Brian Minter is such a charming and approachable personality to have as a speaker! Add to that an impressive list of accomplishments and experiences. We certainly were honored as well as delighted to have him present at our Club.
Brian’s topic was “What’s New in the European Plant World” and he recently was abroad, mainly in Germany, checking out the latest trends.
Brian introduced us to the Ball Horticultural Company, started in 1905 and currently a world leader in all facets of horticulture. This company is now active on 6 continents and in 18 countries. Brian assured us that this global presence is a huge boon, particularly to smaller horticultural enterprises such as in Canada, because they can collect invaluable information as well as provide access to hitherto unattainable plants and plant products. The “Gardens at Ball” are a 9 acre testing and evaluating center, located in West Chicago, Illinois, USA. https://www.ballhort.com/
Brian stressed that it is impossible to reproduce the huge scale of the European garden market here in Canada. Millions of customers can travel from country to country in a matter of hours in Europe, which is a tremendous incentive for the retailers. For example, one group is “Intratuin” which has 65 branches and serves over 12 million customers. Restaurants, children’s play areas, home accessories, animal supplies, and gift ideas are all part of your “garden shopping experience” when you visit one of their stores. https://www.intratuin.nl/
Brian gave us a wonderful tour of the IPM Essen, which is one of the world’s largest horticultural tradeshows. In January 2019 it hosted about 1,600 exhibitors from 50 countries with over one million square feet of floor space! https://www.ipm-essen.de/world-trade-fair/
You can read about Brian’s visit to this amazing tradeshow in his Vancouver Sun editorial. https://vancouversun.com/homes/gardening/brian-minter-exciting-new-garden-trends-and-products-on-the-horizon
Brian showed us exciting photos of some of the creative and unusual ideas that he saw during his visit. An interesting perspective was appreciating the “beauty of the bulb”. No bulbs are put under the soil! Instead they are fully on display in glass bowls, artfully arranged planters, and even as part of flower arrangements.
The European gardeners are passionate about enriching their displays with carefully added details. There were no restrictions on “appropriate” groupings for presentations… orchids were displayed in combination with hydrangeas and bulbs. Empty spots were decorated with attractive sticks and branches. Plants were surprisingly colored with bright fluorescent dyes.
Amaryllis was a featured bulb with a modern look of colorful wax coatings or bright paint and decorative beads. The newest varieties of Amaryllis are much smaller but with many stems and flowers per bulb. Brazil seems to be a leader in this area.
Design elements were an important part of every display, and every plant was in a beautiful container. Classy and elegant were keynotes, but fanciful and ornate decorations were also common. Even succulents were flocked and sparkled! We had a good laugh at Brian’s acronym “ADOS”… You’ve heard of “ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”; his take on it is “Attention Deficit… Oh! Shiny!”
There were many fabulous new plants on display at the Trade Show that are not currently available here. You can bet that Brian is working hard to bring them in! Many of these originate in Italy, and sadly, for some reason we are not permitted to import from Italy. (The point of origin is key, so you can’t just buy the plant in a different country and export it here.)
There were so many wonderful new advancements to be seen. The latest trend is towards small compact plants with many flowers, berries, or leaves. Species common here were being created in amazing colors and foliage. Foliage planters were a popular alternative to flowers. We saw Ficus in several different colours, Skimmia with so many more berries, and even bright pink pussywillows! Trees sported colorful stems and branches and even fruit trees were pruned with an attractive element. What a host of different shaped Bonsai olive trees we saw! BTW, they are working on winter hardy olive varieties. Ranunculus and roses with green centers have been established by introducing a specific fungus. A lovely new variety of cascading hydrangeas can drape down from the balcony.
We also learned how Robot engineering is becoming a significant contributor to horticulture. We saw photos of a nursery that uses 12 robots to completely automate the task of propagating new plants from cuttings! The prediction is for a billion cuttings a year!
What a great presentation, and to top it off, Brian brought a truckload of different plants for members to purchase! Naturally he gave details on most of them, explaining why he chose to bring those particular items. By making a few switches along the front table, he quickly demonstrated how you can make attractive groupings by considering colour, texture, size, etc. It was a delightful way to finish off our meeting!
You can connect with Brian’s store “Minter Country Garden” via their website https://mintergardening.com/. Sign up for his newsletter or check out his blog or facebook page.
Brian Minter Speaker Bio. (by Shelagh J.)
Note: This is just a “segment” of Brian Minter’s extensive biography!
MINTER, Brian Earl: Horticulturist, Entrepreneur and Businessman
Graduated from the University of BC (Vancouver) in 1969 with a B.A. (Honours English).
Businesses: President and General Manager of Minter Country Garden, an innovative destination garden centre and greenhouse growing operation
– Since 1972 President/Co-Owner with wife Faye of Minter Country Garden Ltd. in Chilliwack, BC
– Syndicated columnist for local newspapers and columnist for BC, national and international garden magazines
– Radio columnist and gardening open-line host with CBC Radio
– Former guest commentator on BBC’s open line garden show in Britain
– International speaker on gardening, tourism and business trends
– Author: ‘Brian Minter’s New Gardening Guide’, June 1998, Canadian non-fiction best seller.
– Writes weekly gardening column for the Vancouver Sun, B.C.’s largest newspaper group
– Spirit of Enterprise Award, from the Rolex Society of Geneva
– Diamond Attraction Award, American Automobile Association
– ‘Kinsmen of the Year’, 1972-73
– ‘Citizen to be Recognized’, shared with wife Faye, given by the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce
– Communication Achievement Award, Toastmasters International Club of Chilliwack
– Recipient of ‘Order of Canada’, 1990
– ‘Freeman of the District of Chilliwack’
– ‘President’s Award’, 1981, presented by Southwest BC Tourism Association
– ‘Small Business Excellence Award’, 1989, presented by BC Provincial Government
– ‘Canadian Horticultural Science Award’, national meeting in Vancouver, 1998
– ‘Honorary Doctorate of Technology’, University College of the Fraser Valley, 2001
– Awarded ‘Fellow’ Designation – Garden Writers Association of America – Top Award 2002
– Awarded ‘Order of Chilliwack’ – the community’s highest honour, 2013
– Received the ‘Rotary International Vocational Leadership Service Award’, 2014
– Perennial Plant Association ‘Award of Merit’ 2014 (The association’s highest honour)
– Garden Writers Association ‘Hall of Fame Award’ 2014 (The association’s highest honour)
– Person of the Year (2015) – Canadian Garden Council
– Minter Endowment Scholarship – Awarded to Top UFV Student for Leadership
– Recipient of the Order of B.C. (2018)