"The one thing that unites us, is our love for plants. As long as that passion keeps binding us, this beautiful industry will remain strong."

With these words, Anna Ball addressed the Fleuroselect delegation at the Ball Horticultural Company in West-Chicago during the Organisation's Annual Member Convention that took place from 13 - 15 July. No less than 113 persons representing 42 companies from 15 countries made the trip to Chicago to discover the city's horticultural and architectural highlights, to visit the Ball Horticultural Company and to network with colleagues worldwide.

Ball Horticultural Company
The delegation received a company tour, starting at the Ball Premier Lab with its state-of-the-art facilities for pelleting, coating, germination testing and priming, and ending with a visit to the packaging and distribution centre. Afterwards, the delegation visited the magnificent Ball gardens with display beds for annuals and perennials with a wide range of Novelties from the industry's leading breeders, including a full Fleuroselect trial.

A changing retail market
Bill Doeckel, Retail Director of Ball Horticultural Company provided insights on the changing retail market in the U.S. In 2015, the total U.S. floricultural production sales added up to 3,8 billion dollars of which 48% applied to Pot & Bedding Plants. The market is characterised by a 50/50 split in between independent garden centres and chain stores.

Chicago, the bloomy city
Chicago is renown for its beautiful city plantings. During the city tour, the delegation admired the latest results in landscaping in Millennium Park, the extraordinary perennial plantings in the Lurie Gardens and an urban gardening project in Grant Park. Also the plant displays on Michigan Avenue were highly appreciated by the visitors. 

Celex and Shanghai Yuanyi Seedling join Membership
During its Annual General Meeting, the Fleuroselect membership has accepted Celex and Shanghai Yuanyi Seedling as new members. The Dutch Celex is an independent company specialised in the breeding and selection of Celosia cut flowers as well as pot and garden plants. Shanghai Yuanyi Seedling Co. is the largest horticultural enterprise which initially worked with plug seedling production in China. The main products of the company are bedding plant seedlings, which include annual and perennial flowers, hanging plants, potted plants, vegetative plants, ornamental vegetables and fruits and mosaiculture materials.

Honorary Membership for Cees van Diepen and Josef Clodius
Fleuroselect awards an Honorary Membership to individuals who have given outstanding service to the Organisation. During the Gala Dinner in Chicago, the organisation recognised two great retired seedsmen Cees van Diepen and Josef Clodius. Cees van Diepen was honoured for his participation on the Board of Directors, his Presidency from 1997 to 1999 and his membership of technical committees over a period of 22 years. Under his ownership Kieft Seeds was a major contributor to Fleuroselect through the many varieties entered for trialling, the very best receiving a Fleuroselect Gold Medal for excellence in breeding. Josef Clodius (Syngenta) was meanwhile honoured for his contribution to Fleuroselect via his participation on the Board of Directors and as Special Advisor. He has been a driving force behind the modernisation of Fleuroselect in his continuing role as industry ambassador on behalf of the organisation. He was also recognised for setting up the Young Plant Conference and running the Market Survey.