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I •» 26 I sTABy Right: Preserved Juniperus chlnensls 'Kaizuka' and J. procumbens "Green Mound* from Weyerhaeuser offer new shapes for interiors. Below: Weyerhaeuser Co.'s Specialty Plant Business General Manager Steve R. Barger with one of the com pany's preserved plants, Juniperus procumbens 'Green Mound'. Is it live... Or is it Weyerhaeuser? Will Weyerhaeuser's introduction of preserved plants create new opportunities for interior landscapers or will it cut their revenues? By Ross Brown Anew type of plant has piqued industry curiosity in a pre viously unheard of way. These plants not only offer a new look, they also may enable interior landscapers to reduce maintenance on many of their accounts. The new, seemingly alive plants are, of course, the preserved plants recently intro duced by Weyerhaeuser Co., the Ta- Ross Brown is assistant editor of Interior Landscape Industry. Photos by Ross Brown. coma, WA, based conglomerate. The company's recent deep-root ing of itself in the business of pre served plant production has provoked predictions ranging from industry revolution to industry suffering. Steve R. Barger, general manager of Weyerhaeuser's newly created Spe cialty Plant Business, the 10-person operation charged with developing and marketing the preserved plants, believes the new technology will in crease design options, creative oppor tunities and potential business avail able to interior landscapers. Yet even Barger admits that when used exten sively, preserved plants could reduce an interior landscaper's maintenance contracts. Some interior landscapers are wary of a technology that could reduce the need for a service that provides a substantial part of their income. Interior landscapers and oth ers have also expressed concern over the look of the product, its durability and the lack of the "humanizing effect" that live plants provide. But Barger and interior landscap ers who have seen Weyerhaeuser's product maintain that doubts are eliminated when one sees the plants. Indeed, as the accompanying photos indicate, the plants look realistic.

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I

sTAByRight: Preserved Juniperus chlnensls 'Kaizuka' and J.

procumbens "Green Mound* from Weyerhaeuser offernew shapes for interiors.

Below: Weyerhaeuser Co.'s Specialty Plant BusinessGeneral Manager Steve R. Barger with one of the company's preserved plants, Juniperus procumbens 'GreenMound'.

Is it live...

Or is it Weyerhaeuser?Will Weyerhaeuser's introduction of preserved plants create

new opportunities for interior landscapers or will it cut their revenues?

By Ross Brown

Anew type of plant has piquedindustry curiosity in a previously unheard of way.

These plants not only offer a newlook, they also may enable interiorlandscapers to reduce maintenanceon many of their accounts. The new,seemingly alive plants are, of course,the preserved plants recently introduced by Weyerhaeuser Co., theTa-

Ross Brown is assistant editor ofInterior Landscape Industry. Photosby Ross Brown.

coma, WA, based conglomerate.The company's recent deep-root

ing of itself in the business of preserved plantproduction has provokedpredictions ranging from industryrevolution to industry suffering.Steve R. Barger, general managerofWeyerhaeuser's newly created Specialty Plant Business, the 10-personoperation charged with developingand marketing the preserved plants,believes the new technology will increase design options, creative opportunities and potential business available to interior landscapers. Yet evenBarger admits that when used extensively, preserved plants could reduce

an interior landscaper's maintenancecontracts.

Some interior landscapers arewary of a technology that couldreduce the need for a service thatprovides a substantial part of theirincome. Interior landscapers and others have also expressed concern overthe look of the product, its durabilityand the lack of the "humanizingeffect" that live plants provide.

But Barger and interior landscapers who have seen Weyerhaeuser'sproduct maintain that doubts areeliminated when one sees the plants.Indeed, as the accompanying photosindicate, the plants look realistic.

This look is achieved with a patentedprocess being perfected by Weyerhaeuser. It is an internal treatmentthat puts odorless, colorless, nontoxicpreservatives throughout the plant.Weyerhaeuser spent 18 months researching the technology and potential market before buying the process.

The US rights to the technologywere bought from Broadike BV inHolland. As part of the agreementwith Broadike, Weyerhaeuser is prohibited from disclosing how the process works. Additionally, Weyerhaeuser's employees who are workingwith preserved plants must sign confidentiality agreements.

According to Barger, Weyerhaeuser's technological know-howand resources are helpful in workingout the different formulations for"interiorizing" various plants. In addition to the staff at the company'sseparate Specialty Plant Business, 20people at Weyerhaeuser's main facility are also working on preservingplants.

Preservation in Progress

Currently, plants from Tacoma-area growers and Weyerhaeuser'sHines Nursery are being preserved.Barger said the business plans toopen a facility in Oregon to preserveregional deciduous trees. Additionalfacilities around the US are alsoplanned. Although the business doesnot yet have full-scale production, ithas enough stock to sell a few jobs.

