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time for reflection
Friday, October 3, 1997

every time that I think I have things under control, someone or something pulls the rug out from under me. Each year I reflect on what I've done in the business, the industry as a whole, and think about what level I'll want to take it to next. And this year, I again got sidetracked by something unexpected.

The Problem.
An Ohio State University student, who has followed the development of my Website, emailed me and asked a number of questions for a research project called The Future Of The Horticulture Industry: What Lies Ahead?. That simple act caused me to think about what was, is and will be happening in this horticulture industry in the next ten years. After trying to answer his questions, I knew I didn't have any of the answers he was looking for. He wanted insights into the future; I could only give my considered opinions. I know what the problems are; having the ready-made solution is quite another matter.
I haven't thought much about the whole scenario lately; I've just been too busy with Fall and getting ready for next Spring.
But I've said it before: this industry is still in the 18th century, as the rest of the world prepares to enter the 21st century. Methods, attitudes and approaches are archaic and arcane, at best; unswhacked people abound and with no training, do considerable damage to customers landscapes, giving the industry a bad name; ill-considered deals are given all year long, cheapening the overall perception of the industry; people who are unqualified and shouldn't be selling plants, are; medieval practices still are used to butcher trees and landscapes; roadside vendor scum abound, further denigrating the industry and its products.
It's no wonder I rail against these cretins who inhabit our industry on a part-time basis; they damage everything they touch and hurt the future of our business. They've given the business a bad name through their shoddy and substandard work. Yet millions of consumers those addicted to cheap price and low quality use them on a daily basis, so the market for junk is alive and well. That hurts those of us who strive for quality in everything we do. We try to raise the bar, but the price-oriented scum keep lowering the level of the playing field.
The consumer will never, with one authoritative voice demand quality above all else; there will always be a huge segment who wants, accepts and demands deals, cheap prices and junk. They accept low quality, willingly, in lieu of a low price. As long as that segment is an active participant in the purchasing process, quality and price will be a split personality. This schizophrenic segment of the market will need to be catered to by the mass merchandisers and other purveyors of trash. It seems to be part of human nature to want deals and to be able to buy cheap stuff. Thank god for the junk operations like KMart etc, so that I don't have to deal with those kind of people at my place.
What to do is both the problem, and the question.
My solution is manifold: draft and pass quality standards which must be adhered to in order to get and hold a nursery license; beef up the State Departments of Agriculture liberal lackey inspectors who do nothing to regulate and enforce quality standards; require training, testing and licensing for those entering the business and those already there, and most important, get the pick-up truck buffoons off the streets and out of the business.
In the ideal world, this industry should not have a lower level to which incompetents and lowlifes can retreat to and hide in. Unfortunately, nothing is ideal and seldom works the way it should. Reality has a way of altering idealism.

The Future.
In a word, it's grim. Unless something positive and forceful is done, I don't see a rosy picture ahead for this industry if it keeps the current direction it's taken since the 60s. I see it faltering, being consolidated and bought out by giant agri-business concerns and foreign interests, and eventually the governments will have to step in, police and regulate on a mandatory basis. Much like what's happened to the airlines, cable TV, banking and other industries, who've lost control of their loose ends over the years and who aren't self-policing. Remember, as an industry, we're light years behind everyone else. And self-policing usually doesn't work after a specific point in the development process.
Voluntary internal regulation is always better than involuntary, mandatory external regulation. Government always f*cks up whatever it touches. That's a truism which rings clear; a given with a solid track history.
It's quite clear now that unless the states do regulate the horticulture industry, the US Federal Government will have to step in and things will get messy. I hate government interference in our lives, but the state agricultural associations are so impotent, weak and fragmented, that there will soon be no alternative.
It's happening this week with the DOJ filing suit against Microsoft. The free market is being tampered with and that's wrong. Any government interference is deadly and always wrong. They're the largest group of incompetents ever assembled.
The horticulture industry is weak and floundering; there is no clear leader or group of leading companies who have enough chutzpah to chart a sound course. The hi-tech industry have their Microsofts, Netscapes and Intels; the chemicals have their Allieds, DuPonts, Dows; the financials have their leaders and so on, but no clear cadre of qualified leaders has emerged to chart a sound course for the hort industry. It's a ship adrift in an ocean fraught with peril from offshore interests and shoddy internal practices.
As a result of the industry's crippling weakness, the past ten years have seen huge agri-business operations merging and overrunning many other competitors; that trend will intensify in the next century. After 25 years, there will be two or three major players in the field, instead of the dozens we now have. Mass merchandiser scum will put thousands of mom and pop operations out of business, as they have already done. No one can compete with that kind of buying power, which yields retail prices so low that everything is debased and devalued.
In sum, the only way to survive is to niche market; that is, specialize in areas which no one else can compete. I don't sell that junk that KMart or Wall Mart sell, because I can't make the quantity buys they can nationwide and return such low retail prices. The quality of goods they provide is substandard. The perceived value is accurate: cheap junk. But so many people nationwide are addicted to deals that they have a ready-made market. The one area that they can never compete with me in is quality. I own that market position in my customer's minds.

