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Winter Issue, 2013-2014 THE DIRT The VNLA Quarterly Newsletter Volume 39, Issue 4 2013 Industry

Winter Issue, 2013-2014


The VNLA Quarterly Newsletter Volume 39, Issue 4


Industry Award Winners

2013 Industry Award Winners Sarah Stradtner Distinctive Landscaping Small Scale Residential Build Exceeds Excellence Awar
2013 Industry Award Winners Sarah Stradtner Distinctive Landscaping Small Scale Residential Build Exceeds Excellence Awar
2013 Industry Award Winners Sarah Stradtner Distinctive Landscaping Small Scale Residential Build Exceeds Excellence Awar

Sarah Stradtner Distinctive Landscaping Small Scale Residential Build Exceeds Excellence Award

Small Scale Residential Build Exceeds Excellence Awar d Megan Moffroid & Kirsten Seibert - Broadleaf Landscape
Small Scale Residential Build Exceeds Excellence Awar d Megan Moffroid & Kirsten Seibert - Broadleaf Landscape

Megan Moffroid & Kirsten Seibert - Broadleaf Landscape Architecture Large Scale Residential Design Exceeds Excellence Award

Charlie Proutt Distinctive Landscaping Small Scale Residential Design Exceeds Excellence Award

Exceeds Excellence Award Charlie Proutt Distinctive Landscaping Small Scale Residential Design Exceeds Excellence Award
Exceeds Excellence Award Charlie Proutt Distinctive Landscaping Small Scale Residential Design Exceeds Excellence Award
Caroline Dudek - Landshapes Large Scale Residential Design Merit Award Marie Limoge - Landshapes Small

Caroline Dudek - Landshapes Large Scale Residential Design Merit Award

- Landshapes Large Scale Residential Design Merit Award Marie Limoge - Landshapes Small Scale Residential Design

Marie Limoge - Landshapes Small Scale Residential Design Merit Award


Industry Award Winners

Tricia King - Distinctive Landscaping Large Scale Residential Design Honor Award

Landscaping Large Scale Residential Design Honor Award Ashely Robinson, Landscape Designer Small Scale Residential

Ashely Robinson, Landscape Designer Small Scale Residential Design Honor Award

Scale Residential Design Honor Award Ashely Robinson, Landscape Designer Small Scale Residential Design Honor Award
I nside this Issue Board of Directors 4 New Green Works Members 5 Green Works

Inside this Issue

Board of Directors


New Green Works Members


Green Works Industry Award Winners


Green Works Celebrates 50 Years - How it All Started


Winning the Price Wars - Sell Like a Superstar


Shady Places


News from the U


Agricultural Plastic


Recycling Trial



Hedgerows to



Agency of


Agriculture News

Consider These


Japanese Maples

Meet VT Agency of Ag’s State Entomologist


UCONN offers


Perennial Plant


Industry Calendar


president’s letter

I just glanced up at the calendar and

then looked out the window and was struck by how quickly it seems that another year has drawn to a close and

that suddenly we find ourselves in the middle of winter. I hope that you are all enjoying a little down time and some

much needed rest and are looking forward to spending some quality time with family and friends in gratitude for all

the blessings that you have in your life.

The off season gives us each some time

to stand back and take a look at the past season and review our businesses and evaluate what worked well this past year and areas where we can make changes to improve our outcomes as we plan for the year ahead.

I have spent a great deal of time over the

past few weeks not only looking at the business end of my life, but at myself personally. I have spent a lot of time writing things down which has given me much clearer perspective on who I am and where I am going. It has been a valuable exercise that has been, at times, both difficult and enlightening. I have written about my passions, my skills, my values, my many faults, and the relationships in my life both personal and professional.

This personal “house cleaning” of sorts has left me feeling so much more in focus and balanced and at peace and has helped to alleviate so much of the stress and anxiety that I know we all carry around with us. That stress and anxiety only serves to sabotage our ability to be the very best that we can be in all aspects of our lives. I have also realized the importance of committing to doing this kind of personal maintenance on a daily basis if we are to fully realize our desire to live a fulfilling and purpose driven life.

I know that by doing this work it will

transfer to my professional life and will make me better equipped to work

professional life and will make me better equipped to work through the challenges that lie ahead

through the challenges that lie ahead in

the coming year.

the changes necessary to ensure greater success in all my endeavors. I hope that you will all take some time over the next couple of months to invest in your own personal evaluation, knowing that you will realize the benefit and gain some valuable perspective.

It will help me to make

This year will mark the 50 th year of the VNLA’s existence as a professional association. We are looking into ways that we can use this anniversary to raise awareness of who we are and what we do that will ultimately serve to benefit all of our members and the continued growth and success of your businesses. As always, we welcome your input and ideas and value your continued support of our mission. I look forward to seeing you all at our annual meeting at The Davis Center at The University of Vermont on February 13 th and wish you all a prosperous and fulfilling 2014!

VJ Comai, Green Works/VNLA/President

Vermont on February 13 t h and wish you all a prosperous and fulfilling 2014! VJ


board of directors


Sarah Holland


VJ Comai

River’s Bend Garden Design, LLC

Ed Burke

South Forty Nursery

7386 VT Route 100 B

Rocky Dale Gardens


Tamarack Rd * Charlotte, VT 05445

Moretown, VT 05660


802.425.6222 *


Ed Burke

Rocky Dale Gardens

806 Rocky Dale Road * Bristol, VT 05443

802-453-2782 *

SECRETARY/TREASURER Claybrook Griffith Long Leaf Landscaping, LLC 4379 Ethan Allen Hwy. New Haven, VT 05472 802-999-4558 *


Nate Carr

Church Hill Landscapes, Inc.

287 Church Hill Road * Charlotte, VT 05445


Carrie Chalmers

Quoyburray Farm

239 Lawrence Hill Road * Weston, VT 05161


Hannah Decker Fairfax Perennial Farm, Inc.

7 Blackberry Hill Road * Fairfax, VT




Ron Paquette Paquette Full of Posies Nursery

10236 Williston Road * Williston, VT 05495


Brian Vaughan Vaughan Landscaping

40 Mt. Pritchard Lane St. George, VT 05495



Kristina MacKulin Green Works-VNLA P.O. Box 92 * N. Ferrisburgh, VT 05473 Toll Free: 888.518.6484; 802.425.5117 Fax 802.425.5122



Long Leaf Landscaping, LLC





Vermont Wetland Plant Supply, LLC






NEWSLETTER COMMITTEE CHAIR Brian Vaughan Vaughan Landscaping





South Forty Nursery




For information on Advertising in The Dirt contact

Kristina at the

Green Works Office


For information on Advertising in The Dirt contact Kristina at the Green Works Office 888.518.6484

Are you and your employees certified?

Now is a great time to order VCH manuals for yourself and/or your employees as the season gets underway. Prove your level of professionalism and commitment to excellence to your clients. Order a VCH manual and take the test this Summer to become a Vermont Certified Horticulturist. Contact Kristina MacKulin for ordering and test information.

this Summer to become a Vermont Certified Horticulturist. Contact Kristina MacKulin for ordering and test information.


Green Works/VNLA Annual Winter Meeting and Trade Show February 13, 2014 Join us at UVM
Green Works/VNLA
Annual Winter Meeting and
Trade Show
February 13, 2014
Join us at UVM - Davis Center
Grand Maple Ballroom
US Route 2A/Main Street
Burlington, VT
Program Highlights
Keynote Address and Profit
Builder’s Workshop w/Jeffrey
Scott, MBA and landscape
business expert
The 10 Principles of Sustainable
Landscape Planning & Design
with David Raphael, landscape
architect and UVM faculty
Industry Award Winner
Visit Trade Show Vendors
50th Anniversary Social
We hope to see you there!
register on-line at
you there! register on-line at New Green Works Members 2014 Old World Garden Design LLC

New Green Works Members


Old World Garden Design LLC Silvia Jope

1073 Pine Street

Burlington, VT 05401

802-503-6023 Category: Landscape Designer Active Member

Pinnacle Properties VT Matt Cohen 66 Airport Road

S. Burlington, VT 05403

T. 802-658-0809


Landscape Install Maintenance Active Member

Hardscaping, Landscape Design/Build,

Tuckahoe Turf Farms Peter DeBrusk

1186 Bound Tree Road

Contoocook, NH 03229

800-556-6985 Category: Supplier Associate Member

Thanks for joining and welcome! Category: Supplier Associate Member Thanks for joining and welcome! 5


Green Works - Industry Award Winners - 2013

This year’s Industry Award winners will be presented at Green Works annual winter meeting on February 13, 2014.

