IPM Guide, Crinum and DIY Catalog Software

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Nursery & Landscape Insider

Agrium - PotashCorp Merge
Japanese Maple - Gently Weeping
New IPM Guide
iBooks Author
The Joy of Crinum
Farwest Hosts Youngsters
Photo Contest for a Cause
Notes from the Edge of Sanity

Agrium and PotashCorp Merge

There are fertilizer companies and then there's PotashCorp, which is by far the largest supplier of base fertilizer products that are applied to landscapes and production areas across North America (and beyond). And then there's Agrium, which is no slouch itself, being North America’s largest fertilizer retailer. Now the two are going to merge into what I jokingly call "The Empire." Seriously though, the merged company will be called Nutrien and will boast sales of $20.6 billion annually and have a valuation of approximately $36 billion.

This is another in a long string of mergers among the giants in agriculture who've seen slumping sales in the last decade and fostered by what seems to be more relaxed antitrust standards. While the impact of the merger on growers and landscape contractors is unknown, several economists that I spoke to all agree that it shouldn’t result in fertilizer price increases. The price of energy, used to manufacture nitrogen, is by far the largest player in price fluctuations.  

Japanese Maple – Gently Weeping

It’s hard to beat Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) in the garden in Zones 5b to 10. With such diversity in form, foliage color, bark color and fall color – they make a great addition to any garden. However, in hot and dry summer weather, foliage can start to look a bit tattered toward the end of the summer. Another issue is that there aren’t a lot of “small” Japanese maples out there that are suitable for a container or townhouse-sized yard.

Pictured here is a 10-year old Orangeola in the Chappell tiny estate. Growth rate is about 4 to 6 in. annually.

But have no fear – there's one option out there that I've found and that solves all the above-mentioned problems. Orangeola is so fantastic that the Royal Horticulture Society awarded it the RHS Award of Garden Merit. The plant has a weeping form and will reach a max size of about 6 ft. by 6 ft. with burgundy summer foliage that turns to a deep orange in the fall. One of my favorite characteristics, being a person who refuses to irrigate while living in Georgia, is that it holds up quite well to heat and drought, even when planted in sunny locations.  

New IPM Guide

From yours truly comes a brand new integrated pest management resource! IPM for Shrubs in Southeastern U.S. Nursery Production Volume II is the third book released by the Southern Nursery Integrated Pest Management Working Group (SNIPM) – although the content is applicable across North America. The book covers management practices, abiotic stressors, pathogens, insect pests and weed management strategies in five major ornamental genera including hydrangea, loropetalum, holly, rhododendron (including azalea) and Indian hawthorn.


The first book in this series, "IPM of Select Deciduous Trees in Southeastern U.S. Nursery Production," was released in May 2012. The second book, "IPM for Shrub in Southeastern U.S. Nursery Production Volume I," was released in June 2014. All three books can be downloaded at no cost as chapter Adobe PDF files here and on iTunes by searching the book names. 

iBooks Author – So Easy a Professor Can Use It

Speaking of the above IPM book, I can say with an immense amount of certainty that it's the last book I will serve as editor for in what remains of my mortal life. If any of you ever overhear me contemplating it, please just smack some sense into me! However, there was one bright spot I learned from the process, which is a publishing software that's both free and easy to learn/use. I’ll begin by saying that it's only available for Mac operating systems … sorry PC users.

iBooks Author is hands down the easiest publication software I've ever used and is worth a try.   iBooks Author is hands down the easiest publication software I've ever used and is worth a try.  The iBooks Author program (or app as we Mac-nerds say) is both intuitive and easy to use. I learned 90% of what I needed to know by practicing for a couple of hours and watching a few YouTube videos. The rest was trial and error along the way. What’s great about it is that if you're looking to create a catalog, flier or newsletter for your business, it’s a snap. It allows for dragging and dropping of photos and copying and pasting of tables and text from MS Excel and MS Word, respectively. When you’re done, you can save files as an Adobe PDF or image file. If I were constructing a catalog and didn’t have the cash to hire someone to do layout but wanted some pizzazz to it, I’d certainly use this iBooks Author to make some marketing magic.  