"We're constrained by MotherNature," Barger said. Plants have tobe preserved when mature, becausenew growths do not take the interiorizing process.

The company's efforts are concentrated on perfecting the process forplants that have already been successfully preserved. Plants thatWeyerhaeuser has been unable topreserve include: Ficus, Philoden-dron, Schefflera, pothos and mostblooming varieties.

"At this point, foliage plants are abig question mark. We're working onother plants, because the exciting

27

Some of exterior colors and

shapes that can be brought indoorswith the preservation process are:green and red-dyed Feijoa sellowla-na (pineapple guava), left; Myrtuscommunis (myrtle), Eucalyptus gun-nil (elder gum) and Gualtherla shal-Ion (salal), bottom left; and Fagussylvatlca (European beech), below.

part of this technology is it allowsinterior landscapers to put new plantsindoors," Barger said.

"Most interior landscapers calland say: 'Do you do Ficus? Spathi-phyllum?' They go down the list oftraditional foliage plants, which arenot available now. Although they aredisappointed, when they visit us andsee what we do have available, theyget excited about the new possibil-ites. Then they say: 'That would havebeen perfect in....'."

Weyerhaeuser's initial market research indicated that this would bethe response, and each day's letters,phone calls and visits from interiorlandscapers and others buttress thecompany's expectations. Beforestarting the Specialty Plant Business,Weyerhaeuser showed the productand explained the process to interiorlandscapers, architects and landscape architects in major US markets.

Their response, as well as theresponse that Barger has seen sincethe likes of Time magazine, NBC

28

News and National Public Radio didfeatures on the product, have lentcredence to Barger's assertion thatthe plants will revolutionize the interior landscaping industry.

New Options

Barger believes preserved plantswill ultimately increase interior landscapers' business by increasing theiropportunities. The areas in whichpreserved plants will offer new possibilities are design, plant placementand the number of buildings that canhave interior landscapes.

"The product offers interior landscapers a new palette, a new look forinteriors," Barger said. The processallows the colors of outdoor plants tobe brought indoors, including suchplants as Betula pendula (Europeanbirch), Quercus rubra (red oak) and

various types of eucalyptus. Theshapes of outdoor plants, such asjuniper, can also be brought indoors.Additionally, combinations of naturally colored plants and dyed versionsof the plants are available. Eveninterior landscapers who have notseen the product agree that the mostpromising potential is its ability tobrighten their projects.

"In interiors, we're lost for color.Some landscape architects and interior designers would like the color wehaven't been able to provide themwith," said David Korstad, Sedge-field Interior Landscapes, Atlanta,GA, who is former chairman ofInterior Plantscapc Div., AssociatedLandscape Contractors of America.

Don Mastick, Foliage Plant Systems Inc., Pine Brook, NJ, agrees."Preserved plants will offer another

Weyerhaeuser's Dr. Robert Young using an absorption spectrophotometer to analyze the chemical composition of the treatment solutionsused in the preservation process.

Interior Landscape Industry

dimension to our ability to give designers a different look," said Mas-tick, who has seen some of Weyerhaeuser's plants and plans to workwith the company to develop a largepublic display of the product.

According to Barger, preservedplants also offer increased options toarchitects, who will be able to designbuildings without the constraints oflight requirements and irrigation system needs. Not everyone would agreethat this is desirable, however.

"We've been spending a lot of timeconvincing architects to create theproper environment for plants. Ifthey gave up, I'd be disturbed," saidlandscape architect and architect JayGraham, Graham Landscape Architecture, Annapolis, MD.

Graham believes the preservedoutdoor plants will be helpful in transitional zones like foyers, where theexterior meets the interior. This andother new looks offered by preservedplants could generate more businessfor interior landscapers, according toBarger.

Additionally, interior landscaperscan make more money from installations, because specific areas withininterior landscapes and even entirebuildings previously inhospitable toplants can now use the services ofinterior landscapers.

"I think interiorized plants willexpand the interior landscaping market by allowing areas that previouslycouldn't have plants to have them,"Barger said.

"There are situations where liveplants have been a problem. Preserved plants offer a nice alternativeto artificial plants in these situations," Barger said, adding that hethinks end users generally prefer pre-

Juniperus procumbens "Green Mound' in border planters.

Some of the

Weyerhaeuser.colors available from

May 1987

served plants to artifical plants.The minimal maintenance needed

for preserved plants will also increaseinterior landscapers' business, according to Barger. He believes thatpreserved plants will let interior landscapers fulfill the needs of end userswho don't want to pay the maintenance costs of live plants.

