I have to begin the newsletter with a congratulations to American Idol winner, Scotty McCreery from just a few minutes up the road in Garner…well done! We wish him and all the other top contestants well as they embark on their musical careers…hope some of ‘em have an interest in gardening as well.
No doubt you’ve also heard about the tornado outbreaks this year, including the one that hit all around PDN in early April. While PDN escaped without any damage, such was not the case for other area nurserymen. Three area wholesalers took huge hits, Watson’s Nursery in Sanford, Lee and Sons in Four Oaks, and Cyn-Mar in Pine Level. All are rebuilding under very difficult financial circumstances. If you are able to help these nurseries recover, donations of money and other items can be handled through the NC Nursery and Landscape Association at http://www.ncnla.com/
After years of declining attendance at the NC Nursery and Landscape Association’s Summer Show in Charlotte, the decision was made to move the show around the state starting this year. The first version of the revamped show will take place in Raleigh from August 17-19, and we are very pleased to be included as one of the tour stops. Nursery tours are a new part of the nursery show, and there will be three different tours to choose from; a retailer tour, a nursery production tour, and a landscape tour. Although we could fit in all of the categories, we will be a part of the nursery production tour on August 19. Folks are already very excited about the new show format, which we hope will bring more visitors from around the country. If you work in the plant industry, be sure to put this on your summer 2011 schedule. You can find out more HERE
On the national nursery scene, now that the giant Hines Nurseries has emerged from bankruptcy, they have begun to sell off their assets…as I predicted last month. Hines has signed a letter of intent to sell the facilities and lease the land for both it’s 420 acre Texas operation in Fulshear (near Houston) and its 40 acre Arizona operation in Chino Valley to the formerly bankrupt, but now restructured Color Spot Nurseries…sort of incestuous, don’t you think?
I always like to check out other retailers, especially the box stores to see what they are offering. This spring, I visited one box store and found that 50% of their perennial offerings aren’t adapted to our climate. As is usually the case during my current visit last weekend, I found both good and bad. First, delphiniums should not be sold in our part of North Carolina in late May…even as annuals. Ditto for fuchsias…unless they are the heat tolerant types, which these weren’t. In the ornamental grass display, there were some nice selections, but annual varieties were mixed in with the perennial grasses. Only when you read the mice type on the tags do you notice that certain plants cannot drop below 30 degrees. One of my favorites was the nice display of Colocasia ‘Black Magic’, which was a completely different plant, Colocasia ‘Burgundy Stem’ with a leaf that will never turn black. With all the problems, they did have a great selection of vegetables. As always, I can’t stress enough to shop with folks you trust or become a vigilant consumer.
One of my pet peeves is the overuse of growth regulators to make plants in a retail setting look like something they aren’t. While growth regulators certainly have their place as a labor saving tool in ornamental plant production, they are often used to misrepresent how a plant will perform. A key for growers to be able to sell plants to garden centers and box stores, is their ability to keep the plants at a certain height in order to fit them on the shipping racks and make them look nice in the store displays. While most growth regulators will wear off later in the season, it is very important for you to check the tags of the plants you are thinking of purchasing and look at the mature height to see if the plant in question will truly fit your needs. With that said, I’ll share a recent conversation shared by nurseryman Lloyd Traven below.
Conversation at Lilytopia yesterday, among 10,000 STEMS of incredible Oriental lilies, many with 12 flowers each a FOOT across, and 4+ feet tall: “What growth regulator can I use to get these less than 18″ tall, including pot?” Response from bulb breeder—“WHY would you want to do that? The flowers will shrink to 5″, they won’t last, and the customer will think they are short varieties.” Blank stare from box store grower– “I need to fit these on a shipping rack, 3 layers minimum, all the same height and size and bloom stage.” “Maybe you should look for another product to force into a mold. We worked hard to make these magnificent, and you will make them ordinary.”
While I’m sharing funny things, I enjoyed a purported conversation between a yellow pitcher plant (Sarracenia flava) and a white top pitcher plant (Sarracenia leucophylla), overheard recently on a carnivorous plant forum…”Leuc, I am your Flava.”.
If you’re ever put in charge of securing speakers for a gardening event, a new website may help make your job much easier. http://www.GreatGardenSpeakers.com. is a new site assembled by a group of garden speakers to be a complete resource to help folks find, contact, and hire garden speakers. There is even a place on the site where you can rate and comment on your favorite speakers, just like when you buy products from the web. Since the site is fairly new, there isn’t a tremendous number of comments, but you could greatly help others by adding your comments to both your favorite and least favorite speakers.
