September starts with our oops of the year. It seems that due to a computer coding error, nearly 500 plants were omitted from our website when the new fall catalog went up. The plants are in place now, and we apologize for the problem. Check out the complete list of on-line only plants at www.plantdelights.com.
My, it’s been a busy summer here at PDN. Since you’ve last heard from us, we’ve added a couple of new staff member that I’d like for you to meet. Dianne Austin joins the PDN team as our new Shipping and Customer Service Manager. Dianne’s charge is to restore the excellent customer service level that our nursery was built upon, and she is well on the way. In the horticulture department, Candace Reasons joins us as our Administrative Assistant for Horticulture replacing Jane Frampton who is traveling around the country with her husband, Dr. John Frampton, NCSU Christmas Tree specialist. Candace comes to us after retiring from NC State Government, so be sure to say welcome you call to set up a tour or visit.
We hope you have received your Fall 2004 catalog by now. As has become expected, a few overly-sensitive members of the pc crowd didn’t get the catalog cover parody and came up with all kinds of bizarre interpretations, even finding non-existent racist themes and symbols. I guess we will always have to deal with a few grassy-knoll conspiracy theorists who play records backwards and look for evil messages in their spare time. We’re thinking about adding a sense of humor as a catalog item for next year…some folks were obviously born without one.
So far, so good with a very active hurricane season. The remnants of Charley went by with only a few inches of rain, Gaston spared North Carolina and dumped on Virginia, and thankfully Frances stayed just south of us. August has been a busy month on the road including a 10-day trip to search for new plants in Holland and Belgium. You can read my expedition log at www.plantdelights.com and photos will be added soon.
Another interesting trip in August occurred on Wednesday August 18, when a group of 20 folks met at USDA-ARS offices in Beltsville, Maryland to discuss the 1990 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map revision. In 2003, a draft version was released which caused quite an uproar in the horticultural community. This revision would have done away with the “a” and “b” zone designations and would have been based on a fifteen year sample (1986-2001) of climatic data. By using a 15-year warm period sample, the draft map would have moved Chicago into zone 6 and made other such disastrous errors.
Thanks to the support of Dr. Judy St. John of USDA-ARS, the map revision was put on hold until input from the stakeholders (government term for folks most affected by government decisions) could be gathered. The August 18 meeting included representatives from USDA- ARS, the American Horticulture Society, the American Association of Botanic Gardens and Arboreta, University Researchers, and representatives of the nursery industry. Representing the nursery industry was Bob Dolibois of ANLA, Bruce Usrey of Monrovia Nursery, Tom Demaline of Willoway Nurseries, Bob Lyons of Sunleaf Nursery, Bill Hendricks of Klyn Nursery, and yours truly.
The project will consist of two phases. In Phase I, the map will be reconstructed using the most recent 30 years of average annual extreme minimum temperatures. The map will also retain the “a and b” designations. For the first time, the map will include a better breakdown of coastal/lake effects, urban heat islands, and elevation differences. The map will be made available on-line where it can be searched both by city and zip code. The on-line map will be clickable for more detailed climatic data to satisfy what the research scientists called, “those pointy-head weather nerd types.”
Phase II of the project will involve overlay maps for other factors such as duration of cold, summer heat factors, and possibly air flow patterns. It’s not often that I get excited about a government project, but this will be a huge improvement for our industry. Thanks both to the USDA-ARS for making their resources available and for all of the committee members for their time and input into the process.
We are now preparing for the Garden Fair at Winterthur on September 18 and 19. It’s just a matter of days before we start loading the truck for the drive to Delaware. Garden Fair promises to be a wonderful event for all you plant lovers out there. I hope to see you there. In case you are wondering, this is the same weekend as our fall open house at the nursery, Sept. 10-12 and 17-19. We’ve been secretly working on human cloning here at the nursery and yes, I’ll be at both events, so say hello. -tony