This is the first time since 2010 our region has hosted the event, which moves throughout the Southeastern US each fall. This year, the sold out meeting welcomed 225 attendees, which included 56 International participants. The educational sessions were held at the RDU Airport Doubletree, and the bus tours ranged from Bahama in Durham County south to Johnston County.
Speakers covered a wide range of propagation/production topics, including our own Aaron Selby, who shared our “secrets” for propagating many of our rare and difficult to propagate crops. The student competition talks are always fascinating to see what research is in the academic pipeline.
The meetings always consist of both a live and silent plant auction, where all kinds of horticultural treasures abound. Below is Dr. Mike Dirr (retired UGA professor/author), and Dr. Todd Lasseigne (Director of Bellingrath Gardens), extoling the virtues of a plant in the live auction.
Our live auctioneer was non other than NC’s past Attorney General, Secretary of State, and famed Watergate lawyer, Rufus Edmiston. The 81 year old Edmiston is an ardent gardener, so he was right at home with the group. Below he is with gardening celebrity, Brie Arthur (l), Edmiston, JC Raulston Arboretum director Mark Weathington, and Plants Nouveau co-owner, Linda Guy (r).
We received the shocking news this week that our friend, and retired Director of the Morris Arboretum (Pennsylvania), Paul Meyer, passed away. Paul spent his entire 42 year career at the Morris Arboretum, first as Curator/Director of Horticulture, and then 28 years as Director of the Garden, before retiring in 2018. We all wondered what would happen after he retired, since for the entire 42 years, Paul, and his wife Debbie, lived in a home on the arboretum property. I know I’ll always treasure the time I was able to spend the night with Paul and Debbie, in what was truly a room with a view.
During his tenure at the garden, Paul co-founded NACPCC, the North American China Plant Collection Consortium. As a result, he participated in twelve overseas plant collection trips. In addition to running the gardens and traveling, he taught at the University of Pennsylvania, which owns the arboretum, and wrote for a number of publications.
Paul was a recipient of virtually alll of the top horticulture awards, including the prestigous Scott Medal (2018), the L.H. Bailey Award from the American Horticulture Society (2014), and most recently, the Veitch Medal from the Royal Horticulture Society (2022). Just prior to his cancer diagnosis this spring, he was preparing to lead an International Dendrology Society tour to South Korea.
I’ll miss running into you on the road, my friend, and chatting about all the cool plants you’d encountered. Our thoughts go out to Debbie during this difficult time, but what a life, well lived.
I’m just back from a quick 24-hour trip to NYC for a special tribute to a dear friend, Margaret Roach. Wave Hill Gardens in the Bronx, was hosting a garden fundraising dinner to salute this legendary garden communicator.
Accompanying me was NCSU CALS College Advancement Director of Development, Alycia Thornton, who manages the fundraising for the JLBG Endowment. We were thrilled to have two incredible plant people/conservationists, Eleanor Briggs (founder of The Harris Center for Conservation Education and Wildlife Conservation Society photographer) and John Gwynne (Retired Director of Conservation for the Bronx Zoo and owner of Sakonnet Gardens) as our tour guides for the day.
Arriving in NYC just after 8am, we headed downtown to visit two newly recycled horticultural landmarks, Little Island and the High Line, neither of which I’d visited before.
Little Island is a relatively new NYC park (2021), built on the ruins of the famed Hudson River pier 54, which was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy (2012). Pier 54 was once the docking point for transatlantic ships, including being the drop off point for recscuees from the Titanic. After the pier was commercially abandoned in the 1980s, it became a social hangout for an array of groups and concerts, before being destroyed in the storm.
Media executive and billionaire Barry Diller and his wife, Diane von Furstenberg, were the chief drivers of the renovation project, donating 260 million dollars toward the construction of the riverside park that would become known as Little Island..
The 132 concrete pilings that anchor the park, were designed to look like giant tulips, with some rising as much as 62′ above the Hudson River, and anchored as deep as 200′ into the river bed. The project, designed by renown NY architect Signe Nielsen, has already hosted over 3.5 million visitors since its opening in 2021. Not only does the 2 acre Little Island have amazing multi-level gardens, it also has an ampitheater that looks across the water into adjacent New Jersey.
The use of tall berms and large public areas for walking make this a very enticing space for visitors.
The level of horticultural maintenance was superb in this meadow-like style of landscaping that can easily become a mecca for weeds.
