Hmmm… We love sarracenias…such great garden entertainment and without going on-line!
Fall is a great time for gardening. With cooler weather there is less transpiration and water stress on the plants. Also, even though the top of the plant may be dormant, the roots are still growing. This gives the plants a chance to establish a good foundation over the winter and a head-start going into spring.
Speaking of a good foundation, a healthy garden starts with good soil preparation. Soil care is essential in avoiding plant stress and subsequent pest problems. Join us next Saturday, November 12 from 10-noon for an interactive lecture that will cover nutrient balance, soil test reports, how to incorporate organics, taking care of microbes, and an array of misconceptions regarding planting techniques. If you have soil test reports, be sure to bring them with you.
Another perk to attending next weeks soil class, is afterwards you can shop our sales houses, taking advantage of our Fall Overstock 20% off sale and go home with lots of unique plants. Here is just a peak at a few of the gems.
This weekend marks the start of our 25th Anniversary Summer Open House at Plant Delights Nursery. The weather and moisture levels have been incredible this year, the gardens look amazing and the plants lush. I never imagined having this many lushes in the garden at one time. Also I don’t ever remember a time in July when the US Drought Monitor map showed no drought conditions east of the Mississippi River…incredible! If you haven’t been to our Open House in a few years, we hope you will join us and experience the joy of the summer garden for two weekends this July – the 12, 13, 14 and July 19, 20, 21. For details, click here.
We still have a few spaces remaining in the second section of our Propagation Class which will be coming up soon on Saturday, August 17, from 10-4pm. This class will be taught by PDN staff member Aaron Selby, who is in charge of producing all of the plants we sell. You can sign up online here.
Many of you who have attended our past propagation classes have heard us talk about the valuable information in Dr. Norm Deno’s home-published books, “Seed Germination Theory and Practice”, Volumes 1,2, and 3. One of our recent class participants let us know that the USDA now has Dr. Deno’s books available online. You can download the .pdfs here at the usda.gov page.
The American Horticulture Society has recently announced its 2013 awards and congratulations go to our friend, Dr. Paul Capiello of Yew Dell Botanic Gardens in Kentucky, for receiving the LH Bailey Award, given to an individual who has made significant lifetime contributions to at least three fields of horticulture; teaching, research, communications, plant explorations, administration, art, business, or leadership. Dr. Dennis Werner of NC State University received the Luther Burbank Award for extraordinary achievement in the field of plant breeding and our friend, Neil Diboll of Prairie Nursery, won the Paul Ecke Jr. Commercial Award for commitment to the highest standards of excellence in commercial horticulture. Congratulations to these friends!
In another very special award on July 22, the academic scientific organization, American Society of Horticultural Science, will posthumously induct the late Dr. J.C. Raulston into its Hall of Fame. The ASHS Hall of Fame is a distinguished group of individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to horticulture and the greater public good. Well deserved!
In the “you can’t make this up” category this month, comes a new organic gardening book by Gene Logsdon, “Holy Shit – Managing Manure to Save Mankind.” I will admit to not having read it yet, but I’m certainly adding it to my “must read” list…anything with a title like that can’t be missed.
A heads up for gin and tonic drinkers out there to perhaps stock up. It seems that a new fungal blight (Phytophthora austrocedrae) is following in the footsteps of the famed Irish potato blight and threatening junipers in the UK where many of the berries that provide the flavor to gin are sourced. So far, the fungus is limited to the UK, where losses have reached nearly 70% of the crop, but EU producers are very concerned since there are no plant movement restrictions within the EU.
In North Carolina, some sorry SOB stole more than 1,000 venus fly-trap plants from the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden in Wilmington, NC over the Memorial Day weekend. The NC Coastal Land Trust is offering a $1,500 reward to anyone who can help find the thieves, so if you have information about the stolen plants please call the Wilmington NC Police Department at 252-343-3600 or send an anonymous text to CRIMES (274637). The message must start with TIP708.
In case you missed it, the Barrel Monster creator, Joe Carnevale has been outed as the daredevil who posted photos and videos of himself on top of some of Seattle’s tallest buildings, including the Space Needle.
You can see more amazing photos at Joe’s website www.nopromiseofsafety.com or if you have a fear of heights, you’ll find less extreme photos of Joe as he created our Plant Delights Barrel Monster here at the nursery.
