Futuring is always fun. Fortune tellers have been reading tea leaves for many years, hoping to foresee what will happen next. The early years of a new century seem to amplify the excitement and the expectations that wonderful new things loom on the horizon. It seems safe to say that Americans are expecting this country to lead the world into the Age of Technology, as the 21st century has already been dubbed, just as we took the lead in science during the 20th century. The businesses, scientists, educators, practitioners, and customers of the green industry can anticipate further changes in how ornamental horticulture is practiced and presented in the near and distant future. The most high-profile changes will probably result from further advances in computer and telecommunication technology. Faster and easier access to an ever – expanding marketplace will give consumers greater choices. A customer
in Boston may choose to order orchids directly from Hawaii rather than the local flower shop, and get the same quality, price, and prompt delivery. A nursery grower may bypass the local wholesale supplier and order needed supplies directly from their manufacturers. Sales people may spend more time in face-to-face conversations with customers on television monitors than in their offices or shops. Voice commands may soon replace, or at least supplement, drawn plans in the offices of landscape designers and architects. Plant breeders can be expected to respond to increasing environmental concerns with accelerated efforts to produce plants that require less maintenance, less fertilization, less water, and are more resistant to pests and other stress factors. The greater movement of people, plants, and plant products around the world can be expected to bring new pests into regions of the planet that are vulnerable to rapid, invasive damage. That will introduce new challenges for arborists, landscapers, and others.
Consolidations and mergers are already occurring throughout the landscape, lawn care, and arborist industries. At least in the short term, that can be expected to continue and it may widen to include the florist and nursery industries as well. As large regional or national corporate identities are established within the green industry, they mirror what is happening nationally in other industries such as property management. Gaining the advantages of improved purchasing power, higher profile advertising, state-of-the-art technology, and easier access to the centers of power where decisions are made, such companies offer formidable competition to local independent companies that may offer a comparable or even better product or service but cannot get the attention of the decision-makers who may not be local.