Standing at the top of Little Island gives you a birds eye view of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, the adjacent One World Trade Center tower.
The plant selection was quite varied, but to find lovely specimens of the rare, Southeast native oak, Quercus oglethorpensis was quite shocking.
For those who haven’t heard of the High Line, it is the elevated commercial railroad tracks that run through downtown New York City. Originally built in 1934, with the aim of reducing pedestrian fatalities caused by the street level trains. For the next 50 years, these raised tracks, perched 30′ above the road below, were the main option for hauling commercial supplies, food, etc. throughout this part of the city. With the expansion of the commercial trucking industry, the tracks were abandoned in the mid 1980s.
In 1999, Mayor Rudy Giuliani ordered the tracks demolished, but public backlash resulted in the formation of The Friends of the High Line, which advocated for re-purposing the tracks. In 2003, an idea contest was held, with the winning proposal being to convert the old tracks into a public park, including plants, art, and a space for relaxation.
In 2006, the project formally began. Work involved converting the rail bed into planting bed, complete with drainage, lighting, seating, etc In 2009, the first section of park opened, and fourteen years later, the final section, the Moynihan Connector, opened this year. The entire 1.45 mile park is funded, operated, and managed by the Friends of the High Line, in conjunction with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation..
The gardens are planted with over 500 plant taxa from trees to annuals. Parts of the old railroad were left in the garden as a salute to its past. Some sections are now heavily wooded, while other sections are more prairie-like.
Interpretive signage is used to teach visitors about the plants they see along the route.
Today, the High Line has generated so much excitement, that new apartment buildings are being built both beside and straddling the High Line. In its first year, the High Line saw 1.3 million visitors, and by 2015, that number had climbed to 7.6 million, with 31% of those being NYC residents. Today, the High Line ranks 9th among the most visited destinations in New York City. I’m sure the view out of these apartments is amazing, but I guess you’d need to be a real exhibitionist to want millions of strangers peering into your house from the gardens.
Art is a big part of the High Line as you can see from the replica of a coral bark maple below. We were there during the UN Climate Conference, so pop-up booths were everywhere along the central part of our walk.
An outdoor food court makes it convenient if you need food or drink while you’re there.
The gardens are completely funded by the Friends of the High Line, so donations are essential to keep this project going. I expect that anyone who lives along the route is more than happy to contribute to keeping this section of the concrete jungle green.
After leaving the High Line, we headed to our final stop of the day, Wave Hill Gardens in the Bronx. I had visited three times prior, but it had been well over a decade since my last stop.
Opened in 1965, Wave Hill Gardens are a 28 acre oasis in the Bronx’s affluent Riverdale community, situated above the scenic Hudson River. The land and two homes on the property was donated in 1960 by the Perkins family to the City of New York to become a public garden.
The annual fundraising event held by the garden, picks an honoree each year, and this year, they chose garden writer, Margaret Roach. If you don’t know of Margaret, she is currently the Garden Writer for the New York Times. Margaret’s career ranged from being a sports columnist to Senior/Executive Vice-President of Martha Stewart Living from 1995-2008. In between her career start and end was a ten year stint at Newsday and New York Newsday, where she served as Fashion Editor and later Garden Editor.,
In 2008, Margaret retreated from public life to reconnect with her garden and heal from life in the big city on her NY property, far away from the bustle of the big city, where she began her own podcast, A Way to Garden. On A Way to Garden, Margaret interviews experts on gardening and an array of related topics. Margaret has also written several gardening books during her time away from the city. We all celebrated tonight, since this was the first time in four years that Margaret had graced any public events.
Below is Marco Polo Stufano, the founding Director of Horticulure for Wave Hill, and the man responsible for it’s brilliant transformation from dilapidated estate to the world class garden it is today. Marco retired from Wave Hill in 2001 after 34 years at the helm. Marco, who still loves nearby, just celebrated his 85th birthday…congratulations!
It was great to see an array of horticultural friends, many of which I hadn’t seen in years Below is garden writer, Ken Druse, with his husband, Louis Bauer. Louis followed Marco Stufano as Director of Horticulture at Wave Hill for seven years. As you can see by the cane, Ken is sadly struggling with mobility issues.
Marc Hachadourian is a renown plantsman, and Manager of Living Collections the New York Botanic Gardens Living Collections Greenhouses. Mark is the author of the recently published book, Orchid Modern.
