We were saddened this past week to hear of the passing of our friend, Dr. Larry Mellichamp, age 73, after a three year battle with bile duct cancer. I first met Larry in the late 1970s, when he spoke to our Horticulture Club at NC State. Over the next 45 years, we interacted regularly, mostly during his visits to JLBG.
Knowing that Larry was in the battle of his life, we visited him at his wonderful Charlotte home garden last year (photo below). Even while he was ill, his wit remained razor sharp, and his humor as dry as the Sahara desert.
Not only did Larry teach for 38 years (1976-2014) at UNC-Charlotte, but he also managed the 10-acre UNC Charlotte Botanical Garden, which he turned into a must-see horticultural destination. Larry was a huge advocate of interesting plants, especially US natives. He was constantly dropping off new plants for us to propagate and share with a wider audience.
Larry was best known worldwide for his work with carnivorous plants, particularly with the genus Sarracenia. His “little bug” series, (Sarracenia ‘Lady Bug’, ‘June Bug’, ‘Love Bug’, and ‘Red Bug’, released in 2004, was the first widely marketed collection of pitcher plants, from his breeding work with the late Rob Gardener. In 2021, Larry was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Carnivorous Plant Society…one of many such awards Larry received.
Larry was also a prolific writer. His books include: Practical Botany (1983), The Winter Garden with Peter Loewer (1997), Wildflowers of the Western Great Lakes Region with Wells/Case (1999), Bizarre Botanicals with Paula Gross (2010), Native Plants of the Southeast (2014), and The Southeast Native Plant Primer with Paula Gross (2020).
Larry and I connected on many levels, but we were both strong advocates for making rare native plants available for propagation and commercialization…something that is sadly the exception in the current world of botany. We hope others in the native plant community pick up the torch.
Larry is survived by his wife of 48 years, Audrey, his daughter, Suzanne, and a host of plants he spread throughout the world. Life well lived, my friend.
Memorial donations may be sent to the Foundation of the Carolinas for the “Mellichamp Garden Staff Enrichment Fund”, 220 North Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28202. For bank transfer instructions contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-973-4529. All are invited to share memories and photos of Larry at https://link.inmemori.com/mDPxXH . A public memorial service will be planned for October at the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. Look for an announcement on their website.
Just back from the Perennial Plant Association meeting in Lancaster, PA, held in person for the first time in three years. It was like a family reunion after such a long period of no contact, except via Zoom. Over 450 people from around the world showed up for the first year back.
The Perennial Plant Association is a professional organization for people involved in production, sales, trials, research, landscaping, or growing perennials. The annual meetings consist of a week of talks, tours, and a trade show. There are plenty of tour options, so attendees can select whether they are more interested in landscape design, retail, or production.
Aris Greenleaf is a large liner producer, who also has a trial garden. Sadly, non of the trial plants here had been planted more than a few months.
Cavano’s Nursery in nearby Maryland, was one of several top notch perennial growers we visited.
North Creek Nursery, a leading producer of native plant liners in PA, hosted the group for an amazing dinner
Owner Ed Snodgrass welcomed the group to his Emory Knoll Farms, an “off the grid” nursery that only produces plants for green roofs. 100% of their power is produced by solar panels on site.
For those unfamiliar with green roofs, shingles are replaced with plants, which help insulate the structure, while also reducing runoff.
What interested many on this tour, was their use of an outdoor version of a Stanley Steamer, for weed control. The manufacturer, Weedtechnics is out of Australia, but has a few US distributors.
Steam is applied too kill weeds as you would clean a carpet. The steam only penetrates the ground to 5 mm, but that’s enough to kill both the weed and weed seed, without bothering nearby plants. This is certainly a technology many of us on the tour will be investigating.
We visited the amazing Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware, a place I’ve had the pleasure of visiting several times over the last 30 years. The gardens have undergrown a dramatic facelift that made a great garden even better. It was great to catch the native Zigadenus glaberrimus in full flower by the lower pond.
The amazing Chanticleer Gardens and Longwood Gardens both hosted the group for two incredible dinners and a chance to stroll the grounds. At Chanticleer, we caught the water lotus (Nelumbo) in full flower, looking eerily like something from the Little Shop of Horrors.
Of course, we are all there to see the latest and greatest in new plants, and these gatherings never fail to show us something new we need to try. Below are the latest from the world of echinacea breeding.
Of course, in addition to the plants, these meetings are also about the people and the networking that these meetings afford. It was great to see two former JLBG’ers in attendance, Adrienne and Jon Roethling. Adrienne is now the Director of the Paul Ciener Garden in NC, and Jon heads up the grounds at Reynolda House and Gardens.
It was a lovely surprise to run into an old friend, plantsman Barry Yinger, who was in town, taking a break from his Sanseveria conservation work in Tanzania to visit his sister, and happened to be staying next door to the convention.
It’s always great to catch up with old friends, Nanci Allen (long time PPA director), and Allan Armitage (retired UGA professor). You never know who you’ll run into at these meetings. If you work in the field, check out the PPA, and perhaps we’ll see you at a future symposium.
We have finally closed the book on a tumultuous 2020, as we turn the calendar page to 2021.
Over the past twelve months, it suddenly became not only legal, but required to wear masks in public. So, we quickly learned how to work and shop in a mask, we adapted to contactless pickups, eating restaurant food in our vehicles, zooming, and spending inordinate amounts of time with our same-roof families, and an array of other new normals. Both home and public gardens have risen in importance in people’s lives as most folks have had little choice but to shelter in safe places, and what could be safer than outdoors in the garden. Although COVID vaccinations are underway, we’re still a way from achieving herd immunity, so we expect another season of significant garden immersion.
Whether you like social media or not, we’ve seen a dramatic jump in Facebook participation in a time that pretty much every type of plants has its own worldwide group of enthusiasts. I can’t think of a better way to “find your plant people” than to join like-minded plant friends on-line. Here are just a few of the many plant groups that we follow:
Thank goodness that our gardens seem oblivious to the craziness in the world. So far, winter 2020/2021 at PDN/JLBG has been consistently cool, but without any cold temperature extremes. While plants are getting their required winter chilling hours (under 40 degrees F), we’ve only seen lows of 21F as of mid-January. Hellebore flowers in the garden are beginning to push as we quickly approach our first Winter Open Nursery & Garden Days. Those potted hellebores which will be for sale on site for our open days are also looking amazing, so we should have a bumper crop of flowering plants for you to choose from this winter.
We’d like to again thank everyone for their patience in 2020, as we navigated the transition to a socially distanced workplace, which coincided with an unpredicted rise in plant demand. Longer than normal wait and response times from our customer service department were simply unavoidable. Although we’d like to think we are better prepared for 2021, we won’t know how well we polished our crystal ball until the shipping season begins.
While we are always losing loved ones, 2020 seemed particularly difficult. The horticultural/botanical world experienced a number of loses of significant contributors to the field. Below are a few.
In January, Southeast US, legendary nurserywoman Margie Jenkins passed away at age 98. It’s hard to have been involved in the nursery business in the southeast US without knowing “Ms. Margie”. Margie was an incredible plantsperson and nursery owner, who traveled the country acquiring new plants and sharing those plants she’d found and propagated. Margie was showered with professional awards from throughout the Southeastern US region for her amazing work. True to the Margie we all knew, she served customers up until the week of her death…life well lived!
Contributions can be made to the Margie Y. Jenkins Azalea Garden at the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station. Please make checks payable to the LSU AgCenter and write “Margie Jenkins” in the memo field. Memorial donations can be mailed to 21549 Old Covington Hwy., Hammond, LA 70403. The Margie Y. Jenkins Azalea Garden was established in 2006 to honor, share and teach about the contributions Ms. Margie made to the nursery and landscape industry by displaying her favorite plants – including azaleas and natives. Other donations can be made to the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Foundation for Scholarship and Research “Margie Y Jenkins Scholarship Fund” mailed to LNLFSR, PO Box 1447, Mandeville, LA 7047.
From the west coast, we were shocked by the February death of 61 year old California bulb breeder William Welch, better known as Bill the Bulb Baron. Bill was a prolific breeder and worldwide authority on narcissus, especially the tazetta group, and amarcrinum…to mention but a few. Bill was incredibly generous with genetics and ideas to improve both genera. Just prior to his death last year, Bill was awarded the American Daffodil Society Gold Medal for his pioneering work with hybridizing narcissus.
March saw the passing of plantsman John Fairey of Texas at age 89. John was the founder of the former Yucca Do Nursery and the associated Peckerwood Gardens, which was renamed to the John Fairey Garden just days before his death. Where John grew up in South Carolina, woodpeckers were called Peckerwoods, but in recent years, members of the white supremacist movement began calling themselves “peckerwoods”, which didn’t exactly help garden fundraising, so a name change was dictated. As a career, John taught landscape architecture at Texas A&M, while building the gardens, starting the nursery, and becoming one of the most significant plant explorers of Northern Mexico. I had the pleasure of plant exploring in Mexico with John, and was actually just standing just a few feet away when he had a heart attack on a 1994 expedition.
John was recipient of many of the country’s top horticulture awards and the 39-acre garden he created probably holds the most significant ex-situ conservation collections of Northern Mexican flora in the world, thanks to over 100 expeditions south of the border. Our best wishes are with the gardens as they navigate the funding obstacles to keep the garden intact and open to the public.
In the Pacific Northwest, plant legend Jerry John Flintoff also passed away in March, after a period of declining health. I first had the opportunity to visit Jerry’s garden in 1995 with my friend, Dan Hinkley. Jerry was a consummate plantsman and a voracious consumer of horticultural information. His numerous introductions are legendary in plant collector circles, the best known being Pulmonaria ‘Roy Davidson’, Primula sieboldii ‘Lois Benedict, and the semi-double Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Jerry Flintoff’.
Across the pond, March also saw the passing of UK conifer guru Derek Spicer, 77, owner of the wholesale Killworth Nursery. Derek traveled the world studying conifers, which culminated in his epic 2012 book with Aris Auders, The RHS Encyclopedia of Conifers. This incredible encyclopedia lists all 615 conifer species, 8,000 cultivars, and 5,000 photos. If you like conifers, be sure to put this treasure on your gift list. Just last year, Derek was posthumously awarded the prestigious RHS Veitch Memorial Medal for his lifetime contributions.
We were saddened by the passing in May of one of our closest friends, plantsman Alan Galloway, age 60. In addition to serving as an adjunct researcher for Juniper Level Botanic Garden, Alan was a close friend and neighbor, living less than two minutes from the garden/nursery.
In July, we lost another plant legend in the southeast region with the passing of camellia guru and breeder, Dr. Cliff Parks at age 84 after a short period of declining health. Cliff was a repository of knowledge about the genus camellia. He was co-author of the highly prized book, Collected Species of the Genus Camellia. Cliff traveled throughout China studying the genus and returned with species that had never been cultivated in the west. These genetics were used in his breeding, the best of which were eventually introduced through Camellia Forest Nursery, run by his son, David.
Retirements/Congratulations There were several significant horticultural community retirements also in 2020.
In California, Jim Folsom retired at the end of 2020 as director of The Huntington Botanical Gardens, after a 36-year career at the garden. If you’ve visited The Huntington, then you are well aware of Jim’s amazing accomplishments. If you haven’t visited, put it on your garden bucket list. The Huntington Gardens have one of the most extensive plant collections in the US. It’s rare that I can go to a botanic garden and see many plants that I don’t know, but at The Huntington, I have spent three consecutive days in the garden and constantly find arrays of unknown plants. Jim is an Alabama native, who tells me that he and his wife look forward to more traveling in retirement. Last year, Jim was honored by the American Hort Society with their highest honor, the L.H. Bailey Award. Congratulations!
Also from the botanical world, taxonomist Dr. Alan Meerow hung up his microscope after a distinguished 20 year career at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service’s National Germplasm repository in Miami. Alan’s work included work with tropical and subtropical ornamentals with a specialty in Amaryllids. His work has helped elucidate the relationships between members of the Amaryllidaceae family with some recently published and still controversial relationship discoveries. Alan was a key contributor to the now defunct International Bulb Society, and the recipient of a number of top awards including the American Society of Plant Taxonomists’ Peter Raven Award for Scientific Outreach and the David Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration by the National Tropical Botanical Garden.
Longtime NC State plant breeder, Dr. Tom Ranney was just selected as a Fellow in the prestigious National Academy of Inventors. Congratulations for another well-deserved honor.
Welcome January starts a new chapter in plant breeding at NC State as we welcome plant breeder, Dr. Hsuan Chen to the JC Raulston/NC State staff. In addition to new plant breeding projects, Dr. Chen will take over much of the work of retired plant breeder and redbud specialist Dr. Dennis Werner. We look forward to more introductions from a plant pipeline full of great new plants.
Southeastern Plant Symposium We had planned to welcome visitors to Raleigh for the 2nd annual Southeastern Plant Symposium last June before COVID intervened. We pivoted and moved on-line to the Zoom platform along with everyone else and we were thrilled at the participation and comments. For 2021, we are still planning to hold our event in person in mid-June, with the realistic expectation that we may need to switch to on-line, depending on the COVID situation, but we will make that decision when time nears. The symposium dates for 2021 are June 11 and 12. Below is the current speaker line up.
Speakers confirmed for 2021 include: Dan Hinkley, Heronswood founder Hans Hansen, plant breeder, Walters Gardens Kelly Norris, Des Moines Botanic Garden Hayes Jackson, Horticulture Director Ian Caton, Wood Thrush Nursery Dr. Aaron Floden, Missouri Botanic Gardens Dr. Peter Zale, Longwood Gardens Dr. Patrick McMillan, SC Botanic Gardens Janet Draper, Smithsonian Institution Richard Hawke, Chicago Botanic Garden Mark Weathington, JC Raulston Arboretum Tony Avent, Juniper Level Botanic Garden
From Ashwood, we headed south, stopping for the evening near the town of Shaftesbury at the small, but lovely Coppleridge Inn. We arrived just after dark, which made the last hour of driving down narrow winding roads more treacherous than we would have preferred, but at least we arrived before the dinner hour wrapped up. The English love of drinking is legendary and sure enough, it seemed that everyone in the town was at the Coppleridge Inn pub for their evening rounds of drinking and socializing.
After a lovely breakfast at the Coppleridge Inn, we headed out on the short 10 minute drive into the quaint town of Shaftesbury for the annual Shaftesbury Galanthus Festival…my first chance to see rabid galanthophiles in action. Galanthomania (maniacal collecting of snowdrops) has exploded in the UK, like coronavirus in the rest of the world, with both being quite costly once you become infected.
When we arrived for the morning talks, we were informed that the town doesn’t have enough parking and because of that, the pay lots require that you leave for 1 hour, after a four hour stay.
At breakfast, we had discovered that we were only a 30 minute drive from Stonehenge, so we decided that it would be our lunch break. Neither Hans or I had ever visited Stonehenge, so this break allowed us to check out what should be a required mecca for all serious rock gardeners.
Despite not seeing a single road sign until we reached the turnoff to the stones, the site receives over 1 million visitors annually. We arrived to find a bright sunny, but brisk day, where for time’s sake, we opted to ride the buses from the visitor center to the stones. In recent years, the Stonehenge visitor center had been moved quite a distance away from the stones to preserve the integrity of the site.
Time to return to Shaftesbury for the final talk of the day, a lecture by our friend Dr. John Grimshaw.
2018 was a year of exceptional changes for us here at the gardens and nursery. Our long-time nursery soil company was sold and the quality of the mix went to hell. Because many of our crops are challenging in containers, before we knew it, our plant losses in the nursery were well into the upper six figures. To say our nursery staff had to scramble is an understatement. After trialing our most difficult crops in a number of new potting soil mixes, is was an easy choice to make the switch to Pacific Organics. https://www.pacific-organics.com/
Despite the name, Pacific Organics is a NC-based national company, who have a bigger footprint of users in the northeast US than here in NC, where cheap nursery soil is king. Unbenownst to us, the folks at Pacific Organics have worked closely with the world renowned soil researchers at NC State, so we know the quality of the research they use to formulate their mix.
We take great pride in our plant quality and in 2018 we had numerous growing issues resulting from the quality of our potting media. Many of you were affected by having plants canceled from you order, refunds and shortages on desired crops. This was completely unacceptable! We can already see a dramatic difference in plant growth and quality, and we sincerely apologize for the problems of the past year.
We’d like to welcome several new staff members to our team. Wesley Beauchamp joined us last fall as our nursery grower, coming to us from the mega-greenhouse producer Metrolina. Everyone who purchases a plant will be the beneficiary of Wesley’s plant-growing magic.
In the gardens, we welcome our new garden curator, Amanda Wilkins, a NC State grad, who we lured back to Raleigh after finishing her Masters in Plant Taxonomy at the University of Edinburgh, followed by a stint as Curator at the Mobile Botanic Gardens.
Looking to the Future As most of you know, in 2018 Anita and I gifted Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden to NC State University. An operational endowment has been set up at NC State University to fund the operation of the gardens. Once the endowment is fully funded, JLBG will open as a full time public botanic garden that will be a sister institution to the JC Raulston Arboretum.
So, what changes will you see and when? For now, not much. We are developing a membership structure for JLBG to mirror that used by the JC Raulston Arboretum. Once that is completed, you will be able to join JLBG as you would any other horticultural organization. At some undetermined point in the future, we will switch to a membership only plant shipping model. Anyone would be able to shop or pick up plants at the nursery, but order shipping would be reserved only for JLBG members.
This change allows Anita and I to scale back our involvement in daily operations as we age, while allowing JLBG and PDN to continue via a more financially sustainable future model to collect, evaluate, propagate, share, and preserve plants through ex-situ (off site) conservation. In other words, less computer time for Tony and more time in the field and in the garden. We hope that folks who believe in our mission will help us to fully fund the operational endowment.
Anita and Tony Avent (NC State University)
Hot off the Press Arizona plantsman Ron Parker has just published his first book, which details the agaves of Arizona, including the Pre-Columbian man-made hybrids. Ron has done a phenomenal amount of field work, visiting each of the sites he writes about. Anyone interested in century plants will have a hard time putting this fascinating book down. You can order directly from Ron or from any of the on-line book sellers.
Industry News January 2019 marked my first trip to the Mid-Atlantic Nursery and Trade Show (MANTS) in Baltimore. I’ve been hearing about MANTS for years, but my first journey certainly didn’t disappoint. The show is both amazing and huge! Nursery folks and allied trade vendors lined what seemed to be acres of the Baltimore Convention Center.
Riding the train back and forth from the airport to the convention center is relatively easy, if you don’t mind being entertained by some colorful, non-paying characters who ride along with you. If you work in the green industry, I’d say MANTS is a must.
Currently the recently reconstituted Southern Nursery Association holds their meeting and Plant Conference just prior to MANTS at the same venue, so if you’re looking for some educational opportunities, this is for you. Unfortunately, this years’ show coincided with the prolonged government shutdown, so many of the stars of the show were MIA.
One of the SNA award winners for 2019 was Tree Town USA CEO Jonathan Saperstein. Why is that interesting, you ask? Last fall, Tree Town USA, with a little help from their bank, purchased one of the largest nurseries in the US…the Hines divisions of Color Spot Nurseries, which includes over 2,000 acres in California and Oregon. Tree town’s operations now include 19 farms and over 6,000 acres of production. Did I mention that Jonathan is 29 years old! Not bad to make Forbes’ list of Top 30 under 30! We wish him good luck and will be thinking of him when he wakes up in the middle of the night and wonders, “What the hell have I done?”
Greetings from wet Raleigh, where we’re making good progress with our arc construction after a record-setting year of precipitation that topped out at just over 60” of rainfall…the most ever recorded for Raleigh. Of course, both the east and west ends of North Carolina made our 60” look like a drop in the proverbial bucket.
Our largest coastal town, Wilmington, set a yearly rainfall record of 102”, while at the far western end of our state, Mt. Mitchell recorded just over 140” of rain. I guess we picked a bad year to start growing dryland alpines, but if they survive this year, they should be great going forward.
In the News
A shout out to our friend Jackie Heinricher, founder of the bamboo tissue culture lab, BooShoots in Washington, who has added a new career to her resume…that of race car driver. I can’t say we have many racers who are also nurserymen.
After selling her business several years ago, and before restarting it after the post-sale went south, Jackie has taken up car racing. Having spent time with Jackie at her beautiful home, garden, and bamboo collection in Washington, this comes as quite a shock….for someone of our “experienced years.”
