VNLA Field Day looks into hort’s future


“The Future of Horticulture” is the theme for the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Field Day in Blacksburg, Va., Aug. 13 through 15 and it promises to provide plenty of insights into what is coming in the industry.
Expert speakers and tours of exceptional horticultural sites in Virginia’s New River Valley await those who will attend this annual event.
The event kicks off at 5 p.m. Aug. 13 with a presentation by Sarah Vanek, an Extension associate for nursery crop production at the University of Kentucky. She will be speaking at the Holiday Inn Blacksburg, headquarters for the convention, about “Team Habits for Working Smarter not Harder: a Workshop on Lean Management for the Green Industry.”
Two members of the Virginia Tech Horticulture Department faculty, Dr. Alex Niemiera and Dr. Holly Scoggins, will be sharing their knowledge with attendees. Other speakers are Dr. Doug Tallamy, chairman of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, and Mark Weatherington, assistant director and curator of collections for the J. C. Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University.
Tours are being offered of Virginia Tech sites and private gardens as well as Riverbend Nursery in nearby Riner.
Registration is open from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Aug. 14.  There will be a silent auction and plant identification quiz in the Hahn Horticulture Garden from 8 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. with the possibility of earning CEUs. Box lunches will be available from 11:45 to 1:30 p.m. at the Hahn Pavilion and there will be a tour of the gardens.
Thursday will feature tours of Tech facilities including Latham Hall, Urban Horticulture Center and Kentland Farm, with educational sessions both in the morning and afternoon.
A morning session from 9 to 10:15, to be repeated from 1:30 to 2:45 p.m., is a panel/roundtable discussion of “The Future of Horticulture” led by Niemiera and Scoggins.  These presentations will be followed by Doug Tallamy discussing “Future of Horticulture, Maintaining Curb Appeal.”
Thursday wraps up with a beer and wine reception and dinner at the Hahn Horticulture Dinner in the Garden.  Those attending are required to take the shuttle from the Holiday Inn to the garden.  Shuttle rides start at 5:30 p.m.
During dinner, Weatherington will talk about “Typhoons and Iguana Stew: The Glamorous Life of a Plant Explorer.”
Friday morning, after checkout at the inn, buses will leave for tours of the private gardens and the trip to Riverbend Nursery for lunch.  The private gardens include those of the following people:
• Dr. Jerzy Nowak and Stefanie Hoffer. This is a new wrap-around house garden developed over the past seven years.  It includes mixed perennial and annual boarders, a front rock garden, fenced backyard with ‘Green Giant’ Thuja hedge, extensive hardscapes, a large gazebo, three distinct patios, a cascading pond, a French potage, and an outdoor kitchen.
• Elissa Steeves. This garden has been featured in Southern Living as well as other horticulture magazines. It is a plant collector’s garden full of plant treasures collected over the years. It is organized in two ways, “the oldest part is one of contemporary good taste and the newer half is of fun and whimsy.”
• Mary LaLone and Kim Knight, Knight’s Stonewood Garden. LaLone has a greenhouse with tropicals, including orchids and carnivorous plants, and gardens outside with tropicals, heaths, heathers and potted plants. Knight has designed and built gardens on the rest of the garden.
Buses will take the group to Riverbend Nursery, a progressive container grower, where more than 2.5 million container plants are grown annually. The business services the Mid-Atlantic states. Riverbend sells select “BIG Tag” groundcovers, perennials, ferns, herbs and ornamental grasses, Jeepers Creepers, Gilbertie’s Herbs and LiveRoof pre-vegetated green roof modules to retailers, landscapers, and re-wholesalers.
People choosing to park on the Tech campus are reminded that university policy requires them to have a university parking pass or be subject to ticketing and a fine.  These passes can be obtained at the Tech Visitors Center off Price’s Fork Road diagonally across the highway from the Holiday Inn.