2008 Plant Delights Nursery January Newsletter

Dear PDN’ers:

There’s no need to get up from the couch or turn off the bowl game … it’s just your friends at Plant Delights wishing you a Happy Holiday season! We hope you’re all having a Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate at this wonderful time of year. All of us at PDN would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for a wonderful 2007 … the best year in the history of our business. I know the year has been tough on everyone who gardens and runs a gardening business in a less than ideal climate, and we cannot thank you enough for your continued support and patronage.

As the year comes to a close, the weather patterns have finally shifted as we sent that pesky high pressure system on vacation allowing gulf moisture to finally move in to the parched southern states. Let’s hope that the reservoirs will be full or at least well on their way to being replenished by spring.

If you are considering digging a well or adding a new one, I’d like to share a fascinating experience from 2002, when one of several wells that we use to irrigate the nursery and gardens collapsed. As you can imagine, losing a main well creates a critical situation for a nursery. Most of our wells had originally been located by ‘water witching’, which had been a hit or miss proposition, and at $10/foot for drilling, I was looking for something more reliable. The year earlier, I had met a hydrologist from Georgia named Dan Harman, who was in the business of locating well sites using scientific techniques developed in the oil and gas industry. In spring 2002, we hired Dan to help us find new well sites on our property with adequate water supplies. I can’t say enough good things about Dan’s work in not only locating a new well, but in showing us a small band where we could re-tap into the vein that fed our former well. I wish you could have seen the look on the face of the well drillers when we told them how much water they would find and at what depth before they began drilling. One of the few constraints that Dan mentioned is that good water doesn’t exist on all properties … especially the small ones and if it isn’t there, he can’t find it. I don’t get any kickbacks from Dan and haven’t spoken with him in 5 years, but his website is www.groundwaternrock.com, his services might be helpful to gardeners in the dry southeast.

Weatherwise, we’ve already had a couple of cold spells for December with a low of 17.6 degrees F. Most things still look fine, but a few test plants have already headed for the big compost pile in the sky. At least the consistent early cold means plants are well on their way to getting their winter chill requirement met and those that enjoy the cold such as Isopyron biternatum and Helleborus niger are already in flower.

The 2008 Plant Delights catalogs went ‘postal’ on Friday Dec. 28, so if your mail delivery person isn’t a gardener, your catalog should start arriving within a few days. Please remember that there are over 1,000 additional plants on line at our updated website. These are plants that won’t sell in large enough volume to be economical to include in the print catalog, or in some cases are new plants that we only have in very small numbers. If you happen to find some plants that you can’t live without, our ordering system allows for orders to be processed on a first-ordered, first-paid, first-reserved basis. When you order your plants, they are reserved for you, even if you don’t want your order shipped for several months. Once your order is confirmed, the only way that you will not get what was confirmed is if the plants that we have reserved for you die or decline to the point that they do not meet our quality standards. We take a semi-annual inventory (June and October) to assure that our inventory numbers remain accurate and up-to-date.

We’re very excited about our 2008 offerings, but then, the plants wouldn’t be included in the catalog if we weren’t excited about them. One of the plants that we haven’t included in the print or on-line catalog are our Plant Delights hybrid hellebores. For the last decade, we have been purchasing special forms of Helleborus x hybrids from some of the world’s top breeders. We subsequently planted the best forms with similar characteristics and colors together in the garden and saved the seed. This has resulted in a high percentage of similar and improved plants to the parents that are simply stunning. This will be the first year that we will have good numbers of flowering size plants to release. By our best count, we could have as many as 5,000 flowering plants (both 1 and 2 quart size) from our own seedlings to offer this spring. The first chance to get these will be at our Winter Open House on Friday/Saturday Feb. 22,23 and Feb. 29, March 1. While we have a huge selection of special hellebores in the catalog and on the website, these are not included. If we have any of our own hybrids left after our winter open house, we’ll add them to the website at that time. Click here to find out more about attending the winter open house.

I’m just back from a visit to Yucca Do Nursery in Texas, which along with the adjacent Peckerwood Garden was one of the inspirations for our foray into Agaves and other woody lilies. I first visited Peckerwood Garden back in the early 1990’s and have enjoyed watching as the gardens matured into the magnificent site that it is today. If you’d like to visit or help with its preservation for future generations, click on the link above to find out more.

Yucca Do Nursery was formerly a part of Peckerwood Garden that split off many years ago and established itself on the property adjoining Peckerwood. The nursery is preparing to move to a new location nearer to Austin, Texas and has put the 20 acres beside Peckerwood up for sale. Not only are the nursery buildings architecturally fascinating, but the garden specimens are simply incredible. If you’d like the opportunity to purchase this amazing property, either for yourself, or to donate it to Peckerwood, send an email to info@yuccado.com.

We’d like to mention a few staff changes at PDN for the upcoming season. Many of you have interacted with Julie Picolla as our Administrative Assistant for Horticulture, but Julie has left that position to take over as our Stocking Coordinator. Changing places with Julie is Melanie Blandford, our former Stocking Coordinator, who will assume Julie’s duties. Melanie just joined us this summer from Pennsylvania’s Scott Arboretum. Todd Rounsaville, also from the Scott Arboretum, who has coordinated our trial and field production since last spring has moved into our position of Plant Records Coordinator. To fill that void, we’d like to welcome Frank Mandarino, a recent NCSU Botany graduate who will take Todd’s former position. We are truly lucky to have such a great and knowledgeable staff.

If you live near Plant Delights, we often are looking for housing (short and long-term) for interns or new employees moving into the area. If you have any interest in this type of arrangement, please drop a note to our Business Manager, Heather Brameyer at heather@plantdelights.com. Some folks swap room and board for house and garden help, while others may choose to negotiate a financial rent. The folks that have participated in this program have found it quite rewarding, with some arrangements becoming quite long-term. We look forward to hearing from you if this is of interest and will add your name to the file when the need arises.

We’d like to congratulate our 2007 winner of the Top 25 Contest, Jacob Toth of Brandon Manitoba Canada. Brandon led with a score of 1,704 points, which was over 400 points ahead of our second place finisher. Brandon will receive a $250 Plant Delights Nursery gift certificate for his good work in predicting our Top 25 best sellers for 2007. If you would like to participate for 2008, just click this link to enter.

As always, we thank you for your continued support and patronage.

Please direct all replies and questions to office@plantdelights.com.

Thanks and enjoy