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Analysis of the sales and use of landscape plants in British Columbia, 1967-68. Morris, Doris Magdalene

Abstract

In this study, plant sales records for a 12-month period ending in 1968 from five British Columbia Lower Mainland nurseries were compiled for analysis of quantities sold of each species, their cash value and nursery size, and the types of customers to whom plants were sold. Landscape projects designed by three Vanouver landscape architects over a two-year period, 1967 - 1968, were studied to learn how plants were being used, and what quantities and species were required for 10 types of landscape situations and six geographic locations. Plants were listed according to quantities sold or specified to show species which were being used in large amounts. Computerized methods of data collecting were employed to test methods of conducting a continuing inventory of plant material requirements and supplies. Sales data from five nurseries were compared to British Columbia Department of Agriculture totals for a similar period of time 1966-1967. On the basis of acreage, the sample was estimated to be 37.8% of the total nursery production for Lower Mainland British Columbia. The projected sample data were comparable to government figures in most plant catagories except for estimates of total sales of roses, rhododendrons and azaleas. This suggests that nurseries specializing in roses, or rhododendrons and azaleas sell a large proportion of these plants. Plants were shipped from the nurseries studied to many types of customers. In the sample it was found that 58.9% of the value of sales were made to purchasers within the immediate area. Shipments to the Prairie Provinces constituted the largest percentage of the value of plants sold outside the Lower Mainland, 13.6% of total value. Large growers within the Lower Mainland purchased a larger proportion of plants sold than any other type of customer, 17.9% of total value. This figure shows the extent of specialization and interdependence of the industry. It also indicates that survey figures based on nursery sales do not give a true estimate of production, as perhaps 20% to 25% of the value of sales represent plants traded within the industry two or more times. Retailers, landscape contractors and large growers in the sample purchased plant material of nearly equal value. The garden centre type of operation appeared to be the major retail outlet purchasing nursery plants from growers, rather than the chain or department store. Distribution figures determined in this survey, however, can only be a small indication of the total picture, since the nurseries tend to be a highly variable group. Data collected from landscape architects' planting plans was analysed in a number of ways: First, plant species were ranked in order of quantities used over a two-year period. Second, the quantities of plants specified for 10 types of landscape projects and for six geographic locations were listed, and the average number of plants used for each type of landscape development was calculated. Third, The frequency of use of various plant species and cultivars was examined. Plants used frequently by three landscape architects were listed, and also plants used by two of the three designers, or by only one designer. It is apparent that the landscape architects made frequent use of a comparatively short list of plants, and that a few species were specified in large quantities for mass-planting effects. Broadleaved evergreens and ground covers were the two plant categories favoured by the landscape architects; quantities specified annually made up a large part of the total Lower Mainland production of these plants, 58.7% and 69.1% respectively. In comparison, the quantities of conifers and trees used by landscape architects was very low, only 5.3% and 2.6% of estimated Lower Mainland production. Most of the plants used in great quantities were specified by all three designers studied, although it was shown that one landscape architect alone can create a big demand for a particular plant when he uses a favourite species frequently. Ways were suggested in which growers and landscape architects may cooperate to introduce new types of landscape plants to the short list of frequently-used species.

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