Mid Atlantic Horticulture Short Course, in Virginia Beach. Regular readers and local green people may know this is where arborists, designers, retailers, wholesale growers, turf people, landscapers, grounds people and others go to hone existing skills, learn new ones, hear about new plants and in general learn the things that keep us professional. At the end of the week, the doors are opened to the general gardening public and some of the same speakers put on a day long, themed program that always sells out. This year was a little different for me in that I am now on the board of the group (The Virginia Horticulture Foundation) that sponsors the conference, so I ended up having to work a little more. However, I was still able to attend the following classes, all of which were time well-spent.
- What's New in the World of Irises
Kelly D. Norris, Rainbow Iris Farm
It may have been January outside, but inside the darkened room it was May and the wall sized screen was showing some new versions of one of my favorite perennials. Fortunately the lights were up enough for me to write down the ones I want.
- Crazy About Coral Bells
Dan Heims, Terra Nova Nurseries
If you have fallen in love with all of the new Heuchera hybrids that have been hitting the market lately, well you can thank Dan Heims for about 99% of them. And we Southerners owe him a particular debt for injecting many with Heuchera villosa genes giving them the ability to withstand high heat and humidity.
- Great Trees in Great Landscapes
Robert McDuffie, Virginia Tech
Professor McDuffie leads horticultural tour groups all over the world in search of great gardens, and I was fortunate enough to go on a one of his trips to England and Wales back in 2000. You can see some of the places he visits and his excellent photography here.
- Wondrous Water Plants
Tamara Kilbane, Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Another good class, and one in which I learned, among other things, that the effort to breed hardy water lilies with tropicals to expand the color and climate range is paying off.
- Green Cities
Susan French, Virginia Cooperative Extension
Ms. French introduced us to how municipal landscaping and land management can make our cities greener, more pleasant and more sustainable. The city of Virginia Beach was used as an example and I was pleasantly surprised by what has been accomplished.
- Keeping a Pleasure Garden Pleasurable
Dan Benarcik, Chanticleer
If you have ever had the opportunity to visit the gardens at Chanticleer in Philadelphia, then I do not need to tell you how very special this place is. If you haven't been, then make plans to do so. It is one of the most fantastic gardens in the country.
- Garden Archaeology: Designs from the Past
Michelle Palmer, Cornell University & The Society for Garden Archaeology
Ms. Palmer showed us how the skills of traditional, and not so traditional archaeology are changing what we learn about historic gardens. She highlighted in particular her work at a villa near Mr. Vesuvius. This was class was fascinating.
- Deciphering the World of Hydrangeas
Vincent Simeone, The Planting Fields Arboretum Historic State Park
I am always willing to learn more about one of my favorite shrubs, and I was pleased to see that the majority of Hydrangeas he spoke of were ones I carry at work.
- Behind the Curtain
Nicholas Staddom, Monrovia Nurseries
Mr. Staddon is the Director of New Plants for Monrovia, and he showed us how the people of his company come up with all the new plants they are famous for introducing or promoting. There was no mention of their recent financial troubles, just plants and people, as it should be.
This was just a very small taste of what was available this year. If you would like to see my previous dispatches they are here.
Before I leave this link-heavy post and head back to the battlefield, I feel a need to invoke my usual disclaimer in that I have not been compensated in any way for mentioning any organization, corporation or concern. However I would not refuse a no-strings-attached Iris 'Zooboomafoo', Hosta x 'Empress Wu' or a lovely Melianthus major 'Antonow's Blue'.