She started competing in 2015, and has now put together an all-female team that will compete in the open wheel and sports car series for 2019, with Caterpillar as a sponsor. The season begins in January with Jackie on the sideline due to a back injury, but we wish her good luck as she heals and returns to the cockpit. Read more of Jackie’s inspirational story.
Jackie Heinricher – Garden Entrance
Back last fall, an article appeared in our local NC paper about a move to limit plantings in new county-owned properties to only native plants. While the move was hailed by native plant advocates, such decisions showcase a sad lack of critical thinking skills and emotional knee jerk decisions that have become sadly prevalent. Here is a link to the original article, followed by an unpublished letter that we wrote to the newspaper editor.
Native Plants Only…Diversity or Adversity?
It’s hard to know where to begin after reading the September 11, 2018 N&O article about new Wake County properties being restricted to using only native plants in landscaping. The article mentioned diversity, yet the entire focus was about restricting diversity.
We believe that diversity is not only desirable, but critical, since it brings together individuals which have unique traits that create a more robust and vital collective population. We find it fascinating that our society promotes diversity when it comes to humans and edible plants, but decries the absolute need to restrict diversity when it comes to ornamental plants.
City, county, and state borders are geopolitical…they have absolutely nothing to do with plant nativity or adaptability. Secondly, plant nativity is not a place, but a place in time. To call a plant native, you must consider nature as static (never changing), and then pick a random set of dates that you consider to be “ideal”. Most of the plants currently considered native to Wake County today, actually speciated tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years ago. The current conditions are nothing like the conditions then.
Having been born in Wake County 60+ years ago with a passion for “native plants”, I spent my childhood roaming the woods, where houses now stand. As an adult, I have taken over 60 botanizing trips throughout the US, searching for great new garden plants.
Over the last 30 years, we have grown over 60,000 different plants from around the world in our Southern Wake County Botanic Garden, which currently houses, most likely, the most diverse collection of Southeast US native plants in the USA. Our unique perspective comes from a mix of professional experience, observation, and on-site research.
The News & Observer article advocates the concept of a horticultural ethnic superiority, ethnic isolation, and ethnic cleansing. This starts with an assumption that “native plants” are superior to non-natives, and that non-natives should be excluded in landscape situations.
If we were having this conversation about the species Homo sapiens instead of ornamental plants, we’d be laughed out of the town. Also, if “native” plants were actually better adapted and preferred by wildlife, they would take over any site in the county where they were planted, meaning we could then have neither endangered native plants nor invasive exotic plants.
As for the superiority of native plants for both adaptability and for supporting pollinators, that is another great myth, which despite its popularity in the media has no basis in good research. A new book in the works detailing extensive research and pollinator counts from the South Carolina Botanic Garden will show that plants native to a specific region are neither favored by or required by native pollinators.
If you disregard all of the above, and just take the idea as presented in the paper to have all natives at County facilities, then to be consistent, all turfgrasses must also be banned…no lawns or athletic fields. Bermudagrass (Africa), Tall Fescue (Europe), Zoysia (Asia), and Centipede (China), must never be allowed on county facilities using the same reasoning…or lack, thereof.
To keep this non-native ban consistent, Wake County must also ban the planting of most fruits and vegetables, since almost none are US natives. That would leave only sunflowers, a single Texas native pepper, grapes, blueberries, cranberries, persimmon, and paw paws. Of course, Wake County Extension Agents should no longer plant or recommend planting any non-native fruits or vegetables.
Then there are those pesky honeybees (Africa by way of Europe) and earthworms (mostly Europe) that must also be banned from all county properties, since they both radically alter what grows and gets pollinated. Pretty much all of our domesticated animals, both food and pets would need to be banned…all except for turkeys.
Wait…there are still those non-native Homo sapiens, who got here via Africa. So, let me understand this….we clear land to build buildings and parks, creating non-native ecosystems for non-native Humans, and then require them to be planted with ornamental plants native only to the human-created county borders. Please excuse the excessive use of logic.
It’s disappointing that many in our country lack the ability to distinguish valid research from poorly constructed research, designed to support a pre-determined agenda. Indeed, it seems that if we hear anything enough times, read it in print, or see it in the media, it automatically becomes a fact.
How about let’s embrace all diversity and create a better habitat for all, and for goodness sakes include plants that are currently “native” in our region.
One of our long time concerns is the accuracy of plant tags…especially now that 60% of the plants purchased in the country are now sold through the box stores. While we’re thrilled that more plants are available to the masses, most tags are produced from a single national vendor, and the information may not be correct for your climate. Sizes, in particular vary widely. What may make a 1′ tall x 2′ wide shrub in one climate may reach 6′ tall x 9′ wide in another…yes, we have real life examples. The dirty little secret is that most plant measurements are taken from sheared plants growing in nursery containers, and not mature landscape specimens.
Often information on the web is also quite inaccurate since most sites simply copy from another site and never take time to actually observe the plants in person. We always recommend when possible to shop with vendors who actually grow the plants themselves…in the ground. If that’s not possible, visit local botanic gardens and observe the plants yourselves. You’ll save so much future garden maintenance time if you get the plant in the right location first time.
With the quest for cheaper and cheaper plants, time devoted to accuracy of information is often sacrificed. The tag in the photo fails on a couple of details. In most areas, mondo grass is best in light shade, although it can be fine with a few hours of morning sun. Our favorite faux pas is listing two genera for the same plant. Ophiopogon is correct, but convallaria is a lily of the valley…a completely different plant. We won’t mention the name of the box store where we saw this, but always be wary.
It doesn’t seem possible, but both Anita and I hit the big 60 this year. During my youth, I entertained occasional thoughts about what old age would be like, and wondering if I’d actually make it. Well, it’s here, I’m here, and whatever it was that I expected, I’m not sure this is it.
I was pretty lucky genetically…other than minor issues like flat feet, an over-curved spine, and bad knees. I realize now that I was fortunate that my prefrontal cortex was overly active early in life, resulting in a low risk tolerance. In other words, I was a real bore growing up. Other contemporaries led much more exciting childhoods, but in doing so, affected their bodies, at a cost that wouldn’t be evident until much later. As one whose idea of excitement was spending time alone in the woods, the closest I ever came to real danger was years later after I began overseas plant exploration travels.
When we built our new home last year, I wondered how much of the physical landscaping I’d be still able to do. What a lovely surprise to find the body still functioning remarkably well. To be able to start a new garden at age 60, with a similar vigor as 30 years of age is truly something I never dreamed possible, but it’s sure enjoyable.
I’ve been very blessed to still be able to garden like a maniac, and to still be able to travel and explore the world for new plants. As Toby Keith so eloquently put it, “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.”
News from PDN/JLBG
We’d like to introduce several new members of our PDN/JLBG team. Our former garden supervisor, Keith Lukowski has headed to graduate school, where he is studying public gardens…we wish him the best. In Keith’s place, we are pleased to welcome Lauri Lawson, who spent most of the last 12 years as the face and backbone of Niche Gardens in Chapel Hill. Since our gardens continue to expand at a crazy rate, we created a second garden position for which we were able to lure back former staffer Thomas Thornton. Thomas has run his own landscape business while studying landscape architecture. We’re sure you’ll enjoy engaging with both Lauri and Thomas when you visit JLBG.
It’s also with great regret that we say goodbye to longtime nursery manager Mike Spafford, who after 15 years at PDN felt it was time to start his new life on the NC coast. To replace Mike, if such is possible, we’d like to welcome Meghan Fidler, who comes to us after a stint managing Atlantic Avenue Garden Center in Raleigh, and prior to that as an anthropology instructor. Meghan will be assisted by longtime PDN’er Dennis Carey, who moves from our IT/SEO specialist to our new Assistant Nursery Manager position, where he will oversee the growing and production duties. Dennis’s background in computers and an advance degree in horticulture will allow us to incorporate more technology and analytics in the growing process. We are thrilled to welcome all these new faces as we plow headlong into the future.
Progress continues on our crevice garden project using recycled concrete. We were thrilled to be able to entice crevice garden master craftsman, Kenton Seth to travel from Colorado to be part of the project. This fall, he and our own crevice specialist, Jeremy Schmidt, installed the second of our three phase of our project along our exit drive. There are lots of planting pockets for an array of interesting plants…as though we needed more.
Jeremy Schmidt (left) and Kenton Seth during Crevice Garden installation
This summer we were thrilled to have a visit from two of the country’s top bulb researchers. Both Gerald Smith (retired from High Point University) and Ray Flagg (retired from Carolina Biological Supply) are extensively published taxonomists who, in retirement, continue to work on the taxonomy of Mexican rain lilies. We spent quite a bit of time going through our extensive rain lily collections and discussing issues of taxonomic confusion. If anyone has wild collected rain lilies with collection data from Mexico, we’d love to put you in touch with Gerald and Ray. They were particularly interested in one of our Mexican rain lilies, which they felt could be a new species.
Gerald Smith (left) and Ray Flagg
Meetings at PDN/JLBG
Plant Delights and Juniper Level Botanic Garden are pleased to be a part of a number of specialty plant group conventions.
In early summer 2017, we were pleased to host the American Peony Society, who took time to tour the gardens, enjoy lunch, and even some plant shopping. We always meet such fascinating people and learn so much.
In November, we hosted the North American Rock Garden Society for their annual meeting. It was great to welcome rock gardeners from around the world, and learn about more potential plants for our new crevice garden.
American Peony Society meeting at JLBG
Upcoming Meetings for 2018
For 2018, we welcome three more National/International plant meetings to PDN/JLBG.
March 23-25 – We welcome the International Magnolia Society, a group of keen plantsmen/women who share a passion for anything magnolia. Great speakers and tours are on the agenda.
Jun 14-17 – We welcome the American Conifer Society, a group of conifer enthusiasts ranging from hobbyist to professionals. If you enjoy conifers, this is meeting not to be missed.
July 30-August 3 – We are pleased to welcome the Perennial Plant Association, a group of professionals from around the world who are involved with perennials, including designers, writers, marketers, growers, and retailers.
We hope you’ll join us for as many of these special meetings as possible. The opportunity to meet and chat with the movers and shakers of the plant world is quite special.
PPA group at Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms in 2017
Another red flag for the nursery industry was recently raised for mega-producer Costa Farms, who sold a majority stake of their nursery to the financial holding firm, the Markel Ventures Corporation. The only part of the Costa business that will remain unsold is the cannabis division…what does that tell us about profit difference between ornamental grass and recreational grass?
I’ve lost track of how many times, we’ve written about these merger/ventures, which never work out….repeat…NEVER. When each one is announced, its press release touts why their deal to acquire more capital is different from all the rest, yet, within a few years, each one ends in the same fate…bankruptcy or fire sale.
Why is this so, you ask? The nursery industry is a cyclical industry, whose ability to make money is directly tied to both the housing economy and the weather. Even farming, which is considered extremely volatile as an investment, is only tied to weather and very little to the general economy.
Also, excess capital of this sort is needed when a nursery tries to expand too fast in order to be everything to everybody….think Color Spot, Hines, and most recently Zelenka/Berry Nurseries. So, let’s see…Costa Farms purchased Delray Plants (March 2017), Layman Wholesale Nurseries (2012), and Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses, Inc. (Spring 2014). Costa Farms also purchased the facilities of an orchid and bromeliad producer in Homestead, FL, in 2015, moving its Desert Gems cacti and succulent production to those greenhouses.
Costa Farms currently have about 4,000 acres in production including 19 million square feet of climate controlled greenhouses. These facilities have revenues of $500 million annually on sales of 150 million plants. Did I mention that they employee 5,000 workers, both in and outside of the US? If you read plant tags, you’ve undoubtedly purchased their plants through Lowes, The Home Depot, Walmart, Ikea, and other outlets.
In 2016, that was enough to win International Grower of the Year at the IPM International trade show in Essen, Germany, so as a company, they seem to be doing a great job, and we wish them the best, but we’ll be watching the red flag.
If I’d kept up better with our newsletter writing, I’d have mentioned this earlier, but belated congratulations to NCSU plant breeder Dr. Tom Ranney. At the International Plantarium Show in the Netherlands, four of Tom’s creations, all in the Proven Winners (PW) program, won top awards. They are Deutzia ‘Yuki Cherry Blossom’, Deutzia ‘Yuki Snowflake’, Hydrangea ‘Invincibelle Ruby’ and Hydrangea ‘Invincibelle Blush’. Tom’s work continues to amaze the best plants people around the world.
Our condolences to the family of Ruth Bancroft, founder of California’s Ruth Bancroft Garden. Ruth passed away at age 109, after a recent stroke. I’ve had the pleasure of spending of bit of time with Ruth in her garden, and our gardens at JLBG are the recipient of her generosity. Ruth’s garden was the first garden preserved by the Garden Conservancy. What an amazing life!
We were also sad to hear of the passing of Ohio nurseryman Jim Zampini, 85. Jim was an amazing plantsman, with a history of introducing over 200 new plants to the market. Unfortunately, most were introduced with nonsensical name ending in –zam, and marketed under incorrectly trademarked names. A few better known plants include Prunus ‘Snow Fountain’ and Thuja ‘Bowling Ball’, and Berberis ‘Bonanza Gold’ (we aren’t using the nonsensical fake cultivar names). I had the pleasure of visiting Jim at his Lake County Nursery, back in its heyday, and it was quite the operation. The nursery continues to be run by Jim’s sons.
On an international scale, Cally Gardens of Scotland owner and plant explorer Michael Wickenden, 61, passed away during a plant trek in Myanmar (Burma) last fall. Michael became ill and passed away before he was able to reach a hospital for treatment for a suspected case of dengue fever. Michael was a brilliant plantsman, photographer, and advocate for the free-sharing of plant germplasm…one of the good guys. He will be sorely missed.
We were thrilled to hear from the staff at Atlanta’s Garden Hood garden center that indeed they are alive and well. As it turns out, Scott only closed one part of his nursery/garden center business and sold the other to his nursery manager. Garden Hood is a delightful garden center, run by plant lovers in Atlanta that I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. We wish them the best of luck, and hope you’ll drop by for a visit when you’re in the area.
Greetings from Plant Delights and Juniper Level Botanic Garden.
Salvia nutans – Coming Soon
So far, it’s been a great spring at PDN and JLBG. Rains have been pretty regular so far…thanks to two early-season tropical storms. No sign of an imminent summer let-up in moisture. Of course, constant rain can also spell trouble for some more dryland-loving plants like the new perennial snapdragons we’re testing. While the majority of plants we trial from other breeders don’t pass our NC stress test, it is always nice to have a truly stressful spring to let us know what plants are really tough and will survive.
Growth in the garden has been amazing this spring, and the summer show is shaping up to be the best ever. There’s just so much to see in the summer, we really hope you’ll make plans to attend our upcoming Open Nursery and Garden Days, July 8-10 and 15-17. If you’re averse to heat, arrive early when the weather is still delightful, but don’t come without your camera.
Polianthes ‘Pink Sapphire’ – Coming Soon
We’re already putting together our fall catalog and have many new exciting plants in store. Several fabulous new hardy hibiscus and salvias will be included and so much more.
Horticulture enrollments have always been a roller coaster ride, but with the job increases in the technology field, fewer and fewer students are migrating to careers with plants. With a wide range of career paths that includes farming, landscaping, greenhouse and nursery growing, plant breeding, and flower arranging, there is something for anyone who enjoys being around plants.
In a recent survey, only 48 percent of adults aged 18 to 34 said they are familiar with horticulture, as compared with 65 percent of older adults. And, while the majority of respondents view horticulture as essential to food, water, and the environment, only 26 percent strongly agree that horticulture is a diverse area of study that will lead to a fulfilling and respected career.
According to a 2015 employment outlook report from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Purdue University, a total of 35,400 U.S. students graduate each year with a bachelor’s degree or higher in agriculture-related fields—22,500 short of the 59,700 industry job openings available annually. No wonder it’s getting so hard to find good help.
To combat declining enrollments in horticulture programs and a lack of qualified industry workers, Longwood Gardens, The American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), and 150 partner organizations announced the launch of the Seed Your Future initiative. The public rollout of Seed Your Future will officially begin in 2017, but fundraising to support the effort has already begun. You can learn more and make a donation to this effort at the Seed Your Future website.
Tom Ranney at JCRA
There is a wonderful article about NCSU plant breeder Tom Ranney in the most recent issue of the trade magazine Nursery Manager. I expect many of you grow some of Tom’s introductions, even though you may not realize it. We hope you enjoy the article about one of the world’s top woody plant breeders.
We were pleased to be featured in the spring 2016 issue of Garden Design in a fern article by British garden writer Noel Kingsbury.
Georgia plantsman Scott McMahan has closed his McMahan’s Nursery and sold his garden center, Garden Hood to his former manager, and returned to his previous career at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Scott has been an International plant explorer for many years and will now have the same job full-time with the garden.
A lightning-induced fire has put a damper on the run of Quality Cactus/Select Seeds of Texas. This unique wholesale nursery was the only source for many rare southwest/Mexican native plants from seedlings to mature specimens. Best of luck as they try and rebuild.
Wade Roitsch at Yucca Do
Our friends at Yucca Do Nursery are calling it quits after 28 years in the mail order nursery business. Owner Wade Roitsch is winding down operations now so, if you want any plants before the doors close, don’t delay. Wade and Carl will continue to explore in the search for new plants, so thankfully they’ll remain an important part of the horticultural community. It’s been a real honor for us to be able to work closely with them during the run of Yucca Do, and our horticultural hats are off to their incredible contribution to our industry and to our gardens.
Our friend and fellow plant explorer, Fred Spicer, has resigned his position as director of the Birmingham Botanic Gardens after over a decade at the helm. The garden has changed dramatically under his leadership, to become one of the major plant collections in the Southeast US. We wish Fred the best of luck in his next great adventure.
The horticultural world has experienced several significant losses this spring.
Dr. Sam Jones, 83, of Piccadilly Farms in Georgia passed away on February 9. Sam was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Carleen. Sam was a professor of botany at the University of Georgia (1967-1991), and he and Carleen ran their side business, Piccadilly Farms. Piccadilly was the first US company to widely promote hellebores and the first to hold a hellebore festival. Sam and Carleen were awarded the Perennial Plant Association’s highest honor, the Award of Merit, in 2005. Piccadilly is now owned and operated by their daughter and son-in-law, Valerie and Bill Hinesley.
Robert Mackintosh, co-founder of Woodlanders Nursery in Aiken, SC, passed away on February 14 at the age of 90. Robert was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Julia. Robert enjoyed a career as a Harvard-educated Landscape Architect, while starting Woodlanders Nursery as a hobby in 1975. The nursery, now in its 41st, year is known internationally as a source of rare plants. Woodlanders Nursery is now in the hands of co-owners Bob McCartney and George Mitchell.
Judith and Dick Tyler
Hellebore specialist Judith Tyler, 70, co-founder of Pine Knot Nursery in Virginia, passed away suddenly on March 18, just a week after their annual Hellebore Festival. Judith had just been to a follow-up pneumonia appointment when doctors discovered she had late stage cancer only days before her death. Judith and her husband Dick have run Pine Knot Farms since 1983, during which time they have become known internationally as hellebore experts, due in part to their wonderful book, Hellebores: A Comprehensive Guide, with friend Cole Burrell.
We are currently looking to fill our position for a greenhouse/nursery grower. If you or anyone you know might be interested in such a position, click here to learn more.
Greetings from Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden.
Now hiring shippers!
We hope you’ve received your 2016 Plant Delights Nursery catalog. If you’re an active customer and haven’t seen yours, drop us an email and we’ll send a catalog. If you’re not an active customer (haven’t purchased recently), you may shop online or order a printed copy. If you’re a garden writer/blogger, garden celebrity, local garden guru, etc., just let us know and we’ll be glad to add you to our complimentary permanent catalog mailing list.
Only a few weeks remain before we begin shipping plants again starting the first week of March. This means we’re beginning to hire seasonal shippers to help during our busy spring season. So, if you’re interested in joining us and are physically fit, please let us hear from you.
Visit Us During Open Nursery and Garden Days
Grading the road near Greenhouse 14
Our first Open Nursery and Garden days for 2016 are only a short time away. Winter Open Days are actually one of our best attended events, so if you haven’t dropped by, we hope you’ll join us this year. Winter is a great time to see the structure of the garden before the spring flush. In NC, it doesn’t take much gardening prowess to have a nice spring garden, but if your garden looks good in winter, it will be fabulous the rest of the year. You’ll also be amazed how many plants actually flower in the winter season when few people venture out to garden centers. Did we mention our open nursery days also offer the chance to select your own seed-grown flowering hellebores in person?
