Scenes from a Nursery Trade Show


The Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show is happening in Baltimore this week, and garden communicators (formerly “writers”) were there in droves! Here we all are at the breakfast event for media. Well, here they all are – I’d already started canvassing the vendor booths for familiar faces and interesting stuff to post about.

GardenRanter Scott Beuerlein was there, too and he’s actually in the photo – back row, right of center.

So who should I spot right away but these titans of the plant world greeting each other like the old pals we know them to be. That’s Dr. Michael Dirr on the left with Dr. Allan Armitage, both of the University of Georgia.

What followed was the taking of lots of posed photos like this one, but the one I wish I’d gotten included a guy I later learned was UGA Coach Vince Dooley, who’s famous for his garden.

I visited Carolyn Mullet and her Carex Tours booth to chat a bit and give me an excuse to recommend her European garden tours with their emphasis on great design.

I stopped here to ask the succulent expert how to keep alive the succulent houseplants I got for Christmas, which are suffering already. More on that in an upcoming post.

I have recycled Adirondack chairs like these in a wonderful color and was pleased to see all sorts of other furniture options now available in similar materials and colors. They last a lifetime with no maintenance and are comfy.

I caught up with Mark Highland of Organic Mechanics (right) and was happy to hear business is good.

This fabulous booth introduced me to a garden center not far from me – so yay!

Best Bees is an urban beekeeping service that’s exhibiting at MANTS for the first time. I hope they’re having a great show!

I stopped at Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon hoping to see owner Dan Heims, who’s been having health problems. He wasn’t there but I learned that he’s planning to attend an IPM conference in Germany soon, so his spirits seem to be good.

This is what even moderate-size trees look like when wrapped for moving and planting. I was told it weighs 3,800 pounds. Do not try this at home.

The Kurt Bluemel booth is always attractive and a reminder of how much the founder is missed. (See Alan Bush’s lovely tribute in memoriam.) I learned that the fellow in this shot is Kurt’s grandson.

Author David Culp was manning the booth for Sunny Border Nurseries and whatever they’re paying him, he deserves a raise because the man can SELL. I left feeling guilty that I’m not interested enough in snowdrops (galanthus) to attend a whole conference about them (while applauding plant geeks who specialize in them, or really anything).

I’m a fan of Sandy’s Plants in my home town of Richmond, VA. Visitors get to drive around the nursery in individual golf carts! And it’s just five minutes from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

I was hoping to see the super-fun Lloyd Tavern at his Peace Tree Farm booth but he was busy working the floor.

Now THIS was interesting – these magazines about the green industry include Cannabis and Dispensary. They serve the fastest growing segment of the hort biz, the growing and selling of cannabis. (If you’ve seen a book store lately and they have a gardening section at all, it’s probably filling up with pot-growing books.)

Kudos to Southern Living Plant Collection for a gorgeous display.

At the large Knock Out Rose booth I asked a bunch of questions about rose rosette disease and will be posting about the answers soon.

The National Arboretum booth was a sad reminder of the political storm brewing in nearby D.C. It’s closed for the shutdown, with only friends-group volunteers available to man the booth.

Lots of garden-communicator pals were stopping at the GardenComm booth (formerly Garden Writers) to greet president Becky Heath and let her talk them into speaking on camera about the organization. Here’s Pat Stone of Greensprints Magazine stepping up to the challenge.

This Halloween-packed booth was one of many selling nonplant-related STUFF that’s so important to the business of independent garden centers.

So what’s missing from this photo-packed post? Shots of the vast majority (maybe 98%) of the booths that sell products of no interest or relevance to home gardeners at all. This show is for the trade, not us. So I just breezed by all the nursery irrigation systems and the dozens of Christmas tree growers and made it home before dark.

Wait! I found one more shot of a bunch of garden communicators lunching together that doesn’t include me – because I’d just left the group. I’m sure that wasn’t deliberate.

Until next January, that’s all from the show (unless Scott has his own report. It was his very first MANTS.)

I love this event and the three media events and parties that come with it (thank you, event people!). It’s an emotional lift in the midst of winter. And it makes me really happy to be part of the wonderful this world of plant people. I found my peeps.

For our Feedblitz subscribers, the author of this post is Susan Harris.


  1. The funny thing is I thought you were in that lunch shot that we asked a guy at a neighboring table to take of us. Then I got back and saw it posted and did a head count and saw you were missing – again!

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