"Leading interior landscapers inthe US have recognized that when anend user has requested the option (ofnot having maintenance costs), theinterior landscaper can turn themaway or meet their needs," Bargersaid. And being able to meet theseneeds can increase an interior land-scaper's business, he added.

No More Maintenance?

The effect preserved plants willhave on interior landscapers' maintenance contracts is not universallyagreed upon. How preserved plantsaffect maintenance contracts depends largely on how widespreadthey become. And there isn't evenmuch agreement about how extensive their use will be.

"Preserved plants are going to filla niche, but they are not going todisplace anything," Mastick predicts. "99.98 percent of the plants inthe US will be real." Mastick doesnot believe preserved plants will result in lost maintenance contracts.

Korstad, however, believes thatcustomers are going to be enticed bythe lack of maintenance needed bypreserved plants. Noting that 60-65percent of his company's yearly income is from maintenance, Korstadsaid he does not "see anyway theindustry is not going to suffer."

Barger believes that initially, preserved plants will not affect interiorlandscapers' maintenance contracts,because these materials will be usedin conjunction with live plants. But,in the future and "in situations wherepreserved plants are used extensively,yes, they will reduce maintenance,"Barger said.

Whether or not plants that can lastindefinitely will reduce the demandfor live plant material is anotherquestion that can only be answered

Top: Three different Phoenix canadensis (Canary Island date palm)frond arrangements that Weyerhaeuser offers.

Right: Juniperus chinensis 'Spartan' (Spartan juniper) and Washing-tonia robusta (Mexican fan palm).

30 Interior Landscape Industry

with a prediction of how widespreadtheir use will be.

"They have a place, which is areaswhere live plants will not grow," saidJerry Soowal, East Marsh NurseryInc., Pompano Beach, FL. "They willhave some effect, but they won't putus out of business. Our business willincrease, because the market willincrease."

Herb Koslow, Associated GrowersInc., Delray Beach, FL, believes thatbecause preserved plants don't lookgood when used alone, their use willincrease the demand for foliage.

"They don't look good by themselves, but they look good when they

are used with live plants. They willenable people to put plants wherethey couldn't go before, so they'llincrease business," Koslow said.

Barger also believes that preservedplants are not going to replace livematerials, but they will provide analternative that is preferable to artificial plants because "Mother Nature had a hand in their creation."

"I would be more worried if I wasan artificial plant producer," Bargeradded.

One artificial plant producer isn'tworried. Don Fisher, designer forPerma Plant Inc., Philadelphia, PA,has not seen Weyerhaeuser's product

but carried preserved plants fiveyears ago.

"We got phone calls from customers saying they had dried out and thedyes had drained out," Fisher said.Additionally, Fisher believes preserved plants are too fragile to compete with silk plants. "I see the wayour plants arc thrown around, andpreserved plants could never takethat. They become brittle."

Mastick, who has a PhD in chemistry, also said preserved plants "mayvery well harden as the glycerinvaporizes." (Although Barger wouldnot disclose if Weyerhaeuser's process involves glycerin,other processes

By Ross Brown

"eyerhaeuser is not the' onlycompany to enterirtto the preserved plant business recently.The companies that have recently an

nounced they will be selling preserved plants are:• Foliage Plus, Englewood, GO. Although this plant

and foliage product company has been using its preservation technology for the past eight years, only the last

• has been spent test marketing the product andstudying productions The company's technology is'based on a process bought from its Denver; CO, inven-;tor in 1985.

According to Sam Ritchey, chief operating officer,of Foliage Plusi the process is similar to Weyerhaeuser's and uses glycerin as the base chemical. The technology is different than Weyerhaeuser's, Richey said,in that the roots are removed for processing. (Weyerhaeuser would not reveal the technology of its preservation process nor confirm that the roots are left onplaints when processed.)

Ritchey said the company wili have six speciesavailable midway through this year. The company•Currently has an inventory of oak, aspen; eucalyptusand Uarrow'-ieaf cottonwood. The company will beginheavy production in summer.

Ritchey said he will not be able to discuss marketing-planS.for liiother 30 days; The Company has, however,sold the rights to use the process to preserve nativeJapanese plants to a company in that country for $15million.

• Nature Preserved ofAmerica, San Clemente, CA.

Ross; Brown Is assistant editor of Interior LandscapeIndustry.

preservers:

Who's preserving whatThis company was Formed less than two months ago,but it will soon have immediate shipment of 12 varieties of palms. Shortly after that, the company willoffer deciduous trees and two-week shipment ofsourced material.

