This weekend marks the start of our 25th Anniversary Summer Open House at Plant Delights Nursery. The weather and moisture levels have been incredible this year, the gardens look amazing and the plants lush. I never imagined having this many lushes in the garden at one time. Also I don’t ever remember a time in July when the US Drought Monitor map showed no drought conditions east of the Mississippi River…incredible! If you haven’t been to our Open House in a few years, we hope you will join us and experience the joy of the summer garden for two weekends this July – the 12, 13, 14 and July 19, 20, 21. For details, click here.
We still have a few spaces remaining in the second section of our Propagation Class which will be coming up soon on Saturday, August 17, from 10-4pm. This class will be taught by PDN staff member Aaron Selby, who is in charge of producing all of the plants we sell. You can sign up online here.
Many of you who have attended our past propagation classes have heard us talk about the valuable information in Dr. Norm Deno’s home-published books, “Seed Germination Theory and Practice”, Volumes 1,2, and 3. One of our recent class participants let us know that the USDA now has Dr. Deno’s books available online. You can download the .pdfs here at the usda.gov page.
The American Horticulture Society has recently announced its 2013 awards and congratulations go to our friend, Dr. Paul Capiello of Yew Dell Botanic Gardens in Kentucky, for receiving the LH Bailey Award, given to an individual who has made significant lifetime contributions to at least three fields of horticulture; teaching, research, communications, plant explorations, administration, art, business, or leadership. Dr. Dennis Werner of NC State University received the Luther Burbank Award for extraordinary achievement in the field of plant breeding and our friend, Neil Diboll of Prairie Nursery, won the Paul Ecke Jr. Commercial Award for commitment to the highest standards of excellence in commercial horticulture. Congratulations to these friends!
In another very special award on July 22, the academic scientific organization, American Society of Horticultural Science, will posthumously induct the late Dr. J.C. Raulston into its Hall of Fame. The ASHS Hall of Fame is a distinguished group of individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to horticulture and the greater public good. Well deserved!
In the “you can’t make this up” category this month, comes a new organic gardening book by Gene Logsdon, “Holy Shit – Managing Manure to Save Mankind.” I will admit to not having read it yet, but I’m certainly adding it to my “must read” list…anything with a title like that can’t be missed.
A heads up for gin and tonic drinkers out there to perhaps stock up. It seems that a new fungal blight (Phytophthora austrocedrae) is following in the footsteps of the famed Irish potato blight and threatening junipers in the UK where many of the berries that provide the flavor to gin are sourced. So far, the fungus is limited to the UK, where losses have reached nearly 70% of the crop, but EU producers are very concerned since there are no plant movement restrictions within the EU.
In North Carolina, some sorry SOB stole more than 1,000 venus fly-trap plants from the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden in Wilmington, NC over the Memorial Day weekend. The NC Coastal Land Trust is offering a $1,500 reward to anyone who can help find the thieves, so if you have information about the stolen plants please call the Wilmington NC Police Department at 252-343-3600 or send an anonymous text to CRIMES (274637). The message must start with TIP708.
In case you missed it, the Barrel Monster creator, Joe Carnevale has been outed as the daredevil who posted photos and videos of himself on top of some of Seattle’s tallest buildings, including the Space Needle.
You can see more amazing photos at Joe’s website www.nopromiseofsafety.com or if you have a fear of heights, you’ll find less extreme photos of Joe as he created our Plant Delights Barrel Monster here at the nursery.
Nursery News and Happenin’s
I mentioned a few months ago that one of the country’s most noted wholesalers, Briggs Nursery of Washington state, was in bank-ordered receivership. Well, the good news is that Briggs was just purchased out of receivership for $12 million dollars by one of its competitors, Sidhu Nursery of Canada. Briggs’ CEO, J. Guy, who had been brought in a year earlier to reorganize the nursery, had resigned just prior to the bidding in order to form a private group to launch an unsuccessful bid for Briggs. Sidhu expects the nursery to remain in operation at its current site.
In another not so surprising move, Stacy’s Garden Center of York, South Carolina, has also filed for bankruptcy with a balance sheet showing $5 million in debt. Stacy’s includes 260 acres of production in York County, SC where 16 million plants are produced annually. Since retired naval officer, Louis Stacy, founded the company in 1969, Stacy’s has been known as an annual and perennial supplier to the larger box stores in 24 states. Despite a work force that peaks at 800 people in spring, Stacy’s had fallen on hard financial times in recent years and many of us in the industry were surprised they lasted this long. A contract with Metrolina Greenhouses (the VanWingerden clan) of Huntersville, NC has been signed to buy the assets of Stacy’s pending the approval of the bankruptcy court. Once approved, the operations will go forward under the Metrolina name. Creditors who will get financially screwed to the tune of between $500,000 and $1.5 million include Express Seed of Cleveland, OH, Container Centralen of Winter Garden, FL, Sun Gro Horticulture of Chicago, IL, Bank of the West, Temecula, CA, and Ednie Flower Bulbs of Fredon, NJ.