The Joy of Crinum

Crinum is one of those genera that include a number of species (including the North American native Crinum americanum) and even more cultivars, the result of an almost cult following among crinum enthusiasts. I’ve plopped many into holes over the years, but when it comes down to it, Crinum asiaticum (poisonbulb) is the one that stands out as the toughest, longest flowering and most beautiful of the bunch. At my estate (the tiny-house version) in north Georgia, it is rock solid, blooming in July-August as the summer storm season kicks in. Strap-petaled white flowers as much as 10 in. in diameter rise above glossy green rosettes of foliage, standing 3 to 4 ft. in height.  


Unfortunately, crinum as a genus isn’t for everyone. I’ve seen plants in protected areas of Zones 7b and 8a, yet it's not reliably hardy north of Zone 8b. That’s a pity because this is a plant that should be in every landscape, hiding out until mid-summer when garden blooms are scarce only to create a focal point. But you northerners can surely use it as a container plant with great success, as I've seen in many public gardens in the great north! 

Farwest Hosts Networking Event for Young Horticulture Professionals

The 2017 Farwest Show is fast approaching! This year, it’s August 23-25 in Portland, Oregon. During the show, Farwest will host its annual event, "Emergent: A Group for Growing Professionals," on Wednesday, August 23 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m, VIP Room B (2nd Floor).

Sponsored this year by F&B Farms and Nursery, Emergent brings together the industry’s best and brightest professionals under 40. Young professionals will network with like-minded horticultural enthusiasts, establish new relationships and share in building a brighter future for the green industry. They'll have opportunities to exchange insight, innovative ideas and business practice. Originating six years ago as the Young Nursery Professionals Group, with a handful of eager, talented young individuals, Emergent: A Group for Growing Professionals now boasts over 3,000 of the nation’s brightest young minds in horticulture.


Extending the event beyond Farwest, participants will be able to network online on the group's Facebook page.

Bragging Rights Are on the Line

Many of you horticultural professionals out there were once students and may have heard of Pi Alpha Xi (PAX), which is an honor society for horticulture students across the globe. PAX serves a variety of functions, including providing students with scholarships, travel grants and professional development opportunities. Most college/university chapters hold plant sales or lecture series to raise money, but annually there's a large fundraiser to raise funds for chapters across the U.S.

The neat thing about this fundraiser is it comes with bragging rights. It’s a national horticulture-based photo contest and I know a mess of folks (that would be southern for "many people") who think they're superior photographers. Well, for $10 per entry you can put your money where your mouth is and donate to a great cause concurrently. There are four categories that you can find here, along with instructions for submission. I’ll cover the winners when they're announced and we’ll see how good you Nursery & Landscape Insider readers really are!  

Our Wild and Wacky World - Notes from the Edge of Sanity

I sat in on a webinar two weeks ago where the topic was: “How do you break through the ceiling?” That ceiling was the sales cap that plagues many businesses across the nation (not just horticultural businesses, but all production and sales businesses). The speaker asked people to type a reason why they thought breaking through “that” ceiling was so difficult. The responses included things like labor problems, product competition, shrinking markets, yadda yadda.

After a few minutes, none of the attendees had gotten it right (including me). The answer was that most businesses don’t cultivate a consumer-product relationship. Instead, they cultivate a consumer-business relationship. But in the end, consumers are not buying a business, they're buying a product. So essentially many of us have gotten it wrong, at least somewhat. A good example from our industry are brands. Brands are so successful with customers because they represent a product, not the company selling the product. One participant then asked what a purely service company could do to overcome this because they sell a service (e.g. landscape contractors). The moderator had an interesting reply … turn your service into a product. Products are designed to reliably perform a specific task that's unique or easier to use compared to similar products, at a competitive price, that happens only when the consumer wants it. How can you make your service-based company fit these criteria? 

It’s something to think about, debate and comment on if you think it’s a ludicrous idea. I know I enjoyed the thought-provoking discussion and I hope it leads to some discussion within your operation as well.  

Live authentic,

Matthew Chappell
Nursery & Landscape Insider


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