The power of the media

A week or so back, we sold out of that rather prehistoric looking and sounding architectural plant Tetrapanax Rex. Within around a mere 12 hours. And we now have quite a waiting list of customers eager for a plant from the next batch. And the reason? BBC Gardeners’ World. All it took was for a fine specimen of said plant to feature for a few moments in a sequence on a visit to a subtropical garden and the itchy fingers of the gardening public hit the keypads on their mobile phones to google (other search engines are available) where they might obtain one of their own. At 8.49 precisely on that Friday evening the fingers started tapping in ‘Tetrapanax Rex’ and by noon Saturday we had no more left in stock. Sunday? Well, Sunday Rob spent packing up T Rex after T Rex. And, just to rub it in, analysis of the google search terms used to reach our website over the past month revealed that 6 of the top 10 phrases were T Rex-related. Not to mention several more variants just outside that top 10.

TETRAPANAX REX

TETRAPANAX REX

It just goes to show how powerful and suggestive a medium such as television is. Another example is the occasion last year when a BBC preview of one of the RHS shows (how many do they need?) ran a feature on a specialist penstemon nursery, at the end of which the owner was asked which plant on her display was most popular with the public. Her answer? Penstemon Dark Towers. Almost immediately Rob’s phone, perched on the arm of his chair, started emitting regular buzzes as the orders started to flood in.

But it’s not just television that can have such a profound influence on the shopping habits of the UK’s gardeners. The written word still counts for something too. A couple of years back we noticed that sales of Anisodontea El Royo, always popular and a consistent seller, had gone into overdrive. We had no clue as to why this should be until we eventually asked one of the buyers, who revealed that it had been mentioned in article in Gardening Which? by Bob Brown, who named it as his favourite shrub. We were listed as suppliers, indeed, the only supplier. Sell out time once again.

ANISODONTEA EL ROYO

ANISODONTEA EL ROYO

Final example. Some years back, on the first day of a country show we were slightly bemused when all the Thalictrum Delavayi and Rochebruneanum we had on display were snapped up in double quick time. When one of the snappers-up revealed that thalictrum had been the subject of attention on the previous evening’s - yes, you guessed it - Gardeners’ World, we knew to bring as many as we could the next day. We did, and we sold them every one.

So over the years we have learned that it pays to keep an eye on what’s been mentioned this week by the great man, Monty Don, or in the latest edition one of the gardening magazines. And, even if we don’t have time to do the research, traffic on our website will soon tell us what’s flavour of the month.

Rob & Joanna

Rob CourtneyComment