C O N T E N T S
TILT RAMBLINGS ON BLOOMING OPPORTUNITIES
THE LATEST FIRE ANT INFORMATION
WORLD VILLAGE OF BAMBOO ARTISANS
GRAFTING COURSE
PURCHASING SEED FROM CHINA
PLANT PATHOLOGY REPORT
UPCOMING EVENTS

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.


Tilt Ramblings on Blooming Opportunities

March is such a special time of the year in Alabama. I, like 1000’s of others, hit the garden centers at the first sign of spring looking for bedding plants and excited about getting back outside. Of course many of the garden centers were not prepared and the pickings and variety were slim. There are many things that kick off this enthusiasm to get Spring underway. It is amazing how strong it is for me living in an area with 6 to 8 week winters. I can not imagine what the folks in the deep freezes of Boston and other northern areas must feel. My first twinge of spring came from some ratty 3rd year returning hyacinths that had enough flowers to send their spring hormones through the air to get my nerves tingling. Great things are happening all around. All the expected winter honeysuckle, daffodils, forsythia, quince and loropetalum have emerged but I always have my senses tuned to possible niches for our industry. There are still places for people to enter our profession.

I have been enjoying the deciduous magnolias blooming for a couple of weeks. There is an incredible Magnolia denudata that is house-high and loaded every year with silky white flowers. It has made it without a freeze this year. It is a good year for soulangiana hybrids. I offer this as an introduction to Michelia maudiae, a wonderful plant for Alabama that originated in Jianqxi, China. It is available in a few of our wholesale nurseries in Alabama and is listed among the internet sales trade. Michelia is in the Magnolia family. Recent taxonomic work may slip it in the genus Magnolia. The important thing to us is that it has a highly fragrant flower and is in full bloom now (March 9). The glossy green leaves make it an exceptional plant and one that needs more use and attention. It even looks fragrant!


Magnolia


Magnolia

Bernice, our creative artist and manager of this web site, and I were discussing our frustration during this time of the year. With so much blooming and happening all at once, you feel like you are working to not miss anything. After all, how many springs do you have in a life time? If you blink or spend too much time focused on one plant or if your life gets too tangled in work (sad), you turn around and the ground is littered with petals whose show was all too brief. We are not alone in our passion for all things beautiful at this time of the year. That fever-pitched passion spells opportunity.

We often complain about the competition among ourselves and from other discretionary dollar sinks. The more I see all the new and new-and-improved plants arriving on the market and the old standard plants that keep us in touch with our past, the more optimistic I am about our future in this industry. Like many of you, I drive through my neighborhoods and see the paucity of diversity in our landscapes and I get excited about the opportunities we have to enhance the lives of many people and raise the bar of expectations in our communities which in turn comes back to our profession. Although gardening is the number 1 hobby in the US, we have never brought that “collectors fever” to the masses. Many Europeans and Asians have been forced to live in small spaces and do not have the luxury of some of our scenic natural landscapes. They treasure their gardens and work to squeeze in as much year-round color as they can afford. We have that opportunity to cultivate and tap that increasing need in our own area of the world.

The mass markets have been a mixed blessing to our industry. They have lowered our profit margins but have increased the accessibility and intensity for gardening. More people are now involved in gardening. I think part of the answer for our garden centers’ survival and success is trying to tap in on the passion of many people to collect anything. As we know, if you get hooked on plant collecting, you begin a never ending blur of searching for the next great plant for the rest of your life.

Where are the niches? They are in the eye and imagination of passionate plant people. Dr. Sam Jones of Piccadilly Farms in Bishop, Georgia offers a niche of conifers and rare shrubs for the south and also grows Hellebores.


