Invasives topic at DNLA summer expo


Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association members headed south Aug. 13 for the group's Summer Turf & Nursery Expo held at East Coast Garden Center.
Valery Cordrey and crew members gave a presentation on container combinations. "Container gardening is an add-on that increase the bottom line," Cordrey said. Containers can adorn a blank wall, provide privacy, create a noise barrier, add a pop of color, cover a problem area and create curb appeal, she continued. She stressed the importance of customer service. With social media, comments spread widely, she said. East Coast doesn't just sell containers, or containers with plants, but container care as a service.
Christopher Law of Iseli Nursery in Boring, Ore., pulled plants from East Coast's inventory for a discussion of designing with conifers. He admitted he hates 95 percent of the landscapes he sees. People want color, so they choose plants that bloom in the summer, whereas conifers look pretty year round. He told his audience, "If you can get the prospective customer into the nursery you have a better chance of selling a landscape."
He added that planting is going down while hardscaping is on the increase. "Today's landscapes are getting smaller. People have less time (and less land.) Plants can't get too wide, so go for tall." He noted there's a whole generation of people who think Lowe's is their garden center.
Tony Italia of FX Luminaire offered tips on trouble-shooting LED lighting systems. The United States is a decade behind Europe in converting to LED, he said, adding, "We're not going back to halogen." He warned, "LED is either cheap or good. It all comes down to the warranty. Get a five-year minimum. Ten years or a lifetime warranty is better.”
During lunch, Ed Kee, Delaware Secretary of Agriculture, and DNLA’s Valann Budischak addressed the problem of invasive plants being sold in the marketplace. A forum was held in December 2013 at which the industry insisted on a level playing field. Delaware plant purveyors do not want a labeling law like Maryland's, which is a burden for garden centers, they said. Other states in the Northeast have passed fairly restrictive laws.
Kee, Budischak, Sue Barton of University of Delaware and Faith Kuehn of Delaware Department of Agriculture met after the forum to discuss processes of addressing the problem. Kee wants to know how the industry feels and how invasives are affecting the state. A survey of the industry was conducted this summer. A report from Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control had been completed just days before the expo, and indicated invasive plants could become a problem here. An invasive was defined as a plant that will take over in a natural area, cause economic harm and harm the ecosystem by displacing native plants.
Jay Windsor, former Extension agent and owner of Lakeside Greenhouses, said he had been in the business for 40 years, "and I don't see burning bush or barberry all over Sussex County. I do see Callery pear. I've had butterfly bush in my yard for years. I don't see the threat you're talking about."
Kee said the problem would not be solved that day and would be phased in so that nurseries could deplete their inventory. Any legislative initiative "must be totally industry supported, all for or all against. It really has to be a united effort when you bring this to the legislature."