Cactus Collection For Sale.
A good friend of mine who lives near the Garden Center is offering several portions of his 25-30year old specimen Cactus-Succulent Collection for sale.
These are some of the most awesome specimens grown anywhere in the USA, perhaps the world. I've already bought 90+ units for exhibition and possible sale at my place. And there are many, many more specimens available.
If you are a collector, or know someone who is, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own some of the very finest specimen grade Cactus and Succulents available from a private collection.
Send me a note if you're interested; all units can be viewed and purchased in his greenhouse, in nearby Felton, PA, and must be picked up at the site of the collection. I'll provide full details upon request.

Weather Watch.
By now, it's doom and gloom everywhere about El Nino. Frankly, I don't give a flying shit. Whatever happens, happens. There isn't a damned thing any of us can do about it.
I visit the NASA, NOAA and other weather-related websites on a daily basis to see what the long-range predictions are: since my business is weather-driven, it makes sense to listen to what the so-called experts are saying. The problem is that they're all tongue-tied and stupefied at El shit-For-Brains various and unknown possibilities. I'm not; I realize that I'm powerless to do anything, so it's something that doesn't concern me anymore. I was very concerned with the Summer drought, but that too, is something I can't change. There's no sense in worrying over something that you have no control over. Wasted effort = lost energy .
I am, however, concerned about getting leftover nursery stock put away for the Winter hibernation before massive ice and snow storms hit us, if they indeed do this year. And I'm concerned about finishing up as many contracted landscape and tree installation jobs as we comfortably can, before shutting down for the Winter. I want to keep the crews working as long as possible; that's to our customers and our combined benefit. Fall is the best time to install large plant material, especially trees.
The only way we'll really know what El shit-For-Brains has in store for us, is to discuss it in the Spring, after it's all over. Then we'll know for sure.

The Clinton-Gore Whores.
Anyone with $50,000 can now buy the filthy, subhuman criminal Clinton and Gore scumbags for a weekend retreat, with all proceeds benefitting the Democratic National Committee. It's amazing what money can buy these days. I can just see all the criminals hitting the ATM machines and stuffing brown paper bags with cash for a weekend with Slick Willie The Bubba and Idiot Al-Gore. Drug dealers, embezzlers and other typical liberals are lined up all over the US to get their 15 minutes of fame with the DNCs head personnel.
It seems the DNC is in at least a $13million debt situaiton from having to return so many illegal contributions in the 96 re-relection effort. Such blatant whorism should be illegal, just the way prostitution is. The Ethics Police should bust the gathering of liberal scum and jail the bastards.
It turns my stomach and that takes some doing to see this kind of obscene behavior going on. Selling whatever they can for the almighty dollar. Why don't they just declare bankruptcy, reorganize and restart the organization, instead of whoring? Or have a bake sale to raise the cash? Hitlery could bake muffins and chocolate chip cookies.
It shows that liberals and democrats have no morals, ethics or conscience when it comes to politics or money. They're in the same league as prostitutes, drug dealers and various other criminals.

Website Transfer.
I'm turning over Blue Sterling's new website to Jim Smith, the owner and resident dwarf conifer expert. He'd commissioned me to work on the site over six weeks ago, and it's ready to rock 'n roll on it's own server.
The new domain name will be www.bluesterling.com and is up-and-running right now. It's a very nice little site that Jim and his lovely wife, Barb, can add to over the years as their fame and fortune spread on the Net.
I spent just over 49 hours putting it together, with all the PhotoShop and HTML that was required, and I enjoyed it immensely. I'm not fast, but I am good. And that's probably why I don't do this stuff for a living. It's very gratifying to take nothing and make something from it. Kind of a god complex? Nah.

Liberal Repository.
Here's one of the largest groups of liberal scum writers trying real hard to influence American policy with their whining and bleating bullshit lies that I've ever come across. Pathetic scumbags, all. The socialist-communist spew is sickening in its intensity, since it's propaganda and lies.
It's both humorous and sad to read their collective takes on FDRs socialistic and communistic programs as it relates to Democracy; how can they even use those three words in the same sentence? They're diametrically opposed in every way. A grim spectacle of neo-nazi politics.
The Founding Fathers of The Constitution would be outraged if they were around to read this filthy shit. It's amazing that these communists and socialists wrap themselves in the American flag as they do, and always get away with it. They're ruined whole population segments blacks, hispanics and other minorities by keeping so-called social programs at the forefront and taking away all personal responsibility of the individual for him- or herself. It's everyone's duty to point out these fascist bastards wherever they surface.
Let's put some LSD in their next collective Smoothie and mellow the scum out. That probably wouldn't work, anyway. They're like that for life. Actually, that's not completely true: some can rehabilitate themselves.

Back To John's Journal.