Hellbores


Hellebores

It is tough for large, mainstream nurseries to justify two years in a seed bed and 1, 2 or 3 years in a container before selling a plant. If you go to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and visit the Southern Living Garden along the path you will see a large drift of hellebores and understand the niche demand for this plant. Sam goes against the “dollars per square inch production” quotas to produce what others will not chance. It is not for everyone. He found a niche. Steve Thomas, owner of Greene Hill Nursery in Waverly, AL, has raised a family on Grandma’s Backyard Plants. His nursery was highlighted in NMPRO’s weekly newsletter this past week. Steve has had to be creative as large nurseries have adopted many of his plants for main line production but Steve has done well at adapting, nurturing and maintaining his unique identity. As you observe native plants, visit our great gardens in Alabama and attend plant conferences, you will see many niche opportunities for those who have the passion and business skills to grow and stump relentlessly for their chosen niche.

To continue my ramblings, I have been taking note of some nice plants that may not make the niche market but I think deserve some recognition and distribution. I was walking through an aging, neglected holly collection at Auburn and noticed three hollies that have thrived on some poor soils and total neglect with great results. One plant does not reflect a scientific certainty but the observations are worth noting. It is hard to squeeze in another holly but I think Ilex ‘Hollowell’ has some potential as a nice glossy green controlled shrub or screen. It is an aquifolium x cornuta cross and could stand well with Nellie R. Stevens as a pollinator.


Ilex 'Hollowell'


Ilex 'Hollowell'


Ilex 'Hollowell'

I also liked I. x ‘Martha Berry’ holly. It stands side by side with Hollowell and has a more casual or less formal appearance than Hollowell but without pruning or any attention has developed well on its own. This is great praise and a cherished characteristic for any landscape plant.


'Martha Berry' holly


'Martha Berry' holly

The third holly I noted in the collection was an aquifolium graft that I did about 8 years ago on to Nellie R. Stevens root stock. I “set it” and “forgot it” (you have to have scanned the pre-dawn infomercial channels to catch the meaning). Anyway, it has flourished in our southern heat. The late Dr. J.C. Raulston grafted conifers on heat tolerant rootstock to help bring some northern conifers south. Apparently there is possible success with aquifolium cultivars on cornuta or in this case Nellie R. Stevens root stock. If anyone wants cuttings of any of these plants, I welcome you to come and be kind, but help yourself.


Grafted English holly on Nellie R. Stevens root stock.


Grafted English holly on Nellie R. Stevens root stock.

Another plant I continually get an appreciation for is Pittosporum heterophylla. It does have fragrant flowers but it is really nothing but a large green blob after 12 years. However, it plays the part of a large green blob very well. We have need for this type of plant. It makes a great screen, although wide (12’ x 12’). It would take the place of many ligustrums or leylands that grow past the desirable height or have “problems”. There are no annoying seedlings popping up or no diseases or insects of note. It just IS! Like me, it does nothing real well. Maybe that is why I like it so much. It roots easily and can be sheared if that is your preference. You would have to be a good sales person but sometimes all you need is a good back drop for your star players.

I leave you with a comment on the bamboo conference that is coming up in June in Tennessee. Now, here is a niche! Some may call it a cult but I have developed a great appreciation for bamboo over the years. It is a plant that is misunderstood in this country. It is prized in many countries for all of its virtues in building, ornamentals and food uses. A large research effort was conducted at Auburn and in Savannah, GA in the 50’s with some very positive published results for the timber industry but for some reason the research was abandoned. We still have some large stands at the closed Camden Research Station. If you ever walked back into an old grove of bamboo, it is a beautiful and relaxing experience. There are many cultivars for many uses in the landscape. We have had Adam Turtle from “Our Nursery” speak at several of our nursery seminars to dispel some myths of bamboo. Adam is a person made from a different cloth. He has had to be different to adopt this bamboo niche and successfully fight the deeply ingrained windmills of resistance to this plant. He has become the Johnny Appleseed of Bamboo and created an international business and product development farm in Summertown, TN. He is offering a different sort of experience this June at his farm to immerse people in the culture of bamboo and bamboo’s building uses. Read below and see if it strikes a chord with you.


Bamboo


Bamboo


Bamboo


Bamboo

Keep your eyes open for niches and opportunities to raise the bar of expectations for our landscapes and gardens. I continue to stay lost in the great things we have available to us. Many have said and agreed that our problem is not in developing products, it is in taking all the great things we have and sharing our excitement or Marketing! Enjoy your spring.


