What sweltering weather we have been having in Raleigh, NC the last couple of weeks. But the gardening must go on! We welcome you to the last weekend of our Summer Open Nursery & Garden Days. Saturday 8 am – 5 pm and Sunday 1 pm – 5 pm.
Don’t forget about our Gardening Unplugged garden chats: 10 am – Ex-situ Conservation, 2 pm – Hardy Palms, just meet at the welcome tent!!
Hosted by the JC Raulston Arboretum and Juniper Level Botanic Garden, this symposium caters to plant nerds from across the region and beyond. We are bringing in some of the best of the best to talk about cutting edge horticulture. We have plant explorers, plant breeders, nurserymen, and other experts for a two-day, plantaholic binge. This will also be a great opportunity to get your hands on some really rare, new, and very choice plants.
It’s hard to believe that spring open nursery and garden days is almost here. Spring is always a busy time of year and our nursery and garden staff have been working tirelessly making sure the gardens are in prime condition and our sales houses are brimming with beautiful plants.
Take advantage of shopping our sales houses for many unique and rare perennials, many exclusively available at Plant Delights Nursery. We are offering nearly 20 varieties of Baptisia this year, more than you will find at most garden centers. Many are from our own breeding program at Juniper Level Botanic Garden and include two 2019 introductions you will find no where else.
Join Tony, Friday, May 3 at 10am for a stroll through the gardens as he discusses baptisias, part of our Gardening Unplugged garden chat series.
The hardy orchids also look amazing this year, with seven different bletilla and over 30 varieties of ladyslippers and calanthe available, you are sure to find one for that special spot in your garden.
As part of our Gardening Unplugged chat series, our nursery manager, Meghan Fidler, will be discussing hardy orchids in the garden and how you can be successful growing them in your garden.
The pitcher plants are blooming and our hosta house is bursting with color that will brighten any shady nook. Be sure to mark your calendars and join Tony Saturday, May 4 as he explores the fascinating world of our native pitcher plants, and come back the following weekend as Tony showcases hostas in the garden and our hosta breeding program at JLBG.
If you haven’t been out lately, the last section of our crevice garden along the exit drive is nearly finished and being planted as we speak.
Previous sections are starting to fill in nicely and really shining this spring. Be sure to visit during our upcoming 2019 Spring Open Nursery & Garden Days, May 3-5 & 10-12, and get inspiration for your own crevice or rock garden.
We just snapped this photo of Lemon Thread Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Lemon Thread’) in the gardens here at Juniper Level, and wanted to share since it illustrates our constant rants about trusting nurseries, plant tags, and websites to give accurate mature sizes. For a woody plant, our typical advice is to triple any size you are given. So, we wanted to see how that advice would work with the plant below.
Lemon Thread cypress was discovered in the mid 1980s as a sport at Oregon’s Mitsch Nurseries, so it’s a relative newcomer as plants go. Our 20 year old specimen is planted in compost-amended sandy loam without any chemical fertilizers ever. We should also add that we don’t believe in shearing plants, which we find a waste of energy as well as a middle finger to natures’s beauty. Our specimen now measures 25′ tall x 15′ wide.
We then searched the web for Lemon Thread Cypress and recorded the sizes from the top 30 sites that came up in Google…see notes below the photo. Sizes we found range from 2-5′ tall x 2-3′ wide with only one site giving a height greater than 10′.
Is it any wonder that people install plants in the wrong place! So, why does this happen? Many reasons:
Vendors lie to sell more plants…sad, but true.
Vendors almost never update inaccurate information once it’s in their system.
Few vendors/garden writers bother to visit a public garden and actually measure the plant. It’s much easier to copy someone else’s mistake.
Most plants which are measured, are measured either in containers, or from heavily pruned garden specimens.
Plants grow differently in different climates. Very true!
It takes too much time to be accurate, but don’t we really owe that to our customers?
2018 was a year of exceptional changes for us here at the gardens and nursery. Our long-time nursery soil company was sold and the quality of the mix went to hell. Because many of our crops are challenging in containers, before we knew it, our plant losses in the nursery were well into the upper six figures. To say our nursery staff had to scramble is an understatement. After trialing our most difficult crops in a number of new potting soil mixes, is was an easy choice to make the switch to Pacific Organics. https://www.pacific-organics.com/
Despite the name, Pacific Organics is a NC-based national company, who have a bigger footprint of users in the northeast US than here in NC, where cheap nursery soil is king. Unbenownst to us, the folks at Pacific Organics have worked closely with the world renowned soil researchers at NC State, so we know the quality of the research they use to formulate their mix.
We take great pride in our plant quality and in 2018 we had numerous growing issues resulting from the quality of our potting media. Many of you were affected by having plants canceled from you order, refunds and shortages on desired crops. This was completely unacceptable! We can already see a dramatic difference in plant growth and quality, and we sincerely apologize for the problems of the past year.
We’d like to welcome several new staff members to our team. Wesley Beauchamp joined us last fall as our nursery grower, coming to us from the mega-greenhouse producer Metrolina. Everyone who purchases a plant will be the beneficiary of Wesley’s plant-growing magic.
In the gardens, we welcome our new garden curator, Amanda Wilkins, a NC State grad, who we lured back to Raleigh after finishing her Masters in Plant Taxonomy at the University of Edinburgh, followed by a stint as Curator at the Mobile Botanic Gardens.
