One of the fun things about being a garden writer is getting some of the behind-the-scenes research and info that the general public may never see. One example is an annual list culled from search requests at http://hort.net. (Tip of the cursor to Chris on the Garden Writers List for collecting these stats.)
This list can provide garden writers and green industry folks with what is "hot" and what is not for the general public. However, I think these stats need to be really examined and gone over carefully before we all jump to some wrong conclusions.
For instance, what does it mean that Pieris japonica topped the listed for plant name searches? It was far and above the number one item with 29562 views. The second most popular item was Cleome hassleriana with 7791 views. Should we be doing a cover feature and whole special issue on Pieris japonica? Why the strong popularity? The count difference is so huge it almost seem like a "fix" or one very obsessive person has made it their home page?
Here are some other fun stats from the list:
Viburnum, hosta, iris, and hydrangea are the top searches in the images gallery. In 2003, roses topped the image search list, but in the last two years the beloved flower fell - though it still hangs on in the top 10. I know what to have our photographers look for more now.
Other top plants for information searches are Magnolias, Japanese Maples, and Dogwoods. Interesting most of the top 20 are small trees or landscape shrubs. Perennials are on the list, but are farther down and seem to be dropping. I could speculate that this is a trend towards shrub gardens now or that folks are just more curious about certain plants now or they are tired of perennials and know all they need to by now. In any case, I'm happy to say that our next issue - March/April 2006 is a theme issue on trees and shrubs. This was set about a year ago and nice to know we are on top of the trends.