Hello and welcome to June!

We have been absent for the past two months to concentrate on a new program, The Certified Landscape Professional program. I have included an article below that outlines the reasons why we have developed this new educational and certification program. We are very proud of this new opportunity to increase your professionalism and I hope you will take advantage of the program. Do not confuse this with the State of Alabama Certification. This is a voluntary program but one that will offer great benefits to your company. The first test will be Friday, August 13 at SNA. This segment of the test will include the plant and pest ID and the written exam from materials presented in the new manual. The practical exam will be given on Friday, November 5 after our November 4 Landscape training school. Contact Linda VanDyke, Secretary of ALNLA, at 334-821-5148 to get the newly revised manual. The manual and testing cost $100 for members and $150 for non members.

I have been traveling a great deal in the past 2 months and the industry appears to be doing very well. I have seen some exciting new ideas and plants (new to me) that I hope to share with you next month. Have a great June and let us know how we can help you be more successful in your business.



DISCLAIMER: Please remember that all information presented is a summary of research and not an endorsement of any product or a recommendation of chemicals. The official labels from the manufacturing companies offer the legal and proper use and handling information for all products.


By Ken Tilt

What separates you from other landscapers? How do people know you are qualified and reliable to create, install and maintain a landscape that will work over time and deliver on your promises? The Alabama State certification exam qualifies you to do business in the State and says you have minimum knowledge to do the job. State certification also separates you from the illegal mow, blow and go people. But, what can you say to potential customers that offers them confidence that you are truly a professional contractor or landscape designer? What makes you so special?

The NOW (drum roll…) Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association (previously Alabama Nurserymen's Association) has put much time and resources developing a rigorous Certified Landscape Professional Program with a written and practical test that will give you the credibility and ALNLA backed recognition to compete and get value added for your knowledge and talents in the industry.

Rather than start from scratch and develop our own test, the ALNLA teamed up with Georgia and MALTA in Atlanta to adopt and adapt their program that has been a big suc­cess for them. ALNLA invested $5,000 for the use of Georgia's Landscape Certification Manual. Auburn University faculty and industry professionals have almost completed the process of "Alabamaizing" the content. Georgia and Alabama are very similar in climate, landscape practices and plant selection from north to south. By combining with Georgia we can offer the program faster to our Alabama landscapers and give greater credence to the professionalism of Georgia and Alabama's program. The joint pro­gram offers the advantage of reciprocity for carrying your professional status across state lines. We have also worked with Dr. Gary Wade, (University of Georgia Horticulture Extension Specialist) to get access to his creative talents and extensive work of developing an online, distance education training program to provide additional resources to study for the exam. We will also offer annual training programs through ANLA and the newly created GBALP, Greater Birmingham Association of Landscape Professionals. This program is a movement by the landscape industry to raise the bar of expectations and recognize professionalism among its members.

Continuing education is an important part of any professional certification program and our alliance with Georgia will allow you to get educational points for maintaining your certification in either state. The manual is now available. If you would like to be a part of the inaugural class of Alabama Certified Landscape Professionals, please email or contact Linda VanDyke to get the manual and let her know of your interest to be FIRST to step up to invest in your future. You will also be offering your stamp of approval to self-regulating quality performance offered by your firm and employees.

This has been a dream and part of a 5-year plan for the then, ANA to provide better services to our landscape members in the state.

Our plan is to offer the first Alabama/Georgia written and plant exam at the Southern Nursery Association Trade Show in Atlanta in August. We will follow up later in the fall with the practical exam. Passing these two phases will make you the first Certified Landscape Professionals in Alabama. This can be a great marketing tool in presenting your plans and programs to potential customers. We hope our first graduates will become part of the process and help our future applicants by assisting with the testing process. This is the model adopted by the Georgia program. Auburn University will be heavily involved in the cooperative effort and offer some of the training and testing but this will be an ALNLA program and governed and run by the members. I hope you will want to be the first people to raise the bar in landscape expectations in Alabama and to be able to proudly advertise that you are an Alabama Certified Landscape Professional. The ALNLA has plans to help promote this program through advertising to assure that the adopted logo representing the program mem­bers delivers on promises of knowledge, excellence and integrity of the graduates of the program. It is going to be great for the landscape industry in Alabama and also for your bottom line. We want to hear from you soon!


The following article was published in the Winter 2004 issue of Ag Illustrated, a quarterly publication of the Auburn University College of Agriculture and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, published by Ag Communications and Marketing, the CoAg and AAES information office. We are guessing that not everyone receives that publication and would like to include an article written by Jamie Creamer on the generosity of the Aldridge family to the Horticulture Department:

"Horticulture and Auburn University were in Eddie Aldridge’s blood. His father, Loren L., earned his agricultural science degree at AU in 1926, back when it was Alabama Polytechnic Institute, and had owned and operated a greenhouse and nursery business in Bessemer with his wife, Zeta, since the late 1920s. Eddie’s older brother, Mac—short for Loren McTyeire Aldridge—graduated from Auburn in 1950 with a degree in ornamental horticulture and was working at the Aldridge operation.