THE LATEST FIRE ANT INFORMATION

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has revised a number of their fire ant publications. The circular, Fire Ant Control Materials for Homeowners will be updated in late March. There is a new educational product: a CD called 'Fire Ant Biology and Ant Identification'. This CD contains a PowerPoint presentation on fire ant biology and three presentations on different aspects of ant identification as well as a glossary, photographs, helpful web sites and references on ants. For information on obtaining this CD write to Kathy Flanders, 208A Extension Hall, Auburn University, AL 36849-5624. Other publications are:

Fire Ant Control Materials for Alabama Homeowners

Biological Control of Imported Fire Ants

Getting the Most out of Your Fire Ant Bait (ANR-1161)

Imported Fire Ants in Lawns, Turf, and Structures (ANR-175)

Fire Ant Coloring Book

Managing Imported Fire Ants in Urban Areas

What is the Best Way to Control Fire Ants

There are also streaming video presentations. To access the following presentations go to www.aces.edu/dept/fireants


WORLD VILLAGE OF BAMBOO ARTISANS

Below is information we took from a flyer we received announcing a unique symposium on bamboo to be held at Earth Advocates Research Farm in Summertown, Tennessee June 4 to 14, 2004. It sounds pretty fascinating.

This 9-day event will be organized in a cooperative manner with all participants sharing infrastructure tasks (cooking, cleaning, etc.) in an egalitarian manner. Participants will camp (shelter is available for those without tents) and live together, share food, chores, play, ideas - and Bamboo. Nightly bonfires with cooperative entertainment will be held each evening. There is a pond for swimming and bathing and a good spring with sweet water. Bamboo artisans, teachers, and students from many countries and cultures will come together to share multi-disciplinary, cross-fertilization re: tools, techniques, and ideas. Exchange of information and experience is the primary objective. An important secondary goal will be media exposure to the potential of Bamboo as a short-cycle renewable material.

Various recognized experts in Bamboo specialties are expected to conduct short courses (furniture making, toy making, fine basket making, instrument making, jewelry making, kitchen tools, etc.). Participants are requested to bring their own basic tools, i.e. knife, saw, etc. All meals, snacks, handouts, campsite, shuttle service and Bamboo for practice are included in the $450 registration fee (half due half in advance, balance on arrival). For those who plan to attend for seven or fewer days, the rate will be $60/day (for those who pre-register) or $70/day at the door.

Input, feedback, suggestions, funding are all very welcome. This will be a memorable event. Please visit www.growit.com/bamboo often as details will be added. Click on Unique Symposium Workshop on the bottom left under Bamboo Institute of Tennessee. A registration form will also be at that site or you may call to have one mailed to you.

To facilitate planning a ten percent early registration discount will be applied if received by 1 April 2004. Co-participants from many countries are expected and a sliding scale will be used for registration fees. Children are welcome; pets are not. Nearest airport is Nashville, Tennessee. Nearest Greyhound bus is Ethridge, Tennessee. Free shuttles will run on Friday 4 June and Monday 14 June. If you require an invitation for visa and/or travel funds purposes, or for more information call 1-931-964-4151, fax 1-931-964-4228; email WorldBambooVilla@aol.com or write to EARF, 30 Myers Road, Summertown, TN 38483-7323.

A documentary video may be filmed during the event. Print and electronic media outlets will be invited to showcase Bamboo versatility. The public will be invited to an Open House on the final Sunday afternoon.


GRAFTING COURSE

Online courses and information are emerging in horticulture. A past graduate of Auburn called my attention to this on-line grafting course from Cornell. I thought I would share it with you. It does cost money to take the course.

