Bulbs for India/ mom n pop / specialists

Diana Chapman rarebulbs@cox.net
Mon, 04 Dec 2006 09:48:21 PST
Dear Jim and all:

> So here's my thoughts... why aren't there more new mom-n-pop
> nurseries that sell specialty plants really well?

My feelings are that people only buy those plants they are familiar with.
The know daffodils, don't know Stenomesson.  And, most South American bulbs
are not that hardy, so need greenhouse conditions in most of the US.  When
there is an article in a major publication like Horticulture on something
special, like Lycoris, there is a sudden upsurge in orders for small
nurseries like mine, but it is never sustained.  I can sell a lot of
something special one year, and not one bulb the next.

>I think there is a
> demand for species Hippeastrum, but why isn't there a nursery devoted
> to these?

People are conditioned to like the very showy and often gaudy hybrids, plus,
again, you would be competing with the Dutch.  They could easily grow and
sell species if the market existed for them.  Almost all the species Hipps.
I sell go into breeding programs.

> what about the South American bulbs? Isn't there a site in S. CA
> suited to growing a variety of sp well?

Well, yes, if you can pay $200,000 an acre for land in Southern California.
Then, you have to educate the public.

> I am inclined to say the basic reason is greed - too much
> work and not enough profit.

Hey, wait a minute!!!!  Land where I live in California costs about $100,000
an acre.  This is not subdividable land, but strictly agricultural.  You
figure it out.  How can you buy land in a suitable climate like California,
then borrow to provide the infrastructure, then make enough to live on?  Too
much work plus not enough profit does NOT equal greed, it equals bankruptcy.

I think if anyone did a study on small nurseries they would find several
interesting things.  One is that they are very often second careers, and are
funded by money made in the first career, often professional (true of me,
and, it seems of Ellen Hornig), or the owners have other jobs.  They are
often started later in life, when financial obligations are less.  They
often would not make it as a viable business if the owner(s) needed to raise
a family and pay a mortgage on the profits.  They are not exactly hobbies,
but often started as such.  The old mom-and-pop model of yesteryear grew out
of a completely different economic system, where competition with big
enterprises didn't really exist and land and labor was cheap.

We've seen a big increase in small specialty nurseries in the past two
decades, and I hope this is the wave of the future, but land prices and
competition from big enterprises both here and overseas is putting a real
dent in this.

Telos Rare Bulbs

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