This program is in it’s fifth year. winners are as follows:

This year’s selected

Megan Moffroid & Kirsten Seibert Broadleaf Landscape Architecture Large Scale Residential Design Mountain Residence Exceeds Excellence Award

Tricia King - Distinctive Landscaping Large Scale Residential Design Alluring Cottage Garden Honor Award

Caroline Dudek - Landshapes Large Scale Residential Design Mt. Philo Residence Merit Award

Charlie Proutt - Distinctive Landscaping Small Scale Residential Design Small City Garden Exceeds Excellence Award

Ashley Robinson Ashley Robinson, Landscape Designer Small Scale Residential Design Backyard Expansion Honor Award

Marie Limoge - Landshapes Small Scale Residential Design Shelburne Residence Merit Award

Sarah Stradtner - Distinctive Landscaping Small Scale Residential Build Small City Garden Exceeds Excellence Award

We received 7 submissions and each submission received an award. Green Works assembled a panel of professionals to review and judge the entries. In mid December they spent a full day together, looking at slides and reviewing the information submitted with each project. Any identifying information on the entries was omitted so the judging could be “blind” and objective. If one of the judges recognized a project and felt they couldn’t be objective, they were asked to recuse themselves. The

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were asked to recuse themselves. The continued to page 7 Megan Moffroid & Kirsten Seibert -

Megan Moffroid & Kirsten Seibert - Broadleaf Landscape Architecture

& Kirsten Seibert - Broadleaf Landscape Architecture Tricia King Distinctive Landscaping 6 Caroline Dudek

Tricia King Distinctive Landscaping

& Kirsten Seibert - Broadleaf Landscape Architecture Tricia King Distinctive Landscaping 6 Caroline Dudek Landshapes


Caroline Dudek


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judges included a landscape architect and professional horticulturists/garden designers. We do not reveal the names of our judges.

A big thank you to all who submitted and please, keep

on submitting! We’d like to receive many more entries and know there is a lot of great work being done by our members. Each year we get a few more first-time entries. You can’t be awarded if you don’t enter, but entering isn’t a guarantee of an award either. Submitting entries for an industry award is always a good learning experience and it helps build your portfolio.

A big thank-you to our judges and to all the

participants! Keep track of your projects this year, take lots of photos, visit older projects and submit for next year’s awards!

Please view the winning project photos on the cover and

inside cover of this issue.

show of the winning projects on our website

You can also view a slide

Ed Burke, Industry Awards Committee Chair

also view a slide Ed Burke, Industry Awards Committee Chair Sarah Stradtner Distinctive Landscaping Charlie Proutt

Sarah Stradtner Distinctive Landscaping

Committee Chair Sarah Stradtner Distinctive Landscaping Charlie Proutt Distinctive Landscaping Ashley Robinson

Charlie Proutt Distinctive Landscaping

Landscaping Charlie Proutt Distinctive Landscaping Ashley Robinson Ashley Robinson, Landscape Designer 7 Marie

Ashley Robinson Ashley Robinson, Landscape Designer

Charlie Proutt Distinctive Landscaping Ashley Robinson Ashley Robinson, Landscape Designer 7 Marie Limoge Landshapes


Marie Limoge


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Green Works/VNLA CELEBRATES 50 Years - 1964 - 2014! How it all Started - Excerpts from our History - 1964-2005

By Norman Pellett

Notice of the first meeting appearing in the Green Mountain Grower: January 28, 1964 - “The first annual meeting of Vermont Plantsmen’s Association, 2 p.m. In Horticultural Hall, Municipal Auditorium, Barre, Vermont, in conjunction with the Vermont Farm Show. Primary business: Election of officers and discussion of projects. To date 40 members have pledged dues for 1964. If you haven’t returned your pledge card, join this organization by doing it now.”

First Executive Secretary; Richard (Dick) Salter of Reading, the first Executive Secretary serving for twenty years, was largely responsible for the management and programs of the Vermont Plantsmen’s Association. Dick wrote and distributed the newsletter named The Potting Bench. He instituted advertising by members and others in the publication to help defray the cost. He managed the finances, scheduled the meetings, contacted the speakers and kept the organization on track. He managed a Blue Cross/Blue Shield Health Insurance Program for members and employees families, collecting premiums, filing claims and keeping the records which allowed the organization’s members low-cost health insurance. He helped organize and manage the annual flower shows held in various sites including the Barre Auditorium, St. Monica’s School in Barre, the Armory in Berlin, and the Burlington Auditorium. Dick represented the VPA on the Board of Directors of the New England Greenhouse Conference where he served as Hospitality Chairperson many times. He invited and strongly encouraged the various Vermont Secretaries of Agriculture and the Deans of the University of Vermont College of Agriculture to attend and speak at meetings. Dick was well organized and resourceful. He didn’t hesitate to ask growers to join or members to participate often resorting to strong persuasion that didn’t always sit well with others. He insisted that annual meetings be held where liquor and a good meal were served. He retired as Executive Director in 1983. Dick specialized in growing high quality geraniums and bedding plants at Salter’s Greenhouse in Reading. He died one month short of his 100th birthday on August 15, 2000. Perhaps his enjoyment of a martini before lunch and smoking a cigar after lunch shortened his life.

Highlights of the Past

Changes in the VPA (now, the VAPH) have reflected the trends in Vermont and the ornamental horticulture industry. The total value of goods and services provided by the industry has greatly increased since the founding of the organization in 1964. Many florists produced some of their own cut flowers and flowering pot plants in greenhouses in the 1960’s. The educational programs for members included more information of interest to these growers. This was followed in the late 60’s and 70’s by tremendous growth and sales of foliage plants and gardening items as part of

the green revolution. The number of businesses selling plants and garden related supplies and equipment grew rapidly.

All through the 40 years of the organization as the population of Vermont grew many people moved into the state from other parts of the country where lawns and landscape plantings were more popular. People became interested in using a greater variety of plants in their landscapes. Not only did the interest in membership in the VPA increase among Vermont plant professionals, but suppliers from nearby states joined as associate members. An increasing number of national nurseries and suppliers have sought customers in Vermont by joining the organization and participating in the trade shows.

VT Dept. of Agriculture/University of VT Extension: Through the years, representatives of the Vermont Department of Agriculture and the University of Vermont Extension Service (now Extension System) have served as advisors and supporters of the organization. Dr. Harrison Flint, Extension Ornamental Horticulturist, was instrumental in helping to establish the VPA. Wilfred Kelly, Plant Inspector with the Department of Agriculture Plant Pest Control Division, was a charter member and active in the early planning. Since the beginning, a succession of Extension Service and Department of Agriculture personnel have been active in supporting the organization and cooperating in program development and education.

Dr. Harrison Flint was Extension Ornamental Horticulturist from 1962 to 1966. Dr. Norman Pellett was Extension Ornamental Horticulturist from 1967 to 1980. Dr. Leonard Perry has been Extension Greenhouse and Nursery Specialist from 1980 to the present. These Extension Specialists have attended most Board of Director meetings and seasonal meetings of the organization. They have organized regional cooperative educational meetings and tours for members and the general public, given presentations, supported flower and garden shows and participated in many ways.

Department of Agriculture personnel in the Plant Pest Control Section, later changed to Plant Industries Division, have provided continual assistance in organization, planning and education in the realm of insects and diseases that affect plants. Wilfred Kelly was succeeded by Phil Benedict, entomologist, then Steven Justis, plant pathologist who later became marketing specialist, Jon Turmel, entomologist, Ann Dorrance, plant pathologist and Scott Pfister, plant pathologist. Department of Agriculture people have helped with promotional programs and pesticide education and certification. More recently the Department of Agriculture has been instrumental in providing marketing assistance and funds for the organization.


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GreenUp Day: VPA members participated in the early years of the annual GreenUp Day programs by displaying posters and distributing bags from their places of business. Some garden centers, encouraged by the VPA, offered discounts to customers on GreenUp Days as part of the promotion.

VPA Tackles Issues of the Day: The Executive Committee (later Board of Directors) and VPA have been concerned about unethical practices in the industry and peripheral industries from time to time. Dennis Bruckel, as President in 1979-1980, was granted authorization to approve letters of disapproval mailed to general contractors and architectural firms considered to be in violation of standard bidding procedures and business ethics.

The VPA in the 1970’s was concerned about the State Forestry Nursery offering tree seedlings to the public for low cost since they were subsidized by the state. Through negotiation with the Department of Forests and Parks the VPA was able to develop a less antagonistic relationship. In recent times the VAPH have co-sponsored annual fall workshops on urban trees at the Vermont Technical College with the Department of Agriculture and the Urban & Community Forestry Program of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.

VPA Benefits: The VPA offered a health insurance program for its member firms and their employees in the late 1960’s and 1970’s (exact dates not found). The program was popular and encouraged more businesses to join the organization. The group policy premiums were lower than individual policies. The Executive Secretary collected the premiums and processed the claims for the insurance company. The program ceased when insurance company procedures required increased administration and it became difficult for the Executive Secretary to manage.