The firm's preservation process was developed bycompany partner Per Monie in Sweden* where he hasbeen using the technology for a number of years.According to Dennis Gabrick, vice-president of salesand marketing, the process is totally unique. Gabricksaid the company will be marketing its plants to interior landscapers and commercial contractors. Gabricksaid the company's palm prices will be comparable tolive material and less than silk products.

• Weyerhaeuser Co. Specialty Plant Business, Taco-ma, WA. Weyerhaeuser's current line includes almost70 products, including birch, cedar, cypress, eucalyptus, beech, oak, holly, juniper, pine, pineapple guava,salaK babyVbreath, Hedera helix (English ivy), sta-tice, myrtle, Phoenix canariensis (Canary Islanddatepalm)and Washingtonia robusta (Mexican fan palm).The company's researchdepartment is developing newproducts for preservation, and the product line will beupdated.

The availability Of specificproducts depends On thetime of year and stock available. The business is making proposals and estimates for specific projects forinterior landscapers.

Currently* the company has enough stock on handfor a few jobs. According to General Manager SteveBarger, the plants are "a premium-priced product,"but with reduced maintenance, he believes they arecomparable in cost to living plants.

The business moved into its current productionfacility last July and plans to open more productionfacilities around the US. ^

32

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Interior Landscape Industry

do.)Although Barger admitted pre

served plants won't last in high-traffic areas, they will remain in a natural state indefinitely. The plants preserved eight years ago in Europe stillappear as they did when initially preserved. But it is this statue-like quality that causes many interior landscapers to question whether or notpreserved plants will ever be able toreplace live plants on a large scale.

Too Rigid?

Barbara Helfman, Something Different Interior Plantscaping, Middle-town, OH, said that people wantplants for reasons that preservedplants will never fulfill. These reasons are a desire to have somethingliving in an otherwise static environment. "Preserved and silk plants areas rigid as the officescapc," Helfmansaid.

The abstract appeal of live plantsis often cited as a personal objectionto preserved plants, as well as a reason why preserved plants will notbecome widespread.

Korstad called that appeal the"humanizing" effect of live plants."Most people in general like thehumanizing effect of live plants. Preserved plants have no humanizingeffect. People want to see it bloom ordrop leaves."

Graham agrees that live plantsprovide a bit of "high-touch" in a"high-tech" environment. Additionally, if preserved plants become widespread, plants "will become like astage set. Their value is that they areliving. Like glass, they are fragile,and because of that, they are precious."

Soowal's personal objection to preserved plants also arose from the factthat they arc not alive. "We might aswell get rid of our pets and replacethem with stuffed animals," he said.

These objections to the static nature of preserved plants are not anissue for most people, as long as thematerials are used in conjunctionwith live plants and where live plantscould not survive. This is the role that

Barger and others foresee for them.Barger said that he has only occa

sionally encountered an objection tothe unchanging, statue-like nature ofpreserved plants. "There will be somepeople who feel that way, but otherswill be excited by the fact that theyhave a plant indoors that has notbeen in an office before," Barger

May 1987

said. As for preserved plants notgrowing or dropping leaves, "mostpeople have said this is an advantage,because the plant is not going to outgrow the space."

High Visibility

After hearing about preservedplants, many interior landscapers areunconvinced that they are a realistic-looking alternative to live plants."I'm going to wait and see what theylook like at the trade shows," saidStan Winchester, Living Interiors,San Antonio, TX.

Although the business has receivedthousands of letters and phone callssince production was announced,Barger believes that seeing the product is the only way to overcomeapprehensions about it. To achievethis, the company plans on using preserved plants in quality projects inmajor markets in the US. Bargersaid the business will be working withinterior landscapers on such projectsas the Columbia Center in Seattle,WA, which will feature preservedpalms from Weyerhaeuser.

The plants will also be displayed atindustry trade shows. The companyis currently developing videotapesand brochures on the product andwill have a brand name and logowithin a few months.

In the future, the product will bemarketed to interior landscapers, architects, landscape architects andend users. Barger said any retail salesof products using the technology willbe through mail order catalogs orhigh-end retailers. The products thatwould be marketed to consumerswould be bonsai-type plants and seasonal decorations, items that wouldnot be the primary concern of theSpecialty Plant Business. For now,the business has its hands full handling the Hood of queries that resulted from the initial publicity.

According to Barger, the responsefrom people who have seen the product has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. "The reaction is usually thatthe preserved plants are different,but better, than they expected."

Mastick was impressed with whathe saw. "1 was pleasantly surprised.The process preserves the naturalaspect of the plant. They have a livelook and feel," Mastick said.

Both the quantity and quality ofthe response to preserved plants indicate that, as Barger said, the "product will be around for awhile." &

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