Nursery News and Happenin’s
I mentioned a few months ago that one of the country’s most noted wholesalers, Briggs Nursery of Washington state, was in bank-ordered receivership. Well, the good news is that Briggs was just purchased out of receivership for $12 million dollars by one of its competitors, Sidhu Nursery of Canada. Briggs’ CEO, J. Guy, who had been brought in a year earlier to reorganize the nursery, had resigned just prior to the bidding in order to form a private group to launch an unsuccessful bid for Briggs. Sidhu expects the nursery to remain in operation at its current site.
In another not so surprising move, Stacy’s Garden Center of York, South Carolina, has also filed for bankruptcy with a balance sheet showing $5 million in debt. Stacy’s includes 260 acres of production in York County, SC where 16 million plants are produced annually. Since retired naval officer, Louis Stacy, founded the company in 1969, Stacy’s has been known as an annual and perennial supplier to the larger box stores in 24 states. Despite a work force that peaks at 800 people in spring, Stacy’s had fallen on hard financial times in recent years and many of us in the industry were surprised they lasted this long. A contract with Metrolina Greenhouses (the VanWingerden clan) of Huntersville, NC has been signed to buy the assets of Stacy’s pending the approval of the bankruptcy court. Once approved, the operations will go forward under the Metrolina name. Creditors who will get financially screwed to the tune of between $500,000 and $1.5 million include Express Seed of Cleveland, OH, Container Centralen of Winter Garden, FL, Sun Gro Horticulture of Chicago, IL, Bank of the West, Temecula, CA, and Ednie Flower Bulbs of Fredon, NJ.
Last July, I wrote about the financial travails of the 72-year-old Waterloo Gardens in Pennsylvania. Things didn’t look good then and the final nail has been driven in the proverbial coffin as they recently announced the closure of their last garden center location. I can only imagine how tough it is from going from being the toast of the industry a decade ago to the toast, itself, now. Thanks for an incredible run and for being an industry standard for so long.
From across the northern border, more disappointing news as Minter Gardens of Chilliwack, British Columbia is closing due to funding challenges. The world-class Minter Gardens was started by nurseryman, Brian Minter, after he and his wife purchased the 32-acre site in 1977. The gardens opened to the public in 1980 and have been regarded as one of British Columbia’s top public gardens. Minter Gardens was even included in Rae Spencer-Jones’s book, “1001 Gardens You Must See.” The gardens contain various theme areas including a rose garden, children’s garden, fragrance garden, rhododendron garden, fern garden, formal garden, water gardens, and much more.
While Brian’s garden center operations will continue, the gardens, located about 90 minutes from Vancouver, will close on October 14, due primarily to a dramatic drop in attendance from highs of 100,000+ annually before the last five years of recession. If you’ve been looking for a vacation spot, this appears to be your last chance to visit before it closes. You can find out more at www.mintergardens.com
Although it’s not going out of business, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is in a world of financial hurt after the weather didn’t cooperate for this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show. The show usually generates about $1 million in profits, but this year the show fell $1.2 million short…oops. This leaves the PHS scrambling to make up the difference through a series of cost cutting, insurance claim filing, and fund raising measures. PHS blames a botched weather forecast and local media hype of an impending massive winter storm that never fully materialized in Philadelphia for the lowest attendance since 2001. Sorry, but I find it a bit humorous about all this ruckus over an incorrect forecast. Aren’t the words “weather forecast” listed in the Thesaurus as a synonym for “inaccurate”?
In sad news, plantsman Charles Applegate of Ohio’s Kingwood Center passed away at the age of 82, due to complications from recent surgery. When I first visited Kingwood Center, probably three decades ago, it was evident before you even entered the main gardens that there was a plantsman extraordinaire on staff. I was fortunate to meet the master behind the plants, who I would visit several more times over the next few decades when I was in the area. Charles had an incredible passion for both new plants and garden design…two skills that unfortunately rarely mix.
Charles’ design skills had roots in his dual master degrees…one in art and a second in theater. As an actor, he had a feature role in the 1963 movie, “Red Runs the River.” What most people knew Charles for, however, was his work with plants. Charles was a plant breeder, working primarily with daylilies but dabbling in other genera. He introduced over 45 daylilies; Hemerocallis ‘Blessing’ and ‘Guile’ are his most famous. In addition, two of his most recognized annual introductions were Coleus ‘Kingwood Torch’ and Talinum ‘Kingwood Gold’. Charles was passionate about keeping great plants in cultivation even if they had been dropped by commercial horticulture in favor of the latest and greatest.
In his 48 years at Kingwood, most as Senior Gardener (he refused promotions to administration), Charles made a huge impact on everyone he met personally and also on those who only saw his handiwork. Charles is survived by his wife, Linda, and sons Johnathan and Seth. Great job, my friend.