For several years in the early 1980’s the VPA purchased “fall planting kits” which included literature that members could offer customers to encourage fall planting thereby extending the sales season. The October 29, 1982 edition of The Potting Bench displayed an advertisement by Smallwood Nurseries of Williamstown for butternut trees, 2 -1/2 to 4 inch caliper, B&B. Occasionally other ads followed until it became common policy to sell ads for the newsletter. The Board of Directors on September 2, 1985 voted to accept advertising for the newsletter with prices being $3 for up to three lines, $5 for 8-1/3 x 3” ads.

Vermont Grown: The VPA started promotion of “Vermont Grown” plants in 1982-83. Steven Justis, Marketing Specialist of the Vermont Department of Agriculture, supplied growers with plant tags as part of an agriculture promotion program administered by the Department. In 2000 the VAPH received a one time funding of $10,000 from the Department of Agriculture to redevelop this program which lapsed in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Growers and consumers were surveyed to determine potential effectiveness of the program (p.5, spring 2000 Dirt).

Awards: In 1982, the VPA offered the first college student award of $100 to a University of Vermont senior student, Karen Alpert. The award was given to the student who showed the most interest and potential in the field of ornamental horticulture. This first award was presented by VPA member Holly Wier, Rocky Dale Gardens and Nursery, Bristol at the annual University Awards Ceremony. Starting in 2003, the first Student Achievement Award was granted to Vermont Technical College horticulture student, Jeremy Tinker.

In 1986 VPA instituted an annual statewide Landscape Contest offering winners in the Residential and Public Space categories $400 each. There is no information about the contest or winners in subsequent publications.

As membership grew and meetings were better attended, concurrent sessions were scheduled at winter meetings for

members with diverse interests. With more funds available for programming, featured speakers were sometimes brought in from greater distance. The organization paid substantial fees

in addition to transportation and lodging for some speakers

like Dwight Hughes from Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1992 who spoke at the winter meeting.

The Name Change: The organization voted to change the name to Vermont Association of Professional Horticulturists VAPH) in a close vote at their August 24, 1994 meeting. It was hoped that the new gender-neutral name would also help foster professionalism throughout all areas of the plant- related industry in Vermont.

In the Fall 1997 issue of The Dirt, editor Charlie Proutt raised

the issue of whether some members met the VAPH bylaws

definition of active members. He said the bylaws define

professionally engaged

in propagating, growing, selling or servicing floral,

ornamental, vegetable or fruit plants.” He was targeting members such as Basin Harbor Resort, Trapp Family Lodge or Hildene. In response, Susanne S. Mandigo, Garden/Grounds Manager of Trapp Family Lodge wrote a letter to the editor refuting Charlie’s allegations. She pointed out that the Trapp Family Lodge provides horticultural services in form of plants, supplies, vegetables and education to their clients. By selling plants from their greenhouses, providing vegetables from their gardens and giving tours for their customers, they qualify as members. The Trapp Family Lodge became the site for the 1998 summer meeting.

eligible active members as “being

Scholarship Program: The VAPH, for several years, provided

a scholarship to the winning team in the state FFA Nursery/

Landscape Skills Contest. A $500 scholarship was provided to Missisquoi Valley Union High School team in 1996 to help defray the expenses of competing at the Eastern States Exposition held in Springfield, Massachusetts and at the National FFA Convention in Kansas City, Missouri.

The VCH Program: The Vermont Certified Horticulturist Program was started in 1988 by the VAPH when Bill deVos,


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Winning the Price Wars - Sell Like a Superstar

Create emotional bonds, show more value and win more clients.

By Jeffrey Scott

Green Works is pleased to have Jeffrey Scott as our keynote speaker for our upcoming Winter Meeting & Trade Show on February 13, 2014 at UVM - Davis Center. Following is an article Jeffrey has submitted related to his upcoming presentations.

In this rocky economy, more companies are selling on price. In turn, price expectations are being pushed downward. To become a Sales Superstar and succeed against the low-ballers and shoppers, you’ll need to arm yourself with new and improved sales skills. Here are a few strategies that I guarantee will boost your sales success!

Build emotional bonds.

At the heart of it, people tend to make emotional decisions, even when they use facts to rationalize their choices. Your job is to help your prospective clients realize—from a deep emotional point of view—why they need your company and the solutions you provide. By selling on emotion, you can remove yourself from price competition.

There are two ways to sell on emotion:

1. Uncover and explore the anticipated pleasure your prospect will gain by hiring you.

2. Uncover and explore the problems your prospect will solve by hiring you.

This second way is generally more powerful than the first. However, as salespeople, we often focus on the wrong problems. Mistakenly, we focus on the “landscape” problem, instead of focusing on the “personal” problems that are being caused by the landscape problem. Once you uncover the personal problems, you can then explore the “pain” this is causing your prospective client. When you do this, you help your clients make emotionally motivated (and more satisfying) decisions.

Path to success. Shift the conversation from your prospect’s landscape problem => to personal problem => to personal pain!

Waste less time.

Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese general and author of the world-famous war strategy book, The Art of War, taught:

"The battle is won or lost before your warriors set foot on the battlefield." This applies to all of us who have to travel to make a sales call. You want to make sure you


are set up for sales success before you ever step foot on your prospect’s property. You can't afford to waste time

in this new economy. Instead, arm yourself with the tools

and attitude needed to reduce wasted time from bad leads and unnecessary follow-up appointments.

(To help you do this, I have developed a Green Light/ Red Light Screening System. For a free report on how this works, email me at

Ask the right questions.

A Sales Superstar is not someone with the gift of gab.

Rather it’s someone with the gift of listening and asking the right questions. You need your clients to do most of the talking—between 75 and 80% of the time—but you don’t want to lose control of the conversation. You maintain control by being the person asking the right questions—think of it like a talk show host interviewing an important guest. The guests are flattered, and yet the conversation is controlled by the effective questioning skills of the host.

Measure and manage success.

It is said that, "if you measure it, you can manage and

improve it.” In sales this means you can improve your success by measuring and holding yourself accountable to certain sales indicators. The problem is that most contractors are so busy chasing leads! They feel too busy to stop, measure, and reflect on how to improve their numbers.

At a minimum, you should track your Win (Loss) Ratio. In my experience, many contractors accept far too low of

a win ratio. How can you raise the bar on your

company? Identify your win ratio and compare your results with other high-achieving companies in our industry. I have found that there is a BIG difference between industry averages and those performing at ABOVE-average levels. In my landscape company we achieved win ratios between 75% and 95% on a consistent basis. Anything is possible, when you see how others are doing it.

Don’t over-rely on your strengths?!

You have spent your life developing landscape skills in e.g. design, horticulture, disease control, hardscaping, etc. These skills have helped you make sales and win new clients. But they have also helped you lose sales and lose new clients! When people become highly trained, they tend to over-rely on their skill set—maybe

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even showing off those skills to new prospects. But a Sales Superstar understands how his/her own strengths can get in the way of building rapport—and get in the way of uncovering the core customer needs.

The client does not care how much you know, until they know how much you care (about their issues!)

Ask for the sale.

No matter how good you are at building rapport and showing value, you need to master the process of "asking for the sale." This is difficult for many salespeople, and it is often done incorrectly. Salespeople will put off asking for the sale, and even put off talking about price, for fear of being rejected. But it is in hearing your prospective client’s objections that you learn what’s at the core of their assumptions and misunderstandings. You can’t close a sale until you learn about and address the doubts in your client’s mind.

Increase sales success.

There are four ways to measure sales success.

1. More sales (of the right kind)

2. Higher sales margins

3. More efficient selling (as measured in a higher closing ratio)

4. More free time—which you can use to spend with your current customers, your family, or your golf game!

When you analyze your sales approach, look for opportunities to improve in all four of these areas.

About the author:

JEFFREY SCOTT, MBA, is a business consultant and author of “The Referral Advantage” and “The Leader’s Edge”. At age 34 he took over and built his landscape business into a $10 million enterprise. He now facilitates peer groups for landscape business owners who want to transform and profitably grow their business. To learn more visit, email, or call 203-220-8931.

their business. To learn more visit, email, or call 203-220-8931. 13
their business. To learn more visit, email, or call 203-220-8931. 13
their business. To learn more visit, email, or call 203-220-8931. 13
their business. To learn more visit, email, or call 203-220-8931. 13
their business. To learn more visit, email, or call 203-220-8931. 13
their business. To learn more visit, email, or call 203-220-8931. 13
their business. To learn more visit, email, or call 203-220-8931. 13


Shady Places

By Judith Irven: Vermont Certified Horticulturist

It’s a common lament among gardeners: ‘My garden is shady and boring. All I can grow are hostas‘!

