Ko Klaver and Melanie Byrne on the GardenChoice network

The importance of helping independent breeders introduce new plant varieties

“When talking together we realized that we were all frustrated about the fact that a lot of creativity was lost concerning new introductions,” says Ko Klaver, Co-Founder of GardenChoice™, about the initiation of the network. “The idea for setting up GardenChoice came about when four horticultural companies met during the California Spring Trials of 2015. According to us, a big part of the issue is that many independent breeders did not have the opportunity to bring their product to the market in an independent way.”

Ko Klaver

Helping independent breeders
Klaver explains that several of the big breeding companies were focusing on in-house breeding lines, whereas they found that the real creativity is found with the creations from independent breeders. Yet, small, independent breeders oftentimes do not have the same opportunities that big companies do, concerning important aspects such as properly cleaning the plants, licensing, and marketing and distribution logistics. “Therefore, we decided to create the GardenChoice network, providing an alternative pathway for the independent breeder community to introduce their products. That way, breeders can focus on what they do best; breeding. GardenChoice takes care of the rest, such as protecting the proprietary segments and creating the logistical environment for their product.”

How does GardenChoice work?
The GardenChoice network is an alliance of four horticultural companies, namely Eason Horticultural Resources (EHR), Botanical Trading Company (BTC), Pioneer Gardens (PG) and GardenGenetics (G2). Independent breeders that join the network will have access to the GardenChoice team’s experience, their labs and farms and their product marketing. “Our mission is to provide a more focused and cost-effective way to introduce new innovative ornamental plant genetics to the North American market. We utilize an intelligent, extremely selective plant introduction process and work to ensure a higher level of finished product quality and fulfillment from the plant breeder to the end grower. As a collaborative network, GardenChoice is organized to help the breeder take the very best of their new plant developments to market.”

Melanie Byrne

The cancellation of trials
According to Melanie Byrne, Administrating Executive, one of the biggest challenges since their full launch in 2019, has been the cancellation of the public trials. “Especially in 2020, when many events were cancelled, we had a lot of material prepared to go to trials. Especially as we are mainly dealing with introductions, it is important that people get to see the flowers in person. We can make our flowers look good in photos, but to really get people excited about a new product it is important for them to see its performance at a trial. In addition, it is difficult to bring people into the network when you are not able to meet in person. Therefore, we are glad things are improving and events are slowly returning. Especially next year, we are hoping that everyone is able to see our materials at trials.” 

The Rudbeckia MiniBeckia Flame 

Successful launch
Yet GardenChoice has proven that they have still been able to successfully introduce new varieties. An example is their new Rudbeckia MiniBeckia™ Flame, which made an appearance at Ohio State University. “This variety is from the breeding of Rick Grazzini of Garden Genetics and it is a self-branching Rudbeckia with a compact habit, that will show continuous bloom for 8+ weeks. It has been tremendously successful and has been selling incredibly well. We are exciting to see how well it is going to do at upcoming trials.”

For more information:
GardenChoice Network

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