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Archive for the ‘2012’ tag

Seeds of the end times

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None of the predictions of the world’s end came true in 2011, and depending on your worldview, 2012 looks pretty good, too.

But, at the end of the year, I can’t help but think of the end times. (Maybe I’ve been watching too much Walking Dead.)

So, here’s a video of Mike Rowe working with the Chicago Botanic Garden’s on its Doomsday Seed Bank project.

Have a happy new year, and, if we’re all still here Jan. 1, I’ll see you in 2012.


December 28th, 2011 at 2:40 pm

2012 landscape and garden trends

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The Garden Media Group has released its predictions for next year.

It’s annual Garden Trends Report outlines what consumers want when they head out to their gardens. It’s a quick read, and something any green industry professional can find useful when planning for the next 12 months.

Some highlights:

  1. Folks in urban settings are looking to garden in new places — balconies, tree lawns and vacant lots.
  2. Local is tantamount. Farmer’s markets, community supported agriculture and buying from the business down the street continue to grow in popularity.
  3. Anything, plants or technology, that can save water is a hit. Not only are people more conscious of their water use, but they are increasingly limited by their local governments on how much they can legally use.
  4. People want their service providers and the brands they buy to support good causes.

There’s plenty more in the full report, which you can download here.

As you continue your plannig for 2012, keep these in mind and think about what your customers want from you.


December 27th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

On old age, treachery and the importance of failure

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Steve Hoogenakker, and originally appeared on his blog (which has the best name of any landscape blog I’ve read).

It was a Friday afternoon in this past November. We were sitting down having pizza in the company War Room.

A young man came in, a new employee on the rise. One of the managers introduced us. He introduced me as “The Big Boss.” People who know me, know I’m uncomfortable with titles, and I don’t think the statement is even important.

In business, titles can sometimes fool the new employees for a time and might scare some others. In both cases, demanding respect of my title will only hinder the efforts of the company and it’s employees. As we were eating the pizza, it got me to thinking. What does this young guy think of me, now that I’m the old guy (51 years old)? Also, what would make him respect me or even listen to what I might have to say? I mean, I was his age once.

Granted I was better looking, more intelligent and knew what real music sounded like, could disco and still believed the Vikings could win the SuperBowl in the 1990s, so surely he would revere every word of advice, right?

When it comes down to experience versus youth, consider one of my favorite beliefs from 1970, Shunryu Suzuki said this: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

It’s an amazing sentence that cuts both ways. Read it again slowly and read between the lines. In it’s simplicity, it is at once advocating youth with it’s many possibilities and also the experts ability to cut through the extra fat of too many possibilities. And it implies warnings for each position as well!

Yes, my youthful counterpart has many ideas. Many ideas I might discount out of hand, using my experience to say why his idea wouldn’t work. Yes, the young man might see things that I have long forgotten. This brings me to my second point. I have forgotten more things about landscaping than this guy has learned. While true, what better opportunity for me to learn what I’ve forgotten than to listen to him?

Being a great leader is very important to your organization, no matter your position. Whether you are the CEO, the Office Manager or a guy with a shovel, leadership starts with you the moment you wake up each morning!

So, why should a new employee listen to someone like me? We’ve determined the title isn’t important. We’ve determined that they might have a different outlook than me, and in some things, even though they don’t disco dance, they may be correct.

I think it boils down to this: “You should respect my ideas, not because of my title and not because of my successes, but because of my failures.” The irony of this statement is that while the older readers are nodding their heads, the younger ones are saying, “What a loser!”

Ask anyone who has worked for me. They will tell you I have made nearly every mistake a leader can make! Not only that, but when it comes to decision making, I’m certain I have repeated more mistakes than my young friend has even had the chance to make. It’s those repeated mistakes that leave their lasting imprint. The scars and the wrinkles were hard earned with each learning experience. These are the events that teach me the choices are few.

At the same time, I have to respect my young associates ideas. Not only do I want to encourage him, I have to work even harder than he at keeping an open mind. After all, his mind is a floodgate of ideas, while mine is a focused “narrow” stream with the emphasis on narrow.

Suzuki also said this: “Our tendency is to be interested in something that is growing in the garden, not in the bare soil itself. But if you want to have a good harvest, the most important thing is to make the soil rich and cultivate it well.”

As green industry professionals, we know this to be true. It’s almost 2012. To grow your business, make the soil rich with the wisdom of some and cultivate the ideas and enthusiasm of youth as the basis for your success!


December 21st, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Weekly round-up

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Here’s some of the best stuff our editors have found on the Internet this week.

7 tips for successful strategic planning

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The team at HighGrove partners sets up for their 2012 planning meetings. Via @JimMcCutcheonHG

Down here at Farmlinks, we’re talking a lot about 2012 plans. In our stories, blog posts and general conversations, we cajole our readers to plan. To think. To set up their entire year during one afternoon.

The L&L team did our 2012 planning this summer, and covered the walls in giant poster-sized paper just like Jim’s team in the photo above.

And while it’s easy to get your team into a room for a meeting, it can be very difficult to make it a productive and profitable exercise. So, here are a few suggestions on how to set up (and follow through on) a successful planning meeting.

First, don’t feel guilty about taking the time to plan. If the next 12 months are important, they’re worth thinking about, right? Second, be excited about this. You’ve got a chance to do some very cool things next year.

1. Go off site.
You’ll think more clearly about big picture stuff when you’re not in your office. Keep your phone and email off so you can focus.

2. Plan to plan.
Before the meeting, give your team some leading questions to think about and prepare for before the meeting. What do they want to accomplish next year? What would they change if they were in charge?

3. Have an agenda (and stick to it).
Keep the discussion focused on the topics at hand. Getting a bunch of creative thinkers in a room and plying them with caffeine can be great … or go terribly off the rails. You’ll end up in the weeds (sorry for the pun) if you’re not careful.

5. Take good notes.
Assign one person to be recorder. Everyone should send their notes to him afterward.

6. Write the plan down.
Use those notes to put together a plan for how you’ll achieve the goals you’ve set. What projects or initiatives are you going to pursue? Who’s in charge? What are the deadlines and objectives for each of them? Put these down in writing and give a copy to everyone on your team. Then, revisit each area at your regular staff meetings to make sure you and the team stay on track.

7. Do something fun.
Part of planning for a successful year means building your team. Go get a couple beers and go golfing or bowling or drive go-karts around. You spend a lot of time with these people, so get to know them.


December 7th, 2011 at 8:33 am

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