I beg to differ. I delight in shady garden spaces—cool, tranquil places for people, and home for plenty of interesting plants.

While shady corners may not have the color and sizzle of a sun-drenched perennial bed, it is surely the contrast between these complementary spaces that creates a balanced whole. Think of it as the ‘yin and yang’ of the garden. And, to be complete, a garden needs some of each.

Since most of us are familiar with the yang of an exuberant sunny border, let’s take a look at creating counterbalancing yin in a cool shady space.


Firstly, to have shade you need trees. Since trees also create structure in the garden it behooves us to make the most of them.

With a little thoughtful

pruning, you can transform any tree into a living sculpture. Begin by ‘pruning it up‘:

remove the lowest branches so that you can walk around unimpeded. This will also let more light reach the plants below. Now prune off any branches that clutter the tree’s interior, so that those remaining have space to develop fully. Make your cuts right back to the main trunk or, in the case of multi-stemmed trees and shrubs, at ground level, being careful not to leave short stubs that encourage disease.

As an example of creating structure with trees, about twelve years ago I planted a trio of Shadblow Serviceberries, (Amelanchier canadensis), to frame the corner behind our woodshed. Shadblow Serviceberries are small multi-stemmed trees that mature at about 12diameter so, in the space below my three plants, I have created a nice shady bed, approximately 24x 24 , on the ground.

Shadblow Serviceberries have a lot of branches that left unchecked will grow into in a tangled mess. So I selected the half-dozen strongest stems on each tree and removed the rest. I have been rewarded with three delightful vase- shaped trees that add structure and personality to this shady corner.

You can also grow shade tolerant shrubs in the vicinity of, but not right under, larger trees, to create eye-level interest in a shady corner.

Contrary to many references I find azaleas grow very satisfactorily in light shade. So, providing the soil is naturally acidic, when designing a shady space, I like to include one or two of the ‘Northern Lights’ azaleas, Rhododendron ‘Bright Lights’, ‘White Lights’, ‘Lilac Lights’, etc. developed by the University of Minnesota, and bred, in part from our native Rhododendron prinophyllum. My personal favorite is White Lights, which has beautiful creamy-white flowers tinged with pale pink, and blooms in my garden around Memorial Day. Most Lights Series cultivars are hardy to Zone 4a or below; however some, like Lemon Lights, are rated as Zone 5a, so check before you buy.

Lights, are rated as Zone 5a, so check before you buy. This shady space under a

This shady space under a row of old maple trees uses an interesting spatial design to show off the Azaleas 'Bright Lights and 'White Lights' .

There are also a number of fragrant ‘Summer- flowering’ azaleas, bred from our native Swamp Azalea, Rhododendron viscosum. They offer a

succession of bloom times, starting in my garden in early June with Weston’s Innocence, followed by Pink & Sweet, Parade and finally, in late July or even early August, Lemon Drop .

The native Ninebark (Physocarpus opufolius) is a robust but rather boring plant that grows in sun or shade. However plant breeders have produced a number of attractive cultivars with either bronze or yellow leaves that add color to a shady garden all season long.

But, before you specify a particular cultivar, be sure to check its final height and choose one that is appropriate for the space. The ubiquitous Physocarpus ‘Diablo’ actually grows quite large (8- 10 feet), and is too big for many gardens. However the final height and width of ‘Summer Wine’ is about 6 feet, and ‘Little Devil’ just 4 feet--- better sizes for smaller spaces.

The new Physocarpus cultivar Amber Jubilee was introduced in 2012 and offers a stunning color. However, because growing experience is limited, the mature height specifications vary anywhere from 5 feet to 10 feet, depending on the source. So I suggest you err on the side of caution and initially use it only where a 10’ high shrub will not be a problem.


continued on page 15

continued from page 14

Viburnums also tolerate shade, but many people are shying away from them because of the recent influx of the dreaded Viburnum Leaf Beetle.

However there are many species of Viburnum and not all of them are vulnerable to the Leaf Beetle. As a case in point, for the past decade I have grown Viburnum cassinoides, the Wild Raisin Viburnum, which has been untouched by this pest. Nearby there is a V. opulus var. americana, the American Cranberry Bush, that has been completely defoliated in recent years. Note that these are both native species, but it is the leafbeetle that is the import!

You can find an excellent list of Viburnum species and their susceptibility to leafbeetle attack on the Cornell Extension website. Species are ranked from ‘highly susceptible’ (alas, my American Cranberry Bush is among these), ‘susceptible’, ‘moderately susceptible’ (my Wild Raisin is listed here), to ‘most resistant’ (including the wonderfully fragrant Koreanspice Viburnum). So don’t shun viburnums, but be sure to check the species you plan to use!

A compelling spatial plan

Last summer I was struck by a group of in-town houses, each with a long narrow straight bed of hostas hugging the north walls. Not too exciting!!

But, with a little imagination, any one of these beds could be reshaped to create an interesting ground plan. A little widening along the length and a gently curving arc around the corner of the house would make all the difference. This corner spot in turn would make the perfect spot for a small shade-tolerant tree like our native pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia).

You will be surprised what a difference a few shape changes can make!

Seasonal dynamics

There are just three seasons in a shade garden: spring

There are just three seasons in a shade garden: spring Viburnum cassinoides offers attractive white flowers

Viburnum cassinoides offers attractive white flowers in late spring, to be followed in August with great berries that attracts the birds.

flowers, summer tapestries and winter skeletons.

In spring, the sun reaches down to the ground through the

leafless trees, and the shady corners of my garden are a riot of early flowers. These early beauties--- Bloodroot, Squills, Daffodils, Twinleaf, Virginia Bluebells, Lungwort, Forget-me- nots, Woodland Phlox, Bleeding heart, Globeflower, Blue Poppies, Lady’s Slippers and many more---epitomize the excitement of spring. This is a fleeting time, so encourage your clients to enjoy it while it lasts!

But in summer the shade garden has an entirely different

personality. Now it is the leaves that are the star attraction,

a display that lasts and lasts, right until frost.

Many shade-loving plants have large leaves---all the better to collect the light--- offering a huge variety of shapes and textures for the artistic designer to play mix-and-match. There are even wonderful color variations to stir your imagination; not all greens are the same and not all leaves are green!!

Here are some suggestions for creating beautiful tapestries of leaves:

Beyond green: Heuchera, Ligularia dentata,

Lacy textures: Ferns, Astilbe, Aconitum, Aruncus

Arrowheads: Epimedium, Polygonatum,

Broad, crinkled surfaces: Alchemilla mollis, Rodgresia, Darmera and ,yes, many beautiful varieties of Hosta too.

The final season is, of course, winter, when it is the trees and shrubs that really standout, especially in the snow. So, as you

that really standout, especially in the snow. So, as you Next to this ancient maple in

Next to this ancient maple in Judith’s garden, a stand of variegated Solomon’s Seal has filled in the entire space behind this low growing hosta.

So, as you contemplate those shady areas close to the house, create a ground plan that will truly contribute to the overall picture, rather than just taking up space! Perhaps you can incorporate a bench as an invitation to stay awhile.


continued to page 19

news from the U

by Dr. Leonard Perry - UVM Extension Horticulturist

Luckily all is relatively quiet and uneventful on campus now--let's hope for more of the same. Extension is facing increasing deficits yearly, due to increasing costs, and level to decreased funds from traditional sources (such as the federal budget issues you're heard of this past year). At present they can cover this with savings from various sources, so let's hope the situation improves. One factor which will have an impact on budgets campus-wide, hopefully for the better for our college and extension, is a new budget model being planned now for UVM and to be implemented over the next few years. IBB or Incentive Based Budgeting is a model used at some other higher ed institutions, and basically reallocates the funds to the areas best meeting certain goals and having the greatest impact and needs, such as number of students and majors. No one really knows at this point how this will play out, so stay tuned.

As for students in our PSS department and courses, as you read this another semester will be underway. As I write this, current courses (and numbers) for the main courses are a Bug's Life (Lewins, 78), Gardening for Humans and the Environment (Raab, 22), Greenhouse Operations and Management (Armstrong, 32), Commercial Plant Propagation (Starrett, 33), Soil Fertility (Gorres, 40), Organic Farm Planning (Chen, 20), Biological Control (Chen 9), Ecological Landscape Design (Hurley, 14). Then there are my online courses through Continuing Education, a record number of sections (8, all filled) and students (over 200 total) including my new course over Winter Session on Home Hops Growing. Others include Indoor Plants, Flowers and Foliage, Garden Plants, and Home Vegetable Growing. I am now offering my Perennial Garden Design course as a non-credit option at much reduced rate, in addition to the summer credit option through CE, so contact me if interested in learning more (

A big current project in our PSS department is a Program Review, the first in over 10 years. Some bits from this over 100 page report with many more pages of statistics and appendices may be of interest, particularly to PSS alums. The timing is appropriate, as in 2014 PSS celebrates its 50th anniversary. Below are some current facts (to study or put you to sleep), with some of our department history coming in future issues.