Renovations are in full swing as we continue with our entrance, exit drive, and parking lot enhancements. You’ll see the progress we’ve made during our upcoming Winter Open Nursery and Garden Days, although neither project will be completed.
We have a super list of classes scheduled for 2016 with topics from soil to propagation, and from botanical illustration to relaxing your body. We hope you’ll join us for some of these educational and stimulating events.
Anita will be leading our expanded series of thought-provoking mindfulness and meditation classes, and botanical artist Preston Montague will be teaching us how to illustrate the natural world.
In the Winter Botanic Garden
Helleborus ‘HGC Joker’
Here in eastern NC, we’ve had a mild winter so far, with only one night below 20 degrees F, compared to 2013/2014 when we had thirteen nights below 20 degrees F during the same period. The January ice/freezing rain storm left quite a few memories by removing a couple of large evergreen specimens (one persea and a magnolia) from the garden, while pruning limbs from several other specimens. No structural damage resulted.
Because the temperatures were so mild early in fall/winter, some plants starting growing much sooner than normal including many of the hellebores. The new growth on a few hellebores was kissed by the cold and is looking a bit black, but the next round of new growth will be fine. A few of our later hellebores are already in flower and, in most cases, the flowers can take quite a bit of freezing since they’ve learned how to lose turgidity during very cold weather and regain it when the temperatures warm.
We prefer to remove the old, tattered hellebore foliage to improve the floral show, but we always wait until the flower buds are showing color and have risen above the old leaves. We do this so the old leaves will keep the developing flower buds in shade and consequently cooler, which in turn delays flowering.
The foliage on our lycoris (surprise lilies) looks the best we can remember for this time of year. The longer the foliage grows undamaged, the more food is going into the bulb. It’s looking like we’ll have an exceptional bloom season this summer. We hope you’re going to try several of the choice new surprise lilies that we’re bringing to market for the first time.
Our Research Programs in the Garden and Nursery
We’re always conducting horticultural research, both in the field and the nursery. One of the most recent mad scientist quests was to see if we could cause a non-offsetting banana to offset. Our subject for the experiment was the lovely Ensete maurelii, which is a genus of solitary-trunked banana relatives. We were curious to learn if ensetes had dormant buds around the base that were simply kept from sprouting by the plant’s auxin hormones.
To answer the question, we severed the auxin translocation system by slicing through the stalk about one inch above the soil level. Once the knife came out the other side of the stalk, we applied down pressure until the knife emerged through the root. Next, we rotated the stalk 90 degrees and repeated the process. To our surprise, after eight weeks, the crown began to sprout pups…up to fifteen per plant. This practice, called crown cutting or rossisizing, has long been used on hostas, but now we can use it to multiply some of the rarer bananas and their relatives.
Congratulations to Florida plantsman Adam Black who was named the new Director of Horticulture at Peckerwood Gardens in Texas. We look forward to watching Adam put his stamp on this already amazing garden.
We were saddened to lose plantsman and garden writer Allen Lacy, 80, in December. The former NY Times/Wall Street Journal garden columnist and philosophy professor was given a second lease on life after defying death and giving up his former hard-living lifestyle. He subsequently established the Linwood Arboretum in his home state of New Jersey, all while receiving dialysis. Our thoughts are with his widow, Hella, and their children.
This Christmas season also marked the passing of our friend Rene Duval who, along with his surviving partner of 43 years, Dick Weaver, started the well-known North Carolina mail order nursery, We-Du. In the 1980s, the Polly Spout (near Marion, NC) based We-Du Nursery was one of the most important sources of new and unusual perennials in the country. The opportunity to visit and chat with Dick and Rene was always special, as was the chance to buy plants that were unknown and unavailable elsewhere. After retirement, Dick and Rene moved first to Puerto Rico, then to North Central Florida. Dick, who originally worked at Arnold Arboretum, plans to move north to Pennsylvania to be closer to family. Our thoughts are with him.
From all of us at Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden, we give thanks to you for joining our plant-loving family.
Shipping Season Ends Soon
We’re wrapping up our 2015 shipping season on November 30, so if you’ve put off making your fall order, better hurry. We’ll begin shipping again in mid-February, but will try to accommodate any horticultural emergencies between now and then as the weather and our staffing will allow.
A handwritten Plant Delights Nursery Gift Certificate
Makes the perfect Hostess gift for your next soiree
Makes the perfect gift for Teachers (Way better than a coffee mug!)
Has no fees and never expires
Can be accompanied by our color catalog and a note with your personalized sentiment
Can be emailed as well for fast delivery
Check off your shopping list with a PDN Gift Certificate!
PDN’s 2016 Spring Catalog Coming Soon
We’ve been busy writing and assembling the 2016 Plant Delights Nursery catalog, which is now in the design phase. Only a few more weeks before it heads off to the printer on the journey that will land it in mailboxes early in 2016. As always, the catalog will feature over 500 treasures including nearly 100 first time offerings.
Fall in Juniper Level Botanic Garden
We’ve enjoyed wonderful fall gardening weather, which featured mild temperatures and a crazy amount of moisture. Thank goodness we missed the deluge that occurred three hours south in South Carolina, where they endured 26″ of rain in a single storm. As you can imagine, plant growth in the gardens this fall has been nothing short of miraculous. Most pitcher plants form new pitchers in spring and fall and, as long as I’ve been growing them, they are truly exceptional with all the moisture this year.
Other plants enjoying an exceptional fall include our fall-flowering Gladiolus ‘Halloweenie’, the giant tree dahlias, Dahlia imperialis, and the stunning Salvia regla. The winter-flowering Iris unguicularis is now beginning to bloom. We and the honeybees have enjoyed great flowering on the fatsias in the garden. We love those alien-like flower spikes in November. Even the dazzling Schefflera delavayi has flowered beautifully sans frost, and seems to be setting another excellent crop of seed.
Projects Around the Gardens
We have a number of fall/winter projects underway including renovations and hedge removal along our nursery and garden entry and exit drive. We’re recycling sections of concrete from the new property to use in constructing a new rock garden section. Weather permitting, we’ll have something new for you to see in spring.
We’ve also finally broken ground on our new retirement bungalow and begun ground-shaping and berm building on the new property, incorporating compost from our nursery. Each fall we receive 400-500 tons of leaves from the local municipality, which are composted here and added to the gardens. As much as it pains us to see people discarding such wonderful resources, we are thrilled to be the recipients.
New Online Customer Reviews Added
We’ve recently added customer reviews to the Plant Delights website, so we hope you’d be willing to take time and share comments on your favorite plants and education center classes. You can do that on the individual product pages here.
Also, these websites have general business reviews, so we’d really love it if you would also review Plant Delights Nursery!
We’ve already posted our greatly expanded education center schedule for 2016 on the PDN and JLBG websites. Because Anita’s first class in 2015 was so well received, we’re kicking off the new year with another Mindfulness in the Garden Retreat on January 30.
Anita will lead you through simple sensory exercises to soothe the body and open the heart. If you’re ready to reduce stress and suffering, you’ll enjoy this intimate opportunity to experience the peaceful and healing effects of sensing the garden from your heart.
Seating for this class is limited and pre-registration is required at 919-772-4794. The class fee is $40. Click here for more information on any of our 2016 classes or call 919-772-4794.
Tony looks forward to meeting many of our International Facebook friends in Frankfurt, Germany for the International Hardy Plant Union Conference in February 2016, where he’ll be speaking. We hope you’ll be able to attend this special gathering of plant nerds.
It is with sadness that we share the passing of Camellia Forest Nursery founder, Kai Mei Parks, 79, who suddenly passed away from pancreatic cancer in mid-October. Tony treasures his early visits to the 35-year old Camellia Forest when it was once a one woman operation, and his delightful chats with Kai Mai. She was a strong-willed workaholic, without whom we wouldn’t have her nursery treasure today. Camellia Forest has been managed by her son David for the last decade plus, but you could still find Kai Mei pulling orders almost until the end. Please join us in celebrating the life of this amazing lady!
The International Horticultural Community also suffered a huge loss with the untimely death of UK plantsman, Mark Flanagan at age 56, due to sudden heart problems. Mark was the Chairman of the Royal Horticulture Society’s Woody Plant Committee and Keeper of the Gardens at Windsor Great Park (including The Savill Garden). Mark was a world-renowned plant explorer, collecting in Japan, China, South Korea, and the Russian Far East. Mark was also co-author with Tony Kirkham of two widely acclaimed books, Plants from the Edge of the World (Timber Press, 2005), and Wilson’s China (Kew Publishing, 2009). Mark was awarded two of England’s highest honors, as a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) and with the Royal Horticultural Society’s highest accolade in horticulture, the Victoria Medal of Honor (VMH). We celebrate Mark’s valuable contributions to horticulture, and offer our condolences to his family.
A September 2015 study with responses from over 1,400 garden writers shed an interesting light on garden writing as a career. The study showed, of both full- and part-time writers, the majority earn below the National Poverty Level of just over $11,000 per year. Garden writer earnings have declined over 24% since 2009 due to a number of factors, including a decline in bookstores, the domination of Amazon, on-line piracy, the consolidation of publishers, and the increased availability of free on-line content. Of those surveyed, 33% have self-published at least one book. Most have also resorted to additional sources of income to support themselves.
In nursery industry news this month, Mike Shoup, 63, founder of the famous Antique Rose Emporium, is selling his display gardens and garden center facilities. The rose breeding and mail order divisions, however, will be retained.
The eleven-acre garden center and gardens, which include restored historical buildings, gift shops, and a chapel, are located near Brenham, Texas in the town of Independence. Serious inquiries may be directed to Jenny at 979-836-5664.
Garden for Sale
Our longtime customers Sherrill and Joyce Morris are downsizing and are hoping to sell their house and garden to another plant lover. If you’re looking to move to the area just south of Plant Delights, take a look.
It’s hard to believe, but September is here and it’s time for our final Open Nursery and Garden for 2015. We hope you’ll join us to see all the gems that look great this time of year and stock up for the fall planting season with all the cool new plants from the fall catalog.
Plants, Plants, and More Plants
Monarda ‘Bubblegum Blast’
We also hope you’ve had time to enjoy the Fall Plant Delights Nursery catalog. We’re so excited by the new offerings, especially the clumping, heat-tolerant, mildew-resistant bee balms. These are a huge breeding breakthrough for anyone who likes monardas and attracting pollinators into the garden.
Other members of the same (Lamiaceae) family are also putting on quite a show now.Agastaches, first cousins to bee balm, are simply amazing in fall. In particular, Agastache ‘Peachie Keen’ and ‘Rosie Posie’ have been standouts in our trials and are still in full flower here. These are perfect for a sunny, well-drained spot in the garden where you can observe all the cool insects and hummingbirds which will visit.
Agastache ‘Peachie Keen’
While we’re talking members of the Lamiaceae family, we must mention the salvias. The Salvia greggii cultivars are putting on their fall show, as are many other fall-flowering species. Our favorite fall-flowering salvia has to be Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’. We moved a plant of this amazing giant into one of the new beds near the sales greenhouses, so people who don’t wander the gardens extensively will still get to enjoy it.
Final Open House for 2015…and More Plants
Did we mention we’re in the midst of our final Open Nursery and Garden for 2015? Friday through Sunday, September 11-13 and 18-20 (8-5 Friday and Saturday and 1-5 Sunday) are the final opportunities to visit until February 2016. We hope you’ll bring your want list from the fall catalog or just come and stroll the gardens.
Boehmeria ‘Glow Light’
There’s so much to see in the garden this time of year, including an array of ornamental grasses and a number of fall-flowering bulbs.Cyclamen hederifolium is flowering throughout the dry shade woodland garden, Also, an incredible array of shade-loving tricyrtis (toad lilies) are at their peak with their unique orchid-like flowers. For a bright spot in the fall shade garden, there are few plants as capable of adding as much sunshine as Boehmeria ‘Glow Light’…truly radiant.
We’ve had a great lycoris (surprise lily) season and a number of late-blooming crinum lilies are flowering nicely. Peak lycoris season at JLBG is August, but there are several cultivars which flower into September as you’ll see when you visit. Crinum lilies begin as early as May for us, but many re-flower through September, while others don’t start until fall. Their cousin, the mini-hippeastrum-like Rhodophiala bifida is also providing a bright spot of red throughout the garden now. Be sure to see what these genera have to offer for your fall garden.
With our steady growth over the last couple of decades, we experienced an office space crunch, so to alleviate this, we were fortunate to recently purchase the adjacent 6-acre horse farm. While it’s sad to lose our wonderful neighbors, the Yde’s, we are excited to have more room. To get more office space, the nursery will be booting us out of our current home in the middle of the garden as soon as we build our downsized retirement home on the new property.
Anita with Frank Harmon
We are blessed to have acquired the services of one of America’s finest architects, Frank Harmon, of Raleigh, who, along with his team, have designed our new residence. (Tony was classmates with Frank’s late wife, Judy, at NC State…back in the day). The purchase will also allow us to re-configure the Open Nursery and Garden parking areas, which we believe you will enjoy. Be sure to follow the changes over the next year during each Open Nursery and Garden.
Demolition of the Yde’s Former Residence
Anita will be leading her first class at the garden this fall, but it’s not about plants. Join Anita as she leads a sensory garden walk designed to awaken the senses and quiet the thinking mind. Anita will show you how experiencing the gardens through the senses will nourish the body, mind, and spirit. If your mind is open to new experiences, don’t miss this incredible opportunity to gain new insights from a truly amazing woman…yes, I’m prejudiced. You can learn more about Anita at http://AnitaAvent.com or read her wonderful Sensuous Gardening Blog at http://www.sensuousgardening.blogspot.com/. Seating for this class is very limited.
Remember to sign up for our other classes offered this fall:
In news from the horticultural world, corporate giant, Ball Horticultural has purchased the 153-year-old Conard-Pyle Company from owner Steve Hutton, whose family has owned the business for the past 65 years. Even though you may not recognize the company name, Conard-Pyle is the manger/distributer of Knock-out roses…perhaps you’ve heard of them. They also introduced the “Blue Hollies”, the industry standard holly in the Northeast US.
Gardens of Germany
Our friend, landscape architect, Roland Oehme, son of the late landscape architect, Wolfgang Oehme is taking a plant trip to Germany and is accepting travel companions. This isn’t an organized tour per se, but a chance to visit gardens, nurseries, and study German garden design. The cost is $2500-$3000 including airfare. If you’re interested, you can email Roland at his company, Green Harmony Design, at email@example.com.
Athyrium ‘Branford Beauty’
We were saddened this month to learn of the passing of plantsman Nick Nickou, MD, of Branford, CT, who passed away at the age of 94. In addition to being a physician for 40 years, Nick was a keen gardener and plant explorer (China, Russia, Greece, South Africa, Patagonia and more). We are fortunate to have a number of plants that Nick shared, growing in our garden, including his two most popular introductions, Athyrium ‘Branford Rambler’ and Athyrium ‘Branford Beauty’. What an amazing and wonderful life!
The nursery world lost a giant this month, with the passing of retired Monrovia Nursery President/CEO, Bruce Usrey. Bruce worked with Monrovia for over 45 years, starting in plant production and working his way up to CEO and, in his later years, Managing Director. Bruce oversaw much of the tremendous expansion of Monrovia during the 1980s through the 2000s, when Monrovia became a household brand. Bruce is survived by his wife, Susie, another 40-year Monrovia veteran.
Most everyone who grew houseplants from the 1970s through the 1990s has probably heard of Peters Fertilizer, which is a worldwide industry standard for quality and performance. Many of us vividly remember their famous blue fertilizer dye, which stained our hands and made those we subsequently dined with stare with horror.
We are sad to report that Peters founder, Robert (Bob) Peters just passed away at age 97. Peters rewrote the proverbial book on liquid fertilizer during the green industry heyday. Peters started his fertilizer company in 1947, but sold it in 1979 to the Grace Company, which later became Grace-Sierra. Grace-Sierra was subsequently gobbled up by Scotts in 1993. Disenchanted by the workings of a large corporation and their unequal promotion of their Miracle-Grow brand, Peters re-purchased the rights to their fertilizer in 2002, but not their original name. They subsequently started a new company, selling the old Peters fertilizer as Jack’s at www.jrpeters.com.
Come see our 30 foot flowering agave at our final Summer Open Nursery and Garden Days this weekend. Visitors from around the country have been showing up to see our giant agave in flower, a 16-year-old specimen of Agave salmiana x Agave asperrima, with the first flowers opening right on cue for our summer open days. This is the tallest century plant we’ve ever flowered, with the tip of the spike topping out just a few inches below the 30′ tall mark. We’ve got our giant ladder perched nearby so Jeremy can make his daily pollinations, all while fighting off attacking hummingbirds.
We hope you’ll have time to walk around the garden while you’re here. The newly-opened, full sun Souto garden is looking fabulous, with so much color it’s almost overwhelming. Changes also abound throughout the older sections of the garden. Anita has suggested the removal of several formerly fenced and hedged areas to create more openness…we think you’ll enjoy these changes as much as we do.
Daylilies You’ll Notice — Royalty in the Summer Garden
If you visit during the summer, you’ll notice some rather impressive daylilies in the sunny areas. We’ve long enjoyed daylilies for their ability to add color to the summer garden and now have them showcased better than ever.
The prevailing daylily breeding trend since the 1970s has been to shrink the height of daylilies to appeal the masses. Obviously, this worked, since Hemerocallis ‘Stella D’Oro’ can be seen lining highway medians across the country. As horticultural contrarians, however, we enjoy taller daylilies, which we feel add much more visual interest to the garden. We don’t object to a few daylilies in the 3′ range, but rarely find the shorter varieties at the top of our favorites list, although some true dwarf rock garden daylilies would be fascinating.
Hemerocallis ‘Autumn Minaret’ is certainly the best known of the taller cultivars, topping out in our garden now at 6.5′ tall…yes, you read that correctly. This 1951 late season introduction was hybridized from one of the taller natural species, Hemerocallis altissima, which is actually a very small-growing plant that just happens to have a 5′ tall flower spike.
Hemerocallis ‘Black Eyed Susan’
Hemerocallis ‘Purity’ is another summer-flowering favorite. The well-branched 5′ tall flower spikes hold hundreds of yellow-orange flowers over a very long time. We can’t imagine a summer garden without this gem. While we typically don’t rave about many daylilies that flower below 3′, there are a few noticeable exceptions. One that we continually tout as one of the best is Hemerocallis ‘Black Eyed Susan’. Without question, this amazing plant is one of the most floriferous and stunning daylilies we grow. Although it only manages 32″ in height, its show power in the garden is truly hard to match.
We’ve got many more of the taller daylilies in our trials, and have even moved a bit of pollen around this summer between some of the taller varieties, so we hope you find these “off the bell curve” daylilies worth including in your own garden.
Black Bamboo Death – The End is Nigh
Phyllostachys nigra (courtesy Georges Seguin via Wikipedia)
The bamboo world has been rocked over the last few years as most of the black bamboo has begun its flowering cycle. While flowering is good in most plants, such is not the case with bamboo since, like agaves, it dies after flowering. Like century plants, a bamboo plant also takes about 100 years to flower but unlike agaves, bamboo offsets don’t survive. Since most bamboo is grown from divisions, when a particular clone flowers, it flowers everywhere around the world within a certain time window, influenced slightly by growing conditions.
Black bamboo began flowering worldwide in 2008, with many in the US starting only in the last year. Bamboo flowers are brown and insignificant, so most folks won’t even notice until the plant begins a steady decline. The sad part is that everyone’s black bamboo will die, but the up side is that more plants will be grown from seed and the new generation crop will have another 100-year lifespan. Also, all those folks who were lied to by retailers who told them black bamboo clumped will have their problem resolved. The take home lesson is that if you’re buying the running black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra), be sure to ask if it’s a new generation plant from seed or the clone which is currently flowering.
Yucca Birth Records Confusion — Who’s Your Daddy?
For many years we’ve had a fascination with yuccas and have long been convinced that the taxonomy of the Southeast native species was a mess. Reading several recent DNA papers along with some older works from the early 1900s, we realized that most of what is labeled Yucca filamentosa is actually Yucca flaccida…a completely different species.