It was great to have time to visit with Ed Bowen and Taylor Johnston of Rhode Island’s Issima Nursery. We have been big fans of their nursery since its inception, so it was so lovely to be able to chat in person.
It was also great to reconnect with Peony’s Envy owner, Kathleen Gagan, who I hadn’t seen in years. Kathleen is a dynamo that runs one of the country’s best retail peony nurseries from her farm in New Jersey.
There was a crowd of gardening celebrities from Pennsylvania that made the trip, including magnolia guru, Andrew Bunting, Vice-President of Horticulture for the Pennsylvannia Horticulture Society.
Ethan Kauffman moved north after his 8 year stint at Riverbanks Botanic Garden and 9 years at Moore Farms, both in SC, to become the Director at Stoneleigh Garden in Pennsylvannia. There, his transformative work with native plants has become the talk of the region.
It was great to catch up with long-time friends, garden designers Charles Price (l), and Glenn Withey (r), who flew in from Seattle for the event. Glen and Charles are world renown landscape designers. For several years, it was hard to pick up a national gardening magazine without a feature on their work.
The evening ended under the open skies with a brief auction and a lovely tribute to Margaret and her contributions to the horticultural world. It was lovely that the horticultural stars came out to honor one of their own.
Those who were heavily into gardening in the early 1990s probably remember the micro-mail order nursery, The Wildwood Flower, run by the unique and colorful NC plantsman Thurman Maness. While Thurman’s nursery lasted less than a decade in the mail order realm, his impact in the horticultural world continues though his many plant introductions.
Thurman’s probably best known in the plant world for his lobelia hybrids, as demonstrated by his 1990 catalog which listed 20 different lobelias. We’ve offered a number of Thurman’s lobelia hybrids through the years, including varieties like ‘Rose Beacon’, ‘Ruby Slippers’, and ‘Sparkle deVine’, and still carry one of our personal favorites, Lobelia ‘Monet Moment’.
Thurman’s old catalogs also included little known, but garden worthy natives like Scutellaris serrata and the Federally Endangered Silene catesbiae (polypetala). When I first visited back in the early 1990s, Thurman was running his own tissue culture lab, where he was both producing plants as well as conducting ploidy manipulation for breeding..
So, what’s Thurman doing today. At age 87, he’s still working in his garden and propagating plants, which he occasionally sells on site at his Pittsboro home. He tells me that he’s ramping up production because of the new 400 acre development just a few miles away…he’s determined that they all need hydrangeas.
He also still runs his antique business, now from an antique mall in nearby Siler City. When he goes out on the town, he often does so as his alter ego, Sparkle deVine, as you can see in this recent photo below. JLBG/PDN salutes a brilliant plantsman for a horticultural life well-lived.
It was great to get a chance to reconnect with Florida plantsman Nestor White at our recent Open Nursery and Garden, since it had been well over a decade since his last visit. Nestor has what is almost certainly the largest Crinum collection in the world with over 1,000 different accessions. If you purchase crinums on Ebay, you’ve most likely dealt with Nestor. Although we have nearly 400 crinum accessions, we’ll never have a collection as extensive as the one that he’s assembled. Well done!
We’ve just concluded our Spring Open Nursery and Garden weekends, and as always welcomed thousands of new visitors. One of my favorite parts of Open House is also reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances, some of whom I haven’t seen in ages.
I was delighted to catch up with one of my high school & college classmates, Kim Hawks, who showed up with her friend, Paul. Kim is a stalwart in our industry, having founded the highly popular Niche Gardens in Chapel Hill, which sadly closed a few years ago. As you can see, they both entered our Garden Hat contest, which is currently being judged by the public on our Facebook page. Voting ends May 15, so please cast your votes soon!
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.
Here are a few photos of JLBG in early July…hope you can join us for our upcoming Summer Open Nursery & Garden Days, July 15-17 and 22-24, 2022, and see what’s possible in a summer garden. The nursery will also be open for attendees to shop while on-site.
Be sure to take part in our free Gardening Unplugged talks, which are held each day during the Summer Open House at 10am and 2pm, just meet at the welcome tent.