Currently, the department has 7 tenure-track faculty including the department chair; 4 research or instructional faculty with extension appointments; 4 research faculty; and 4 part-time lecturers. Half of our courses are taught by non-tenure track and/or part-time

our courses are taught by non-tenure track and/or part-time faculty. Computed by departmental faculty instructor, our

faculty. Computed by departmental faculty instructor, our current student credit hour to general fund faculty member exceeds 20:1, and is approaching 30:1 in the past year. (In other words how many students are taught per instructor, the higher the ratio the more students.) As an aside For comparison, the university has a 17:1 ratio (many such institutions are less), our college latest figures show an 18:1 target with 22:1 in reality--making it the highest on campus (i.e most students taught in CALS of any college, per instructor). Perhaps this will help us in the new IBB model mentioned above? Student credit hours taught in PSS have increased from over 2200 in 06-07 to around 3000 each year in 09-10 and since.

The number of our majors and students registering for our courses has increased by 50% in the past 7 years. We currently have 24 majors in Sustainable Landscape Horticulture, 37 in Ecological Agriculture, for 61 total. This have steadily grown since 05-06 when there were 26 in SLH and 17 in EcoAg, for 43 total. On the graduate level, numbers have increased, and gone from more M.S. to more PhD. In FY05 there were 16 M.S and 3 PhD. in the department, for 19 total. In FY13 there were 10 M.S. and 15 PhD., for 25 total. This I have seen change over my years with a change from more applied to more basic and research oriented, and quite different fields of study. Thirty and even twenty years ago, the faculty felt we were unable to offer sufficient courses and training at the PhD level, so the few then were in soils or entomology. Percentage admitted has gone down, becoming much more competitive, at the M.S level (77% admitted that applied in FY05, 30% in FY13), and held the same at the PhD level (50% admitted).

In response to the alum survey this past Nov. 2013, to which 48 responded, 79% are employed with most the others mainly in other fields or involved in other activities. Over half (54%) said their PSS training related closely to their jobs, with 26% saying it related somewhat. Over 85% are using the skills acquired in PSS, and upwards of 90% responded good to excellent in some various other factors such as advising and preparation for the real world.

Enough of the facts for now, which I hope gives you a better understanding of our PSS role on campus. I was


continued on page 18

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News from the U continued from page 16

going to end saying that I hope to see you at one of the industry meetings this winter, but you likely won't due to my health issue. A badly broken ankle (a wet spot on our nice floor in Jeffords, watch for such and water and slickness where you least expect it), and surgery prior to Christmas has resulted in totally reduced mobility (including no driving) for me over a long recovery period of months I'm told. So emails for a while will be my main communication means. At least this isn't during the field season (but I'm not sure how this will play out with my winter greenhouse freezing studies), and will give me a chance to get caught up and ahead on photo organization, writing (including the update of the VCH manual and new test, stay tuned on this), and lots more online.

PS In case you have not heard Leonard broke his ankle in December and is laid up for the rest of the winter. We all wish him a speedy recovery!! Don’t hesitate to drop him a line or two!

is laid up for the rest of the winter. We all wish him a speedy recovery!!
is laid up for the rest of the winter. We all wish him a speedy recovery!!


is laid up for the rest of the winter. We all wish him a speedy recovery!!

continued from page 15

prune, give thought to how they will look in winter when your efforts will show off to best advantage!


Last but not least, use a favorite decoration to create an evocative highlight.

As we have seen, for much of the year, the predominate color in the shade garden is green, making it the perfect backdrop for an eye-catcher such as a small pool or an elegant pot.

The result will be serene, tranquil, and very yin.

Judith Irven is a landscape designer and Greenworks member. She and her photographer husband, Dick Conrad, live and garden in Goshen, situated at 1700’ on the western slopes of the Green Mountains. She writes about her gardening experiences at; the Shady Places post from June 2013 has additional color photographs that illustrate this article.!


Casella Resource Solutions is offering free Agricultural Plastic Product

Recycling to all Vermont producers from February 1 st through April 30 th , at

five locations across the state.

wrap, bunker cover, greenhouse film, nursery pots, trays and flats, maple tubing and mainline, and irrigation tubing. Only polyethylene (PE) tubing will be accepted. Producers must follow these simple steps for items to be accepted.

Best Management Practices for preparing plastic films/nursery containers for recycling:

Recyclable items include silage and bale

Keep plastic as clean and dry as possible,

Shake out pebbles and clumps of soil,

Roll or fold used film plastic into pillow-sized bundles,

Store used plastic off the ground, out of mud, gravel and grit,

Separate difference types of used plastic by color and type.


Collection Locations: Middlebury, VT Hauling533 Exchange St., Middlebury, VT; Montpelier, VT Hauling, 408 E. Montpelier Rd., Montpelier, VT; Hyde Park, VT, 1855 Rte 100, Hyde Park, VT; Highgate, VT 2 Transfer Station, Highgate, VT; Bennington, VT, 4561 Sunderland Rd., Arlington, VT

This Ag Plastics Recycling Pilot Program is an effort in conjunction with Casella Resource Solutions, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and Agri-Mark/Cabot Creamery Cooperative Special thanks to the RAPP Program at Cornell for use of their technical information regarding agricultural plastic BMPs (see

of Agriculture via email or by phone 802-828-3479.!

Questions? Contact Annie Macmillan, Vermont Agency

via email or by phone 802-828-3479. ! Questions? Contact Annie Macmillan, Vermont Agency 19


Re-Introducing Hedgerows to Residential Landscapes:

Why we still need a Side-Order of Messy

by Rebecca Lindenmeyr

Thanks to the pioneering work of E.O. Wilson, Doug Tallamy, Jonathan Foley, Marla Spivak and many others, the public has begun to accept the need for native plants in the landscape in order to help increase biodiversity and protect pollinators. It turns out that people really do like

nature and are willing to change their habitats if the payoff

is more birds, bees, butterflies and wildlife in general. As

ecological landscape designers and installers we have been lucky to be on the front lines and could help our clients restore habitats and reduce the spread of invasive species on over half the acreage in the lower 48 States, which is the total area currently in suburban/urban use. That's enormous positive potential.

One of the most successful strategies in this conversion has been to dispel the myth that natives landscapes are messy,

a word that strikes terror in the heart of even the most eco-

minded homeowner.

underestimated - I've found it trumps concerns over budget, space and time combined. As designers we know what our clients really want: tidy, low-maintenance gardens, full of color year-round. So we give it to them - orderly, predictable designs with simple clean lines, repetition and symmetry. We replace neatly clipped exotics with their

native stunt doubles and include all the other features that distinguish them as ecological landscapes. Personally I love the Eco-Contemporary landscape architecture style found

in the works of Bernard Trainor, Nelson Byrd Woltz, Reed

Hilderbrand, and Oehme van Sweden, and I'm not alone. These modern native landscapes certainly are a huge improvement over their exotic and biologically barren predecessors, but I fear that applied exclusively to an entire property the style may be too simplified to provide the complexity we need to avert the biodiversity crisis. I think that the next step in our progression will be to convince clients to accept a side order of messy with their main entree of eco-neat-and-tidy. The reason lies in our developing understanding of how ecosystems function, and more importantly our realization of just how little we know.

The 'messy' roadblock is not to be

Peter de Ruiter at Utrecht University in the Netherlands (Energetic Food Webs) proposes that ecosystems are like a Jenga tower and individual species are like individual blocks. The role each block plays in the stability of a given tower is relative and constantly changing. All species have the potential to collapse or save the whole, depending upon the circumstances. So in order to support and protect an ecosystem (that in turn supports humans) we need to consider it as an integrated and energetic system and look at how we can protect dynamic relationships both in large ecosystems and in smaller backyard habitats. Since we have only discovered 15% of all species on Earth, I think we should assume there's something going on with the other 85% that's holding it all together, and aim to protect the whole, not just the few we think are pretty.

The challenge of understanding and reproducing a functioning small ecosystem is made more difficult with rapid climate change. Nothing behaves as it used to. In the Northeast we are seeing warmer temperatures, increased precipitation, reduction of snow cover, more frequent freeze-thaws and an increase in insect and fungal infestations. In response, our landscape designs will need to spring from our best knowledge of the local natural plant communities that existed before human intervention and then be padded with enough diversity and protection from invasives to give plants and animals the best chance to adapt. The more diverse the system, the more resilient it will be.