Go to this site:
http://www.hort.cornell.edu/grafting/


PURCHASING SEED FROM CHINA

I ran across this site in China for purchasing seed that may be of interest to you. I have not ordered from them or heard anything about them but I think I will try and see what happens. There are 380 plants listed. You may get some messages about needing a language converter and it kept prompting me to insert Windows XP but it eventually got me to the home page. Go to: http://www.chinaseeds.com/seedlist2/seedlistT.htm#13

PLANT PATHOLOGY REPORT

AUBURN PLANT DISEASE REPORT - JANUARY 2004
Jackie Mullen
Extension Plant Pathology Specialist

Many of the 42 plant samples received in the lab in January were from greenhouses or nurseries. Greenhouse/nursery sample diseases included Botrytis blight on geranium, bacterial leaf spot on lantana, Cercosporidium blight on Leyland cypress, Pythium root rot and anthracnose on dwarf mondograss, and root-knot nematode on snapdragon. Other diseases seen include Pestalotia blight on arbor-vitae, Pythium blight on bentgrass and Poa trivialis, and Phytophthora root decay on boxwood.

Pestalotia blight on arbor-vitae typically develops on stressed plants. It often appears during winter months where plants are stressed from cold damage or nutrient deficiency. Pruning and Cleary’s 3336 may be applied as a protective fungicide. If plants are closely watched so as to avoid winter stresses, pruning may be the only disease control method needed.

Cool-season Pythium blight was observed on bentgrass and Poa trivialis. These cool season Pythium species fungi often cause a primary problem of root rot. Areas having a problem usually also have a wet-soil problem. Diagnosis of Pythium often involves ELISA and culture work. See the Alabama Pest Management Handbook or Austin Hagan for further comments.

The Phytophthora root decay on boxwood must have begun last fall when temperatures were cool-moderate. Plants with root problems typically develop foliage symptoms of yellowing or reddening of leaves with eventual dieback. The color change and dieback may be confined to lower foliage or it may develop on scattered branches, depending upon the areas of roots damaged. Roots damaged from environmental stresses or high populations of nematodes last fall could cause similar foliage symptoms as would be seen after root disease development. Damaged plants should be removed. When root disease is involved, soil water drainage should be improved. Also, removal of root-associated soil may be helpful as many of the fungal root disease spores will be present in soil closely associated with the roots. Protective fungicide drenches are usually not recommended in landscape situations due to the high cost of the materials.

Botrytis blight of geranium is a common disease problem in greenhouses during winter, spring, and fall when temperatures are in the 70 degree range and humidity levels are high. Control often involves sanitation of diseased foliage, reducing humidity levels, raising temperatures, and sometimes application of protective fungicide sprays. See the Alabama Pest Management Handbook for details of fungicide recommendations.

Bacterial leaf spot of lantana appears as angular, dark brown, wet-looking spots which often become noticeable first on lower leaf surfaces. When bacteria are actively dividing, microscopic study will show bacterial oozing out of cut edges of leaf spots. Control requires ‘strict sanitation’ of diseased plants. Also plants should be kept dry and watered at pot level.

Cercosporidium blight on Leyland cypress in January was unexpected. We suspect the disease became active during a warm period of late December. Spore structures were present on blighted foliage mostly on lower portions of the trees. For disease control, see the protective fungicide treatments listed in the Alabama Pest Management Handbook, ANR-500-A.

Dwarf mondo grass showed the leaf spots and tip blights typical of anthracnose. Severe cutting back of the grass followed by application of Cleary’s 3336 fungicide are the usual recommendations. Pythium root disease was also present (culture & ELISA test results) and would have contributed to the dieback. Water levels should be reduced; Subdue may be applied as a protective fungicide drench.

USDA and APHIS reported that some geranium cuttings with Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 had entered the U.S. from Guatemala in January & December of 2003. Symptoms of this vascular disease involve yellowing, wilt, and browning of lower leaves, leaf edge scorch, and vascular discoloration in the stem. Also roots may become brown. In late January, USDA and APHIS officials visited the Guatemala facility. They found that the bacteria were present in the circulating water in the greenhouse. Subsequent to this finding, USDA/APHIS ordered that all of these cuttings and plants from Guatemala be destroyed. Due to the difficulty in detecting the bacteria in non-symptomatic plants, the inability to test every plant, and the fact that the contaminated irrigation water contained the pathogen, USDA/APHIS decided that there was a high probability that the bacteria was present in many plants shipped to the U.S. and the best response would be total and rapid destruction of all plants.