We’re in the process of updating all of our names on the website and apologize in advance for the confusion. All of the variegated cultivars of Yucca filamentosa, except for the cultivar ‘Variegata’, are actually selections of Yucca flaccida.
Yucca gloriosa ‘Tiny Star’
Yucca filamentosa, however, is a real plant. The real plant is what is known in the trade as the coastal boat-tipped yucca. We are currently propagating some true Yucca filamentosa for inclusion in a future catalog. If you vacation along the East Coast from NC south to Florida, the small yucca you see on the dunes is Yucca filamentosa.
Also growing on the southeast coastal dunes are two other species, Yucca aloifolia and Yucca gloriosa. It has long been theorized that Yucca gloriosa might represent a natural hybrid between Yucca aloifolia and Yucca filamentosa and, sure enough, the new DNA work confirms that theory. Consequently, the name should be written correctly as Yucca x gloriosa. Now it makes sense that when we were studying yuccas last year on the NC dunes, many plants seemed to be intermediates between the three parent species. We guess our eyes were not deceiving us after all. Two papers on the subject were shared by Larry Hatch of Cultivar.org and are found below if you are scientifically nerdy enough to care.
On our many Southeast US botanizing trips we discovered other natural hybrids along with another new southeastern native yucca species that seems to have never been named. We will be working to get it described and published in the near future…an exciting time for those of us who love yuccas.
Perennial Plant Registrations
Our friend Larry Hatch is looking to fill a gap in the registration of new perennial varieties. There is supposed to be a system in place for anyone who wants to officially register, for posterity purposes, any new perennial that they name and introduce. While some genera of plants like iris, daylilies, and hostas have a dedicated registrar and a functioning system, most genera of plants either don’t have a registrar or the system is too cumbersome. The New Ornamentals Society is working to streamline the process with a new no-cost registration system. We encourage you to give it a try here.
Fern Hardiness Oops
Dryopteris labordei ‘Golden Mist’
In our trials from this winter, it has become obvious that one of the ferns we offer isn’t nearly as hardy as our liner supplier had indicated. We lost all plantings of Dryopteris labordei ‘Golden Mist’ at 9 degrees F this winter, which is a far cry from its purported Zone 5 hardiness. The problem stems from a taxonomic confusion. Dryopteris labordei is considered a synonym of Dryopteris indusiata, the latter of which is a Zone 5 plant. Obviously, the two plants are not the same. While it’s still a great fern, we are shifting its winter hardiness to Zone 8a-9b. If you purchased this based on our previous hardiness listing, just drop us a note and we’ll add a credit to your account or issue a refund. Please accept our apologies for this incorrect information.
Last month saw the passing of one of the giants of the waterlily world, Patrick Nutt, 85, longtime curator of Aquatic Plants at Longwood Gardens. Pat was revered throughout the water lily world for his encyclopedic knowledge and as a water lily breeder, promoter, and educator. Pat will be best remembered as the breeder of the internationally-renowned giant water lily Longwood Victoria, which most summer visitors to Longwood have no doubt gazed on in amazement. Pat began his career at Longwood Gardens in 1957 and remained there for the next 38 years, until his retirement in 1995. Even after his retirement, he continued to be a regular at Longwood Gardens while also traveling around the world, collecting and researching water lilies. Our condolences go out to Pat’s family and friends…life well lived!
Connect with Us!
Until next month, connect and follow us and the cats on Facebook,Pinterest, and our blog, where you may sign up and follow our regular posts from Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden.
One more weekend of our Spring Open Garden and Nursery Days remains… this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We hope you’ll join us to walk the 10+ acres of gardens and take home a few of the incredibly cool plants for sale in the nursery, many exclusives, available only at Plant Delights. The first open weekend we welcomed visitors from 21 states (Vermont to Louisiana and west to Oklahoma) and even a couple from Germany.
Visitors are enjoying the new garden areas including plantings by the sales greenhouses and the recently opened 2+ acre Souto garden section. We hope you’ll allow plenty of time to see all the amazing plants while getting lots of landscape ideas for the garden at your home.
The peonies are peaking now, with our clump of Paeonia ‘Cora Stubbs’ sporting 55 insanely fragrant flowers! Peonies like Paeonia ‘Bartzella’, which are usually finished flowering by Open Nursery and Garden Days, have just opened their first flowers. We also have four agaves in spike so far, including our largest hardy agave, Agave ‘Grey Gator’, whose spike began Thursday night.
A number of plants that sold out earlier are now back in stock with even more right behind. We hope you’ll visit the Plant Delights website often to find the best perennial treasures.
We recently posted a congratulatory note on social media to let you now about former PDN’er and NCSU graduate, Dr. Richard Olsen, who was recently appointed the new Director of your U.S. National Arboretum in Washington DC. In case you are not connected to social media, we posted how thrilled we are for Richard.
Since finishing his PhD at NCSU in 2006, Richard has worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a tree breeder. Even during Richard’s tenure at Plant Delights as a student, we knew he was an amazing plantsman, destined for horticultural greatness. It’s great to know that the folks at the U.S. Department of Agriculture recognized this too.
The U.S. National Arboretum is best known for a few of its more public plant collections: the Gotelli Conifer Garden, Asian Valley, the Bonsai pavilion, Fern Valley, and the National Herb Garden. Lesser known are many of its amazing tree collections and breeding plots that are rarely explored or off limits to visitors. These breeding programs have so far yielded over 650 plants introduced into commerce.
The 446-acre U.S. National Arboretum had lost its way in recent years. Visitors noticed the lack of general maintenance from unmown lawns to research plots where weeds were taller than the research plants. Most recently, the National Arboretum had greatly reduced their hours and were closed to the public most of the week. Coinciding with Richard’s hiring, the National Arboretum is now open again seven days a week… hooray!
The National Arboretum also endured a PR fiasco a few years earlier when a plan to get rid of parts of several plant collections (boxwoods, daylilies, azaleas) met with a very public backlash. Since that time there has been major behind the scenes strategizing involving Richard and several others to craft a long-range strategic plan for the National Arboretum.
We look forward to the Arboretum regaining the stature it once had as one of the great jewels in the U.S. horticultural crown.
In news from the nursery world, comes the closure of Greer Gardens of Oregon. For 50 years Harold Greer and his staff have made a wide assortment of rhododendrons and other amazing plants available to gardeners around the country. The Greer’s fourteen-acre garden and nursery will become a retirement home featuring many of the Greer’s amazing plants. Thanks for a great run and for all the great plants!
In other news from the nursery world, Scarlet Tanager CEO, Niles Kinerk, tells us that because sales have rebounded this spring, he will be able to scale back both Spring Hill Nursery and Michigan Bulb and not close them in June as he had previously planned. It’s always good to avert another significant loss to the mail order industry!
The More You Know
In the “you can’t make this up” file comes news that researchers have determined that moths remember on which plant they lose their virginity. A study of African moths showed that, like humans, the moths recognized and remembered their first time and returned there for subsequent mating. In this case, the moths would return to mate on a plant that wasn’t their natural preferred host simply based on good first time memories. Read the whole store here.
If you’re up for more reading, we’ve recently put a series of new plant articles on-line including many articles we write for Walter Magazine. Enjoy!
American Hosta Society Annual Convention in Raleigh June 18-20
Hosta ‘Totally Awe Sum’
Only a few weeks remain until we welcome the American Hosta Society annual convention to Raleigh. Plant Delights Nursery/Juniper Level Botanic Garden will welcome the group to dinner, tours, and shopping on June 18. We really hope you’ll be able to join us. Register to attend the events here.
Let’s Stay Connected!
Until next month, connect and follow us and the cats on Facebook, Pinterest, and our blog, where you may sign up and follow our regular posts from Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden.
It’s been quite a late winter at Juniper Level/Plant Delights, with the latest-occurring single digit temperature we’ve seen since our records began in the 1970s. Plants like helleboresin bloom when the cold snap hit have recovered, although flowers that were fully open or nearly so were slightly damaged. Hellebores are really tough and, after removing a few damaged flowers, they look great.
Helleborus x hybridus PDN Double Pink w/Spots
Plants and More Plants
Some of the very early trilliums, like the Florida forms of Trillium underwoodii, were also damaged. On a few of these, the entire stem collapsed back to the rhizome. When this happens, these trilliums will not return until next year. All of the other trillium species had the good sense to wait until later to emerge and are unscathed.
One of the benefits of cold winters is a good chilling period for most perennials. Like a bear needs to hibernate, the same is true for most perennials and the longer rest and deeper chill they receive, the better they return for the upcoming season. Consequently, we expect a stunning spring display.
The fat peony buds have already poked through the ground and started to expand. We moved quite a few of our peonies last year into sunnier areas, so we have really high expectations for 2015. We continue to expand our peonyofferings based on the results of our trials where we evaluate for good flowering and good stem sturdiness. It’s a shame that many of the best-selling peonies often don’t meet that criteria.
One of the first plants to sell out this spring was the amazing mayapple, Podophyllum ‘Galaxy’. We have another crop in the production pipeline but they aren’t ready yet…hopefully in the next few months. Thanks for your patience since there was obviously pent up demand.
The flower buds have also begun on the sarracenias (pitcher plants) in the garden. Not only is pitcher plant foliage unique in appearance and its ability to attract and digest insects, but the flowers are also amazing. Each flower arises before the foliage, atop a 6-18” tall stalk (depending on the species). The flowers, which resemble flying saucers, come in red, yellow, and bicolor.
Pitcher plants are very easy to grow in a container of straight peat moss, and kept sitting in a tray of water. In the garden, sandy soils or a combination of peat and sand work great. Just remember…no chemical fertilizers or lime nearby…they need a pH below 5.0. Pitcher plants also like damp feet but dry ankles, so growing them in a swamp is a no-no. We hope you’ll find something you like from our selection of ten different offerings.
In case you missed it, we recently added a number of new helleboresto the website, many of which are available in large enough quantities that we can offer quantity discounts. Of course, this will be the last of our hellebore crop for 2015, so when they’re gone, they’re gone for the entire year.
Thanks to everyone who visited during our winter open nursery and garden days…many braving some unseasonably cold weather. Remember that we will open again the first two weekends of May, and we expect much nicer weather for you to shop and enjoy the spring garden.
Whether you’re a ferner or a native, you may be interested in the upcoming fern meeting….aka the Next Generation Pteridological Conference, scheduled to start at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC on June 1. If you’ve got a fern “jones,” consider joining us for the Smithsonian’s fern conference. Not only will you enjoy fern presentations, but you’ll be able to talk spores, stipes, and croziers while enjoying cocktails in the nation’s capital. For more information visit http://botany.si.edu/sbs/.
A hot-button topic is invasive exotics and, like with any scientific topic, the best thing we can have is dissenting opinions. Those with an open mind will enjoy these recent eye-opening publications:
Sign Up for Close-Up Photography Workshop and Garden Walks
We have a number of educational events scheduled at Plant Delights this spring from classes to conventions and we’d love for you to join us. You’ll find our list of classes here, starting with our Close-Up Garden Photography workshop on Saturday May 2.
American Hosta Society National Convention in Raleigh June 18-20
In June, we welcome the American Hosta Society, as hosta lovers from around the world descend on the Raleigh area to share and learn about their favorite genus of plants.Plant Delights Nursery/Juniper Level Botanic Garden will welcome the group to dinner, tours, and shopping on June 18. We really hope you’ll be able to join us. Register to attend the events at americanhostasociety.org.
Let’s Stay Connected!
Until next month, connect and follow us and the cats on Facebook, Pinterest, and our blog, where you may sign up and follow our regular posts from the nursery and the botanic garden.
Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching and it’s time to forget those cut flowers that only last a few days and give the gift of long-living perennials which will remind your love of your thoughtfulness each year. The easy, stress-free way to share your love is with a Plant Delights gift certificate for your plant-loving Valentine so they can select their own favorites.
Show your love with a PDN Gift Certificate
Visit and Shop Winter Open Nursery & Garden Days
New Walkway to Souto Garden
Our upcoming Winter Open Nursery and Garden Days are only a few weeks away. We are happy to officially open the new 2-acre, full-sun Souto Garden to visitors. To facilitate entrance into the new garden section, we’ve opened up a walkway through the Nellie Stevens holly hedge from the Sunken Rain Garden. We hope you’ll enjoy this new addition with thousands of amazing new sun perennial plants and plantings.
Buy Hellebores and More
Helleborus ‘Rose Quartz’
Visit us during Winter Open Nursery and Garden Days and you’ll experience a hellebore extravaganza! We’ll have an amazing selection of flowering hellebores to choose from….most in full flower. Hellebores aren’t the only plants to see, as there are many other winter-flowering gems in the greenhouses. Of course, if you’re ready to get a jump start on your planting, all plants in the Plant Delights Nursery catalog and website will also be available, although some are still asleep for the winter. Others which are grown in greenhouses at 55 degrees will be available, but must be kept indoors until all danger of frost has passed.
Greenhouse Filled with Hellebores
See our New PDN and JLBG Signage
Anita and her team spearheaded the creation and installation of an array of new directional and informational signs around the nursery and garden offices, starting with our new entrance and exit signs. Our goal is to make navigation of our campus easier during Open Nursery and Garden Days as well as for visitors, tours, and groups.
Let’s Scan Those Purchases!
We’ve enhanced our shopping procedures for you with our new bar code scanning system. We trialed the system during our later 2014 open nursery days so we’re ready to make your checkout experience faster and more efficient for your shopping pleasure.
Happy Open Nursery Days Shoppers
Sign Up for Close-Up Photography Workshop and Garden Walks
We have a number of educational events scheduled at Plant Delights this spring from classes to conventions and we’d love for you to join us. You’ll find our list of classes here, starting with our Close-Up Garden Photography workshop on Saturday May 2.
American Hosta Society National Convention in Raleigh June 17-20
In June, we welcome the American Hosta Society, as hosta lovers from around the world descend on the Raleigh area to share and learn about their favorite genus of plants. Plant Delights Nursery/Juniper Level Botanic Garden will welcome the group to dinner, tours, and shopping on June 18. We really hope you’ll be able to join us. Register to attend the events at americanhostasociety.org.
Drones in the Garden and Nursery
Take a look at these two brand new drone videos of our botanic garden and our nursery! Our daughter, Katie, is a software architect at SAS by day and an aspiring filmmaker at night. We asked her to help us edit these two raw videos captured with the aerial drone provided by Heli-Cam Aerial Photo and Video. If you haven’t had the chance to visit the garden or the nursery, or haven’t been here in a few years, we believe these videos will give you a glimpse of how we are growing and beautifying the landscape in southern Wake County. Share these videos with your family and friends and help us raise awareness of how cool it is to visit PDN and JLBG! PDN Video JLBG Video
A Drone in the Garden
Knock Out the Nonsense…
We recently received a note from a garden writer, detailing the strong arm tactics now being used by the marketer of Knockout Roses ®, in an effort to keep their Knockout ® trademark valid. Garden writers around the county were send cease and desist letters, telling them to stop using Knockout ® as part of the cultivar name. The company, Conard Pyle of Pennsylvania, is technically correct to try and protect their trademark, but they’ve shot themselves in the proverbial foot by misnaming the individual roses.
US Trademark law does not allow a trademark to be used as the public-known name of any product. Trademarks can only be used to designate origin of the product…for example, for a series of roses. If the public, however, recognizes the trade name as the product name or part of the product name, then the trademark, despite being legally acquired, becomes invalid.
Conard Pyle would have been on solid legal footing if they had actually given the Knockout ® roses good cultivar names that the public would remember, but they intentionally didn’t do that. The official names of the Knockout roses are non-words like Rosa ‘Radrazz’, ‘Radcon’, ‘Radcor’, etc. Most of the public have no idea these are the real plant names. The public, instead, knows the rose names as Rosa ‘Pink Knockout’, Rosa ‘Rainbow Knockout’, Rosa ‘Double Knockout’, etc. That’s because this is exactly what Conard Pyle intended…even in their own marketing brochures.
The Knockout ® roses were given these non-sensical cultivar names so, when the 20-year patents expired and everyone could legally propagate the roses, they wouldn’t be able to sell them under the Knockout ® names that the public knew as the plant names. In other words, it seems that their intent was to fool the public into knowing the plants by the trademark name only…despite the non-sensical real cultivar names being included on the tag in “mice type.” By the way, the first of the Knockout ® patents to expire will be Rosa ‘Radrazz’, which will lapse in 4 years (January 2019), hence the sense of urgency.
It appears Conard Pyle’s legal team is now trying to close the proverbial barn door after the horses have left the stable. Legal letters have been so frightening to garden writers that some bloggers have gone back and changed 8-year-old posts. Perhaps this will finally be enough for garden writers to grow a spine and stop using these illegal trade names in print and on-line…a practice that would stop the nurseries from using them in short order.
One newspaper writer that we spoke with has even gone so far as to stop writing about any trademarked plant…hurrah! We need to continue to publicly shame those in our industry who persist with this confusing and improper plant naming as a way to get around the intent of US Patent and Trademark law. It’s a shame no plant people have the time or deep pockets to challenge these perpetrators in the courts. If you’d like to read more about this subject, including settled case law, you will find our other article here.
Read circa 1904 Plant Catalogs
Fellow plantsman Larry Hatch, Cultivar.org founder, sent me this interesting link from a 1904 Suzuki and Iida plant catalog. Many of the plants we consider new to the trade were actually grown and sold quite a while ago. Larry tells us that archive.org now has 12,600 different old nursery catalogs online so, if you’re snowed in or have no social life outside of gardening, like us, check these out.
Ask Tony a Question!
We love to receive queries from customers…like this great series of questions:
“Over the past 10 years we have seen the price of florist orchids plummet so that now an in bloom, good size orchid can be $10 at Trader Joes or your local grocer. I assume this is due to the fact that growers have figured out tissue culture propagation and how to grow orchids fast to flowering size. The price of many garden/terrestrial orchids has not similarly plummeted whether from PDN or other nurseries. Why not? Are they just such a different beast physiologically? Is it just because the market is so much smaller for garden orchids vs florist orchids? Or is it on the horizon but not here yet? Not suggesting you should be making less of a percent profit on each plant but just curious and would rather be able to buy (and potentially kill) a couple $30 vs one $65 Cypripedium. Thanks for any insight and absolutely no rush on an answer.”
Katie and Tony
Indeed, a company in Holland has tried to fast-track Cypripedium orchids like they have done with tropical Phalaenopsis orchids. We’ve grown quite a few of these, which arrive in the US at about 50% of the price of 8-year-old, outdoor grown ladyslipper orchids. The problem is the high mortality rate of these fast-tracked plants, which is due to something in the process of the plants being grown in accelerated growth greenhouses. So yes, but until we figure out why the plants are dying at nearly a 50% rate, you won’t see the prices coming down immediately, but there is hope.
Nursery Industry Updates
When woody plant guru, Dr. Mike Dirr officially retired from the University of Georgia, he started a plant breeding company with two local Georgia nurserymen, Jeff Beasley of Transplant Nursery and Mark Griffith of Griffith Propagation. The company, Plant Introductions Inc., founded in 2007, and its First Editions line of plant introductions was just sold to Bailey Nurseries of Minnesota.
Dr. Dirr has worked closely with Bailey’s for years, especially since he spotted the reblooming Hydrangea ‘Bailmer’…the plant you know as ‘Endless Summer’, in their fields. Bailey’s already has production facilities in Oregon so, with the addition of PI’s southeast US facilities, they’ve got much of the US covered. Despite the sale, Dirr, Beasley, and Griffith are scheduled to remain a part of PI’s team. Jeff and Lisa Beasley have also transitioned to the next generation with the sale of their own Transplant Nursery to their daughter Camilla and husband Gatlin. We wish everyone the best in the transition.
Look…NC Crops Washed Away
Are you aware of the current dangers to the North Carolina marshmallow crop? If not, please see this video right away and expect to pay more for NC marshmallows at the store. Farming is full of weather-related perils, as this video so aptly points out.
The Blues Brothers
Jake and Elwood
And at the Avent home, many of you already know we adopted two less-than-healthy twin male kittens from the Best Friends Pet Adoption late in 2014. Now, Jake and Elwood are healthy, hearty, and robust, weighing in at 10 lbs and 8 lbs, respectively. These little love machines are about 9 months old and keeping us well loved and entertained. Anita continues working with Jake in the kitchen so he can take over cooking duties for Tony and Elwood loves to play in the laundry room and nap in the sun on the cat trees. If only we could teach them to vacuum and pull weeds.