But how many plant species does it take to build a diverse system? As ecological designers this is a question we debate all the time when creating a new landscape - which species should be chosen, which cultivars are close enough to the parent, how many different species should we use and how many plants per species? We also debate how those selections should be arranged - should they be separated or mixed, what density is necessary for optimal effect. Our most recent meadow project contained over 4,000 plants and 19 species. Is it better and more full of life than a lawn? Absolutely. Does it act as a visual transition between the formal space and the wild areas around it? Yes. Does it begin to replicate the ecosystem service of the native wet meadow across the street? I doubt it. How complex does the re-created system need to be in order to be effective? And who am I to judge what "effective" is?

Travis Beck's recent textbook "Principles of Ecological Landscape Design" is a thorough guide for translating ecology into design principles and will help both professionals and students answer some of these questions, but in the meantime I think we need to hedge our bets, literally. We need to preserve wild slices on the outskirts of our designs. We need these messy slices teeming with mysterious, integrated and dynamic relationships because they might contain the stabilizing species that hold the Jenga Tower upright, and those stabilizing species might not be the 20 that we find attractive enough to include in a client's foundation planting. In the multitude of American developments where there's no wild areas left to preserve we need to try to re-create them as best we can using Beck's Principles, and then accept that these areas have a life of their own beyond our need for a controlled aesthetic. I'm not under the illusion that hedgerows alone will begin to replace the habitat that has been lost, or mimic the dynamics of large-scale climax ecosystems, but incorporating them into 50% of the acreage of the lower 48 States is probably a step in the right direction.

Hedgerows can be designed as microcosms of the natural plant communities that existed in a given area before


continued to page 21

continued from page 20

human interference - diverse and complex woodland margins with trees, shrubs, forbs, grasses and sedges, enhanced with wildflower species that provide vital pollinator habitat. Once a hedgerow is established other native species are likely to introduce themselves, increasing

the complexity and resiliency of the habitat. The difficulty of course is the unwanted guests - invasive species that take advantage of the abundant sunshine and disturbed soils. Maintenance plans will be necessary to control vines and shrubs problematic in each area, which is no small task, but worth the benefits that these hedgerows would provide. The Dept of Agriculture's NRCS has done a lot of work re- introducing hedgerows between farm fields, and I think their pollinator hedgerow program could be used as a model in

a residential context.

The side-order of messy might still be aesthetically hard for clients to swallow. Even in my own yard I find this challenging despite my knowledge of its scientific benefit - I have to make an effort to let go in more ways than one - and it is this type of emotional counseling we will need to provide our clients for the concept to succeed. We increase our chances of success by positioning hedgerows out of peer-pressure view, relegating them to the back and

sides of our clients' yards. Luckily, there's something about the word 'hedgerow' that most people find acceptable - it conjures up romantic images of the respectable British countryside and placidly grazing sheep. Further acceptance will come through research and education, trust and patience, and eventually through a shift in our collective aesthetic.

By including hedgerows we continue our mission of creating Cooperative Landscapes that contain both intentionally designed areas and wild areas - some for us and some for them. While observing these wild areas on our land, I have begun to develop what I would call Ecological Faith, as well as a good dose of humility and occasional designer's block to boot. We're doing the best we know how, restoring habitats in backyards, integrating science with aesthetics, ecology with design; but there's so much more to learn, so many species and relationships to discover. As an industry I hope we can work together to save room for the mysteries in our landscape designs - and we can call them hedgerows.

This article first appeared in the Ecological Landacaping Association Newsletter, October, 2013.

continued from page 10

Treeworks, was one of the first to pass the exam. The number of certified horticulturists grew to 90 in 1993. Thirty new people passed the test in 1994. The 2004 yearbook listed 82 active Certified Horticulturists. Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Greenhouse and Nursery Specialist, administers the tests at summer and winter meetings. Students can buy manuals adapted from a University of Massachusetts manual to prepare for the exams. In 2004, a Junior Certified Horticulturist program was proposed for vocational high school students in Vermont.

By-laws Amendments: The bylaws have been amended numerous times including: January 1967, August 1971, August 1976, August 1977, January 1979, October 1983 and November 1993. Other amendments probably occurred but dates were not found. The bylaws were sometimes printed in the annual report.

Two amendments to the bylaws voted in November 1993

had significant effect of the length of officer terms. The two new bylaw changes read: “Members of the Board of Director shall be elected for a two year term” and “Members of the Executive Board may only serve one term

in the same officer position.” The Exectuve Board is made up

of president, vice president and secretary/treasurer. These changes insured continuity while ensuring changes in leadership. The bylaws were completely revised at the 2005 annual meeting.

Committees: Officers and Board of Director members have served as chairpersons for various committees. The kinds of committees have changed over time, but some have persisted. In many cases, the committee chairperson has


been the only committee member while in other cases other members have volunteered or been appointed or asked by the chairperson to serve. Some committee chairpersons have been very active while others have accomplished little.

Executive Commitee: The Executive Committee was the primary governing body until the name was changed to Board of Directors as a bylaw change in the mid-1980’s. The Board of Directors is elected by the membership after recommendations by the Nominating Committee. Other committees that have existed over time are: Budget or Finance, Legislative, Program, Garden Show, Education, Marketing and Promotion, The Plantsmen’s Promotion Board, Awards, Evaluation and Planning, Newsletter, Vermont Certifield Horticulturist. Other committees that have been appointed periodically include: Research, Long Range Planning, and Outreach Programs. The Board of Directors has infrequently appointed representatives to the New England Greenhouse Conference and the Northeastern Nurserymen’s Association (NENA).

Another Name Change: VAPH Board of Directors in 2000 proposed a name change to make the organization more recognizable. The name of Vermont Landscape and Nursery Association (VNLA), was offered by member Charlie Plonski in the fall 2000 issue of The Dirt. Members subsequently voted to retain the name of Vermont Association of Professional Horticulturists.

Flower Shows - The organization has held a garden and flower show most years since the beginning. The shows have been the primary funding source for the organization. The

continued to page 27

Agency of Agriculture News - Winter 2013-2014

by Tim Schmalz

Armillaria root rot

Armillaria spp., a group of several species of ground- inhabiting fungi, that causes root and butt rot of most coniferous and deciduous trees, as well as some herbaceous perennials, and is widespread and common throughout Vermont and the world generally. In Vermont and New England, Amillaria caused root decay is mainly a problem in heavy, moist soils, especially in hardwood species, but in other parts of the US, armillaria root disease is mainly a pest of conifers in dry sandy soils. These differences in the disease are a function of environmental and speciation differences in the genera, but the overall pattern of Armillaria attack is the same: a soil borne fungus which is predominantly a decayer of dead woody material in the vicinity of higher value living timber, becoming a plant pest concern when it attacks live trees under stress.

Armillaria root rot disease, the disease caused by the fungal pathogen, is characterized by decline of the host, which may be rapid or a slow decline, exhibited through yellowing/chlorosis, stunted growth, early leaf drop and crown dieback, or simply failure to leaf-out in the spring. Armillaria frequently attacks plants already stressed by environmental or physical conditions, or by another primary pest. Generally Armillaria is not regarded as the primary cause of decline and death, but is an opportunistic parasite, taking advantage of a stressed plant and exploiting that weakness. Healthy trees are usually able to resist armillaria in the environment, so maintaining high vigor and reducing pest pressure in valuable plants is crucial to effective management of armillaria root disease.

The species generally encountered in Vermont is

probably Armillaria mellea.

other Armillaria species, adapted to a variety of habitats as varied as the hosts they prey upon; for our purposes these are lumped into the catch-all name armillaria root rot. All these species are what is known as facultative parasites, which means they are primarily saprophytic (saprophyte - feeding or depending on dead tissue for survival), but they occasionally will also attack and are capable of surviving on live hosts (attacking a living host - parasite). In fact, Armillaria species are often used as the real-life example of a facultative parasite when defining that term in plant pathology textbooks. As facultative parasites, Armillaria species are found on decaying woody matter in the soil, especially roots and stumps, but will also move into trunk and branch sections of dead standing trees as well as logs and debris on the forest floor. It is from these dead materials that the fungus will move out into areas where live hosts are susceptible to it, using the dead material as a sort of ‘home base’ and

However, there are several


source of nutrients and energy for movement into new areas.

