Would you drive 100 miles to buy an azalea?

Rhodoland Nurseries Sign

Azaleas are one of my favorite plants.  I currently have close to 15 of them in my Zone 5 garden, including deciduous and evergreen varieties. I purchased the first couple of plants from Home Depot during one of their year end closeout sales.  Got them in the ground before the frost, and crossed my fingers.  They survived the winter, and rewarded me with a massive display of flowers in the spring.  Since then I have been hooked.  Judging from the number of “Azalea” and “Rhododendron” societies across North America, safe to say that I am not the only one who has been seduced by this extraordinary flowering shrub.

More choice is always better

Azaleas are surprisingly diverse in both color and form. Actually, azaleas and rhododendrons both belong to the genus Rhododendron, which comprises more than 800 species and 10,000 varieties. The local Home Depot had 3 or 4 different varieties to choose from.  Probably more than enough choice for most people, but I wanted more thanks to the informative power of the Internet.  Unfortunately, the selection was about the same at all of the other garden centers in the area.

At this point I could have stopped looking, and simply purchased the azaleas that were available locally.  But that is not what happened.  I was an extremely motivated buyer, and I did not mind going to somewhat extraordinary lengths to find what I was looking for – more Azaleas.  Through some Internet research I eventually found a reputable grower near Niagara Falls, Ontario, set up an appointment to visit, and drove the roughly 100 miles to their location.  The trip was well worth the effort.  I met some great people, had lunch at an awesome pub in Niagara-on-the-lake, and oh ya … came home with a bunch of new azaleas.  Mission accomplished.

Gardeners will go the distance

Gardeners looking for specific plants often don’t mind driving a little further, or spending a little more to satisfy their green thumbs, especially if they know that the investment of both time & money will be worth the effort. Growers and retailers that reach out to gardeners beyond their local markets can increase sales, especially if they focus on addressing the unique needs of each potential customer. In other words, few people will drive 100 miles just to go to another garden center, but many people would make the trip to buy that unique azalea they can’t find locally. The Internet and related technologies make it easier, and more profitable than ever for businesses to connect with potential customers well beyond their traditional geographic markets.

Further reading about azaleas  …

  • Great article published by Southern Living Magazine entitled “Azalea Essential Southern Plant”
  • Blog post written by Jim Anderson about “Pruning Rhododendrons for dense growth”

0 Responses to “Would you drive 100 miles to buy an azalea?”

  • No Comments

Leave a Reply