Our next 50 years
As we embark on our next fifty years, we want to thank all our customers, suppliers and contract seed growers for making the past fifty years possible.
Jelitto has a loyal family of growers and gardeners around the world - in over 50 countries - large, medium and small businesses; and serious home gardeners, too - who can order directly off the Internet. We appreciate each and every one of you: and whether it is a large or small order sent by mail, phone, fax, or internet; or carved on a stone tablet and delivered on the back of a donkey - each order is special and handled with care. (We have not seen the donkey, but we're ready.)
The vast majority of our orders are still individually packaged prior to shipment. It is a time consuming process, but we have long felt that pre-packaging might compromise quality. Pre-packaged seeds (to allow next day delivery) can often sit too long on the shelf in unsuitable conditions. Our seeds are stored in carefully controlled environments that are ideally suited for each species, keeping them fresh and viable. Seed quality should not be compromised by the extra few days that might be required to process an order.
Our enthusiasm for seeds continues unabated. We are a company of plant people - the crazy type. Most of us work with perennials during the day and go home to play with them in the evening. We look around locally for native species, and occasionally go far afield on plant hunting expeditions that we pretend to call work. Some people never change but we hope you will not hold this character issue against us.
On the other hand, nothing stays the same.
The marketplace has changed tremendously over the last 50 years. Interest in perennials has soared and growers' production efficiencies have been remarkable. Economies ebb and flow. We have survived through good times and slower times.
What's in store for the future?
The Multiple Retailer/Big Box stores have popped-up everywhere. Their quality and range has improved dramatically over the last 10 years, so they now often compete with garden centers and sometimes with specialist nurseries. Pricing, though, has not improved. Plant prices have been assaulted and the market has grown more competitive. Profitability is our industry's Reality Show.
We have all grown a little more efficient as a result. As energy prices have risen, distribution costs have become a key component, and transportation costs need careful scrutiny. In other words, if you are growing on site, and distributing locally or regionally, you may be in a more favorable position compared to those who ship from far away. Just look at locally grown organic produce with their greatly improved variety and quality. Do remember variety: Jelitto has over 3,400 perennial seed items for 2007. Our breeding and introduction pipeline looks better than ever.
Another obvious trend that we have noticed over the last 10 years has been toward producing low-growing perennials that are easier to germinate and produce. No big surprise, there! Shorter plants win out if they have to be trucked a long distance. We often hear that perennials must be short (preferably under 30 cm (15"), or made to look short by pinching or plant growth regulators.
To help our growers meet this demand we have introduced Coreopsis 'Elfin Gold', Penstemon 'Sunburst Ruby' and 'Sunburst Amethyst'; as well as 'Stachys Silky Fleece' and Oenothera 'Yella Fella'. But we do wonder - doesn't anyone want a perennial they can look up to? Are gardens to be stocked only with short plants? Gardeners like statuesque plants! So we think independent producers have added incentive to grow some taller plants and maybe some that have traditionally been more difficult to germinate.
Take a look at Andropogon whatever the name, Heliopsis 'Summer Nights' and Lilium Martagon-Hybr. 'Painted Ladies'. They are not as tall as towering Eupatoriums and Vernonias, but we'd be happy if you ordered these too. After all, gardeners want color, form, and interesting texture in their gardens.
Cold germinators aren't as hard to germinate as you might think. Especially, now, with great concern over heating costs, it makes sense to turn the heat off and sow some cold germinators the natural way during the late autumn into late winter. Klaus Jelitto could tell you stories about how all of his original customers in 1957 had the know-how and market incentive to grow cold germinators. (By the way, Jelitto had a few hundred customers in 1957; today there are many thousands.). They had the expertise, but the old business saying "Time is money" applied then, as it does now. Klaus put his thinking cap on.We began offering JELITTO GOLD NUGGET SEED® in 1994, using a patented technique that Klaus Jelitto developed in the 1970s. The first successful tests in 1978 encouraged further development on harder-to-germinate species that may otherwise require a time-consuming, moist-cold stratification. The JELITTO GOLD NUGGET SEED® process is far from simple, but continuing research allows us to offer an expanded 2007 range of 291 items.
Jelitto Seed Technology ® (JET®) was officially unveiled in 2000, improving mechanical seed sowing and germination properties through extensive preparation. Seeds are either rubbed free of chaff /or Óde-tailedÓ, to produce pure seeds, or heat treated, in the case of all of our Lupins, to help lessen any risk of disease.
Our customers' widely accepted preference for JELITTO GOLD NUGGET SEED® and JET® SEEDS encourages us to further develop these techniques, so you will continue to see advances with Jelitto's seed technology, especially developed for plug and liner producers.
There is a major buzz about seeds again. Interest never waned, but seeds flew under the radar while more emphasis was put on tissue cultured, patented and trademarked plants. These trends have noticeably increased the cost of production. Legal patents and trademarks have their place, but the unscrupulous hide behind bogus cultivar and trademark names. The legal and administrative costs associated with patents and trademarks are another expense. After all, the consumer only wants attractive garden worthy plants that are affordable and grow satisfactorily. If only there were a patent and trademark HellÉ
So, on the occasion of our 50th anniversary, we want to use our imaginations to dream-up the perfect scenario for the next 50 years...:
Local greenhouse growers, nurserymen and garden centers take more control over availability and find that they can produce perennials far cheaper than buying them in.
Not only will it be cheaper, it is bound to be fun. Profit margins will grow and gardens will be full of perennials - short and tall.
Life looks really good!