Armillaria is capable of spreading through a variety of methods. The most common and easily transferrable form is the undifferentiated mycelia that comprise the fungal body generally. These are typically microscopic filaments that move throughout the soil, searching for new woody materials to infest, and are often what attacks tree roots directly. The second form, which is frequently found underneath the bark of dead trees standing in the forest, is a peculiar ropy form called a rhizomorph. Rhizomorphs look a little like the melted chocolate ‘shoestrings’ you find on the tops of cheesecakes, albeit applied sloppily and with a rather heavy hand, and are usually kind of crispy and firm. These rhizomorphs are where one of the common names for armillaria root rot comes from – shoestring fungus. Rhizomorphs are also capable of moving through soil, and can infect new hosts through roots. Finally, spores of Armillaria species are produced in the fruiting body – mushroom – of the fungus. The mushrooms are considered a delicacy by mushroom hunters searching in the fall, frequently appearing in masses at the base of rotting stumps. Colloquially these are known as honey mushrooms, for their characteristic golden-yellow color. Infection of live hosts by spores is reportedly rare, but the opportunity for spread of the fungus through this method remains relevant, and probably leads to new infections and fungal spreading sites through saprophytic means.

Diagnostic methods for Armillaria infection include detection of the obvious – those yellow mushrooms and rhizomorphs are conclusive evidence of the presence of Armillaria. However, these don’t typically show up on live hosts. The mycelia does however. If you suspect armillaria root rot as the cause of decline or death of a tree, a reliable diagnostic technique is to look for and confirm the presence of the mycelia immediately beneath the bark, usually at the root crown or close to base of the tree. If after pulling some loose bark away you observe what looks like a lacey, fan-shaped whitish growth, spreading up from the soil line, you can be fairly certain that armillaria root rot is present. This whitish growth, which is just the fungal mycelia growing across the cambium, is called a mycelial fan, and shows up correspondingly with decline in the host.

Armillaria is widespread across Vermont and indeed North America, Europe, Asia, and has even been reported from Australia), so you needn’t worry too much about whether it is present in your woodlot or nursery - it probably is. Amount and virulence of the fungus varies from place to place and through time, as available food reserves increase and decline as a result of forest changes. Areas where heavy cutting took place

continued on page 25

Consider These Japanese Maples

by Jeff Edmond, Millican Nurseries Inc.

Japanese Maples by Jeff Edmond, Millican Nurseries Inc. Courtesy of Iseli Nurseries Acer x pseudosieboldianum

Courtesy of Iseli Nurseries

Acer x pseudosieboldianum ‘North Wind’ and ‘Arctic Jade’ are members of a cool new series of hardy hybrid Maples that can serve as a nice substitute for Japanese maples in colder climates. They are part of the Jack Frost Series that Iseli Nursery has developed in recent years and they have the potential to help New England landscapers that are leery of planting Japanese maples in tough conditions.

beautiful Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium,’ the Cutleaf Fullmoon Maple. The green leaves give way in the fall to a wondrous variety of orange and red tones. The North Wind is similar in form and is said to have shown no signs of stress after an Iowa winter that reached -30 F degrees. Its leaves are less cutleaf than the Arctic Jade and more like that of an Acer palmatum. The leaves pop with a nice red in the spring and then

turn to a darker green in June, giving way to a stunning array of orange and scarlet foliage in fall. Both varieties make an amazing specimen as a stand-alone small tree near a patio or anywhere a show-stopper is desired. With their favorable characteristics for handling the tough northern New England climates and their bulletproof attributes, these trees should thrive and help to beautify landscapes throughout.

These trees combine the extreme cold-hardiness of the Korean maple (Acer pseudosieboldianum) with the beautiful leaf and artistic form of many Japanese maples (Acer palmatum). Both trees perform best in full sun to partial shade and tend to like well drained soil. The Arctic Jade is a broad upright tree that gets about 15-20’ and 15-20’ and has cut light green leaves that are similar in characteristics to the

Meet VT Agency of Agriculture’s State Entomologist

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets appointed Alan Graham as the State Entomologist last Spring. Alan has served on staff at the Agency since 2001, most recently as Vector Management Coordinator. In case you have not yet had a chance to meet him we thought we would share some information about Alan.

Alan steps into his role with a wealth of experience in entomology, specializing in mosquito management. His interest in insects began at an early age. Over the past decade at the Agency, his work has focused on Arborvirus surveillance and mosquito suppression activities. A venerable mosquito expert, he has assembled an impressive collection of 45 species for the state. He is a member of the Northeastern Mosquito Control Association, The American Entomological Society, The Entomological Society of America, and The American Mosquito Control Association, among other organizations.

Alan is a graduate of the University of Delaware with a Master of Science degree in Entomology and Applied Ecology. He has an undergraduate degree from Syracuse University in Zoology, with a focus on invertebrates. He has taught school in Costa Rica and

on invertebrates. He has taught school in Costa Rica and traveled extensively. For 7 years he

traveled extensively. For 7 years he worked at Stroud Water Research Center in London Grove, PA doing ecological stream research, studying river systems along the east coast and as far west as Idaho.

During his tenure at the Agency, Alan has also worked with various issues involving exotic pest surveillance, household pest issues, home owner questions and agricultural pests. For the past several years, he has been a member of the state Invertebrate Species Advisory Group.

“Alan’s hands-on experience and professionalism will be invaluable as we continue to address the mosquito population in our state,” said Tim Schmaltz, director of Plant Industry, who will oversee Alan in his new role. “Alan understands the complicated nuances of integrated vector management, and will be key to our success managing this pest, as well as other insect issues in our state.” “Vector management is a top priority for our Agency,” said Secretary Chuck Ross. “The issue becomes more critical with every season, as we continue to experience a shift in weather patterns. Alan has the experience and expertise to lead the state forward in addressing these needs. I am pleased to appoint him to State Entomologist.”


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A Robert Baker Company



continued from page 22

recently, or where there has been an increase in mortality due to storms or pest attacks are likely to be areas where Armillaria pressure on live hosts will be greater than areas where there is relatively little woody debris and stumps/roots in the soil. Nurseries and Christmas tree plantations in recently cleared forests where numerous stumps are left behind are locations where armillaria is most likely to be aggressive in attacking young, recently transplanted seedlings, as are reforestation projects after storms, logging or fire events. So, be aware of the potential for increased armillaria disease pressure if you are planting in areas recently cleared of forest cover, or where there is a lot of woody debris used for fill. Start by planting healthy stock, be careful not to damage large roots and the base of the trees during planting and subsequent activities on site, and maintain vigor through appropriate watering, fertilization, proper site/plant selection, and pest management/control. Although you won’t be able to eliminate the threat entirely, you can give your plants a fighting chance for survival by observing good horticultural practices.

Pruning Woodies

Most of you already know what is considered the proper method for pruning woody branches, but I see enough ugly pruning out in the woods I feel it bears repeating. Those of you for whom this is a rehash, please bear with me, and take comfort in the knowledge your techniques are state of the art.

First of all, use a sharp tool (saw or pruners). Dull saws only make a mess of the branch scar, which slows healing, and provides greater opportunity for pathogens to become established in the ragged edges of a pruning wound. Of course, a dull tool is harder to use effectively, is more tiring to the operator, and will result in reduced overall efficiency, all reasons to use sharp tools in themselves.

Branch anatomy is an important consideration too. If you examine a branch in profile, you will notice a small ridge or swelling just where the branch you want to remove joins the larger branch or main stem. This swelling/ridge is called the branch collar, and it is important to make the pruning cut right up close to the collar, without actually cutting into the bark of the collar. The wound heals most quickly when there is no branch stub remaining after the pruning, and when there is the smallest possible wound remaining on the stem. Pruning at the collar provides the best compromise between stub reduction and wound size minimization. This method does leave a slight swelling after complete healing, which may be unattractive to some, but the benefits of rapid wound closure and minimal damage to the main stem outweigh the temporary aesthetic drawback. Whatever swelling is obvious is soon obscured by the diameter growth of a vigorous tree anyway.

Proper pruning involves three cuts. The first cut is the undercut, cutting upward from below, about an inch or two from the branch collar. This cut prevents the falling branch from tearing bark away from the stem as it drops. If the initial cut is made without an undercut, the result is often bark on the underside of the branch pulling away from the tree, stripping a big piece of bark, and sometimes sapwood, from the larger branch or main stem. Such a wound is devastating to the tree, and will hinder healing for a period much greater than a clean pruning wound would. So, make the undercut first by cutting upward into the pruned branch anywhere from ¼ to 1/3 of the way into the branch. The second cut is made from above, and further out the branch than the undercut. The second cut is through the branch entirely. Because the undercut has been made already, you can take your time with the second cut without having to worry about the branch falling away, out of control before you can get through that last little bit which would otherwise pull bark away from the tree. The final cut is the clean-up cut, where you slice off the little stub remaining between the undercut and the branch collar. This is a surgical cut, so take a moment to line things up, and don’t rush during the actual cut. It is only a tiny bit of material left, which shouldn’t have enough weight to pull bark away as you get through the bottom.