Let’s Stay Connected!
Anita and Tony
Until next month, connect with us and the cats on Facebook, Pinterest, and our blog, where you may sign up and follow our regular posts from the nursery and the botanic garden.
Greetings and Happy Holidays from all of us to you!
We hope your holiday season is merry and bright, and those of you in climates where winter gardening is possible are enjoying time in the garden. Now that the new catalog writing and proofing are completed, we’re back to spending time planting new plants and relocating old ones around the garden.
New Plant Sales Catalog at the Printer!
Our new and re-designed Plant Delights catalog is at the printer and scheduled to be on the way to your mailbox at the end of December. As always, there are plenty of cool new plants as well as many returning favorites. We’ll be featuring a few of these between now and the end of the year on our blog. We’ve (mostly Anita) been working hard with our catalog designer, Shari Sasser, to make the new print catalog more user friendly and visually appealing.
We’re Leafing in the Garden…
Epimedium leaves at JLBG
Here at Juniper Level, Todd and the garden staff are wrapping up the leaf raking for the year since all the leaves have finally fallen. The next step is re-mulching the entire garden, which will begin shortly. For this, we use a triple-shredded hardwood mulch, which we purchase locally. We like this type of mulch since it doesn’t wash in heavy rains, while allowing air and water to penetrate.
Our leaves, garden and nursery debris, and leaves from the nearby town of Garner are being piled up here to become compost. After sitting for a month, new organic debris is then mixed with our native soil at the rate of 50% each. We turn the piles five times at intervals of at least two weeks to make the compost, from which we build and rebuild our garden beds.
Look What’s Changing at JLBG
We’re also spending quite a bit of time this fall removing some large footprint plants; after which we add more of our compost mix, then replant with cool new plants. You’ll see lots of these newly replanted areas when you visit for our next open house in February.
New plantings at JLBG
2015 Open Nursery and Garden Dates Winter 2015
February 27 – March 1
March 6 – 8
We always enjoy sharing business trivia, so this month, here are a couple of our favorite top 10 lists. The first is our top 10 states by plant purchases during 2014. As you can imagine, our home state of North Carolina leads the list, but some of the others may come as a surprise, including two West Coast states that made the list. We are so grateful for all of you, no matter where you are located, who adopted our plant children this year to enjoy in your gardens.
Fall hydrangea leaves at JLBG
Top 10 States by Plant Purchases for Plant Delights in 2014
How many would you have predicted correctly?
Top 10 Best Selling Plant Groups for Plant Delights in 2014
How many items would you have predicted correctly?
Wow! This News is Helpful
And on the theme of fabulous garden news, we received a press release from a new non-profit sharing news of a brand new website, accessiblegardens.org dedicated to our gardening friends who are dealing with extraordinary medical challenges.
This unique, non-commercial website connects people with the tools they need to create an accessible garden: information, photographs, videos, building plans, links to helpful government and private agencies, seed catalogs, and designs for accessible gardens.
Accessible Gardens is an outreach project of Ophoenix, a Public Benefit Corporation in San Francisco.
The Perfect Tree – According to Anita
We’re sure many of you have seen news stories about the Tree of Forty Fruits, but if not, check out this TED video. Syracuse University art professor Sam Van Aken started a project to graft 40 different fruit trees onto a single trunk. While this certainly isn’t a new idea, Sam’s take on fruit tree grafting is to perform the grafting for artistic reasons as well as for fruit production. We think you’ll find this pretty cool. By the way, Sam received his Masters of Fine Arts degree in 2001 from the University of North Carolina.
Munchkin, Spring Hill and Michigan Bulb Closing…
It’s always sad to lose another mail order nursery family, but we will be saying goodbye to more stalwarts. Plantsman Gene Bush ofMunchkin Nursery in Indiana has retired from the mail order business. Although Munchkin was not a large nursery, Gene did a superb job offering rare and hard-to-find treasures, while doing a great job educating gardeners. Thanks for all your hard work, Gene!
On a much larger scale, two of the largest and oldest mail order nurseries in the country are scheduled to close this June…Spring Hill Nursery (1849) and Michigan Bulb Nursery (1943). Both nurseries were rescued (along with many others) from bankruptcy in 2001 byNiles Kinerk of Gardens Alive.
Niles and his team have been able to rebuild the sales volume for all of the purchased companies, but Spring Hill Nursery and Michigan Bulb have not provided the positive cash flow needed to remain viable. Consequently, to avoid bankruptcy and be sure that all vendors are paid, both companies will operate through the spring season before closing in June 2015. This is a sad day for the mail order nursery industry, and there is always a glimmer of hope for a white knight to ride in to save the day, but the prospects don’t look good.
Mystic Creek at JLBG in Autumn
Plant Breeding Honors Go To…
Congratulations to Dr. Mike Dirr, retired professor from the University of Georgia, for being named a fellow by the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Mike is one of only 170 inventors, and the first plant breeder to receive the honor. Fellow status is granted to those who have created or facilitated outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society. Kudos to Mike!
The Life and Times of Henry Ross
We were saddened to learn of the loss of Gardenview Horticultural Park founder Henry Ross, who passed away at age 87. Most likely, few people outside of Cleveland, Ohio, or the plant nerd community have ever heard of Henry, but he was quite a horticultural force. Since 1949, Henry worked tirelessly at transforming a 16 acre plot of overgrown land in the town of Strongsville, Ohio (now in the middle of Cleveland), into a horticultural paradise. We’ve had the pleasure of visiting Henry many times, starting in 1993, and always learned new plants we didn’t know about before.
Henry Ross in his garden
Henry was an amazing plantsman, but his lack of people skills kept him from receiving the accolades other contemporaries received, turning Henry into a bitter curmudgeon. As Henry tried to raise an endowment to continue the garden after his death, he consistently shot himself in the proverbial foot, alienating the majority of people who tried to help. Henry was the classic paradox, one of the most kind and gentle people we’d ever met, but his bitterness and resentment were his own worst enemy.
Gardenview Horticultural Park
Henry had trouble finding garden help because few people could match Henry’s standards of rising before dawn, living in a proverbial shack, sans paycheck, and working in the garden until falling asleep at night…regular bathing was a time luxury that Henry simply couldn’t afford. Finally, in 1995, that one in a million person showed up in the person of Mark LaRosa, who moved into the property’s guest shack and became Henry’s protégé. LaRosa has worked at Gardenview since 1995, and continues there after Henry’s passing. Just like with Henry, who lived off his military retirement, LaRosa is not paid.
Henry introduced several plants during his lifetime, most notably, Ajuga ‘Arctic Fox’, Hosta ‘Solar Flare’, and Monarda ‘Gardenview Scarlet’. Henry had many more plants that should have been introduced, but his deepening neurosis of not getting enough credit kept him from sharing further.
Gardenview‘s Board of Directors is now attempting to move the non-profit garden into its post-founder phase, finally without Henry’s resistance. Their hope is to build both an endowment and generate funding so the garden can finally have paid staff. If you’d like to visit or donate, you can find out more here and here…of course the garden couldn’t afford a real website. Henry…you’ve lived a full and amazing life and here’s to the prosperous future of Gardenview Horticultural Park.
Let’s Stay Connected!
Until next month, connect with us on Facebook, Pinterest, and ourblog, where you may sign up and follow our regular posts from the nursery and the botanic garden.
As we approach the holidays we are so thankful to share our plant passion with each of you. Thank you for ordering from PDN, reading our blog, and sharing our passion on social media. We are so blessed on many levels.
New Catalog Update
As you probably know, October and November are both catalog writing months at Plant Delights. This year, it’s been great to take advantage of our improved wireless access at Juniper Level Botanic Garden to write from a golf cart as we traverse the garden with tape measures and cameras in hand.
We’re still amazed how often our measurements and observations in the garden are at such odds with information published by plant marketers on-line. So much of the discrepancy is because most plant breeders and plant marketers only trial plants for container production. You’d be shocked how many new plants are sold to an unsuspecting public that have never been trialed in a garden.
We are in the process of assembling our 2015 spring catalog for you and it will contain over 100 new perennials including quite a few of our own introductions of asarum, arisaema, baptisia, epimedium, and more. We’re continuing to tweak the format of our print catalog layout to include larger plant images…we hope you enjoy the changes. Let us know what you’d like to see in the catalogs going forward, as well as your comments on format.
Cypripediums and Rohdea japonica
Cypripedium at JLBG
Speaking of plants, the fall harvest of cypripedium ladyslipper orchids is complete and everything is now potted, so if you’d prefer to get your cypripediums in the ground now while they’re dormant, the new crop is on-line.
We also have a one-time offer this fall. Our seed crops of Rohdea japonica have been quite prolific the last few years, so we have more than we currently need. While our surplus lasts, they are available in quantities of 100 or more for $4 each, what a bargain! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.
Shipping Season Ends
We’re wrapping up our 2014 plant shipping season in the first week of December, so this is your last chance to get your fall order shipped before our shipping season resumes in mid-February, weather permitting. That being said, we are always willing to work with you should a horticultural emergency arise between now and then, weather permitting.
JLBG – Autumn Nudity
The fall gardening season is fully upon us now that we’ve had our first hard freeze. Thank goodness, we haven’t had weather like Denver, where it dropped to -14F on November 13…yikes! There are plenty of things in the fall garden we could do without…hibernating perennials and leaf raking come to mind. While the process of leaf raking is tedious, we sure love the resulting compost, so let ‘em fall.
As horticultural voyeurs, we also enjoy watching the garden embrace its fall nudity. Just like disrobing for a shower, the clothes, jewelry, and makeup comes off the garden in fall. Instead of seeing the flashy garden bling of spring and summer, the fall season puts an emphasis on structure and good bones.
Hydrangea and Fall Color at JLBG
JLBG – Evergreens
Evergreens, which mostly fade into the background during spring and summer, suddenly become more visible. Sans foliar clothes, butchered trees and shrubs scream to the world…look at me…I’ve been abused. Late fall is always a great time to take stock of your landscape. How does it look after all the leaves have fallen? The proverbial fall horticultural mirror will indeed show all the garden faults that could stand to be corrected. Would additional evergreen shrubs or perennials help the garden look better through the winter months? We happen to be quite enamored with evergreen plants and have created a website category to make it easier to find these plants: Evergreen Perennials.
JLBG – Compost
Surely, by now, everyone has a compost pile. If you’re short of space, it’s easy enough to rake fallen leaves into a path or lawn, mow them with a mulching mower, and then sprinkle them back into the beds, where they will feed the microbes and, eventually, the plant roots below. Remember the microbes in the soil are responsible for feeding your plants as well as fighting off diseases. These microbes must feed on carbon, which comes from organic compost, so if you compost properly, you should never need to buy salt-based chemical fertilizers.
JLBG – Soil Moisture and Temperature
Also, be sure to also keep a check on garden soil moisture. High fall winds in some parts of the country tend to dry out both foliage and soils at a time when many gardeners don’t think about soil moisture due to the cooler temperatures. Most plants really need good soil moisture going into the fall. Be sure to keep a check to make sure your soil and plants don’t become too dry.
If you grow tender perennials and are in a region where they need to come indoors, hopefully you’ve already taken care of those chores. If not, you can read our article about overwintering tropicals for some helpful information. If your ground doesn’t freeze early, this is still a great time to plant perennials. We haven’t slowed down getting new plants in the ground, and in a typical winter, we only have a few weeks when we can’t plant.
JLBG – New Garden Beds, Displays, and Designs
We’ve updated many of our perennial beds and have created several beautiful new display areas throughout the garden showcasing our unique and rare perennials. Right now we’re in the midst of a major new planting renovation around our sales greenhouses that we can’t wait for you to see in spring. We’ve removed over 30 18-foot-wide Nellie Stevens hollies to make room for some of Jeremy’s rockwork and a host of cool new plants. Plan to come see us at the 2015 Winter Open Nursery and Garden Days in late February and early March to see Jeremy’s gorgeous rockery designs.
2015 Open Nursery and Garden Dates Winter 2015
February 27 – March 1
March 6 – 8
We’d like to make your holiday shopping experience easier this year by suggesting you visit our website to purchase our Plant Delights Nursery Gift Certificates for all the gardeners and plant lovers on your shopping list.
Our gift certificates are a great way to give or send expressions of your love and good wishes without going through the hassle of driving, parking, and dealing with the holiday crowds! Gift certificates are available from $40.00, and we will gladly mail one directly to the recipient with a nice personal note and our latest plant catalog.
Our gift certificates may be used any time (they do not expire) and will take the guesswork out of gift-giving for that hard-to-buy-for gardener in your life. And we’ll even cover the cost of postage to mail your gift certificate and catalog to each recipient this year!
So cozy up to your tablet or laptop and let us assist you with sending plant and gardening cheer to all your gardening and plant-loving family and friends!
Plant Delights Gift Certificates, a great way to say “I love you!”
Congratulations JCRA, Duke Gardens, and UNCC Gardens!
In case you missed it, an academic website called BestMastersProgram.org just published a new list of the Best University Associated Arboretums and Botanic Gardens in the world. Congratulations to the three NC university gardens that made the list…well deserved!
JC Raulston Arboretum #8
Duke Gardens #4
Garden Industry News
In other news, we recently received a note from Jacque Wrinkle, widow of the late plantsman Guy Wrinkle, that she has put their dream home and one acre garden in Vista, California, up for sale. The property also includes a 3,000 square foot greenhouse and a wide array of cool plants. So, if you’re in that area, or want to move to this horticulturally rich area…especially if you’re a plant collector, here are a couple of links where you can find out more:
On a sad note this month, longtime friend Joe Gray passed away on October 16 of pancreatic cancer at the far too young age of 58. Many of you in the horticulture industry knew Joe from trade shows, but many more were affected by Joe’s work without knowing it.
Joe spent nearly 30 years working for Hines Nurseries, starting as a salesman and quickly rising to COO. Joe was one of the leaders of Hines Nurseries when they were the largest nursery in the US. As an avid plantsman, Joe’s passion for plants was reflected in many of the plants Hines made available, mostly through independent garden centers around the country.
Joe was one of the truly top notch people in our industry and he’ll be sorely missed. Joe is survived by his wife Carol and three sons, Nicholas, Miles, and Christopher. In lieu of flowers, the Gray family requests donations to American Pancreatic Action Network, 1500 Rosecrans Ave #200, Manhattan Beach, Ca 90266.
Until next month, we’ll see you here on the Plant Delights blog where you may sign up and follow our regular posts from the nursery and the botanic garden.
-tony and anita
Garden Color for Fall and Winter
Rohdea japonica is a highly-prized, tropical-looking, oriental native that mimics the appearance of an evergreen hosta. The 1′ long x 2″ wide, thick, dark green leaves form an upright vase-shaped clump to 2′ wide in 10 years. Late in the season, the insignificant flowers produce attractive short stalks of red berries that persist through the winter at the base of the plant. When used en masse, rohdeas are a dynamite evergreen winter interest addition to the deep shade garden. We have masses of Rohdea japonica growing at the base of giant black walnut trees…can you say tough?
Illicium parviflorum ‘Florida Sunshine’
We brought three golden seedlings of the rare Florida endemic Illicium parviflorum back from a 2000 visit to Florida plantsman Charles Webb. After several years of evaluation, we selected one plant for introduction asIllicium ‘Florida Sunshine’. Our 7-year-old specimen has become a small shrub to 5′ tall x 3′ wide of anise-fragranced, chartreuse gold foliage during the spring and summer. As the weather cools in fall, the leaf color brightens to screaming yellow, then becomes a near parchment color by midwinter. During the same time, the upper stems take on a brilliant red cast, contrasting vividly with the leaves. In sun, the winter foliage will scorch, so we recommend this be grown in light shade…a stunning beacon in the winter garden.
Iris unguicularis ‘Dazzling Eyes’
Iris ‘Dazzling Eyes’is a 2004 Rick Tasco hybrid that has shown incredible vigor in our trials. Iris ‘Dazzling Eyes’ has a nice white and purple striped eyezone inside the blue-lavender petals. As with all Iris unguicularis cultivars, Iris ‘Dazzling Eyes’ likes a bright sunny location and good drainage…best beside a large rock. For us, flowering usually begins in November and continues through March, pausing only for extremely cold weather.
We hope you’ve received your copy of the Fall 2014 Plant Delights Nursery catalog. Kudos to our graphic designer Shari Sasser at Sasser Studios for the catalog redesign and new look. Among other things, the fall catalog includes three new aucubas, six new crinum lilies, and twenty new fern offerings. These are a fraction of the many exciting new plants you’ll find either in the print version or online.
Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, 8am–4pm
Garden Photography – Photo Capture and Processing with Josh Taylor
Learn how to get the best possible images from your camera and how to process your images in Lightroom with Photoshop/Photoshop Elements.
The morning focus of this all-day workshop will be on learning and getting reacquainted with your camera ISO settings, histogram, exposure compensation, shooting modes, bracketing, white balance, etc. You’ll spend 3 hours in the garden with your camera and the instructor.
The afternoon session will be devoted to post-processing with Lightroom using participants’ images for demonstrations. Register hereor call to register at 919-772-4794. See some examples of Josh’s work on his website: www.joshuataylorphotography.com.
Sweden & Germany 2014 Expedition Log
We’ve finally finished the online version of Tony’s expedition log from his trip to Germany and Sweden this spring…lots of cool plants, great gardens, and amazing people. If you’d like to travel along, enjoy the trek here.
Main building at the Munich Botanical Garden
Last Open Nursery and Garden Days for 2014 are Sept. 19-21
Grasshopper on Hibiscus ‘Turn of the Century’
This weekend, we’re putting the wraps on our final open nursery and garden days for 2014, so we hope you can make the trip to Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden to share the splendor of the fall gardens. Not only is there lots to see here in September, but our muscadine grape trials are ripe, so you can sample each variety while you’re here…or park your spouse under the grapevines to keep them from pestering you while you peruse the gardens and shop.
2015 Open Nursery and Garden Dates Winter 2015
February 27 – March 1
March 6 – 8
In most parts of the country, it’s a fabulous time to plant…everything except agaves, echinaceas, bananas, and elephant ears (from Zone 7b north). North of us, just don’t plant anything marginally hardy in your zone as your first frost approaches and, in climates where the ground freezes in winter, allow enough time to get the roots anchored to keep the plants from heaving out of the ground.
Four months ago, we posted photos of our new four seasons garden that we’d just installed near our retail greenhouses. This section of the garden is now 16 weeks old, so we’d love for you to see what it looks like now and see how much it’s grown…a great demonstration why good organic soil preparation is so important and how much plants will grow when they’re properly cared for.
Four Seasons Garden – May 2014
Four Seasons Garden – September 2014
Nursery Industry News
PDN kudos to Plant Delights customer Allen Lacy, the founder and chief weed puller at the new Linwood Arboretum. Allen received some great publicity recently in an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer that we’d like to share.
We were also glad to see a recent article about our friend, the late Logan Calhoun, that just appeared in the Dallas News. Logan was a Plant Delights customer who shared many special plants that we still offer today…fifteen years after his untimely death.
In other news from the nursery world, Q&Z Nursery of Rochelle, Illinois, a major wholesale hosta tissue culture lab, is closing its doors. Although very disappointing, I can’t say I’m surprised. Q&Z, which has operated for 22 years since splitting from its former retail division T&Z, chose its market niche to be a hosta liner supplier to small mom and pop backyard nurseries.
They did this by offering a huge selection of new hostas (over 400 of their own introductions), without much, if any, in-ground evaluation, introducing seemingly every mutation that they found in the lab. If they tissue cultured a variegated hosta and it mutated back green, they would name and introduce the plant, knowing these small nurseries were usually more interested in having new hosta names in their catalog than having the best new hostas. This business model cost them the business of larger, more discriminating retailers, especially because they rarely had good photography of mature clumps of their new introductions…the single most important factor in properly introducing a new plant. Still, a few of their hostas turned out to be good plants that had staying power, including Hosta ‘Diamond Tiara’, ‘Pineapple Upside-down Cake’, Hosta ‘Radiant Edger’, Hosta ‘Sugar and Cream’, Hosta ‘Sugar and Spice’, Hosta ‘Summer Breeze’, ‘Summer Lovin’, and Hosta ‘Victory’.