Looking to the Future As most of you know, in 2018 Anita and I gifted Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden to NC State University. An operational endowment has been set up at NC State University to fund the operation of the gardens. Once the endowment is fully funded, JLBG will open as a full time public botanic garden that will be a sister institution to the JC Raulston Arboretum.
So, what changes will you see and when? For now, not much. We are developing a membership structure for JLBG to mirror that used by the JC Raulston Arboretum. Once that is completed, you will be able to join JLBG as you would any other horticultural organization. At some undetermined point in the future, we will switch to a membership only plant shipping model. Anyone would be able to shop or pick up plants at the nursery, but order shipping would be reserved only for JLBG members.
This change allows Anita and I to scale back our involvement in daily operations as we age, while allowing JLBG and PDN to continue via a more financially sustainable future model to collect, evaluate, propagate, share, and preserve plants through ex-situ (off site) conservation. In other words, less computer time for Tony and more time in the field and in the garden. We hope that folks who believe in our mission will help us to fully fund the operational endowment.
Anita and Tony Avent (NC State University)
Hot off the Press Arizona plantsman Ron Parker has just published his first book, which details the agaves of Arizona, including the Pre-Columbian man-made hybrids. Ron has done a phenomenal amount of field work, visiting each of the sites he writes about. Anyone interested in century plants will have a hard time putting this fascinating book down. You can order directly from Ron or from any of the on-line book sellers.
Industry News January 2019 marked my first trip to the Mid-Atlantic Nursery and Trade Show (MANTS) in Baltimore. I’ve been hearing about MANTS for years, but my first journey certainly didn’t disappoint. The show is both amazing and huge! Nursery folks and allied trade vendors lined what seemed to be acres of the Baltimore Convention Center.
Riding the train back and forth from the airport to the convention center is relatively easy, if you don’t mind being entertained by some colorful, non-paying characters who ride along with you. If you work in the green industry, I’d say MANTS is a must.
Currently the recently reconstituted Southern Nursery Association holds their meeting and Plant Conference just prior to MANTS at the same venue, so if you’re looking for some educational opportunities, this is for you. Unfortunately, this years’ show coincided with the prolonged government shutdown, so many of the stars of the show were MIA.
One of the SNA award winners for 2019 was Tree Town USA CEO Jonathan Saperstein. Why is that interesting, you ask? Last fall, Tree Town USA, with a little help from their bank, purchased one of the largest nurseries in the US…the Hines divisions of Color Spot Nurseries, which includes over 2,000 acres in California and Oregon. Tree town’s operations now include 19 farms and over 6,000 acres of production. Did I mention that Jonathan is 29 years old! Not bad to make Forbes’ list of Top 30 under 30! We wish him good luck and will be thinking of him when he wakes up in the middle of the night and wonders, “What the hell have I done?”
Even though we’re in the garden virtually everyday, there’s so much to see that we often miss things that are right in front of us. Case in point…a few weeks ago, our taxonomist, Zac Hill was walking though the woodland garden and noticed that our evergreen Solomon’s Seal had been sexually frisky with another disporopsis species in a nearby clump. In the photo on the right is the daddy, Disporopsis pernyi, and on the left, the momma, Disporopsis undulata. In the center is the baby…a hybrid between the two.
The hybrid clump was actually fairly large, so we’d missed the blessed event by several years. According to disporopsis guru, Dr. Aaron Floden of the Missouri Botanical Garden, this seems to be the first time that anyone has documented a hybrid between these two species, so we named our new baby Disporopsis ‘Opsis Attract’ and look forward to being able to share in a few years.
Our expert staff are in the gardens and sales area to answer all your gardening questions.
Be sure to join us today at 10am for our free Gardening Unplugged Garden Chat series where our Grounds and Research supervisor, Jeremy Schmidt, will be discussing Berm Gardening, and at 2pm Amanda Wilkins, JLBG Garden Curator, explores what’s in a plant name and fascinating botanical trivia.
Hellebores blooming in the sales house. The sales houses are dry and bursting with color!
In keeping with the damp, cool, New England-like weather….Cousins Maine Lobster food truck will be here today from 11am-2pm.
If you need to warm up a bit, you can stroll through the tropical house and dream of the warm spring and summer days ahead and begin designing your next planting project!
You will also have the opportunity to shop the sales houses at Plant Delights Nursery and take home and abundance of rare and unique perennials, as well as exclusive PDN introductions available nowhere else.
After all this exploring, shopping, and enlightened horticultural engagement, take time to refuel with local food trucks that will be available during both weekends. Current schedule is as follows:
You are all probably aware of our upcoming merger with NC State University, but what you may not know about yet is the Plant Breeding Consortium. NC State has long had a number of world class plant breeding programs including 25 that are currently active, from sweet potatoes to blueberries, to ornamental plants. All of those programs will soon be consolidated under a new PhD faculty position…the Director of Plant Breeding. The University is seeking a world class visionary leader for this new position. The details can be found in the posting announcement
We’ve got a fabulous Chancellor, (Randy Woodson), a fabulous Dean of the College of Ag and Life Sciences (Rich Linton), and a soon to be constructed $160 million dollar Plant Sciences Center. All we need now is a fabulous Director of Plant Breeding. Is that you or someone you know?
Chancellor Randy Woodson (above left) with US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue
College of Ag Life Sciences Dean, Rich Linton (left) with US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue
Please share this announcement with anyone you know who may be interested in this amazing opportunity!!