Once the branch is fully removed, and that bark collar is intact, the tree will immediately begin callousing over the sap and heartwood left exposed. Ideally, pruning should occur before heartwood has had the chance to start forming in the branch. Heart rotting fungi (Fomes, Phellinus, etc.) will take advantage of exposed heartwood at a pruning scar to become established in the mainstem, and will continue to spread within the trunk, causing log degrade and structurally weakening the tree until that scar is fully closed and the source of oxygen and moisture is closed. Staining and decay in the heartwood is especially problematic for timber producers, as any decay or staining in the heartwood is considered degrade, but it makes for good practice for nursery operators, arborists and landscapers too.

Healing speed is also, obviously, impacted by the size of the branch being removed. As I mentioned above, presence of heartwood within the branch is not ideal. Typically, branches less than two inches in diameter in hardwoods are less likely to have heartwood intrusion, so getting to a branch while it is in the ½ to an inch in diameter is best. Also, callus tissue given a chance to form during the dormant period (between late fall and mid spring) will prevent sap leakage during the growing season. Sugars in sap are very attractive to insects, many of which are either primary parasites of trees and shrubs, and all of them are capable of carrying pathogenic fungi, bacteria, and viruses between trees. If sap flow is prevented by pruning in the dormant period, then the likelihood insects will be attracted to these wounds is reduced considerably. All else being


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equal, the best time to prune is in the late fall to late winter period, although circumstances sometimes dictate pruning activity during the growing season.

Finally, be sure to use good sanitary practice when pruning, especially when working in trees that exhibit signs or symptoms of disease, or are known to be susceptible to diseases easily moved on pruning equipment. Fire blight in Prunus species is the commonly cited example of a disease that moves easily on shears and saws, but all bacterial pathogens are easily moved on equipment, as are viral and some fungal pathogens. So disinfect your shears between cuts using a strong alcohol, bleach, or other effective disinfectant formulation. And, the use of pruning sealants is probably unnecessary, and there is evidence that most of these products actually inhibit healing of pruning wounds. Imagine putting tar or some other alien substance on a cut or abrasion on yourself and what the implications for quick and scar-less healing would be.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and there are numerous tutorials online with illustrations of how the three cuts are made, in sequence. If you remain confused by my description, check out some of these online resources for further information and hopefully clarity.

Nursery Rule

As I have mentioned recently in this column, the Agency is revising the Nursery rule. The portions of the rule specific to the nursery and landscaping community will not change significantly, except for updating language and adding sections relevant to recent changes in the law (fees, inspections, licensing) which you are already familiar with. Your comments and concerns are welcome and encouraged. If you would like to comment on the changes, or suggest your own, please take a look at the document on our website ( or ask me for a hard copy and send me a letter with your thoughts.

University of Connecticut offers Perennial Plant Conference

The University of Connecticut is sponsoring the “Perennial Plant Conference – A Conference for the Landscape and Horticultural Professional.” The conference will be held at the Lewis B. Rome Commons on the University of Connecticut Storrs campus on Thursday, March 20, 2014.

This all-day educational conference will address a wide range of topics focusing on herbaceous perennial production, sustainable landscape design, and retail marketing. Topics were selected to appeal to professional landscapers and designers, nursery and greenhouse producers, and retail garden centers. Two concurrent educational sessions will feature nationally recognized speakers from both industry and academia.

The speakers featured at the conference will include:

Stephanie Cohen, Horticultural Consultant, Collegeville, PA who will be speaking on Mixing it Up: Flowering Shrubs for the Mixed Border.

Nancy Dubrule-Clemente, Owner of Natureworks in Northford, CT who will be speaking on The Challenges of Running a Landscape Business with Today’s Extreme Climate Extremes.

Jim Engel, from White Oak Nursery in Geneva, NY who will be speaking on Top Native Shrubs and How to Use Them in Your Landscape.

Robert Herman, Horticultural Consultant from New Hartford, CT who will be speaking on Garden Design Trends in Europe.

Jane Nadel-Klein, from Trinity College in Hartford, CT who will be speaking on Fifty Shades of Green:

Gardeners and the Green Industry.

Cheryl Smith, Plant Pathologist from the University of New Hampshire, in Durham, NH who will be


speaking on Cultural Practices and Pest Management Strategies for Low-Input Gardens.

Lloyd Traven, Owner/Partner of Peace Tree Farm in Kintnersville, PA, who will be speaking on Bringing THE Awesome EVERYDAY!! as well as Bringing Fantastic New Plants to Market.

Mark Weathington, from the JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC who will be speaking on Some Like it Hot- Water Wise Plants that Pack a Punch and Green Screens AKA Life after Leyland.

Program and registration information, including online registration, is available at www. A pre-registration fee of $100 per person is due by March 13 th . The fee is $110 per person if postmarked after March 13 th or for walk-ins. Registration is limited and nonrefundable. Please make checks payable to the University of Connecticut and send to Donna Ellis, University of Connecticut, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, 1376 Storrs Road, Unit 4067, Storrs, CT 06269-4067.

Included with your registration: an information packet, lunch, morning & afternoon snacks, free-parking, and an opportunity to meet speakers and purchase autographed books from the Perennial Plant Conference bookstore. One pesticide recertification credit will be offered for attendees from CT, RI, MA, ME, NH, and VT (pending state approval). Additional CEU’s are available. For more information contact Donna Ellis (phone 860-486-6448; email or visit our web site at

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first organizational meetings in 1963 and 1964 met at the autumn Chrysanthemum Shows put on by the Commercial Flower Growers of Vermont. The name of the shows has

changed over the years as well as the timing. Records were not found for many of the shows. An annual Flower Show was held in October, 1967 in Burlington and in November of

1968 in Middlebury. A Flower and Garden Show was held in

March, 1970 in Middlebury. My recollection is a series of spring Flower Shows in the old Burlington Municipal Auditorium in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Former President Dennis Bruckel says “It was a bear to get heavy items up the steps into the old auditorium.” Bruckel also remembers that he and student (now VAPH member) David Keszey, helped set up the garden show at the Essex Junction ice skating rink for one or more years in the 1970’s. The Flower Show and Plant Sale was held in March, 1980 and 1981 at the Armory in Berlin.

The Lawn and Garden Show was held at the University Mall in South Burlington in March 1985 through 1993. Andrea Morgante, John Padua and V. J. Comai were chairpersons for the show in different years. Exhibitors each made their own display, but there was no central display until 1993. In that year, members organized a central display and conducted seminars for the public in a vacant store space. These changes met with much public acclaim and resulted in plans for a bigger show the following year.

The first Annual Flower Show at the Sheraton Hotel and

Conference Center in South Burlington was in March 1994. Records show that 4,300 people attended that show. The

1995 show attracted over 7,000 people. In 1997 the name

changed to The Vermont Flower Show. The 2000 show

attracted over 9,000 people and the 2001 show attracted over 16,000. The admission fee was raised to $10 for 2002 when 7,000 attended but the show netted $10,000.

The Annual Flower Show has become more sophisticated over the years and is a primary funding source for the organization. Many member firms and local organizations contribute many hours of planning, labor, plants, products and creativity throughout the year to insure a successful show. Large central displays showcase growing trees, shrubs, perennials, and bulbs forced at several local greenhouses.A model train organization, The Vermont Garden Railway Society, has displayed an active landscape complete with electric trains each year since the show moved to the Sheraton. Concurrent sessions of educational programs on gardening and nature subjects are offered throughout the show. Many non-profit organizations as well as commercial exhibitors display their wares and information throughout the show. A children’s room offers numerous hands-on activities as well as hosting story tellers, mimes and musicians. Floral design competition for commercial florists is an attraction.

The 2003 show had a lower attendance and lost $19,000 putting the organization in debt. The $21,000 owed the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center was mostly absolved by VAPH members working several days and supplying plants and labor for beautification of the grounds. An event management company was hired to handle many of the details for the 2004 show which resulted in a profit.

To read the complete history as published in 2006, visit

Industry Calendar

February 5-7, 2014 New England Grows Boston Convention & Exhibition Center Boston, MA

February 13, 2014 Green Work Winter Meeting & Trade Show University of Vermont - Davis Center Burlington, VT

February 15-17, 2014 NOFA-VT Winter Conference University of Vermont Burlington, VT

February 26-27, 2014 Ecological Landscaping Association Conference & Eco-Marketplace Springfield, MA

March 7, 2014 Tri-State (ME, NH, VT) Extension Nursery Meeting Urban Forestry Center Porstmouth, NH


March 20, 2014 University of Connection Perennial Shortcourse Storrs, CT


April 22-23, 2014 VT Dept. of Environmental Conservation Dept., et. al Raising the Bar: Green Stormwater Infrastructure Planning & Design Workshop DoubleTree by Hilton S. Burlington, VT


July 30-31, 2014 Penn Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (PANTS 14) Pennsylvania Convention Center Philadelphia, PA

July 27-August 1, 2014 Perennial Plant Association Symposium Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel Cincinnati, Ohio


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