We lost another amazing plantsman on May 30, when University of Arkansas professor and plant breeder, Jon Lindstrom, passed away from melanoma skin cancer at the untimely age of 54. As a plant breeder, Jon always took the road less traveled, creating a number of revolutionary hybrids like Buddleia ‘Orange Scepter’ and Sinningia ‘Arkansas Belle’, which he allowed us to introduce. Jon also developed bigeneric hybrids of sinningia x paliavana as well as tri-generic hybrids between agave, manfreda, and polianthes (tuberose). A PDN salute for a job well done and a life cut far too short. Memorial contributions may be made to “The Jon Lindstrom Scholarship” in care of the Department of Horticulture, 316 Plant Sciences Bldg, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701.
Until next month…happy gardening.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve about enjoyed this winter long enough…and winter megastorm Nemo missed us. While we’ve only had a low temperature of 18 degrees F in Raleigh, very mild by our norms, it has been consistently cool, which is great for the plants but not so much for those of us with thin blood…I mean chlorophyll.
Out in the garden, our early trilliums are about 2-3 weeks behind normal, which is actually a good thing when it comes to avoiding those pesky late spring frosts. Despite the cool, some plants just can’t wait. Our silly clumps of Arisaema ringens are already trying to poke their heads through the soil far too early. When this happens, adding a few inches of mulch to help keep the soil cool will help delay their emergence. Podophyllum pleianthum, a Chinese mayapple, also always emerges too early. Fortunately, it seems to be quite tolerant of getting burned back to the ground time after time.
We’ve had a great hellebore show in the garden this winter which, thanks to the cool weather, will continue for a while. Since most hybrid hellebores seed around the parent clump, you’ll need to consciously decide when you have enough seedlings. When that point arises, the spent flowers can be circumcised as an effective means of population control. Six to sixteen weeks (depending on the temperature) is the typical gestation period for hellebores, so mark your calendar so you don’t forget when snipping time arrives. As we’ve discussed on Facebook, we’ve found that when you plant hellebores about 15′ apart in the garden, they come relatively true to type…double whites produce more double whites, etc. Anything closer than that produces a combination of the parental colors and forms, which can be both good and bad depending on the traits of each neighbor. If you are looking for hellebores that don’t seed in the garden, you should explore the Helleborus niger hybrids: Helleborus x ballardiae, Helleborus x ericsmithii, and Helleborus x nigercors (nigersmithii). These are all sterile moms and will not produce viable seed. Check out our full selection of Hellebores here.
Speaking of hellebores, this is our final Winter Open House weekend for 2013 with lots of great hellebores remaining. I just counted, and we still have over 300 doubles in flower along with over 160 incredible single yellows. These are some of the finest hellebores we’ve ever had for Open House, so drop by if you can. Anything that doesn’t go out the door this weekend will go on the web next week. We’ve posted some killer hellebore photos on our Facebook page, so check ’em out. Please remember you DO NOT have to join or register with Facebook to visit our Facebook page or see the photos…only if you want an email to know when we post more. We think you’ll find our Facebook page worthwhile if you like plants.
While there are many things to love about the end of winter, the one thing I don’t look forward to is the annual rite of tree-topping…the only fad that’s spreading around the country faster than body art. Tree topping, aka butchering, especially of crape myrtles, is truly one of the most bizarre rituals to ever affect the gardening community. I’ve almost concluded that alien mind control must be at work here, causing Homo sapiens males with power tools and no critical thinking skills to bizarrely butcher any tree in their yard they think might possibly look like a crape myrtle. Other than releasing extra testosterone and making your carbon footprint the size of Sasquatch, there is absolutely no logical reason to top trees. Tree topping does not keep the tree shorter and it does not make it flower better. It does, however, make your tree decrepitly ugly, weak-branched, and more susceptible to disease while putting on display your low gardening IQ to all your neighbors. Please, mow your grass an extra time or two, but leave the trees alone.
An interesting new trend is emerging in botanical circles that has already caused a divisive fracture in the taxonomic community. The trend is one of naming new plants after the highest bidder, as has been done for years with buildings and sporting events. One taxonomy camp argues that the money is needed to support their work, while the other camp wants genus and species names reserved for locations where the plants were found, people who were associated with finding the plants, or to simply name the plants after things they resemble.
