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…
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.
2015 Open Nursery and Garden Dates
February 27 – March 1
March 6 – 8
May 1 – 3
May 8 – 10
July 10 – 12
July 17 – 19
September 11 – 13
September 18 – 20
Fridays/Saturdays 8a-5p and Sundays 1-5p
Rain or Shine! Free Parking
Click for more info
Interesting Plant Data, Anyone?
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.
Top 10 States by Plant Purchases for Plant Delights in 2014
- North Carolina
- New York
- South Carolina
- New Jersey
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.
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 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.
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.
Happy Holidays and Happy Gardening!
-tony and anita
Wow. I didn’t know Henry Ross, but what an obituary. Even if he was a bitter, resentful, neurotic curmudgeon that didn’t bathe, was it necessary to leave that as his legacy? Think of all the thousands of people that get your email and read this blog. Regardless of your personal feelings for the man, devoting 5 paragraphs to his faults seems overly harsh. I’m disappointed in you, Mr. Avent.
I don’t recall mentioning that Henry had any faults…these were just part of his personality…no judgements about them being either good or bad.
As I mentioned to another reader, what you classified as faults, assigns a negative connotation on Henry’s personality. In our opinion, personality traits aren’t good or bad…they are just part of the individual and what makes them so unique.
It sounded like an honest, if unflattering, description by someone who knew the man well. His idiosyncrasies were the cause of the failure of his garden, despite his own total dedication, to attract the attention and financial stimulus it needed. His sensitivity toward criticism, real or inferred, kept him from introducing what Tony described as excellent new plants. It sounds as if he was his own worst enemy. I have a friend, a superb photographer, who used to post her work on a hobby board on the internet. If she didn’t get what SHE felt were enough responses, or if, God forbid, another person whose work SHE deemed inferior to her own, received more responses than she did, she would yank her pictures off of the site. It sounds like Henry suffered from the same combination of resentment and insecurity that I believe plagued my friend.
By the way, I don’t believe in sugar-coating the facts. It’s a form of political correctness, an attitude I abhor. I long abandoned the belief in “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Thank you for telling us what you knew, Tony. Is there any chance that YOU might be able to introduce some of his creations?
Interesting that you found my comments judgmental. I happen to be drawn to people off the bell curve and nothing I said in the article wasn’t also said directly to Henry. Personalities simply are. Imagine how boring a society we would be if everyone had the same “good” traits.
Sorry to pop up again, but Tony, I didn’t say you were judgmental at all! I didn’t see your response when you wrote it, but I said your original post was an honest, if unflattering, description. Considering that I have never approached the bell curve myself, I felt the need to restate my original response. Henry sounds like someone I would have liked. I’m married to a man whose life goal is to BE a curmudgeon, but he’s too Damned nice! (And I ADORE him.)
Susan you beat me to it! When I read Tony’s eulogy of Mr. Ross I felt sick to my stomach. Those ARE unnecessary and very judgmental words that were used to describe a man off handedly implied to be a WWII Veteran. Who, it appears, seemed to have found solace in 60yrs of intense, selfless, backbreaking horticultural therapy. A non career vet usually can’t get any mil retirement w/o some sort of disability rating. So it may be no wonder he lacked “people skills”, was “bitter”, “resentful” and had “deepening neurosis” that were “his own worst enemy”. Can you say PTSD? Sorry. I’m conjecturing from my own experiences with vets and as a Retired Army Nurse.
Suffice to say, my Southern mother taught me “If you can’t speak kindly of the dead, say nothing at all”. Tony, you should have stopped after paragraph one.
Mr. Ross, may you rest in peace
“finally without …. resistance”.