Just over a month remains before the 2022 Southeastern Plant Symposium kicks off in Raleigh at the Sheraton Hotel, downtown. This joint venture between JLBG/Plant Delights and the JC Raulston Arboretum brings together the top horticultural speakers from around the world to regale attendees with tales of their favorite new plants. Each symposium rotates a focus on either on woody plants, perennials, or geophytes. The 2022 symposium is perennials focused.
The dates are Friday, June 10 and Saturday June 11. Both the JC Raulston Arboretum and Juniper Level Botanic Garden/Plant Delights will be open for visitors on the Thursday prior and the Sunday morning after the symposium.
A few of the amazing speakers include:
Leftherios Dariotis – If you’re a sports fan, you’ve heard the nickname “Greek Freak” applied to NBA star, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Well, Leftherios (aka: Liberto Dario) is to horticulture, what Giannis is to basketball…a true superstar. Leftherios will travel from his home in Greece to dazzle you with an array of little-known plants that thrive in hot, dry climates.
Dan Hinkley, founder of Heronswood and Windcliff, plant explorer extraordinaire, and recipient of the world’s top horticultural honors, will join us to share his latest botanical adventures and plants that have potential for our hot, humid climate. Dan bring a new perspective from having experienced 117 degrees F. in his Washington garden in 2021.
Patrick McMillan is a NC native, who spent two decades as a professor at Clemson. While there, he hosted the Emmy Award winning PBS show, Expeditions with Patrick McMillan, as well as directing the SC Botanical Garden. After a 1.5 year stint as Director of Heronswood, he has returned to his roots in NC, and joined the staff of JLBG. Patrick is widely recognized for his incredible botanical knowledge. His new book, Wildflowers of South Carolina will hit bookshelves soon.
Peter Zale is the Associate Director of Conservation, Plant Breeding and Collections at Pennsylvannia’s Longwood Gardens. Peter specializes in a number of plant groups that include hardy orchids and phlox. You can’t help but be amazed at Peter’s conservation and breeding work as well as his extensive knowledge of the natural world.
Plantsman Adam Black is known worldwide for his botanical exploits, primarily focused on the state of Texas. Adam has spent years traversing every corner of Texas, both re-discovering long lost plants and finding new ones. Adam’s horticultural background gives him a unique take on which Texas native plants will have great garden value for gardeners in the southeast. Adam has recently moved to NC to take a job as an Assistant Curator at the Bartlett Arboretum. We guarantee you’ll meet more new plants than you ever thought possible.
Kelly Norris is a true renaissance horticulturist. Growing up in a Midwest iris nursery propelled Kelly into the public horticultural arena. After a stint beefing up the collections at the Des Moines Botanic Garden, Kelly now splits his time between landscape design, writing, and extolling the virtues of new plants on QVC. Kelly is one of the new wave of great thinkers in our industry who understands the need for the fields of botany and horticulture to collaborate.
On Saturday, the pace picks up even more, with shorter, but intensively focused talks. The list of Saturday presenters include Mark Weathington, Director of the JC Raulston Arboretum will speak on his favorite new perennials. Ian Caton, founder of Wood Thrush Natives in Virginia will speak on Underused and Little-known Appalachian Natives. Hayes Jackson, Alabama Extension Agent and Director of The Longleaf Botanical Garden in Alabama will speak on Creating a Tropical Garden Feel in a Temperate Climate.
We are pleased to welcome Richard Hawke, Manager of the Perennial Trials at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Richard’s detailed cultivar evaluations are prized by gardeners throughout the country. Shannon Currey, Marketing Manager for Hoffman’s Nursery, will share her passion for sedges, while Adrienne Roethling, Director of the Paul Ciener Botanical Garden will discuss her favorite vines. Yours’ truly, Tony Avent, will share more than you ever thought possible about the genus Baptisia.
Did I mention the symposium includes the now world-famous rare plant auction, which has garnered International attention? The auction and symposium will be available both on-line and remote.
Mark and I truly hope you will join us for this incredible perennials-focused symposium, back in person for the first time in three years. The Symposium is an important fundraiser for both the JC Raulston Arboretum as well as the Juniper Level Botanic Garden Endowment. Here is the link to register for the Symposium. We’ll see you in June!
We recently attended the dedication the new Plant Science Building at NC State. This $160 million dollar facility will house high level plant research where interdisciplinary researchers will work together to solve high level plant concerns. I can only imagine being a student and being able to work in such an amazing facility. The top floor is a high-tech greenhouse.