An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

February 7, 2013

Worlds Collide

    I spent most of this week at the Mid-Atlantic Horticulture Short Course, just as I have done each winter for nearly two decades. I helped out a little more this time, but thankfully did not have to teach any classes, though I was an emergency back-up speaker (the attendees should thank God the flu epidemic has quieted down, and my services were not needed). The event is a great chance for people who work in all aspects of horticulture to get together in one place for networking, comparing notes, stealing ideas, and especially for continuing their education. Although I did spend time with my new co-workers, I was able to catch up with people I knew from my last job, the job before that, the job before that one and remarkably enough with people I knew in my former life in the hotel business. It was kind of surreal for me, though maybe at my age it is just inevitable that I know a lot of people.

Each year there are many classes offered, making choices difficult. These are a few that I enjoyed:

Momijii Madness - Brian Upchurch, Owner of Highland Creek Nursery
I never tire of learning something new about Japanese maples.

Rain Gardens Done Right - Helen Kraus, Asst. Professor, North Carolina State University
I did not expect to enjoy this class to the extent that I did.

Secret Life of Plants - Buddy Lee, Director of Plant Innovations, PDSI
This class was taught by the creator of the Encore azalea, and offered insight into the process that leads to new plants.

All America Selections - Diane Blazek, AAS, National Garden Bureau
This class was more fascinating than you might think possible, and I now know how a plant becomes an All America Selection.

Gardens of the Gods - Ellen Zachos, Garden Designer, Owner, Acme Plant Stuff
If you ever get a chance to here Ms. Zachos speak, take it, no matter the topic. In this case she was speaking on the mythological history of 15 common plants.

Stylish Shade Gardening - Richard and Judith Tyler, Owners Pink Knot Farms
Though they are best known for their knowledge of hellebores, they also know a thing or two about gardening in the shade. I have heard them speak on several occasions, and they always do it together, taking turns. After hearing several well-north-of-here speakers, Mrs. Tyler's mellow southside Virginia voice was welcome music.

The Art of Growing Food - Ellen Ecker Ogden, Author, The Complete Kitchen Garden
As most of you already know, kitchen gardens can be as beautiful as any other landscape.

Design Tricks from a West Coast Wizard - Billy Goodnick, Landscape Architect
Another dynamic speaker, no matter the topic, and no stranger to the blogging public.

Perhaps the ultimate highlight of the week was being able to meet Thunder the Wonder Beagle.  TWB is a Federal Agent, and has been trained to sniff out Asian Long Horned Beetles, plus he is quite the gentlemen. With his brains, handsome profile and good manners, I should fix him up with my Penny.


  1. I love that Thunder was found at an animal shelter and given a new purpose in life.

  2. It does sound like it was a well-rounded program.

  3. The Secret Life of Plants and Garden of the Gods sound so fascinating to me. Sounds like you came away with some excellent new food for thought (and Penny with a potential suitor?)

  4. I would have enjoyed hearing Billy Goodnick. Sounds like a great conference.

  5. I would go just to meet Thunder - nothing quite as jolly as a beagle! But all those speakers in one place! Terrific!!!

  6. Les, I think I would've liked that conference very, very much.~~Dee

  7. Last year was my first time attending and I really enjoyed it! It just didnt work out for me to go this year. Hopefully next year.

    Sounds like you had a great time!

  8. I've heard a lot of good things about Pine Knot but have been remiss in never having visited.

  9. What a varied set of talks, sounds fun - good luck with the dog dating...

  10. What a smart dog. Do ALB's have a scent which humans can smell? I should train my dog to find those stink bugs which end up on pillows and couches. It is quite disgusting to catch a whiff of that odor and know that you have one in close proximity.

  11. Hi Les, What a great list of subjects! I love hearing anyone speak who is passionate about their topic. I always find their enthusiasm is contagious.
    It is interesting to know that dogs can be trained to sniff out problem bugs. TWB sounds like a great catch! Penny just might fall for him, if they were to be introduced.

  12. I'm glad to hear that our government is taking defense against invasive species seriously. I bet you learned a lot at your conference.

  13. Sybil,
    Shelter dogs make more than great pets.

    Yes it is, there is something for everyone.

    I showed Penny a picture of Thunder, but she was not interested.

    Billy Goodnick gave a great talk.

    That is the best part of this event, all the different speakers that come.

    I know you would have enjoyed it.

    Hopefully you can make it. We start working on the 2014 program next month.

    You should go. I think you are closer than I am.

    I have concluded that Penny is not interested in boys in any way beyond a playmate, even celebrity beagles.

    I don't know if ALB's have a scent. Thunder's handler told me he can detect insect infested trees, even if the infestation is up in the canopy.

    Yes, passion goes a long way to hold my interest, no matter the topic.

    I always learn a lot at this event. It keeps me fresh.


  14. Some familiar names and some new ones. I would have enjoyed the Mid-Atlantic Hort Short Course.