols. Not a bad thing.
The more things change the more they stay the same. The news media runs on and on with headlines about expense rorts, budget changes, political gaffs and a million other items of important news. The debate on the citizenship of two Senators who have been in office for many years really is a waste time and energy. Yes they can hand in their passports but will that make any real difference to their politics and decision making. Also in many countries if you are born there you will always have a right to claim citizenship so handing back the passports is pointless.
Last week I was speaking to our computer technician and he commented that he never reads, watches or listens to the news. He felt that most of the time it was irrelevant to him and to those in his community. He also feels that if it is important enough he will hear about it from friends and family. His idea is that his time is far better spent listening to music or learning about things important to him and his business. I suspect that he is not alone.
On the other hand as news and current affairs are dropping in popularity gardening, food and lifestyle programs are gaining. This is great for our sector and for the greater community. The growing love of food, food types and growing food has been a big plus for the nurseries. It has given us all something positive to talk about. I watched the final of Masterchef the other night and enjoyed every minute. Over the series I have watched (and learned) as the various contestants learn more and more about food, flavour and health.
Through our Renaissance Brand we have some contact with the producers when they are looking for rare, unusual and new herbs. This is good for us when one of our unusual plants are used but it is also good for retail garden centres as the viewers see these new herbs. They know that the show is done here in Melbourne and will assume that these plants are available around Australia. Whilst in the nursery and looking for these plants it is a great chance for the staff to on sell other edibles and edimentals (ornamentals that are also edible).
Even the Block now focuses some time on garden design and plant selection. There is room for improvement in the choice and use of plants but it is a start. So many ads now have gardens and nurseries as key parts of the visual effects and set design. It recognises the importance of plants in our lives. The garden is moving into the house and the house into the garden. All great stuff that will help develop our industry.
The other key issue for us as an industry is bringing in the young (<20) people as these are our future customers, employees and industry leaders. Their lives are so full with sport, computers and television that it can be hard to generate an interest in the garden. We need to make it sexy and fun. We need to get into the schools in a similar way as Stephanie Alexander has done with food. The School’s Garden Awards have been a great way of getting kids into plants. We could probably do with some more programs and direct contact with the teachers and students in our local schools.
It has been a very cold winter here in the Yarra Valley. Probably the coldest in ten years, which has meant a reduction of people in the garden. This has brought about slow sales after a fairly flat autumn. However it also means a good break in the growing cycle of many common nursery bugs. A cold winter and hot summer every so often does wonders for reducing the bugs in spring and autumn. We are moving into the longer days with a bit more sun. Spring is just around the corner and everyone seems just a little happier. Footy finals are also nearly here. Looks like a close year for the AFL and betting is wide open for the Grand Final!