From the greenhouses of Cottage Farms to the sets at QVC, we thought you might enjoy a glimpse at what goes on behind the scenes.
You turn on the television, put the channel to QVC, sit back and enjoy the show (maybe picking up the phone from time-to-time to place an order or chat with the hosts). Have you ever wondered what goes into getting things ready for the show you're watching?
The process starts months before the first show of the season and goes on nearly all year. I'd have to write a book to cover every aspect of what goes into it. However, we can easily hit on some of the highlights here and I think everything will fit just fine on this page.
For this article we'll simply follow a collection of plants to see what goes into getting them to the sets at QVC.
Let's start with the Basket House. That's the special greenhouse we use to collect plants that might be chosen for on-air presentation. The variety of plants to be offered for the season was determined months earlier, first in Cottage Farms meetings and then in conversations with QVC.
As a show approaches, a line-up of the plants to be presented is created. The best plants that match the list are collected from across the nursery and gathered in the Basket House. The plants that will actually be on the set are chosen from those plants and flagged with colorful ribbon to mark them as set support.
A production list of the plants that have been chosen is created. That list also includes what shipping samples need to be sent to QVC. We try to have extras of all of our set support in case something doesn't handle the long journey and storage well.
Because plants of all different shapes and sizes are crammed together on the back of a (refrigerated) truck for a long trip, all of the plants are well fed and maintained to insure they remain as healthy as possible.
The truck is loaded—making sure everything is included—and makes its long trek to a greenhouse located near QVC. Once there the plants are unloaded—a final count is made to see if everything arrived safely—and the plants are treated to a little tender loving care. Because they are kept in a dark cool truck for their trip, many of the plants go into a dormant state and need to be gently awakened. They are provided with everything they need, including extra lights to insure they get the proper amount of light even if it's overcast. If all goes well, the plants will be popping with blooms, fruit and foliage when it's time for them to make their debut.
About one or two days prior to a show, the plants that are needed will be loaded onto a truck and sent to QVC. There they are placed onto carts and moved to a holding area. Since the environment in which they are stored is very dry and without sunlight, the storage area is set up with access to water, and lights are put in place to simulate day and night.
At show time it's all hands on deck. The plants are put into decorative pots and watered. They are always watered about one hour before a show and immediately after due to the heat generated from the lights on the set.
Working with the QVC director and producer along with the stagehands and camera operators, the plants are brought to the set and staged for the best effect. We talk with the people from QVC about things like color, contrast and camera placement. We let them know which shots we'd like to see and discuss the images and video we have provided for items being offered in the show. We have to be sure that everything in the show is within arm's reach and ready to go. Because the producer, director, camera operators, the host and Phillip will pretty much be running the show, everyone's input and opinion are welcome.
Phillip helps in setting up and discussions. His expertise in landscape design is not wasted when staging the set. About two hours prior to the show he gets fitted with a microphone and then works with the crew.
Approximately thirty minutes before going on-air, the host joins the discussion to go over details and facts that need to be presented during the show. An exception to this sometimes is Carolyn Gracie. Since Phillip and Carolyn are long-time friends and always in contact with one another, she often knows well in advance what will be covered. Plus Carolyn, in addition to being a skilled gardener, has a good working knowledge of Cottage Farms plants because her mother and she have planted many of them around their homes.
During the show things are constantly moving. As the hosts leave one item to bring you another, plants are rearranged to get that part of the set ready for the following presentation. Any time the camera is not pointed at an area (like while images are being shown or Phillip tells you about our shipping schedule and warranty) is an opportunity to reposition things on the set.
Once the show is finished everything is moved quickly and the area is cleaned (making sure it's cleaner than we found it). There's a short meeting after each show in which Phillip and everyone discuss their likes and dislikes of how the show went and what might be done to improve future shows. All plants and other set support that might be used later in the week are brought back to the holding area at QVC while everything else is returned to the greenhouse. Eventually everything makes it back home.
Of course this was just a very brief look at what goes on behind the scenes to bring you our shows on QVC. We hope you enjoyed it and we look forward to showing you more Cottage Farms in the months to come.
Spring is here and it's time for Cottage Farms Direct to get everything ready to go.
Months before our first show on QVC, hundreds of details were planned out and put into action. Everything from picking the plants that are going to be offered first by the experts at Cottage Farms, later with the professionals at QVC to shipping issues (like how to box the plants and other items we ship or programming the bar code readers to scan packages as they are sent on their way).
All year long we visit nurseries around the country and sometimes around the globe to find the newest and best plants for your garden. While we are traveling, we often carry our camera and camcorder with us to take pictures and video to be used on our shows. On some of our shoots, we set up for live garden shots of our plants, special how-to or promotional videos to be put on our site and
It's a regular practice to go around the nursery with the camera and/or camcorder to find plants that are perfect for a nice nursery shot or close-up. We have some greenhouses that have plants in bloom nearly all year long.
Because many of the plants we offer are new, we often rely on the original growers of the plants to provide us pictures. However, sometimes the plants are so new that we must grow the plants ourselves and then take pictures and video. This usually includes bringing the plants to a nice location to show them in the landscape or setting up an area at our nursery (usually near our main office or customer service building).
It probably should be noted that many of our new plants are grown in a test garden near our customer service building. But we'll share the details of that project with you in another article.
Here's a sample of a new offer being set up on the deck at customer service. Though we already had some pictures of the new plant, we wanted a nice picture of it on a deck in containers. With all hands on the job (and a special thanks to Sherry and Desi who picked out and collected the best plants for the shoot) we raced the sun to get the best possible shots for the QVC screen.
As the new year rolls in, the warehouses are cleared and the long conveyer belts are readied for business. Days before the first shipping date the warehouses are filled with plants, Bud-N-Flower Booster, containers, etc. It's an impressive site to see the plants carefully sorted and packaged as the boxes travel down the conveyer belts to be sealed, labeled and scanned, then gathered for shipping and loaded into large delivery trucks.
This is just a small glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes at Cottage Farms. We'll share more with you in future editions of the Scoop!
As we've shown in previous Scoop articles, we plan and work on all aspects of Cottage Farms all year long—everything from what plants to offer to how they will be packaged (and a very long list of other things we won't bother going through right now). We also work on video and photography all year long. Not only gathering video and images of the plants we'll be selling on-air, but also behind the scenes material to let you see a little of what we do.
We often follow Phillip around with a camera and camcorder when he's visiting test gardens and plant shows to have interesting things to show you. So, when he was at the Cottage Farms nursery this November, we took advantage of his visit. In between his meetings and travels through the nursery, we took pictures of him out in the greenhouses and fields and then had him hook up the microphone to do a quick promotional/how-to video for a special sedum offer being introduced in 2015.
The next time you're watching us on your television or visiting us online, think about the amount of work that went into providing you with the best presentation possible. And then remember that we do it because you deserve the very best we can give you!

Behind The Scenes at Cottage Farms