Root-knot nematode problems on snapdragons cause plants to be spindly and grow poorly. Roots contain irregular, firm galls. Infected plants should be removed. The soil should be treated with a preplant treatment of Vapam or steam before replanting.

JANUARY 2004 Plant Diseases Seen In The Auburn Plant Diagnostic Lab
Arbor-vitaePestalotia BlightCovington
BentgrassPythium BlightLee
BoxwoodPhytophthora Root DecayTuscaloosa
GeraniumBotrytis Blight *
LantanaBacterial Leaf Spot *
Leyland CypressCercosporidium Blight *
Mondo, DwarfAnthracnose (Colletotrichum) *
Mondo, DwarfPythium Root Rot*
Poa trivialisPythium BlightLee
SnapdragonRoot-knot Nematode (Meloidogyne)*
*Counties are not reported for greenhouse and nursery samples.

BIRMINGHAM PLANT DISEASE REPORT - JANUARY 2004
J. Jacobi
Extension Plant Pathology Specialist

The lab received 35 samples for the month of January. Some of the diseases seen last month include anthracnose on foxglove, black root rot on pansy and Japanese holly, Volutella blight on boxwood, wax scale on andromeda and holly, and white peach scale on weeping mulberry.

Symptoms of anthracnose on foxglove (Digitalis) include light tan to brown spots on leaves and stems. Spots may have a faint purple border. Under favorable conditions, seedlings and infected transplants may collapse and die. Keep foliage dry through proper watering and remove infected leaves to slow disease spread. Azoxystobin (Heritage) can be used to prevent disease during periods of mild, wet weather.

Both pansy and Japanese holly were diagnosed with black root rot (Thielaviopsis basicola), last month. Symptoms of black root rot on holly include stunted growth, shortened internodes, leaf chlorosis, and leaf drop. Established plants may suffer a gradual dieback and eventually death. Blacked root tips and/or black lesions on roots are other symptoms of this disease. To control this disease, remove and destroy severely diseased plants, avoid wet locations and improve soil drainage as needed. Chinese holly is very resistant to black root rot and can be planted in beds where this disease has occurred. Yaupon and American holly are moderately resistant, and Japanese hollies are very susceptible to black root rot and should be avoided in future plantings. Additional information on this disease is available in Extension circular ANR-1087, Common Diseases of Holly and Their Control (http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1087/ANR-1087.pdf) .

JANUARY 2004 Plant Diseases Seen In The Birmingham Plant Diagnostic Lab
PLANTPROBLEMCOUNTY
Andromeda, JapaneseWax ScaleJefferson
Boxwood, CommonPhytophthora Root RotJefferson
Boxwood, CommonVolutella BlightJefferson(2)
Cypress, LeylandCercosporidium Needle BlightJefferson
FoxgloveAnthracnose (Colletotrichum)Jefferson
Holly, ChineseTea ScaleJefferson
Holly, ChineseWax ScaleJefferson
Holly, Japanese ‘Helleri’ Black Root Rot (Thielaviopsis)Jefferson
Magnolia, SouthernLeafminerJefferson
Mulberry, WeepingWhite Peach ScaleJefferson
PansyBlack Root Rot (Thielaviopsis)Jefferson
PansyBotrytis BlightJefferson
PansyPythium Root RotJefferson(2)
*Counties are not reported for greenhouse and nursery samples.

Disease Possibilities for February
Powdery mildews and Botrytis may be a problem in greenhouses where temperatures are on the moderate to cool side. Also downy mildew (yellow spotting, sometimes defoliation) on rose and bedding plants and vegetable transplants may develop when temperatures are moderately cool (60-70 degrees F). Powdery mildew disease spread requires a high relative humidity. Botrytis and downy mildew require high relative humidity and free moisture for disease spread. If temperatures are 60-70 degrees F, some leaf spots on grasses may develop.