Hosta ‘Summer Lovin’
Once the economy tanked, it took many of the smaller nurseries with it, making it even more difficult for such a business model to be sustainable. The founder/owner, Mark Zilis, is one of the most knowledgeable folks in the hosta world, as witnessed by his landmark hosta book, The Hostapaedia, which you can currently still purchase on the Q&Z website.
We’d like to publicly thank Mark and his staff for their contributions to the world of hostas, and wish them the best in their future endeavors.
Garden Director Needed
In local news, one of our neighboring botanic gardens is in need of a new director. Dr. Peter White, director of the NC Botanical Garden, is stepping down to return to teaching and writing, so the garden is in need of a new director. Interested? If so, you can find out more here.
Wedding Anniversary Flowers
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Yofloma’
Do you struggle with what to get that special gardener in your family? Consider giving a wedding anniversary flower. Not only are there designated precious stones to celebrate wedding anniversaries, but there are designated plants. The list below suggests what you might present plantwise.
We try to share important life events from the horticultural world, but here’s one we missed. Ken Durio, 84, founder and president of the infamous Louisiana Nursery passed away last fall on October 28. I say infamous because Louisiana Nursery, was always the topic of customer stories whenever plant people gathered to discuss their new acquisitions. From the 1960s through the 1990s, if you wanted a rare plant…especially a woody plant, there were few sources other than Louisiana Nursery of Opelousas, Louisiana.
Hemerocallis ‘August Flame’
While Louisiana Nursery listed virtually every plant you could imagine, to the tune of 5,000 listings in their prime, the quality of the plants you received, combined with the extravagant prices and their less than stellar customer service, made it a major frustration for most consumers. I’ll never forget ordering their $5 catalog in the late 1980s only to get a return note asking which of their 12 catalogs I wanted…at $5 each…the iris catalog, the hemerocallis catalog, the magnolia catalog, etc.
Ken Durio was an avid and knowledgeable plantsman who started Louisiana Nursery soon after graduating from LSU in 1950. Although it seems hard to imagine today, back in the 1950s and 1960s, Louisiana was one of the epicenters of plant exploration and introduction in the US.
By the 1980s, Ken Durio had developed a reputation as one of the most ornery and curmudgeonly nurserymen in the country, which is why, when I was asked to speak in Baton Rouge in 1996, I told them I would only come if they’d take me to meet the infamous Ken Durio. After trying to talk me out of it, they reluctantly relented and off we went. Despite many tales of people being run off the nursery for no apparent reason, I found Ken both welcoming, hospitable, and glad to chat plants. By this time, however, the nursery had become quite run down as sales had dramatically declined. Louisiana Nursery (no relation to the garden center, Louisiana Nursery.com) became a victim of the Internet, as gardeners were now able to find better quality plants cheaper and without so much hassle.
Iris unguicularis ‘Purple Snow’
No matter what you thought of their business, their plant collections and breeding efforts in groups like iris, daylilies, magnolias, and figs were truly remarkable. One of Ken’s surviving sons, Dalton, recently returned home to take care of his dad in the last stages of life and is currently trying to resurrect the nursery. Fingers crossed for a successful re-launch. You can watch his progress at www.durionursery.biz.
Until next month, join us on the Plant Delights blog , where you can sign up and follow our regular posts from the nursery and garden.
We hope you are enjoying your garden this summer and taking time to relax a bit, especially when the temperatures are soaring.
It was so nice to see and chat with many of you at the Summer Open Garden and Nursery Days last weekend.
Echinaceas in the Souto Garden June 2014
The garden has been brimming with colors this summer, especially the new Souto Memorial Garden which is currently under development. We installed irrigation throughout the garden beds and paths in the Souto Garden earlier this year, and the plantings are displaying nicely. We’re excited to finally showcase this area of Juniper Level soon!
As we mentioned in our last newsletter, we’ve had eight more agaves (century plants) flowering this year, so our research horticulturist, Jeremy Schmidt, has been busy on one of several ladders making crosses between the species. From his crosses last year, we now have hybrids of Agave striata x Agave lophantha. We’re still a year away from these being large enough for the garden, but the potential is wonderful. We also have nice pots of seedlings from our giant hybrid of Agave salmiana v. ferox x Agave scabra that visitors marveled over during Summer Open Nursery and Garden days.
Not quite the mile high club, but Jeremy and an agave getting it on. Onlookers optional.
No guns banned here: lots of pistils and anthers.
In the arisaema world, we now have confirmed hybrids from our crosses of Arisaema fargesii x A. triphyllum and Arisaema triphyllum x A. taiwanense. Our first hybrid arisaema, a cross of Arisaema fargesii x A. heterophyllum, that we named Arisaema ‘Crossing Over’ will finally be available for spring 2015. It’s a rather amazing plant!
Although these are a bit farther in the future, many other horticultural gems will be available in our upcoming fall Plant Delights Nursery catalog, which we’ve been compiling since May. First, we decided which new plants made the garden performance cut, and then we propagated in enough quantities to share. The new catalog will be mailed, and available on-line, around mid-August…more anticipation than in a bottle of Heinz® ketchup.
Is Life a Drag? Volunteer at JLBG!
For over 20 years, we have been blessed to have incredible volunteers assist us in the gardens and research sections of Juniper Level Botanic Garden. We’d love for you to join us to volunteer and learn at one of the top plant collections in the country. Volunteer opportunities involve a range of activities from planting to labeling to garden maintenance. If you have some spare time or are nearing those treasured retirement years and you want to immerse yourself in horticulture, we hope you’ll consider becoming a garden or research volunteer. For more information, contact Heather Brameyer at 919.772.4794 or e-mail email@example.com.
Volunteers Sally & Eric Benson keeping JLBG beautiful.
Southeast Palm Society Summer Meeting
We are pleased to announce we will be hosting the summer meeting of the Southeast Palm Society on Saturday, August 9, 2014. Guests are welcome to attend as well as SPS members. There are no reservations needed for the event…all we ask is that you let us know by August 1, if you’ll be here for lunch so we can have enough food. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than August 1, 2014.
Schedule: Southeast Palm Society at Plant Delights Nursery/Juniper Level Botanic Garden
History of PDN & JLBG (slide show in PDN Education Center)
Explore Juniper Level Botanic Garden on your own
General meeting (Patio Garden)
Lunch at PDN, provided by PDN (Patio Garden, must sign up by August 1, 2014)
Guided Tour of JLBG Palm Collections
Guided Tour of JLBG Succulent Collections
PDN and JLBG will be open to attendees from 9:00am – 4:00pm on August 9, 2014.
New! Photography Class with Professional Garden Photographer Josh Taylor
JLBG’s Grotto Garden October 2013
Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, 8am–4pm
Garden Photography – Photo Capture and Processing with Josh Taylor
Our instructor, Josh Taylor, is a professional garden photographer, workshop leader, and Canon camera instructor. Josh limits the class to 15 attendees so he can offer individual instruction, so please register early to ensure a spot! Learn how to get the best possible images from your camera and how to process your images in Lightroom with Photoshop/Photoshop Elements.
The fall landscape of the Juniper Level Botanic Garden at Plant Delights Nursery will be the setting for practicing camera skills. The morning focus of this all-day workshop will be on learning and getting reacquainted with your camera ISO settings, histogram, exposure compensation, shooting modes, bracketing, white balance, etc. You’ll spend 3 hours in the garden with your camera and the instructor.
The afternoon session will be devoted to post-processing with Lightroom using participants’ images for demonstrations. If you’re new to Lightroom or moving from Aperture or iPhoto to Lightroom, this workshop will be most helpful in getting you up to speed. You will learn how to import and process your photos in Lightroom. This workshop is designed for increasing your photographic skills and the joy of using your camera. Register here or call to register at 919-772-4794. See some examples of Josh’s work on his website: www.joshuataylorphotography.com.
New! Hosta Society National Convention – June 18, 2015 at Plant Delights Nursery
Please mark your calendar for June 18, 2015 to attend the 2015 Hosta Society National Convention. More details as we receive them.
Hosta ‘Ice Follies’ PPAF
2014 Fall Open Nursery and Garden Days
This will be our last Open Nursery and Garden event until late February 2015. Plan to join us to see our gorgeous fall offerings in the greenhouses and the botanic garden.
September 12-14 Friday/Saturday 8a-5p and Sunday 1-5p September 19-21 Friday/Saturday 8a-5p and Sunday 1-5p
Rain or Shine! Free Parking Click for more info
Heronswood: East Coast Edition Sunken Garden at JLBG July 2014
It’s All About the Plants
Growing and propagating plants is a lot like taking care of newborns. We have to feed them around the clock, keep the temperature and humidity comfortable for them, and diagnose and treat them when they are sick. And yes, we have to check them in the middle of the night when the monitor sounds off next to our bed indicating something is wrong in the environment or the equipment – even when it’s 9 degrees outside. Plantsmen and their families seldom sleep through the night, just ask them!
Wilbur, our irrigation system, has been an integral part of caring for our plants over the last two decades. He had become a part of the PDN family, so it was hard to retire him this year when finding replacement parts for him, a program written in DOS in the 1980s, proved impossible.
Our weather station rocks like Beyoncé!
After much research and review, Mike Spafford, PDN’s Nursery Manager, selected the replacement for Wilbur to be a new and sophisticated Tucor irrigation system. The fine folks at John Deere helped Mike and his staff through the process to procure and install the new system. Since May this year, our brand new irrigation system keeps the 30 greenhouses programmed to water plants according to current temperatures, humidity, and some other variables the new technology provides. The staff named the new irrigation system Beyoncé, since it’s so cool, sleek, and a real performer! Now the staff can rest a little bit easier since parts are readily available for Beyoncé when she needs a new gig.
Bar Code Scanning
We finally made another leap (with some trembling) into the 21st century with bar code scanning in the nursery for inventory and during checkout at Open Nursery Days. We’ve been practicing using the scanners and working out the software bugs since last fall and we did a test drive last weekend at the Summer Open Nursery and Garden Days. The response was very positive from our onsite customers since the lines at order write-up and checkout were significantly reduced. Thanks for your patience as we continue to enhance your shopping experience when you purchase unique and cool plants from us!
We welcome Charlotte Saine as our new JLBG Research Assistant for Field Production. Working with JLBG Research Horticulturist Jeremy Schmidt and current JLBG Research Assistant Jared Chauncey, Charlotte will be doing lots of digging in the dirt in our acres of field trial and research beds, helping keep the data on each plant accurate and updated. Charlotte earned an Associates Degree in Horticulture from Sandhills Community College and was also our Summer Intern from Sandhills CC last year. We are delighted to see the younger generation of plant geeks be as passionate about plants as we are!
In Science News
Caterpillar on JLBG Dahlia June 2014
Interesting research at the University of Missouri demonstrated plants have the ability to “hear.” It seems that their “hearing” affects a plant’s ability to ward off pests. Researchers played noises of caterpillars munching on foliage to one group of plants while keeping a control group in silence. Later when the real caterpillars were set loose on the plants, the group that had been exposed to the caterpillar sound earlier produced more natural caterpillar repellents. Plants exposed to different vibrational sounds, opposed to silence, acted like the control group and didn’t produce the repellents.
Researchers are unsure how the plants “hear,” but assume it involves pressures on mechanoreceptor proteins, which calls for more research…i.e. another grant. You can read more here.
“Moving on to new adventures” is the phrase uttered with the retirement of two preeminent horticulturists. Holly Shimizu retired as director of the US Botanic Garden in May, after holding the position since 2000. Holly had previously served as the Herb Garden Curator at the US National Arboretum and later as the Director of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Virginia. Holly is a true national treasure, and I’m sure many of you have read Holly’s writings or enjoyed her wonderful presentations. Holly tells me that she has many interests in retirement but isn’t sure yet where her new chapter in life will take her. Re-working her home garden and starting one at her vacation home top the list.
Rocking into Retirement!
Also, slated for retirement this fall is Dr. Larry Mellichamp, professor of Botany at UNC-Charlotte and Director of the UNC-Charlotte Botanical Gardens. Like Holly, Larry has had a huge impact on the world of horticulture through his writing and many presentations…as well as his hybrid pitcher plant introductions. If you’ve never visited the gardens at UNC-Charlotte, check ’em out before Larry departs the scene in October.
We’ve learned of the deaths of several prominent members of the horticultural community since our last newsletter, including Rosemary Bloom, wife of UK plantsman Adrian Bloom (Blooms of Bressingham) on May 26. We mentioned Rosemary’s illness in our last communication.
Around the same time, we’ll miss cycad (sago palm) giant Loran Whitelock, who died on May 14 at age 84. Loran first worked for the City of Los Angles before becoming a garden designer and cycad nurseryman. Cycad Gardens, which Loran started in 1972 at his home in Eagle Rock, California, held one of the most extensive cycad collections in the world. Loran, preceded in death by his wife Eva in 2007, had already laid the groundwork for his entire collection to be donated to the Huntington Botanical Gardens after his death.
During his lifetime, Loran regularly traveled to remote locations around the world to study cycads, and was very active in conservation work of this highly exploited group of plants. Not only did Loran travel, but he also wrote extensively about cycads. His most famous publication is the encyclopedic book The Cycads published by Timber Press in 2002. Loran’s contributions to the world of cycads were so extensive he was honored by having two cycads named after him: Encephalartos whitelockii and Ceratozamia whitelockiana.
Although we only met Loran once for dinner during our 2009 Agave summit in San Diego, he was a charming man, encyclopedic in his knowledge and gentle and giving in spirit. Job well done!
On the east coast another giant recently died, Kurt Bluemel, on June 4. Kurt was fondly known as the King of Ornamental Grasses for his pioneering work with the group. In 1964, the Czech Republic immigrant started his nursery in Fallston, Maryland, with German immigrant the late Wolfgang Oehme. The focus of Kurt’s nursery was ornamental grasses at a time when grasses were virtually unknown commercially in the US.
Kurt was always very generous with his time and knowledge when Tony was a young plantsman making regular pilgrimages to visit Kurt’s nursery and gardens in the late 1980s. At the time, there were very few nurseries with the selection of perennials and ornamental grasses that were available from Bluemel’s. Although Bluemel’s Nursery had both wholesale and retail divisions, it was the landscaping division that generated the lion’s share of their income, thanks to Kurt’s artistic eye and exacting understanding of design. Kurt would later open a Florida Nursery, Floraland, to supply plants for the Deep South, particularly to Disneyworld. Some of Kurt’s own introductions are still industry staples, Schizachyrium ‘The Blues’, Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’, and Eupatorium ‘Gateway’.
Kurt’s loss was a shock to all that knew him as he was indeed larger than life and had just returned from a botanizing trip to, of all places, Death Valley, just prior to being diagnosed with a very aggressive liver cancer. These trips were regular adventures with his famed traveling friends, plantsmen Ratzeputz Gang. Through the years, Bluemel’s Nursery served as a training ground for many of the world’s current crop of top horticulturists, so his influence will live on well into the future.
Solitude in JLBG’s Woodland Garden July 2014
On a more local note, Raleigh plantsman Norman Beal died on July 12 after a four year battle with auto-immune disease. Three years ago, Norman sold his amazing Raleigh garden, which had been featured on countless regional and national garden tours.
Norman started his garden in the early 1990s, after retiring from the Virginia Cooperative Extension service and moving to Raleigh to garden like a crazed person for his remaining years. Garden he did, not only filling his garden with a plethora of aesthetically arranged rare treasures, but then taking over the adjacent gardens of four neighbors and gardening their land like his own. Norman was indeed a one of a kind…as generous as opinionated, always wearing his long tan pants and blue oxford shirt, which we all assumed he slept in as well. When you see a plant with the prefix Greystone, it is likely one of Norman’s many introductions. We’ll miss you my friend…life well lived and garden well grown!
As we mentioned in an earlier email, we experienced the perfect storm of events which impacted our order processing and shipping operations this spring. The combination of delayed ordering due to the long winter, a nearly universal demand for plants to be shipped in May, and the poorly-designed e-commerce system we purchased in December have created an operational and shipping nightmare. The entire company is working in crisis mode and we are burning the midnight oil to fulfill orders and work through the issues.
We know these delays are unacceptable to you and they are unacceptable to us as business owners. We appreciate your patience and your notes of support as we work to ship the orders that were delayed.
Despite seeming like spring has only just begun, we’re actually only a few weeks from the official start of summer. Rains have been steady so far this year, although our recent May rain of 5.17 inches was a bit more than we would have preferred for a single weather event. Fingers crossed for a great gardening summer in most parts of the country, although our thoughts are with those in the already drought stricken areas like California, Texas, and Oklahoma.
Spring open garden and nursery days were well attended and it was wonderful meeting so many folks, including visitors from as far away as California. It’s always great to put faces with the names that we’ve previously met only on social media. Because our growing season was two weeks later than normal, visitors were able to see different plants than they normally see in spring, including peak bloom on many of the early peonies. At least it was dry during open garden and nursery, which is always a relief.
Cattail Bridge at Mystic Creek
Weathering the Winter in JLBG
In the last couple of weeks, the agaves here at Juniper Level B.G. have awoken from their winter slumber with seven species so far sending up flower spikes. It looks like we’ll be breaking out the tall ladders for some high-wire sexual liaisons before long. We didn’t get great seed set on last year’s century plant breeding, but the highlights of the successful crosses were hybrids of Agave victoriae-reginae and Agave americana ssp. protamericana which we expect will turn out to be quite interesting. Although only six months old, we can already tell they’re truly unique.
We continue to watch as plants in the garden recover from the severe winter. Most of the cycads (sago palms) we cut back have resprouted, with a few still to begin. So far, the only sure loss from that group was a several year old Dioon merolae. Most of our palms came through the winter okay, except for those in an out-lying low part of the garden, where damage to windmill palms was quite severe.
Many of the butia, or jelly palms, we thought survived have now declined to a brown pile of branches. We’re not giving up quite yet, as one Butia x Jubaea that we thought was a goner when the spear pulled (a term for the newly emerging leaves rotting so that they easily pull out of the top) has just begun to reflush.
Bananas have been slow to return for many customers, including the very hardy Musa basjoo. It seems that gardeners in colder zones who mulched their bananas have plants which are growing now. Perhaps this past winter will put a damper on the mail order nurseries who continue to list plants like Musa basjoo as hardy to Zone 4 and 5, (-20 to -30 degrees F), which is pure insanity.
Hans and Tony courtesy of C. C. Burrell
We are grateful Tony had the opportunity to speak recently at the relatively new Paul J. Ciener Botanic Garden in Kernersville, NC. This small botanic garden is truly delightful, and the staff, including former JLBG curator Adrienne Roethling, have done a great job in the first phase of their development. We hope you’ll drop by if you’re heading through NC on Interstate 40.
Tony also spoke in Memphis last month, and then he headed into the Ozarks for some botanizing in northwest Arkansas. He had an amazing several days that resulted in finds like a stoloniferous form of Viola pedata, several trilliums he’d never seen before, and a new clematis species that’s still waiting to be named. We’ve posted some photos from the trip on our blog.
Zircon says “Don’t mess with my social media links!”
We both love to share our plant passion with you on the PDN blog and our social media sites. We originally posted only onFacebook, then Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, so we created a PDN Blog as our main social media platform. Tony uses the blog to share his perspectives with you about the plant and gardening world as he sees it. The PDN blog, in turn, propagates his posts to Facebook, Google+, and Twitter and allows him to get back out in the garden and greenhouses where he finds meaningful content to share with you!
Anita manages the Juniper Level Botanic Garden website and the JLBG page at Facebook, along with the PDN and JLBG pages at Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thus far, the only issue we seem to have with social media is when the blog sends our posts to other social media sites, FB and Google+ remove the links to the plants, as well as some of the post. We have no ability to control or change this, and FB’s customer service is as responsive as asking a flat tire to change itself. Hopefully, one day we’ll discover a way to work around this challenge.
Suspending Web Ordering for Inventory June 17-18
Please note we will be closed to take plant inventory in the greenhouses on the above dates. This will require us to empty all shopping carts and suspend website ordering from 12:01am EDT on June 17 through 6:00pm EDT on June 18 in order to obtain accurate inventory numbers. We apologize for any inconvenience during inventory in June and October each year.
Taxonomy and Nomenclature
Longtime readers know Tony’s fascination with plant taxonomy and nomenclature. He always assumed plant naming and renaming had to do with science and taxonomy, but it seems that politics and nationalism are also at play. A recent example is the genus acacia, a member of the Mimosa family. It was determined in 2005 from DNA analysis that acacias from Africa and acacias from Australia were genetically different enough that they were not actually the same genus. Since the original type specimen, named by Linnaeus in 1773, was from Africa, the acacias in Australia were changed to racosperma.