So when the younger Aldridge entered AU as a freshman in 1952, majoring in ornamental horticulture, he was carrying on something of a family tradition. But during Eddie’s freshman year, Mac died of a long-misdiagnosed brain tumor. Although the younger Aldridge remained at Auburn for two more years, Mac’s death led him to decide to put college on hold and join the U.S. Army.

When he returned home from a two-year tour of duty in California and Germany, Aldridge went straight to work at Aldridge Garden Shop and Nurseries, which his parents had opened across from Vulcan Park in Birmingham in 1954 as one of the first full-scale garden centers in the country.

“There wasn’t a question of whether I was going back to Auburn, because I wasn’t” says Aldridge. “With the garden center, we were deep in debt. That was where I had to be.” And he did have the opportunity to finish college, earning a degree in business from Birmingham Southern College in 1959.

By the time he “retired” in the mid-1990s, the highly respected horticulturist had devoted more than 40 years of his life to the nursery business and was an industry leader, one of his most noted accomplishments coming in 1971 when he patented and introduced the now-popular Snowflake hydrangea (Hydrangea querifolia ‘Snowflake’). He is a past president of the Alabama Nurserymen’s Association (ANA) and in 1999 was presented the W. Kelley Mosley Environmental Award in recognition of his wise and creative use of natural resources and his contributions to Alabama’s natural environment. Most recently, the ANA presented Aldridge its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

Aldridge tends toward modesty when it comes to his achievements and to the success of the Aldridge business, which a July 2002 Birmingham Business Journal article, in announcing the closing of Aldridge Garden Shop and Nursery, called “one of Birmingham’s best-known nurseries,” “a perennial bloomer” and “a gardening empire.”

But Aldridge isn’t hesitant at all when it comes to telling about the day in February 1977 that he stumbled upon the pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow. It was on that day that Aldridge learned in a roundabout kind of way that the Lyl Coxe estate, a magnificent piece of property located in the middle of Hoover, AL might be for sale. He had caught his first glimpse of the place in 1966, when the owner hired him to plant three magnolia trees on the banks of the estate’s 6.5-acre spring-fed lake, and had been blown away by its natural beauty.

Aldridge made a few calls and learned that the property had been sold to a developer who intended to put an apartment complex on it but that the deal had fallen through. Aldridge wasted no time in making an offer. “I got my dad to go look at it with me, and he said, ‘You ought to buy this property; it could be a public garden someday,” Aldridge recalls.

But in that 30-acre Garden of Eden, it was not good that man should be alone. Not long after he bought the property he met Kay, the most charming woman he’d ever met. They married at the home in 1981. Over the years, the Aldridges continually enhanced their a one-of-a-kind sanctuary, building walking trails and planting multitudes of trees, flowers and ornamentals—most prominently among them the Snowflake hydrangea. Even as the couple worked to enhance the natural beauty of their property, though, Aldridge remembered his now-deceased father’s comments about the estate’s potential as a public garden.

In 1995 they made that dream a reality by conveying the land and house to the City of Hoover, with the key stipulation that the site, Aldridge Gardens, would be forever be a public garden, one that showcases hydrangeas, naturally. Under the agreement with the City of Hoover, Aldridge Gardens is managed by a 14-member board, of which Aldridge is a member. Beginning this year, students from Auburn University will be an active part of that development, thanks to an innovative Aldridge Family Internship Program the Aldridges recently established, largely to honor the late Loren L. and Zeta McTyeire Aldridge. The program will give select AU students studying horticulture, botany, landscape design, forestry or plant science the opportunity to gain a semester’s worth of real-world experience working full time, with pay, at the gardens.

The interns will work under the immediate supervision of Jared Wade, a 2003 AU horticulture graduate and Aldridge Gardens’ first full-time horticulturist. Full oversight of the program, however, will be among the responsibilities of the highly qualified individual chosen to be the Loren McTyeire Aldridge Faculty Chair in the AU Department of Horticulture, a seat the Aldridges are creating through a $1 million endowment in memory of Mac, the older brother Aldridge lost 52 years ago. “Mac never had the chance to make his contributions to horticulture,” Aldridge says. “This is our way of honoring his memory.”

In addition to the endowed faculty chair and the internship program, the Aldridges are establishing a number of scholarships for horticulture majors. “Our hope is that, by making these opportunities available, we can help attract students to the horticulture program at Auburn,” Aldridge says. “It is a wonderful field.”


Chilton County is famous for its horticulture production and is the site of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Horticulture Day tour set for July 15. The tour begins at 9 a.m. and includes a visit to Mulberry Farms in Jemison and a stop at the Chilton Research and Extension Center in Thorsby. In the afternoon the tour includes stops at Durbin Farms Market and Sunshine Farms in Clanton, Jimmie Harrison Farm in Maplesville and Petals from the Past in Jemison.