UPCOMING EVENTS

June 15 & 16, 2004:
2004 NCSU/NCAN Nursery Short Course.
Ruby McSwain Center, J.C. Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, NC 27695-7609
For registration information: NCAN, 968 Trinity Road, Raleigh, NC 27607
Phone: 919-816-9119
Fax: 919-816-9118

August 26-28, 2004:
The Farwest Show. Portland, Oregon, Oregon Convention Center.
Contact Aimee Schendel, Oregon Association of Nurserymen, 29751 SW Town Center Loop West, Wilsonville, OR 97070; 800-342-6401; 503-682-5089 x 2006; Fax, 503-682-5099; e-mail, info@farwestshow.com;
URL:
http://www.farwestshow.com

October 1-2, 2004:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
Contact Ann Halcomb, MTNA Exec. Secr., P.O. Box 822, McMinnville, TN 37111-0822; phone: 931-668-7322; fax: 931-668-9601; e-mail: mtna@blomand.net,
http://www.mtna.com/

October 3-6, 2004:
IPPS Southern Region NA
Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C.
Contact: Dr. David L. Morgan, 332 Warbler Drive, Bedford, TX 76021; phone 817-577-9272; e-mail, dleemorgan@msn.com

November 4-5, 2004:
Auburn University Fall Landscape School.
Auburn University. More information will be posted on our site when available

August 25-27, 2005:
The Farwest Show.
Portland, Oregon, Oregon Convention Center.
Contact Aimee Schendel, Oregon Association of Nurserymen, 29751 SW Town Center Loop West, Wilsonville, OR 97070; 800-342-6401; 503-682-5089 x 2006; Fax, 503-682-5099; e-mail, info@farwestshow.com
URL: http://www.farwestshow.com

September TBA, 2005:
The Southern Plant Conference.
Louisville, Kentucky.
Contact: Matt Gardiner, KY Coordinator, 502-245-0238: e-mail, matthew624@aol.com; or Betsie Taylor, KNLA Exec. Dir., 350 Village Drive, Frankfort, KY 40601; 502-848-0055 or 800-735-9791, Fax 502-848-0032 e-mail knla@mis.net
URL: http://www.knla.org
or Danny Summers at SNA, 770-953-3311; Fax 770-953-4411; SNA Infoline, 770-953-4636; e-mail, danny@mail.sna.org;
URL: http://www.sna.org

September 30 - October 1, 2005:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
For more information contact Ann Halcomb by: phone: 931-668-7322; fax: 931-668-9601; e-mail: mtna@blomand.net,
http://www.mtna.com/

August 24-26, 2006:
The Farwest Show.
Portland, Oregon, Oregon Convention Center.
Contact Aimee Schendel, Oregon Association of Nurserymen, 29751 SW Town Center Loop West, Wilsonville, OR 97070; 800-342-6401; 503-682-5089 x 2006; Fax, 503-682-5099; e-mail, info@farwestshow.com
URL: http://www.farwestshow.com

October 6-7, 2006:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
For more information contact Ann Halcomb by: phone: 931-668-7322; fax: 931-668-9601; e-mail: mtna@blomand.net,
http://www.mtna.com/

August 23-25, 2007:
The Farwest Show.
Portland, Oregon, Oregon Convention Center.
Contact Aimee Schendel, Oregon Association of Nurserymen, 29751 SW Town Center Loop West, Wilsonville, OR 97070; 800-342-6401, 503-682-5089 x 2006; Fax, 503.682.5099; e-mail, info@farwestshow.com
URL: http://www.farwestshow.com

October 5-6, 2007:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
For more information contact Ann Halcomb by: phone: 931-668-7322; fax: 931-668-9601; e-mail: mtna@blomand.net,
http://www.mtna.com/

Send horticultural questions and comments to ktilt@acesag.auburn.edu.

Send questions and comments to fischbr@auburn.edu.

Letters to Bernice Fischman - 101 Funchess Hall - Auburn University, AL 36849.