Virginia nursery launches ‘Greener Plants’

An initiative by a Virginia nursery grower developed with the support of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation seeks to encourage the gardening public to be more environmentally responsible.
Following years of commitment to responsible growing practices and a recent award and accolades, Eastern Shore Nursery of Virginia is launching its Greener Plants brand. The nursery is farmed with an environmental and conservation management plan that helped the nursery win the 2009 Ground Water Award from the Virginia Eastern Shore Regional Ground Water Commission, as well as recent recognition from the CBF.
“The plants are greener because we care about our environment,” said Nick Covatta, co-owner of Eastern Shore Nursery of Virginia with his wife Robin Rinaca and partner Mark Hopkins. “They’re grown in an environmentally responsible way; they are Greener Plants. We hope this will provide guidance for garden centers and consumers, and hopefully will increase demand for greener plants and the products that go with them. And, of course, the more plants and trees the better, as they consume carbon dioxide and help improve air quality.”  
The CBF, whose mission is to “Save the Bay,” worked side by side with Eastern Shore Nursery of Virginia as they developed environmentally responsible practices. Their shared vision will be featured on the nursery’s plant tags.
William C. Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said, “The Chesapeake Bay Foundation applauds Eastern Shore Nursery of Virginia as a model plant grower for managing nutrients in a manner that protects water quality in streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.” Eastern Shore Nursery of Virginia was one of the first nurseries in Virginia to implement a Certified Nutrient Management Plan. The company’s efforts to grow plants in an environmentally responsible manner serve as a model for the entire plant nursery industry, Baker continued.
One of the major goals shared between CBF and the nursery is to encourage people to embrace more responsible gardening to reduce their water usage and runoff. Garden centers are seeing an increasingly green-focused buying public. A 2010 Gallup Poll stated that 76 percent of Americans “bought products specifically because they thought it was better for the environment than competing products.”
The nursery and CBF on their Web sites will provide gardeners with educational information and instruction about growing plants responsibly.
“We will provide the plants and support for people to make an individual commitment to creating a greener home environment through their gardening,” Covatta says. “Selling Greener Plants is a great opportunity for garden centers to offer consumers other compatible products, such as soaker hoses, mulch and slow-release fertilizer.”
Eastern Shore Nursery of Virginia was established in 1966 in Keller, Va., on the watershed of the Chesapeake Bay. The nursery has made a decades-long voluntary commitment to improving its environmental practices. In the process, nursery growing areas were designed with an emphasis on water conservation, recycling, and pollution prevention practices. Native grasses, woods and vegetation have been left undisturbed to filter runoff. They developed a Nutrient Management Plan to ensure they keep fertilizer use  to a minimum.
The nursery started growing in containers in the early 1980s and adopted an overall policy of water conservation and pollution reduction. The nursery’s irrigation watersource is precipitation and surface aquifers in the top 15 feet of soil, all of which is non potable water.  Their practices include recycling irrigation water, trickle irrigation of trees, using slow-release fertilizer and grading their production fields so that the runoff stays on their farm.
The nursery also plans to fill a void in the garden rose market, quadrupling the size of its current rose production. Covatta is working with Conard-Pyle and others to ensure the best variety selection and growing techniques.
“Going forward we will become a major customer for CP’s bare root liners,” he said. Covatta anticipates that roses could be in short supply next spring and the nursery is working diligently to meet demand. The nursery will begin planting in January, with product available for delivery in April/May. They are taking orders now and ask that customers contact them before Sept.1, 2010.
For more information, visit: or call (800) 323-3008.