Most recently, a worldwide naming auction was held for a new species of Hesperantha (iris family) that was discovered in 2011 by Odette Curtis in the Lowland Renosterveld management region of South Africa. The auction for the Overberg Lowlands Conservation Trust was managed by Fauna & Flora International on the Giving Lots on-line auction site. The winning bid was $47,000 USD, although the winner has not been publicly identified. Not only will the winner get to name the species, but they will receive a painting and bronze cast of their new namesake…no mention of a herbarium sheet.
In other interesting news from the science community, Indian researchers have discovered an additional way in which carnivorous plants attract their insect prey…they glow. Yes, in addition to fragrance, color, and nectar, Dionaea (Venus fly-traps), Sarracenia, and Nepenthes (tropical pitcher plants) actually emit a UV spectrum blue glow in and around the entrance to the pitchers that resembles airport landing lights. The blue glow evidently attracts insects out trolling for a good time in the same way blue Christmas lights attract rednecks.
In a related note, have you heard of plant neurobiology? My spell checker certainly hasn’t. Plant neurobiology is the study of how plants communicate, feel, and react. Those of a certain age may remember the 1973 book, The Secret Life of Plants, which got many folks of our generation thinking about a rarely discussed subject. Well, now folks interested in the subject will have a place to congregate at the first ever plant neurobiology convention this summer. If this floats your proverbial boat, check out the agenda here.
Another great event is coming up next week…the 2013 Salvia Summit to be held at the Huntington Botanical Gardens in California. Although I had the Salvia Summit on my schedule for over a year, I’ll regretfully have to miss the summit due to unforeseen circumstances at the nursery. I truly hope many of you who love salvias will be able to attend and hear the incredible list of great speakers.
Closer to Plant Delights, we are pleased to welcome England’s famed garden writer, Dr.Noel Kingsbury to Raleigh next week. This will mark Noel’s first visit to the region, where he will be speaking to the Friends of the JC Raulston Arboretum on Thursday, March 7, at 7:30pm on The Politics of the Garden. Noel will follow this up with an all day workshop discussing long term plant performance on Saturday, March 9, from 9:00am to 3:00pm, at the Brickhaven building adjacent to the JC Raulston Arboretum. The workshop will teach gardeners how to look at the garden from a long-term perspective in terms of sustainability as well as aesthetics.
The workshop cost is $80.00 for JCRA members and $95.00 for nonmembers. Space is limited to the first 25 participants. To register, contact Chris Glenn at (919) 513‑7005 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On the heels of Noel’s talk comes Magnolia Mayhem, a mini-symposium also at the JC Raulston Arboretum on Saturday, March 23, from 8:00am until 2:00pm. Speakers include Kevin Parris, magnolia breeder extraordinaire and director of the Spartanburg Community College Arboretum, and Aaron Schettler, magnolia collector and director of grounds at Raleigh’s Meredith College. The talks will be followed by a Mark Weatherington tour of the JC Raulston Arboretum magnolia collection, then a tour of the adjacent magnolia collection. If that’s not enough, a pre-convention tour on Friday, March 22, will include Camellia Forest Nursery, the Charles R. Keith Arboretum, and plantsman Tom Krenitsky’s private garden. Details are available here.
If you’re in town for the event and have time, we’d be delighted to have you visit us as well…just call (919)772-4794 and set up an appointment (weekends not available).
Last month, I mentioned the demise of the well-respected mail order firm, High Country Gardens, in New Mexico. Well, in late February, a white knight rode into town and swooped them up, and last week reopened their website for business. It seems that American Meadows of Vermont has a friendly financier who thought this was a good investment, so as of last week, HCG is back in business under the leadership of its founder, David Salman. We wish HCG the best in ramping back up production of the plants that made HCG a favorite of gardeners in the high desert. In 2008, American Meadows itself was sold by founders Ray and Chy Allen to long-time employee Mike Lizotte and his business partner, Ethan Platt (formerly of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters). We wish Mike and Ethan good luck with their new long-distance venture.
Other horticulture stalwarts continue to struggle with the latest bad news coming from the 100-year-old, 400-acre, Briggs Nursery of Elma, Washington. Briggs has been struggling for years due to a combination of original family members cashing out, a move to a new location, a very high debt load ($5 million), and a failure to modernize their plant offerings. Most homeowners have probably never heard of Briggs, but their state-of-the-art tissue culture lab produces the lion’s share of the rhododendrons and blueberries produced in the US. Did I mention that Briggs propagated and sold huge numbers of the Pink Champagne Blueberry (not to be confused with Pink Lemonade, which is fine) last year, only to then receive a “oops, we sent you the wrong plant” notice from the US government?
Briggs has been sold several times in recent years, most notably to the abysmal failure, International Garden Products. A year ago, J. Guy of the defunct Carolina Nurseries was brought in to try and modernize the nursery in hopes of saving what was left of Briggs. Unfortunately, the lack of capital and the unwillingness of Briggs’ bank to take any further risks resulted in the bank asking for the nursery to be placed in court receivership, which occurred in late January. The courts will now determine the best way to proceed with Briggs, whether that be new financing, selling the nursery, or closing the business. As you can imagine, several suitors from a variety of industries are already in the hunt. Unfortunately, as one prospective purchaser described to me, the spate of past sales has left the assets of Briggs in quite disarray. Fingers crossed we don’t lose this valuable resource.
Another name I never expected to hear in the same sentence with foreclosure is Kerry Herndon of Kerry’s Nursery in Florida…formerly Kerry’s Bromeliads. Kerry’s, founded in 1970, has expanded enormously both via growth and acquisition, and is now one of the largest growers in the country (ranked #21) with 2.8 million square feet of production. Kerry is a rock star of the horticulture world, with people following his every word as it relates to business management both in his “no limits” talks and trade magazine columns.
Kerry’s specializes in orchids and bromeliads (over 7 million plants in production) which are sold primarily through the big box stores like Home Depot, Publix, Kroger, Safeway, and Trader Joe’s. Florida Federal Land Bank Association recently filed a foreclosure lawsuit over the nursery’s $12 million debt, although Kerry remains optimistic a settlement can be reached that allows them to remain open. The supply of orchids and bromeliads available to home gardeners would take a huge hit if Kerry’s closes, so fingers crossed for a good resolution in the courts.
In still more disappointing news, the 185,000 subscriber strong, Garden Design Magazine has reached the end of the road. The stunning, high quality idea magazine for designers got the axe after the previous publisher, World Publications, sold out to Bonnier Corporation who found the magazine too small for their market.
Finally, the horticulture book world lost a giant recently with the passing of 86-year-old author, Jack Kramer. Jack will go down as the most prolific gardening writer of our time, authoring a staggering 161 gardening books…mostly about houseplants. A few of Jack’s many titles include; Bromeliads for Home and Garden (2011), The Art of Flowers (2002), Women of Flowers (1996), Sunset’s How to Grow African Violets (1977), and Underwater Gardens (1974). Jack was also a former syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times before retiring to Naples, Florida in 1987. Here is a nice article about Jack.
Until next month, I’ll see you on Facebook where we learn and share together.
June started with a bang as we welcomed Horticulture Magazine’s Great Plants, Great Plantsman Symposium to Raleigh. After a wonderful series of talks by speakers such as Tom Fischer (Editor, Horticulture Magazine), Helen Dillon (Ireland), Bob Lyons and Todd Lasseigne (JC Raulston Arboretum), and yours truly, Plant Delights welcomed 180 wonderful gardeners from around the country for a lunch and afternoon of looking and shopping.
Late spring also provided some time in the field. I was fortunate to make another incredible field trip to the Green Swamp, home to pitcher plants and Venus fly-traps. While I have been to the Green Swamp many times in recent years, a recent controlled burn in one area yielded some amazing treasures. Calopogon tuberosus was abundant in flower….both purple and white flowered forms. Growing alongside was C. pallidus, a diminutive relative. Also growing side by side was another striking orchid, Cleistes bifaria. Growing alongside the orchids was an abundance of sarracenias. In all, we saw Sarracenia flava in its many forms and colors, S. rubra, S. purpurea, S. minor and plenty of natural hybrids with each of these species. It was great to see how well the Venus fly-traps had responded to the burn. With the good flowering this year, we can hope for a good seed crop to ensure future generations…provided the habitat can be preserved.
While we only botanized a small region, we were also able to see the Federally Endangered Lysimachia asperulifolia and the rare L. loomsii both in flower. This was my first time to see Rhexia lutea in the wild. It’s hard to imagine a rhexia with anything but purple or white flowers, but there it was. If this plant is propagatable, it has a great future as a garden ornamental. Special thanks to plantsman Frank Galloway for being our tour guide. Frank is a true advocate for finding and preserving rare native plants.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been chained to my desk writing our 2004 fall catalog. Most of the printed matter has now headed for graphic layout and then off to the printer. We hope to have the catalogs in the mail around the first of August. It’s time to take off the shackles now and head out and meet open house visitors. Our summer open house runs from July 9-11 and 16-18…hope you can drop by for a visit.
By the way, we have some administrative/office positions available if you or anyone that you know is interested. We are looking for the right person to become a part of our PDN team. -tony