The tour costs $33 per person and includes lunch and transportation between the tour stops. The tour concludes at 5 p.m. Deadline for registration is July 1. For more information about the tour contact Federation Horticulture Director Brian Hardin at 1-800-392-5705, ext. 4217 or email: bhardin@alfafarmers.org.

A complete agenda and a registration form is available on the Alfa Farmers’ website at http://www.alfafarmers.org.


From a news release by Jim Green, CSREES/PAS, April 1, 2004:

Sudden Oak Death is a critical issue for the U.S. Nursery Industry. What is Sudden Oak Death (SOD)? Phytophthora ramorum is the causal agent of sudden oak death (SOD), also known as Phytophthora canker disease. Phytophthora ramorum was first identified in 1993 in Germany and The Netherlands on ornamental rhododendrons. P. ramorum was isolated in June 2000 from dying trees in California. Since its discovery in North America, P. ramorum has been confirmed in forests in California and Oregon, and in nurseries in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. There are programs addressing Phytophthora ramorum in forest settings and in production nurseries.

P. ramorum causes two types of diseases: bark cankers that may kill the host and foliar blights that may serve as a reservoir for the pathogen. There are two known strains of the pathogen. To date, it seems that there is no significant difference in the degree of in vitro pathogenicity between American A2 and European A1 mating type strains of the pathogen. At present, the entire host range of this pathogen is unknown.  However, Phytophthora ramorum does naturally infect and kill or injure at least 28 host species and has been recovered from an additional 30 plant species. 

Within nurseries and garden centers, there is a high risk of P. ramorum spreading to alternative potential hosts. The inoculum might spread from nurseries and garden centers to natural vegetation either through direct transmission or through transplanted infected plants. The broad plant host range and the potential for widespread distribution of the pathogen in the nursery industry and nationwide through transportation and marketing of nursery plants make this a critical issue. See

Descriptive information about the U. S. Nursery Plant Production Industry:
According to the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the nursery and greenhouse industry comprises the fastest growing segment of U.S. agriculture. The U.S. is the world's largest producer and market for nursery and greenhouse crops. These crops represent an important and unique segment of agriculture whose impact is felt on the national, state, and community level. In terms of economic output, nursery and greenhouse crops represent the third most important sector in U.S. crop agriculture, ranking seventh among all commodities in cash receipts, and among the highest in net farm income. U.S. production of nursery crops was estimated at $8.9 billion in 2002 . Nursery and greenhouse crops are the top five commodities in 27 states, and the top 10 commodities in 42 states. Seven states account for almost two-thirds of all nursery-crop output in the United States: California (24%), Texas (11%), Florida (9%), North Carolina (9%), Oregon (7%), Ohio (4%) and Maryland (3%).

Eighty-five million U.S. households spent $39.6 billion at lawn and garden retail outlets in 2002, according to the National Gardening Association and Harris Interactive, while more than 24.7 million households spent $28.9 billion on professional landscape, lawn and tree care services. Additional descriptive information of the U.S. nursery industry is provided by the American Nursery and Landscape Association at http://www.anla.org/industry/index.htm. Per-household purchase of nursery plants was $84 in 2002 .

What is the status of SOD in the United States Nursery Industry?
There are currently12 infested counties in California, and 28 types of host plants including Douglas-fir, coast redwood, coast live oak, tan oak, camellia, rhododendron, etc. and there are 20 associated host plants. On February 24, 2004, CDFA initiated a statewide California nursery survey outside of the 12 regulated counties. Currently, sixty nurseries have been surveyed in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. 2,357 samples were collected. PCR testing and confirmation for P. ramorum by culturing and isolation of the pathogen are used for diagnosis. The statewide survey will continue in the San Joaquin Valley and Northern California in late March and early April.

Current Survey Results indicate that two positive nurseries were identified by culturing: Monrovia Nursery, Azusa, Los Angeles County (they destroyed over 200,000 plants valued at $4.3 million), and Specialty Plants, Inc, San Marcos, San Diego County. During initial screening thirteen (13) nurseries were found positive by PCR testing. All PCR positive nurseries have agreed to not ship host or associated host plants out of state.

From Monrovia Trace approximately 330 shipments (5,540 host plants) were sent to 4 provinces in Canada and 8,450 shipments (292,450 host plants) sent to 39 U.S. states. Florida and Georgia have closed their borders to all California Nursery stock. Mississippi has closed their border to regulated articles. CDFA is working with USDA and other state departments of agriculture to resolve this issue.

Additional Information Sources about Sudden Oak Death in the US Nursery Industry:

Excellent educational information and programs for nursery growers are being delivered by the Cooperative Extension Service in several states.  USDA CSREES Smith-Lever formula funds allow early identification and response to critical needs. Information for nursery growers on Phytophthora ramorum on ornamentals is available on the Web: