It’s been great to connect with so many folks as they discover our Facebook site, although we have a long way to go to catch up with mail order nurseries that have been using it for several years. Facebook allows us to share images and tidbits about cool plants that may look great between newsletters and open houses. It also allows us to promote special events and pass along news that pops up too quickly to mention in our monthly e-newsletters We’ve posted some great agave (century plant) photos there that aren’t to be missed. Visit our Facebook Page!
Last week was a real treat when a bus load of fern fanatics from the Hardy Fern Foundation and British Fern Society descended on Plant Delights. It was great to spend over 5 hours talking about and looking at ferns with a bunch of pteridomaniacs. You can read more about the folks that visited and see photos on our Facebook page at Visit our Facebook Page!
Next on the Plant Delights schedule of events is our Summer Open Nursery and Garden which starts this Friday. The dates are July 8-10 and 15-17. Visitor Page Our final agave to bloom this season, Agave ‘Silver Surfer’, will be in flower for Summer Open House…should be opening any day…don’t miss the chance to see it in person!
Summer is an amazing time in the garden with the maximum number of plants in growth, but it’s like pulling teeth to get folks to visit this time of year…we hope you will be the exception. In conjunction with this year’s Summer Open House, we will be hosting members of the Southeast Palm Society on Saturday July 9. In the morning, the group will be meeting at the garden of local member CJ Dykes and will be visiting Plant Delights after lunch. Hopefully, you can attend the entire event, but if you can’t make it for the morning part, you can still chat with other palmophiles here in the afternoon. You can find out more on the palm meeting by clicking here
Speaking of the gardens here at PDN, we are looking for some extra garden help this summer…a 40 hour/week position that will last from now until at least October. Duties include typical garden work like mulching, planting, weeding, watering, etc. If you’re interested, please email Heather at email@example.com. Yes, it’s hard physical work, but the chance to learn a huge number of new plants is hopefully enticing.
Due to the overwhelming demand for our spring propagation class, we have added another section for Saturday August 20. If the past is any predictor, this will sell out as well, so be sure to register soon, either on our website or call the office at 919-772-4794.
Have you ever wondered why a plant died even though the catalog listed it as winter hardy in your zone? Undoubtedly, there are some catalog errors in zoning, but blaming all failures on improper zoning often keeps us from discovering the real problem, which may take more study. The rating of a plant’s winter hardiness indicates that the plant can, under the proper conditions, survive these temperatures…not that it necessarily will survive.
We’ve written quite a bit about winter survival of marginally hardy plants, and I’d like to share some additional recent observations. Through the years, I would notice a plant that would survive in one part of the garden, while the same type of plant would die only a short distance away. We’ve all heard of microclimates in the garden, where one area stays warmer than another, but in most cases we didn’t observe that to be the distinguishing factor. What we observed was that survival of marginal plants was always better when they were growing near a larger shrub or tree. This indicated to us that winter survivability was actually tied more to soil moisture than microclimates. We’ve stressed for years the importance of well-drained soils, but since our soils here at PDN are sandy loam, there had to be something more at work.
To confirm our theory, last spring we installed a new replicated planting of some new, marginally hardy lantanas. One row was planted just on the south side of a hedge of Ilex ‘Nellie Stevens’, while the other was planted 75′ away in the open garden. Drainage was equal in both sites and neither had a microclimate advantage over the other. After a winter low of 14F, which included several weeks of alternating cold, wet and frozen ground, we got some great results. In the row by the hollies, 14 of 16 lantanas survived with 12 of the 14 growing vigorously and flowering. In the open row, only 5 of 16 survived, with just 2 growing vigorously and flowering. If we had experienced a dry winter, we would have undoubtedly seen a less dramatic difference. We have previously noticed similar results in the garden with marginal salvias and agaves, but without a replicated trial, we were just guessing.
In using this information to help you better site marginally hardy full sun plants, it is important to locate them far enough away from the shrub/tree that the sun will not be obscured, but close enough that the roots keep the soil dry. This will take some experimentation such as sticking a shovel in the ground outside the drip line and continue moving outward until you see the soil moisture change…best done after a heavy rain or irrigation. I hope this helps you to better site marginal plants in your garden and consequently have better success.
In the nursery, we discovered last month that a couple dozen Mukdenia rossii were shipped out instead of the proper Mukdenia rossii ‘Karasuba’. Due to a liner supplier mix-up, we didn’t catch this until the plants had matured. If you ordered a Mukdenia ‘Karasuba’ and it doesn’t color up red when the weather cools, give us a call and we’ll get you the correct plants or a credit/refund.
On June 30, the historic Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago found itself in the path of a devastating hailstorm that knocked out over half of the glass panes in their greenhouses. Fortunately, no one was injured in the disaster. Cleanup is underway and will be followed by the search for funds to replace said glass. You can follow this link for some amazing images as well as to donate for the repairs.
Through the years, many of you may have purchased plants with a tag that read “Athens Select”, based on the trials and recommendations of University of Georgia Professor Dr. Allan Armitage. With Allan’s recent retirement, the program also finds itself shutting down. We’d like to personally thank Allan for his tireless work promoting great garden plants.
The latest in a series of recession-era nursery collapses is the 475 acre Nurseryman’s Exchange of Half Moon Bay, California…a large wholesaler ($62.7 million) of indoor plants to box stores including Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Safeway and Trader Joe’s. With over 2.5 million square feet of greenhouse space and nearly 10x that much in debt ($24.5 million), Nurseryman’s Exchange has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is up for auction sale on July 13…get your money ready.
The mail order nursery industry lost a stalwart this month with the passing of Jan Ohms, 85. Jan was a fourth generation from a Dutch bulb growing family and a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where he majored in horticulture and landscape architecture. Jan was the owner of John Scheepers (retail) and Van Engelen (wholesale), both catalogers of Dutch bulbs. Jan purchased Van Engelen in the mid-1970s and John Scheepers from his uncle John Scheepers in 1991. In 1995, Dutch tulip breeders Konijnenburg & Mark named a red tulip after Jan Ohms in recognition of his efforts to promote Dutch bulbs. Jan is survived by his wife, Faith.
Horticulture near the nation’s capital took a hit last week with the death of Don Riddle, 62, the founder of the well-known Homestead Gardens. Riddle was found dead on his boat, the victim of an apparent suicide. Riddle founded Homestead Gardens in 1973 in the town of Davidsonville, Maryland, and started a nearby wholesale growing operation in 1985 that covered over 250 acres. In 2010, Don opened to a second location in Severna Park. Homestead was named US garden center of the year in 2004 by the Garden Centers of America and Nursery Retailer of the Year in 2008 by Nursery Retailer Magazine. Don was also honored by the Garden Center of America with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
Friends who knew Don tell me he lived large and spent large, living up to the public image that he had created. That trait left many industry folks scratching their heads when he started a multi-million dollar expansion in the midst of the recession. Friends suggest those financial decisions may have been a tipping point in Don’s life, along with the death of his father in January. Don spent much of the last decade serving on an array of boards in a number of nursery industry societies…a track that I have personally watched ruin many horticultural businesses. At the time of his death, Don was the First Vice-Chairman of the American Horticulture Society. Don is survived by his wife Laura, son Brian, daughter Quinn, mother Evelyn, and brother Gerald. We wish Don’s family and the Homestead staff the best in keeping the nursery and garden center afloat.
After my mention of Team Backyard Bow Pro, I got a note from Ramon Bell of the NC Bowhunters Association (NCBA), which provides a similar service…so let the deer hunting begin. You can find out more at www.ncbowhunter.com
We’d like to share a great opportunity for the right person at Peckerwood Gardens of Hempstead, Texas. John Fairey, the founder of both Peckerwood Gardens and Yucca Do Nursery is looking for a new garden manager, since current garden manager, Chris Camacho will be leaving to move closer to his family. The position entails the overall management and care of the approximately 10 acres under cultivation at Peckerwood Garden. It entails supervising watering, pruning, organic fertilizing and pest control, open days program and private tours, working with volunteers, propagation and small nursery operations, and accessioning plants. It includes the opportunity to be involved with plant exploration when travel conditions improve in Mexico, and to learn an overwhelming palette of plants and the history of their introduction to this country. To find out more, you can email Peckerwood at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Public Television show “In The Garden with Bryce Lane” filmed a segment at PDN last week. The segment is scheduled to air on September 10, 2011. You can find a schedule in your area or watch on line at http://www.unctv.org/inthegarden/
Remember that you can now follow the Top 25 Best Sellers live at http://www.plantdelights.com/top25.asp