What should have been cut and dried got hijacked when Australia protested, arguing that since they had so many more acacias than Africa (960 vs. 160), it would be too disruptive to change the Australian plants so Australia should get to keep the genus acacia, and a new type specimen (a replacement for the original African standard) should be declared as being from Australia. Follow me here…this would require the original African acacias to be renamed.
As it turned out, even the African acacias weren’t really all the same genus either, so they would then need to be divided anyway. This probably wouldn’t have garnered much in the way of horticultural headlines were it not for the fact that acacias are iconic cultural trees for both cultures. The result was a six-year heavyweight taxonomic and political rumble, the likes of which had never been seen before in the botanical world.
In 2005, the International Botanical Congress voted to officially give the name acacia to Australia. Africa vehemently protested, and accused the committee of stealing African Intellectual Property rights. In 2011, the International Botanical Congress, in a split decision, re-affirmed leaving Australia with the rights to acacia, and handing a still-steaming African delegation two new genera, vachellia (69 species) and senegalia (73 species), which taxonomist are still sorting out to this day. And you though taxonomy was boring!
A dramatic re-enactment by Jasper and Henry
Phlox paniculata ‘Purple Eyes’ with bees
In a recent discovery, scientists found bumblebees use electrical signals to determine which flowers have more nectar, allowing them to forage for pollen more efficiently. Bees build up positive electrical charges as they fly, which helps the pollen stick to them as they land on the flowers. Scientist found that this electrical charge is transferred to the flowers when they land to feed. Subsequent bees pick up on this electrical charge, telling the bee which flowers have already been foraged so they don’t waste their energy where little pollen will likely remain. This use of electrical signals had previously been documented in sharks, but not in insects. This fascinating research was first published in the February 21, 2013 issue of Nature magazine.
Industry mergers are back in the news this month as the 1,000,000 square foot Kentucky wholesaler Color Point (74th largest in the US) has signed a letter of intent to purchase the 3,500,000 million square foot Mid-American Growers of Illinois, which ranks number 13. Interestingly, both nurseries are owned by siblings…the two youngest sons of the famed Van Wingerden greenhouse family, who made their fortunes supplying plants to the mass market box stores.
In sad news from the gardening world, UK plantsman Adrian Bloom of Blooms of Bressingham shared the news that his wife of 48 years, Rosemary, has been diagnosed with advanced terminal cancer, falling ill after returning from a Swiss skiing trip in March. Adrian underwent prostate cancer treatment back in 2011. Please join us in sending thoughts and prayers to the Bloom family.
2014 Summer Open Nursery and Garden Days
Mark your calendar for July Summer Open Nursery and Garden Days. We’ll have the cooling mister running full blast to keep you cool while you shop for colorful and fragrant perennials for your summer garden. And of course, the greenhouses will be full of many cool plants, including echinaceas, salvias, phlox, cannas, dahlias, crinum lilies, and lots of unique ferns. JLBG is especially lush and green during the summer so come and walk the shady paths of the Woodland Garden, or cool off at the Grotto Waterfall Garden and Mystic Falls Garden. It’s always great to see you and meet you in person and to reunite with our long-time customers and friends.
Days: July 11-13 and July 18-20 Rain or Shine! Times: Fridays and Saturdays 8a-5p, Sundays 1-5p
Woodland Garden Paths near the Water Oak Garden
Southeast Palm Society at PDN/JLNG on August 9th
Just a reminder that we will be hosting the summer meeting of the Southeast Palm Society at Plant Delights Nursery/Juniper Level Botanic Garden on Saturday August 9, 2014. You are welcome to attend but you will need to register in advance by July 1, 2014. You will find the details here.
Soothing Stress in the Garden
As crazy as things have been in the nursery, the botanic garden here at Juniper Level provides a paradoxically exciting calmness. As a stress reliever, as well as a passion, we spend as much evening and weekend time as possible in the gardens viewing the amazing plants and plant combinations through the lens of our cameras. We each see the garden differently, so Anita shares her photos on the JLBG Facebook page and her Google+ profile, and Tony shares his photos on the PDN blog.
In addition to the sensory beauty and serenity of gardens large or small, researchers worldwide have documented the positive and calming benefits to the human nervous system of spending time in the garden. So relax, refresh, and restore your natural state of balance and calm by spending time in your favorite garden spot.
It looks like we’ve finally moved past our persistent winter at Plant Delights, as have many of you in much of the country. Yes, we feel for those of you living in more northerly climates who still have snow and will continue having frosts into early June. Interestingly, most of our gardening friends in the UK have experienced an exceedingly warm winter, along with those in northern Florida, who were just below the southern-dipping polar vortexes this winter.
Our last spring frost at Plant Delights was March 27, and the long range forecast doesn’t show anything below freezing for the remainder of the spring season…if you put any faith in long-range weather forecasts. Actually, March 27 isn’t too far off our normal average last frost date of April 1. Like carrying an umbrella to prevent rain, we attribute the predicted lack of late spring frosts this year to the installation of permanent heaters in all of our previously unheated hosta cold frames. We were simply tired of lugging portable space heaters into the cold frames with each late spring frost and waking up several times through the night to refill the heaters with fuel.
Here at Juniper Level, we see many signs of spring in the garden…hostas popping through the ground, early arisaemas coming into flower, and toad lily foliage emerging. We had to cover a few early-emerging perennials with frost cloth once last week when our temperatures dropped to 26 degrees F, but hopefully that’s it for freezing weather until fall. We might actually have a decent magnolia bloom this year, although our largest plant of Magnolia ‘Butterflies’ tried to open the day before we dropped to 26 F, so it was seriously frost-slapped.
After our colder than recent normal winter, it’s been interesting reading social media comments from around the country. Keen gardeners seem to be divided into two distinct groups…controlling gardeners who want to be assured that all their plants will perform exactly as they have been told or as the books indicate, regardless of the vagaries of nature. These are in contrast to garden gamblers, who expect the unexpected and are always pushing the limits by trying plants that may not grow in their climate.
Controlling gardeners like predictability, which by nature is the very antithesis of gardening. It’s winters like the one we just encountered that cause the most distress for these controlling gardeners, since nature is, at best, predictably unpredictable. Controlling gardeners are the ones who always strive for perfection based on an expectation that exists in their head. These are the gardeners who believe gardening books and magazines which list plant color combinations and themes for events, which will reportedly all flower together in perfect harmony. Most folks don’t realize that what flowers together in one region and even in one year will rarely do the same in a different climate or different year.
Our current spring is a classic case where you can throw most of your garden flower combination planning efforts out the proverbial window. Here at Juniper Level Botanic Garden, most plants in the garden are currently three weeks behind our normal timing in terms of emergence and flowering. Once the weather warms, however, the timing gap, compared to normal, will shrink as plants that normally don’t overlap in bloom will flower together. This creates combinations that we wouldn’t see in milder winters, when more favorable winter temperatures allow plants that received adequate winter chilling requirements (number of hours below 45 degrees F) to go ahead and begin growing much earlier.
Like a conventional game of chance, where gamblers always lose far more times than they win, garden gamblers are used to disappointments and find that a few occasional “wins” or gardening successes gives them an emotional joy that far outweighs their disappointments…we resemble that remark. Here at JLBG we often plant-out dozens of seedlings of a marginally hardy plant in the hope that just one plant will be genetically more tolerant of low winter temperatures. For a garden gambler, few things in life compare to these successful eureka moments.
So, what’s the point? The point is to relax and enjoy gardening, remembering that nature is always in charge. Life and death in the garden are no different than life and death outside the garden. Our options are to dwell on the sadness of death or celebrate the life that passed and embrace the next life that lies ahead. Death creates wonderful new opportunities, whether we desire it or not. The death of a large tree creates opportunities for a sun garden, while the death of a plant with a large footprint presents the chance for many, new, smaller-growing plants. To not accept gardening realities is to introduce stress into our gardening life…again, the antithesis of why most of us garden. We need to cherish everything in our gardening life as a wonderful opportunity. Of all the different plants we’ve tried to grow (48,000 at this point), we’ve killed 26,000. Focusing on the plants that didn’t survive doesn’t allow the celebration of the 22,000 successes.
Realistically, both groups of gardeners mentioned above have short memories, combined with an incredible gift of rationalization. We remember after our winter of 1984/1985, almost every camellia in the region was killed to the ground. Over and over, we heard gardeners claim they would never grow camellias again and they should never be planted in our region. That lasted about two years. After a short time, we rationalized it wouldn’t get that cold again, or wondered what would happen if a plant that died was planted in a slightly different location or soil type. As gardeners, this is what keeps us going. We’re reminded of the Ben Franklin quote…”I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.”
Garden curator Todd Wiegardt and the Juniper Level Botanic Garden staff have been busy cleaning up our plant damage from the winter. Agaves were particularly hard hit this winter, due to the wet cold. We lost a number of trial agaves, but our older specimens fared pretty well, although they show cosmetic damage. Now is the time of year when we cut off those dead leaves, and cut the live agaves back to green tissue. Usually by late May or June, the rapid new growth will make the plants look as good as new in most cases.
We also perform lots of perennial cutbacks now to plants like salvias. We like to wait on the perennial salvias until the danger of late freezes has passed. Woody salvias like Salvia greggii are also cut back now, so they will have time to re-flush for the spring flowering season. Ornamental grasses, liriope, and ophiopogon should also be cut back now if the old foliage shows winter damage. Waiting until the new foliage begins to emerge will find you snipping off the ends of the new growth, which isn’t optimal for the plants appearance.
We also do quite a bit of grooming now of our evergreen ferns, just before the new growth begins to emerge. These are cut now, along with any other evergreen perennials that show winter foliar damage. Several folks have asked about hellebores, and we’ll repeat our advice…we always remove all of the old foliage, just prior to the first flowers opening. This makes the plant more attractive in flower without reducing the future growth of the plant by cutting the energy-producing leaves too early in the season.
Also, after the danger of severe freezing has passed, it’s time to cut the dead fronds from palms and cycads, which we’ve just completed here at JLBG. Remember that virtually all hardy cycads will lose their fronds below 12 degrees F, but should reflush within 4 weeks after the old fronds are removed.
There are plenty of plants, however, you also shouldn’t cut back now and that list includes hydrangeas, whose flower buds are hidden from view up and down those dead-looking stems. Also, until you’re sure if a shrub or tree has died back, don’t cut. Scraping the bark is a good way to see if the stem is still green under the bark, but be careful to actually scrape below the bark to see the green tissue.
Then of course, there is the bizarre ritual of crape murder, where mindless people destroy the appearance and health of perfectly innocent crape myrtles, simply because they saw a neighbor or uneducated landscape wannabe do the same. Something is out of whack when waterboarding is illegal, but we have large numbers of recidivist crape murderers running free in area subdivisions without so much as a chainsaw ankle bracelet. Obviously, the SPCP (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Plants) needs better lobbyists to get this insane practice criminalized.
We’ve recently increased our social media interactions. We’re posting more frequently on our Plant Delights blog, which in turn, will also post to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. For those who don’t participate in our conversations on Facebook or other social media, you may now subscribe to our PDN blog using the subscribe button to the right of the posts on the PDN blog page. We’ve also created new boards at Pinterest for Plant Delights Nursery so if you participate in social media, follow us at Pinterest as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
New JLBG Logo
We’ve created a social presence for Juniper Level Botanic Garden now that we are moving forward to obtain a 501(c)(3) designation for JLBG from the Internal Review Service. JLBG was recently recognized as a non-profit entity by the State of NC so we’re excited to be taking steps to preserve and endow the Garden for future generations. We’ve added social media options for you to follow JLBG on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter. Please check out the initial posts from JLBG and stay tuned to our progress as we move JLBG into awareness as a non-profit foundation and special destination for plant lovers and serious plant enthusiasts.
You’ll notice on the PDN website that we’ve refreshed the PDN logo (see it at the top of this email, too) and we’re also working now to completely change the format and content of the JLBG website. By June you’ll see a new JLBG website with a new look and logo.
We’ve also updated many of our email contact addresses to shorten our response time to your emails. Instead of sending all inquiries to email@example.com, please, going forward, use the emails listed below:
All members and guests interested in this wonderful group of plant people may join us for the event…see the schedule below. To help us properly accommodate and provide lunch for everyone, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than July 1, 2014 to let us know if you will be attending.
Schedule: Southeast Palm Society at Plant Delights Nursery/Juniper Level Botanic Garden
9:15-10:00am – History of PDN & JLBG (slide show in PDN Education Center)
10:00-11:00am – Explore Juniper Level Botanic Garden on your own
11:00-Noon – General meeting (Patio Garden)
Noon-12:45pm – Lunch at PDN, provided by PDN (must sign up in advance (Patio Garden))
12:45-1:45pm – Guided Tour of JLBG Palm Collections
2:00-3:00pm – Guided Tour of JLBG Succulent Collections PDN and JLBG will be open to attendees from 9:00am – 4:00pm on August 9, 2014.
We recently received a note from our friend Dr. Charlie Keith of the Keith Arboretum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Dr. Keith, now 81, is looking for someone to purchase and run his amazing arboretum that contains probably the most diverse tree collection in the US. Interested parties may contact Dr. Keith through his website.
We also heard from NC Master Gardener Bob Kellam that the deadline is approaching to get your official NC Master Gardener license plate. Don’t miss this one-time opportunity. You’ll find more information here.
It’s hard to imagine winter is finally nearing an end when outside today we see the ground covered in snow with freezing rain forecasted to develop tonight and tomorrow. But to help us remember spring is just around the corner, at least in NC, the greenhouses are bursting with colorful hellebores and other lovely treasures to soothe away any winter blahs and blues. It’s less than two weeks until our 2014 Winter Open Nursery and Garden and we’re eager to show you our plant goodies!
‘Anna’s Red’ hellebore Photo courtesy Visions, NL
Our selection of hellebores is so outstanding it’s hard to really show it justice in words. We have over 500 gallon-size hellebores in flower and over 1000 one quart hellebores in bloom. The quality of hellebore colors we have available are better each year and 2014 is no exception.
Speaking of weather, winter 2013/2014 has been quite an event in many parts of the country, with temperatures finally returning to more “normal” winter levels. We’ve amusingly watched the last fifteen years as zone creep, aka: zone denial, has taken hold of much of America. It’s been fascinating to observe how quickly peoples’ memories of hard winters fade when they are only a couple of years removed. Some gardeners have recently admitted being lulled into a false sense of security by the constant media drumroll that our climate has dramatically warmed forever.
Gardeners in Zone 4 or 5 have a few Zone 7 winters where the winter low temperatures don’t drop below 0 degrees F, and all of a sudden they decide that Zone 7 plants will actually survive in Zone 4 and 5. It’s not uncommon these days to find less than reputable online nurseries listing plants like the hardy banana, Musa basjoo, as hardy to Zone 4 and 5, which is pure insanity. Windmill palms, which we consider marginally hardy for us here in Zone 7b, have now been planted throughout the mid-Atlantic states and even into parts of the Midwest. Because of the recent mild winters, some windmill palms have actually achieved good size before this winter’s reality check. My friend Al Hirsch recently reminded folks on one of the hardy palm groups that he had actually freeze-tested windmill palms in the lab, and 5 degrees F was their low temperature tolerance…except for some of the hardier forms. Just because we’ve had a string of mild winters doesn’t mean the winter temperature tolerance of plants change.
The first winter hardiness maps from the Arnold Arboretum comprised 40 years of temperature data because weather scientists had noted that temperature patterns typically varied in 15-20 year swings. Using the 20 year model, below are statistics for our nursery in Raleigh, North Carolina, not including the still-trending winter of 2013/2014. The last time we got as cold as we have during this current winter 2013/2014 was all the way back during the winter of 1999-2000. I have posted our actual minimum low temperature charts for Juniper Level Botanic Garden…weather geeky stuff, to be sure.
Winter 1993-2012 8 nights total below 10 degrees F (Zone 7 temperatures)
Winter 1973-1992 25 nights total below 10 degrees F (Zone 7 temperatures)
*Record winter 1980/1981 8 nights below 10 degrees F
So, what does all this mean? It means that despite all the predictions of a perpetual warming trend there is a good chance that we will see more “normal” winters, so plant accordingly and pay attention to proper hardiness zones. With cold winters returning, it’s been great to finally get useful hardiness data. Obviously, since having a Zone 7b temperature only once in the last fourteen years (2008/9) it’s been hard to truly evaluate winter hardiness of new plants.
Because we trial so many plants, we expect our loss rate of new plants to be fairly high. From this year’s trials, we were surprised to see dramatic foliage burn on the hardy bromeliad, Puya dyckioides. The plants look fine at the base…just fried. Another bromeliad, Dyckia choristaminea ‘Frazzle Dazzle’, however, looks fabulous…what a great plant. Several of the aspidistras (cast iron plants) are showing foliage burn this year, including many of the white-tipped cultivars. As is the case with so many white variegated plants, the white variegated parts of the leaf simply aren’t as cold tolerant at the green tissue. We attribute this to a reduction in sugar content (plant antifreeze) in those parts of the leaf.
Sarcococca saligna also took a bit hit and has foliage that is completely fried brown, although it should reflush fine when cut the ground. All of the other sarcococca species look fine. The evergreen Schefflera delavayi looks good with only slight leaf burn on one plant. Edgeworthias look fine and are starting to flower, although customers in Virginia report bud drop after a low of 2 degrees F. Our Exbucklandia populnea also got a good bit of leaf burn, but the stems are all fine. Our Arbequina olive looks great, but some of the other clones we had on trial are already showing foliar damage.
Since we mentioned hardy palms earlier, our Trachycarpus fortunei (Windmill palms) looks fine, other than a few scorched older leaves. The Trachycarpus fortunei ‘Wagnerianus’ also look great. Surprisingly, our plant of Trachycarpus takil got some unexpected leaf scorch. Needle palm, Sabal minor, Sabal x brazoriensis, Sabal sp. ‘Tamaulipas’, Sabal minor var. louisiana, all look fine, although some of our less hardy forms of Sabal palmetto took a hit. Butia catarinensis looks quite dead, as does our Butia odorata. Surprisingly, one of our Butia eriospatha growing nearby shows minimal damage along with one specimen of Butia capitata. The real palm shocker was two Serenoa repens from Colleton County, SC showing little or no damage. We say, surprising, because we have never been able to over-winter a Serenoa repens.
The xButyagrus nabonnandii look pretty fried and the spears have started to pull. Spears are the undeveloped newer emerging leaves, which give us the first indication of cold damage on palms trees. Spear pull isn’t always deadly, but it’s certainly not a good sign. xJubautia splendens ‘Dick Douglas’, a hybrid of Butia x Jubaea looks better than the xButyagrus, but the spears have also pulled from several of these…most disappointing. Most of our Cycas looks okay, although all have lovely tan-brown foliage. After last frost we’ll cut back the old fronds and they should promptly reflush with new leaves.
We have quite a collection of winter-hardy cactus in the garden and had planted out quite a few more in 2013. As expected, we had a number of those which didn’t survive the winter, but overall, we were quite pleased. Bamboos also took a bit hit this year and we expect all members of the genus Bambusa to be killed back to the ground. Time will tell, but perhaps there will always be a surprise. Rohdea chinensis var. chinensis provided quite an unexpected surprise. The Taiwan form shows no ill effects from the winter, while the mainland China form shows substantial leaf burn.
We’re always interested in pushing the envelope when it comes to agaves. Overall, there are few surprises from the winter so far. We’re thrilled our first sacrificial planting of Agave albopilosa looks great so far. Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’ got hit pretty hard but the central stalk seems fine so they should recover quickly once the weather warms. Ditto for Agave ‘Green Goblet’. Agave filifera, Agave parviflora, Agave difformis, Agave ‘Mateo’, and Agave ocahui…all burned pretty bad but should be fine. One real surprise was Agave neomexicana ‘Sunspot’, which looks to have made the journey to the big compost pile in the sky. Since the parent species it quite hardy, we’re guessing it simply got too wet and cold at the same time, since we know it has overwintered in much colder regions.
As expected, Agave ovatifolia looks absolutely superb…always one of the best over-wintering agaves in our climate. Agave horrida perotensis was hit pretty hard, which was expected based on past winters.
What we didn’t expect was Agave striata ‘Live Wires’ which was severely burned although we think it will return okay. Agave flexipes again proved to be an excellent agave for our climate with only burn on the lower most leaves. Surprisingly, Agave multifilifera looks only slightly burned so far. Honestly, we were hoping for a little more carnage in the agave world since we’ve got over 100 new agaves potted and waiting for a trial spot in the garden.
Last fall we offered a new selection of aucuba, Aucuba japonica ‘Male Man’, grown from cuttings from another friend who picked this up overseas. When it flowered, we were shocked to learn that unbeknownst to us, our male aucuba had undergone previously undisclosed sex reassignment surgery and was now a female. Please accept our oops, and change your tags to Aucuba japonica var. borealis ‘Bored Female’.
In other non-plant matters, Plant Delights has several cool job openings.
Jasper at work
First, we have one opening for a full time Customer Service representative (CSR). If enjoy working and chatting on the phone with customers, and you like plants and chocolate, and you reside in the Raleigh, NC area, learn more. Additionally, we are also now hiring energetic and friendly seasonal staff to work 25-40 hours per week in our Shipping department starting in March and extending into the fall. Occasional weekend (daytime) work will be required. Please send resumes and cover letters to our Business and HR Manager, Heather Brameyer to: email@example.com
Our friends at Peckerwood Gardens in Hempstead, Texas are looking for a Garden Manager. This is an incredible opportunity to work with one of the southernmost gardens being managed by the Garden Conservancy and the chance to work with garden founder, John Fairey. You can find out more at http://peckerwoodgarden.org/events/work-peckerwood-garden-manager
So, you want to start a nursery? Here’s your chance…not to start from scratch, but to buy an existing mail order nursery. Bob Roycroft of Roycroft Daylily Nursery in Georgetown, SC is retiring and has his nursery up for sale. Bob has 33+ acres near Myrtle Beach that is available, along with his nursery and website. You can reach Bob for more details at http://www.roycroftdaylilies.com
If you’re in the world of garden design, you’ll want to know that Pantone has declared the color Radiant Orchid (18-3224) as the color of the year for 2014. We’re sure you’ll want to change all of your landscape color themes to keep in step with this important development.
If you’re looking for a unique gift for that half-cocked gardener in your life, how about Flowershells? So, what’s a flowershell, you ask? Flowershells are made for the hunters-gardeners in your life who want to be more sustainable with their pastimes. Flowershells are 12 gauge shotgun shells filled with a mix of gunpowder and flower seed, so every time you blast away, you’re planting flowers. Instead of taking a life when you shoot, you’ll be giving life…what a unique concept. If you find the idea intriguing, check out http://www.flowershell.com Unfortunately, Flowershells don’t really exist, but this delightful parody comes from the fertile minds of Studio Total…a creative Swedish advertising agency.
Greetings from Juniper Level Botanic Gardens, where a low temperature of 26 degrees has left the garden feeling and smelling like fall. I was just noticing the strong smell of chrysanthemum foliage yesterday, whose oils were released after the recent cold snap, like collards after a frost. So, where did the year go? It seems like just yesterday we were enjoying epimedium flowers and now the early hellebore season has already begun. As we age, it seems like the world spins faster on its axis every year.
I apologize for being silent so long, but I’ve been sequestered away in our underground horticultural bunker, writing the 2014 Plant Delights Nursery spring catalog. Now that the main text is complete and the photos have been selected, I’m playing catch-up on long overdue writing. We’re very excited about our 2014 catalog, which will head to the printer in a few more weeks and will subsequently arrive at your home shortly after the first of the year. We’re wrapping up our 2013 plant shipping season, which ends the week of November 25-29. Plant shipping will resume in mid-February, weather permitting, but if you encounter a horticultural emergency between now and then, please let us know and we’ll see if we can help.
It’s that time of year to consider gift certificates for your favorite gardener or that hard-to-buy-for family member. You can find them online here.
We’re discontinuing our t-shirts so from now until the holidays we are having a 50% off sale. We hope you’ll check out our selection for the gardeners in your family at T-Shirt Sale! When they are gone, they are GONE! Order yours while supplies last.
As we transition from fall to winter, we’re excited to see the next gardening season begin. One of the first signs of late fall is the winter-blooming Iris unguicularis. We’ve always considered ourselves to be at the northern end of where Iris unguicularis is winter hardy, but as more and more success reports come in from places like Kansas City, we realize we have severely underestimated the range in which this gem can be cultivated.
During the fall rain lily flowering season, we discovered there was a mixup in our stock of Zephyranthes grandiflora, which had been infiltrated with Zephyranthes rosea…a smaller and less winter hardy pink-flowered rain lily. If you got a Zephyranthes grandiflora from us in 2013, you may have received the wrong plant, so please contact us for a credit or refund…very sorry.
The latest name revision to come about because of DNA research was to the aroid genus, Alocasia, when the odd, deciduous Alocasia hypnosa underwent re-assignment therapy to become the only member of the genus Englerarum. Englerarum hypnosum is an odd bird, growing on limestone rock outcrops from southern China south into Thailand. You may read more at here.
Speaking of plant name changes, one of the funniest parodies we’ve seen regarding these changes has been floating around YouTube, so if you haven’t seen it, here’s the link. It probably won’t make much sense, however, unless you’re a plant name geek.
In the “you just can’t make this stuff up” department, a newly built Premier Inn in England reacted hastily when it was pointed out, on social media, that a landscape firm with an obviously wicked sense of humor, had installed new plantings around the hotel that resembled male genitalia. Instead of embracing their unexpected publicity, uptight corporate executives ordered the offending plants removed.
There was huge news from the nursery industry recently with the merger of the two largest industry associations, the OFA (Association of Horticulture Professionals), and the ANLA (The American Nursery and Landscape Association). As of January 1, 2014, the new organization will join all members of the horticultural supply chain together under one organization called the American Horticulture Association…aka American Hort. American Hort’s mission will be to unite, promote, and advance our industry through advocacy, collaboration, connectivity, education, market development, and research. The headquarters will be in Columbus, Ohio, with a government relations office in Washington DC.
In other nursery news, two of the country’s largest nurseries have joined forces. Color Spot has purchased the last three, recently bankrupted, Hines Nursery locations (270 acres in Rainbow, California, 1,100 acres in Winter, California, and 1,000 acres near Portland, Oregon). Reportedly, the deal to buy Hines was finalized last October, but not announced until this October…nearly a year later. Color Spot president, Jerry Halamuda, said the management team at Hines would remain, just days before they all departed. With this acquisition, Color Spot is now the largest nursery/greenhouse operation in the country with just over 18 million square feet of greenhouse crop production and 2,500 outside acres…more than double its next closest rival, Kurt Weiss Greenhouses of New York. That’s seriously big, but then when you sell to box stores, you need lots of plants.
Our plant explorer friend, the UK’s Tom Mitchell, has finally launched his new mail order nursery and he is willing to ship to the US with a phytosanitary certificate, if you find some gems you can’t live without. http://www.evolution-plants.com/
Congratulations to our friend and native plant guru, Jan Midgley of Alabama, on the publication of her new book, Native Plant Propagation. I had a blast reading through her 100+ page manual and learned quite a few new tips that we’ll be using here at the nursery. You can purchase your own copy directly from Jan, by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy birthday to California plantswoman, Ruth Bancroft, who celebrated her 105th birthday on September 5. For those who have never visited, Ruth’s cactus and succulent garden in Walnut Creek, California, was the first garden ever selected for preservation by the Garden Conservancy.
Congratulations also go out to our friend, Ozzie Johnson of Marietta, Georgia, whose plant introduction, Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Caress’, was named the 2013 RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year!
Many customers who visit our gardens are enamored with the dwarf loblolly pines, which were grafted from the amazing specimens at the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh. These dwarf pines are almost never available for purchase since grafting them is extremely difficult. The most successful grafter of these in Texas had excellent success this year and consequently, they are available for a short time from our friends at Yucca Do Nursery. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to buy one.
Since our last newsletter, we’ve lost several friends, including some giants in the horticulture world. PDN lost a dear friend in mid-October with the passing of Janie Bryan, 57, following a decade-long battle with breast cancer. Many gardeners knew Janie through her work running the Index Seminum seed exchange for the NC Botanic Garden in Chapel Hill, where she worked for 25 years. Janie handled her illness and impending death with a tremendous amount of grace, and I’ll treasure the time we had to chat through the years, most recently at last year’s PDN open house. Our thoughts go out to her husband, son, grandson, and other family.
Swan Island Dahlias
The dahlia world suffered a huge loss in late summer with the death of Ted Gitts and his wife Debbie, both 59, who passed away after a tragic car accident. Ted and Debbie owned the Oregon-based mail order nursery, Swan Island Dahlias. Swan Island, the largest dahlia farm in the country and perhaps the world, is known not only as a retailer, but as a breeder and introducer of dahlias. Ted’s parents had purchased Swan Island Dahlias 50 years ago so Ted, along with his brother Nicholas, was part of the second generation of family running the business.
October also saw the passing of Welch plantsman, Ray Morgan, whose 2007 book, Impatiens: The Vibrant World of Busy Lizzies, Balsams, and Touch-Me-Nots, took our knowledge of impatiens to a new level. Ray was a retired nurseryman and the holder of the UK’s National Collection of Impatiens.
xFatshedera lizei ‘Angyo Star’ (Angyo Star Tree Ivy)
Also overseas, we lost one of the giants in the variegated plant world with the passing of Japan’s Dr. Masato Yokoi, at age 82. I had the pleasure of Dr. Yokoi’s visit in the 1990s, when he was taking photos for his book, Variegated Plants in Color, Volumes I and II. Dr. Yokoi was a retired professor at Chiba University and one of the most respected people in Japanese horticulture. One phone call from Dr. Yokoi could open the door to even the most secluded plant collector. The plant world is so much richer for his contributions.
Finally, this fall (September 20) also saw the passing of Jim Van Sweeden, co-founder of the world-renowned landscape architecture firm, Oehme and Van Sweeden. Jim was preceded in death by his business partner, Wolfgang Oehme, less than two years earlier. Jim was the polished front man for the firm, originating the concept of the New American Garden which featured large sweeps of perennials, especially ornamental grasses. Jim was a highly honored designer (ASLA Design Medal 2010) and writer, whose literary works include Bold Romantic Gardens (1990, co-authored with Wolfgang. Oehme), Gardening with Water (1995), Gardening with Nature (1997), Architecture in the Garden (2003) and Art in the Garden (2011). Job well done, my friend!
We’re fast approaching our final Open Nursery and Garden dates for 2013 and, to put a fitting exclamation point on our 25th anniversary year, we’ve invited one of the country’s most famous beach music bands, The Embers, to perform in the gardens on Sunday, September 8, from 1:30-4:30pm. Our Fall Open Nursery and Gardens will be held from Friday, September 6 through Sunday, September 8 and from Friday, September 13 through Sunday, September 15. Hours are 8:00am-5:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays and from 1:00-5:00pm on Sundays. We hope you’ll join us to enjoy and learn about great plants as you shag through the gardens…and take plants as well as design ideas home with you.
For those who missed our announcement on Facebook a few weeks ago, I am blessed to have found a new soul mate, Anita, and the two of us began our married life together on August 3 with a private ceremony here in the gardens. Anita and I were born the same year at the same Raleigh hospital and she grew up just around the corner from the nursery. We actually knew each other growing up in the 1960s, but both went our separate ways…she to become an insurance administrator and mother of three adult children and I to start a plant business. Although we hadn’t seen each other in 40 years until this spring, we knew immediately when we re-connected that we were destined to spend the rest of our lives together. Anita looks forward to meeting all of my unique plant friends, both at nursery open house days as well as traveling with me to speak around the country. At the nursery, Anita will be working as our Vice President of Planning and Development, which will include getting our foundation for the preservation of the gardens at Juniper Level established. Please join me in welcoming Anita into the Plant Delights family!
We’ve been enjoying an incredible year for summer-flowering bulbs, especially lycoris. Lycoris are often better known by their common names; surprise lilies, hurricane lilies or, my favorite…naked ladies. While most people only grow one or two clones, we have been collecting surprise lilies for years and currently grow 435 lycoris clones…you’ve gotta love obsessive compulsions. The common name comes from their trait of flowering in the summer before the foliage emerges.
Lycoris are divided into two basic groups; those that produce leaves in early fall and those that produce leaves in late winter. As a rule, those that produce leaves in early fall are winter hardy from Zone 6b-7b and south, while those that produce late winter foliage are hardy as far north as Zones 3-4.
Under proper garden conditions, lycoris should be reliable bloomers but the lack of regular annual flowering is usually weather related. For instance, Lycoris x squamigera must have a cold winter to flower. When we experience mild winters that don’t drop below 15 degrees F, we rarely see flowers on Lycoris x squamigera. The opposite is true for Lycoris aurea…a cold winter will kill off the foliage before it produces enough food to support next year’s crop of flowers. Most lycoris also need occasional summer moisture to flower well. Although lycoris are amazingly drought tolerant, they rarely flower well without a few summer showers…the exception being the drought-loving Lycoris incarnata.
Also remember that to flower well, lycoris need sunlight when their foliage is out. Most lycoris grow fine in either full sun or light deciduous shade. Since tree leaves drop in fall when the lycoris foliage is above ground, the plants actually get plenty of light during the winter months despite growing in what is light shade in summer. Evergreen shade, however, is a no-no for lycoris. Although we already offer a nice selection of lycoris, our field production is such that our offerings will be increasing dramatically over the next few years. You can view our current lycoris selections here.
We are looking to fill the position of Administrative Horticulturist. Qualified individuals must have advanced MS Office Suite skills, be proficient using and maintaining relational databases, websites and, preferably, Adobe Photoshop. The ideal candidate will possess strong communication skills, a positive attitude and be detailed oriented. This position is responsible for plant inventory management, including plant purchasing, support work on the print and online catalog production/website and other related duties as needed,. We are seeking a team player who enjoys working in a friendly and fast-paced environment. Understanding plant nomenclature is preferred. Send resumes with cover letters of interest to Heather@plantdelights.com You can find out more here.
Nursery News and Happenin’s
Our friends at the South Carolina Botanical Garden are recovering from a massive rainstorm on July 12 and 13 that dumped 8 inches of rain on the garden in a matter of hours, completely overwhelming their inadequate storm water management system. The damage was exacerbated by 20 inches of rain that had fallen in the previous 10 days. For those who are familiar with the SC Botanical Garden, the duck pond flooded, overtopping and undermining the dam and scouring the mountain meadow and the new Natural Heritage Garden trail. Small trees, shrubs, and several bridges were lost along with large numbers of incredibly rare and endangered perennials. Other planted areas of the garden are now covered with deep layers of silt and gravel. Costs to restore the infrastructure alone will be $200,000, which is not covered by insurance. You can donate to their recovery effort at http://www.clemson.edu/public/scbg/ Let’s all help get this great garden back on its feet!
In the nursery industry, consolidation continues this month with the recent engagement of two of the country’s largest wholesale nurseries. Monrovia Nursery, which has been hanging on by a financial thread for the last few years, has agreed to purchase another of the country’s largest wholesale nurseries, Imperial Nurseries of Connecticut, from owner Griffin Land and Nurseries Inc. Imperial Nurseries is a 450-acre wholesale ornamentals nursery, started in 1955 as part of the American Sumatra Tobacco Company. Negotiations aren’t complete, but it is planned that when the deal concludes this fall, Imperial may continue to operate under their current name. This is all quite fascinating since Monrovia has been struggling with its own severe financial issues and only recently closed its entire NC operation. This reminds me of 2004, when the bankrupt K-Mart purchased Sears. I’m obviously not smart enough to figure out how debt-ridden, nearly bankrupt companies can buy other companies. Sounds like fuzzy math to me, so it’s probably good that I only have to worry about growing plants.
Gardeners in the Deep South are mourning the loss of Marion Drummond, who passed away on August 24, at age 83, from melanoma cancer. The tenacious Drummond got her first full-time job in 1992 at age 62, when she was named as the first site director of LSU’s Hilltop Arboretum, shortly after finishing her Landscape Architecture studies. During her tenure, she coordinated plantings as well as starting a gardening symposium and the now well-known plant sale. Throughout her career, Marion was honored with a number of awards including the Southern Garden History Society’s Certificate of Merit and the Robert Reich Service Award from the Louisiana Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Marion is survived by a daughter, Laurie Lynn, and sons Findlay and Carter. Donations can be made to Marion’s Greenhouse Project at Hilltop Arboretum.
The tropical plant world lost a gentle giant when noted plantsman John Lucas of Tradewinds Signature Botanicals in LaBelle, Florida recently passed away due to complications from an automobile accident. We offer one of John’s introductions, Agave ‘Tradewinds’, but he was much better known for his work with bougainvillea, serving as founder and current president of the Bougainvillea Society of America. John was recognized as having introduced every new bougainvillea cultivar to the US since the 1920s and at the time of his death had 125 cultivars in his nursery. John traveled extensively around the world and was responsible for helping assemble the bougainvillea collections at the famed Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens in Thailand. John was born in southeast Pennsylvania and later attended Oberlin College in Ohio before serving in the Air Force in Homestead, Florida and falling in love with the tropical climate, subsequently founding his nursery in Florida in 1969.
PDN Tropical garden pathway
In the not-so-tropical plant world, we lost another horticultural giant with the passing of Dr. William Ackerman, 89, on July 6, as a result of complications from a recent fall. Anyone interested in camellias will recognize his name as the man who started the winter hardy camellia breeding program at the US National Arboretum. After the great freezes of 1978 and 1981 at the US National Arboretum in Washington DC killed virtually all of the 956 camellia in the collection, Ackerman took note of fifteen survivors including two unfazed camellias, Camellia oleifera (later named Camellia ‘Lu Shan Snow’), and Camellia ‘Plain Jane’. He used these two parents, adding Camellia hiemalis to the mix, to create over 50 cold hardy camellia hybrids. Even after retiring from the US National Arboretum in the early 1980s, Ackerman continued his cold hardy camellia breeding program at his 7-acre farm in Montgomery County, Maryland. Most of Ackerman’s camellias are fall/winter flowering types that belong to either the Winter series or the Ashton series. Bill’s 2007 book, “Beyond the Camellia Belt,” details his life’s work with camellias. Job well done!
We lost another friend this month when Woodlanders Nursery co-founder, Julia Mackintosh, passed away on August 24 at the age of 88. Julia was born in England, but received her Master’s degree in Architecture from Harvard. Julia and her husband, Robert, headed to Grenada, where Julia taught at the newly-founded Westmoreland School. In 1975, they moved to Aiken, SC, and started the well-known mail order nursery, Woodlanders. Julia and Robert finally retired and moved to Raleigh in 1997, where they managed the conserved Margaret Reid Wildflower Garden until her death. Julia is survived by her husband of 60 years, Robert, brother Michael, and three daughters, Amy, Louisa, and Susan. Julia will be remembered both by the people whose lives she touched and those who grow the plants she helped make available.
Speaking of Woodlanders Nursery, July 14, 2013 was declared “Bob McCartney Day” in Aiken, SC, by Aiken mayor, Fred Cavanaugh. McCartney, 76, is co-owner of Woodlanders Nursery in Aiken and has spent the last few decades turning Aiken into a citywide arboretum of rare trees. Bob grew up in Virginia then went off to school, receiving a BS from Utah State followed by a Masters in Wildlife Management from LSU. After a 4-year stint in the Coast Guard and a horticultural career at Colonial Williamsburg, Bob moved to Aiken in 1980 to become a partner in Woodlanders Nursery, where he remains today. A big PDN salute for a job well done!
Yours truly was very humbled last month to receive the Perennial Plant Association’s Award of Merit. Unfortunately, I was on the road to several speaking engagements during the July 23 ceremony in British Columbia and was unable to accept in person, but many thanks to all who made this possible.
Congratulations go out to two botanical garden giants who have recently landed new positions.Plantsman and showman, Jimmy Turner, who has been the public face of the Dallas Arboretum for the last decade, will be heading around the world to Australia, having been named the Director of Horticulture Operations for the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Blue Mountain Botanic Garden Mt. Tomah, and the Australian Botanic Garden Mt. Annan. Jimmy has been one of the true rock stars in the world of American horticulture, establishing and promoting great heat tolerant plants from his trials at the Dallas Arboretum. You can read more about Jimmy’s great work in Dallas at www.dallasplanttrials.org/jimmy_turner Good luck, my friend…a huge loss for American horticulture.