Q: Anything exciting happening in horticulture that you can tell us about?
A: A new horticultural product is very
exciting – Messenger, a new
product which is a protein found in species of plant-attacking bacteria. Strangely enough, this protein (called Harpin)
triggers a response that unlocks the plant’s own internal defenses, to
successfully fight off diseases and insect predators. The protein also stimulates vigor in the
plant, producing stronger, healthier new green growth and higher quality blooms
and fruit. Finally, this effect is produced in all plants. Quite a revolutionary garden product.
Q: What frustrations are people in the nursery business experiencing today?
A: One of our most frustrating problems is to
find people with the educational background and the experience to fill
positions in the nursery industry. Horticulture is not considered a glamourous or a high-paying career for
today’s bright young workers. The
attraction to this field is working with plants, in the environments in which
they grow. Plants are important,
interesting, exciting, beautiful and essential components of our environment.
Q: Any ideas about how garden centers can help to educate gardeners? And what do you think of our suggestion that all plants carry both common and Latin names?
A: Garden centers need to provide programs that
educate gardeners in all aspects of good gardening practices. This can be done at the garden centers
through seminars and classes. This can
also be done at a garden center’s help desk or, as we call it at Homestead Gardens, a Diagnostics Center. Here expert
advice on plant problems is dispensed to individual customers, as well as
solutions based on those diagnoses. Besides advice, plant problems are explained in a way that the customer
understands and is likely to retain. Education at its best.
As far as using both common and botanical names, I am all for it. Common names have not always been the most reliable way to identify a plant. For example, some customers call all conifers “pines” or “cedars”. Some common names are strictly regional in origin or made up within a person’s family, and are likely not to be recognized by others. Botanical names specifically identify a plant right down to is
species, to everyone’s understanding.
Q: What do you think of all this press lately about the decline of gardening in the U.S.?
A: The older generations of Americans that grew
up with gardening as a part of their everyday life are gardening less these
days. They now live in retirement communities or nursing homes where there is
likely no access to a garden. Baby
Boomers are affluent enough to pay others to maintain their gardens. Finally, there seems to be no developing
gardening tradition among Generations X and Y to fill the dwindling gardening