PDN is unfortunately losing one of our next door neighbors, who are needing to sell their home due to family issues, so if you’d like to live next door to PDN, check out their listing below…we are obviously looking for nice people who like plants! Click to View
One of the biggest gardening curses these days is the overpopulation of deer. While I’ve always advocated a hedge that deer won’t eat (i.e. Nellie Stevens holly) or a black plastic deer fence, some folks just desire a more dramatic solution, and others seem to just need something to complain about. So, for those of you who don’t have enough drama in your lives, check out Team Backyard Bow Pro. Team Backyard Bow Pro is a national organization of ethical, licensed bow hunters that work with landowners (especially farmers) to solve deer damage problems, while feeding the hungry. Trust me…there’s nothing better than hosta-fed venison.
One of the great joys of Facebook is that we can now share favorite garden plants when they are at their peak at PDN. This year, for example, we have five agave (century plants) that will be flowering soon. We’ll post more on Facebook as they open, and times that folks in the area can come by and see them in person. Be sure and check out all the cool things happening in the garden in real time on our Facebook Page!
It’s been a fun spring in the garden, with so much going on, it’s hard to describe it all. I’m writing more of the e-newsletter on our back patio to be closer to the plants, and of course, for inspiration. One of the down sides in spring, however, is the deafening cacophony of out-of-tune frog species that begin their evening serenade just as dusk settles. Tonight, I was enjoying the first chorus of dueling frogs near my chair, when in the middle of a solo, one voice went suddenly soprano, then silent. I looked up to find our cat Zirconia with a “not me” look on his face, all the while a giant white belly and two narrow legs dangled from his much too small mouth. So, are frogs considered seafood?
We’ve had another amazing year of amorphophallus flowering in the garden, and because of having so many species in flower at once (apologies to the neighbors…please don’t call the Department of Environmental Resources Air Quality Unit) we’ve been busy with our pollinating brushes. Who knows what hardy amorphophallus hybrids might be in your future. Of course, remember that most species don’t flower and produce a leaf stalk in the same year. The amount of energy required to produce the flower stalk is about all the tuber can stand in one season. Visit our Amorphophallus page!
Crinum season is just getting into full swing as more and more selections open daily. This year, we’re keeping a flowering time log, which we will post at seasons end. Crinum ‘Mrs. James Hendry’ opened this week with its tall spikes of amazingly fragrant flowers, and the giant Crinum ‘Super Ellen’ just sent up its first flower scape this week. Nearly all of the wonderful striped-flower Crinum x herbertii flowers are open now, so it’s a virtual kaleidoscope of color in the garden. Remember that many of the crinums are much more winter hardy than you think, with many performing just fine into Zone 5, so be sure check out our extensive offerings of these hard-to-find passalong gems. Visit our Crinum page!
The wonderful hybrid echinaceas are back up and the flowering show is just beginning. The first to open for us is Echinacea ‘Hot Papaya’, followed by Echinacea ‘Maui Sunshine’ and Echinacea ‘Gum Drop’ with Echinacea ‘Tomato Soup’ not far behind. As we’ve mentioned before, the key to being successful with the new echinaceas in the ground is well-drained soils, especially in the winter months. In containers, they are much more iffy, as the potting soils tend to hold too much water. Visit our Echinacea page!
While everyone is enamored with “flowers”, I hope you won’t forget the wonderful textural plants of the garden, such as one of my favorites…the genus carex. Carex, or sedges as they are often referred to, are ornamental grasses primarily for shade. Most sedges are evergreen, and their ability to blend with other woodland plants is legendary. Carex come in an array of textures, from the wide-leaf Carex siderosticta to the narrow-leaf Carex morrowii v. temnolepis. Although many folks don’t notice the flowers, they are quite fascinating. Many species of carex are spring bloomers, and here, they are actually in full flower now with fascinating stalks of tiny tan flowers. Whether your conditions are moist or dry, sun or shade, you can find a carex that fits your spot. Maybe one day, we’ll actually have enough interested folks to start a carex chat group. Visit our Carex page!
There are so many other cool plants that I could go on for pages, but instead, I’ll cover these on Facebook, so be sure to become a fan! We’ve also added a few new plants to the catalog , most in limited supply, so check ‘em out at Added May 26, 2011
Remember that you can now follow the Top 25 Best Sellers live at http://www.plantdelights.com/top25.asp