Last July, I wrote about the financial travails of the 72-year-old Waterloo Gardens in Pennsylvania. Things didn’t look good then and the final nail has been driven in the proverbial coffin as they recently announced the closure of their last garden center location. I can only imagine how tough it is from going from being the toast of the industry a decade ago to the toast, itself, now. Thanks for an incredible run and for being an industry standard for so long.
From across the northern border, more disappointing news as Minter Gardens of Chilliwack, British Columbia is closing due to funding challenges. The world-class Minter Gardens was started by nurseryman, Brian Minter, after he and his wife purchased the 32-acre site in 1977. The gardens opened to the public in 1980 and have been regarded as one of British Columbia’s top public gardens. Minter Gardens was even included in Rae Spencer-Jones’s book, “1001 Gardens You Must See.” The gardens contain various theme areas including a rose garden, children’s garden, fragrance garden, rhododendron garden, fern garden, formal garden, water gardens, and much more.
While Brian’s garden center operations will continue, the gardens, located about 90 minutes from Vancouver, will close on October 14, due primarily to a dramatic drop in attendance from highs of 100,000+ annually before the last five years of recession. If you’ve been looking for a vacation spot, this appears to be your last chance to visit before it closes. You can find out more at www.mintergardens.com
Although it’s not going out of business, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is in a world of financial hurt after the weather didn’t cooperate for this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show. The show usually generates about $1 million in profits, but this year the show fell $1.2 million short…oops. This leaves the PHS scrambling to make up the difference through a series of cost cutting, insurance claim filing, and fund raising measures. PHS blames a botched weather forecast and local media hype of an impending massive winter storm that never fully materialized in Philadelphia for the lowest attendance since 2001. Sorry, but I find it a bit humorous about all this ruckus over an incorrect forecast. Aren’t the words “weather forecast” listed in the Thesaurus as a synonym for “inaccurate”?
In sad news, plantsman Charles Applegate of Ohio’s Kingwood Center passed away at the age of 82, due to complications from recent surgery. When I first visited Kingwood Center, probably three decades ago, it was evident before you even entered the main gardens that there was a plantsman extraordinaire on staff. I was fortunate to meet the master behind the plants, who I would visit several more times over the next few decades when I was in the area. Charles had an incredible passion for both new plants and garden design…two skills that unfortunately rarely mix.
Charles’ design skills had roots in his dual master degrees…one in art and a second in theater. As an actor, he had a feature role in the 1963 movie, “Red Runs the River.” What most people knew Charles for, however, was his work with plants. Charles was a plant breeder, working primarily with daylilies but dabbling in other genera. He introduced over 45 daylilies; Hemerocallis ‘Blessing’ and ‘Guile’ are his most famous. In addition, two of his most recognized annual introductions were Coleus ‘Kingwood Torch’ and Talinum ‘Kingwood Gold’. Charles was passionate about keeping great plants in cultivation even if they had been dropped by commercial horticulture in favor of the latest and greatest.
In his 48 years at Kingwood, most as Senior Gardener (he refused promotions to administration), Charles made a huge impact on everyone he met personally and also on those who only saw his handiwork. Charles is survived by his wife, Linda, and sons Johnathan and Seth. Great job, my friend.
We lost another amazing plantsman on May 30, when University of Arkansas professor and plant breeder, Jon Lindstrom, passed away from melanoma skin cancer at the untimely age of 54. As a plant breeder, Jon always took the road less traveled, creating a number of revolutionary hybrids like Buddleia ‘Orange Scepter’ and Sinningia ‘Arkansas Belle’, which he allowed us to introduce. Jon also developed bigeneric hybrids of sinningia x paliavana as well as tri-generic hybrids between agave, manfreda, and polianthes (tuberose). A PDN salute for a job well done and a life cut far too short. Memorial contributions may be made to “The Jon Lindstrom Scholarship” in care of the Department of Horticulture, 316 Plant Sciences Bldg, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701.
Until next month…happy gardening.
And a footnote to your story about the Pennsylvania Hort Society’s woes was the subsequent elimination of 22 full and part time positions…very unfortunate.