Our 2+ year old clumps of Echinacea ‘Kismet Raspberry’ are truly stunning in the gardens this summer. The second image shows how we’ve used these as a color echo in the garden with a crape myrtle in the distance. Many of the new echinaceas are light years better than the early colored hybrids, which tended to be week growers and short-lived. Echinacea ‘Kismet Raspberry’ has impressed us so much that it will be available in the new Plant Delights catalog that will come out in a couple of weeks.
Echinacea ‘Big Kahuna’ has turned into a wonderful beast in the garden. Here is our clump of this super vigorous selection this week as it enters its third year in the gardens at JLBG with no sign of slowing down. The fragrance is also amazing, as are the number of bees it attracts.
Here are some seedpods and seed heads from the garden today. Seedpods/fruit don’t have to be colorful to be decorative.
The shape of the seed capsule as well as hairs and filaments that capture light also add ornamental value.
We value the purple coneflower as a great summer-flowering perennial in the native plant garden as well as the mixed perennial border. Coneflowers attract both butterflies and hummingbirds. Purple coneflower species are easy to grow, heat- and drought-tolerant native perennials. Two things that echinacea plants do not like are heavy clay soils and poor winter drainage.
We hope you are as excited as we are about the new coneflower plants that greatly extend the range of colors and forms. Purple coneflowers are no long just purple; they are also pink, red, yellow, peach, copper, orange and there are single or double-flowered hybrids too. We continue to trial the spectrum of new echinacea selections, offering only the best echinacea plants for sale after verifying their garden performance.
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
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.
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.
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.
Several more fascinating new plants from the fall catalog that are now looking great in the garden include Silene subciliata, Heteropterys glabra,Gloxinia ‘Little Red’, and Sedum ‘Dynomite’. Be sure to enjoy these stars out during open house…they’re hard to miss.
The dark blue-flowering leadworts (ceratostigma) are simply fantastic now as are the light blue-flowered caryopteris. Even buddleias (butterfly bushes) are showcasing their fall blue-lavender flowers. We think you can never have enough blues in the garden.
Other colors abound now including echinaceas (if they were cut back after their early flowering), dahlias, rudbeckia, verbena, hedychium, lobelia, ruellia, achimenes, and so much more. Bring your camera, bring your friends, and we’ll provide the great weather. We hope you’ll be able to visit!
Open Nursery and Garden Dates for 2016
February 26 – 28 and March 4 – 6
April 29 – May 1 and May 6 – May 8
July 8 – 9 and July 15 – 17
September 9 – 11 and September 16 – 18
Friday and Saturday 8a-5p
Rain or Shine!
News from PDN/JLBG
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.
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.
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:
- Josh Taylor’s Photography Class
- Tony’s Garden Walk
- The World of Soils
Read the class descriptions here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Connect with Us!
Until next month, connect and follow us and the cats on Facebook, Pinterest, and our blogs at http://blog.jlbg.org and http://www.sensuousgardening.blogspot.com/, where you may sign up to follow our regular posts from the nursery and the botanic garden.
tony and anita
The butterflies are feasting on the echinaceas in the garden. I just caught this Eastern tiger swallowtail sitting still this week. You can bring amazing pollinators into your garden by planting lots of nectar-producing plants.
The echinaceas have been incredible in the garden this spring and summer. Here are a few shots from JLBG last week. First is Echinacea ‘Julia’…a very compact orange-flowered coneflower with sturdy stems.
Echinacea ‘Salsa Red’ is one of the most floriferous coneflowers we grow…truly amazing!
Echinacea ‘Secret Glow’…love this color and flower form!
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!
Happy Holidays and Happy Gardening!
-tony and anita
PDN Fall Nursery News
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.
It’s always interesting for us to see what sells and what doesn’t. Top sellers from the fall catalog so far include, Adiantum venustum, Agapanthus ‘White Heaven’, Agave ‘Huasteca Giant’, Agave ‘Shadow Dancer’, Alstroemeria ‘Koice’, Aster ‘Fanny’, Begonia ‘Pewterware’, Bouvardia ‘Scarlet Hummer’, Canna ‘Pacific Beauty’, Dryopteris erythrosora v. prolifica, Echinacea ‘Fatal Attraction’, Epimedium ‘Domino’, Eucalyptus neglecta, Heuchera ‘Citronelle’, Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’, Hibiscus ‘Midnight Marvel’, Hosta ‘Orange Marmalade’, Juniperus conferta ‘All Gold’, Lespedeza ‘White Fountain’, Ligularia ‘Chinese Dragon’, Lilium formosanum Giant form, Oxalis ‘Francis’, Patrinia scabiosifolia, Phlox ‘Peppermint Twist’, Ruellia ‘Black Beauty’, Salvia greggii ‘Teresa’, and Salvia ‘Golden Girl’.
On the other end of the scale, plants which will be severely disciplined for not selling to this point include Aspidistra crispa ‘Golden Freckles’, Aucuba ‘Sagama’, Begonia henryi,Buddleia ‘Blue Chip Jr.’, Buddleia ‘Pink Micro Chip’, Choisya ‘Limo’, Crinum x digweedii ‘Mermaid’, Harpochloa falx, Lycoris x jacksoniana ‘Caldwell’s Rose’, Ophiopogon ‘Tuff Tuft Lavender’, Taxus bacatta ‘Aurescens Nana’, and Trismeria trifoliata. We know how well these plants perform, and how hard they auditioned just to earn a spot in the catalog. We really hope you’ll save these gems from the whips and chains of our growing staff and give ’em a try!
October Photography Class with Josh Taylor
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.
Last Open Nursery and Garden Days for 2014 are Sept. 19-21
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
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
Fall is a fabulous time to plant!
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.
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’.
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
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.
- 1st Carnation
- 2nd Lily of the Valley
- 3rd Sunflower
- 4th Hydrangea
- 5th Daisy
- 6th Calla
- 7th Freesia
- 8th Lilac
- 9th Bird of paradise
- 10th Daffodil
- 11th Tulip
- 12th Peony
- 13th Chrysanthemum
- 14th Dahlia
- 15th Rose
- 20th Aster
- 25th Iris
- 28th Orchid
- 30th Lily
- 40th Gladiolus
- 50th Yellow rose, violet
- Source: Wikipedia
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.
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.
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.
-tony and anita
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.
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.
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.
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
|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 (Patio Garden, must sign up by August 1, 2014)|
|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.
New! Photography Class with Professional Garden Photographer Josh Taylor
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
~tony and anita