THE DIRT

The VNLA Quarterly Newsletter
Volume 40, Issue 2
Summer Issue 2014
Magnolia macrophylla
UVM campus
Photo courtesy of VJ Comai
Green Works Welcomes New Vermont Certified Horticulturists
Don’t Treat Soil Like Dirt!
Northeast Greenhouse Conference
2
Inside this Issue
president’s letter
Board of Directors 3
New Green Works
Vermont Certified
Horticulturists
3
Green Works
Summer Twilights
5
Remembering
Harold M. Pellett
6
Don’t Treat Soil Like
Dirt!
7
Keep Hope Alive 10
Northeast
Greenhouse
Conference
11
News from the U 12
Help Urgently
Wanted in
Chestnut
Restoration Project
13
An Overview of
UVM Grad Student
Research Project
16
Calendar of Events 19
Over the past two months I have had
the opportunity to speak with many
green industry professionals across the
state and the reports have been very
positive. Retailers have had strong
sales in May and June despite the late
start to the season and landscape
contractors seem to have a full
schedule of work lined up to take
them well into the late summer and
fall. One common concern that has
been shared by many is the unusually
high number of plant losses following
one of the colder and longer winters in
recent years.

Perhaps this can be attributed to the
fact that we’re more frequently
planting species and cultivars of plants
that few would have considered
attempting to grow here 20 years ago
as we have seen an overall warming of
our winters in recent years. Or, it could
be that the short thawing periods mid
winter followed by extreme drops in
temperature are responsible. Nobody
seems to know for sure. But, what is
certain is that such losses end up
costing everyone in our industry a lot of
money and more than a few
headaches.

Growing and planting for a living can
be risky business especially when we
offer a one-year guarantee to our
landscape clients or retail customers.
There are so many factors that are out
of our control that can ultimately
determine whether the plant lives or
dies, and few of us operate on large
enough profit margins to withstand
significant plant mortality and the
associated cost of replacement.

Therefore, it is essential that we do
everything that we can to ensure that
the plants we grow and sell are grown
and planted correctly, and receive
proper care throughout their
establishment period if we hope to
maintain our businesses and
reputations

Over the course of the last few years I
have become increasingly aware of
the disheartening number of sub
standard practices that are all too
common in our industry and that I
believe are largely responsible for the
failure of so many plantings, a trend
which is undermining the professional
image that this Association has worked
so hard to build. I have collected a
library of photos in my travels
documenting this and as result have
engaged in a crusade of sorts to try to
raise awareness in hopes that I can
play a small part in reversing this trend.
It’s time for us all to get back to the
basics and review the fundamentals.

I have seen trees and shrubs planted
too deep both in the landscape and
coming from nurseries in their container
or root ball. Plantings are done in
severely compacted construction fill
that lack any properties that would
classify it as soil. I have also seen plants
that are so pot bound in their
containers that there is no hope of
correcting the mass of circling and
stem girdling woody roots. There are
numerous examples of planting the
wrong plant in the wrong place and
the list goes on… and to top it all off,
minimal care, if any, is given to these
plants once the planting is completed.
The result is that far too many plants
begin their life in a landscape at a
deficit and are therefore severely
compromised in their ability to
withstand the wrath of Mother Nature.
continued on page 3
3
It is my hope that we will all make a conscious effort to
raise the bar and reverse these trends. The key lies in
education. We all need to step back for moment and
review our practices to be certain that we are providing
our clients and customers with landscapes and plants
that will continue to flourish for years to come before we
just move on to the next job or sale. We need to take the
time to educate ourselves, our employees, and our
customers if we want to see this industry continue to grow
and our businesses thrive.

I have often used this space as a forum to ‘lecture’ our
members and some of you who read this you may be
tiring of hearing these same themes repeated but I make
no apologies. I simply care very deeply about the image
of our industry and the success of everyone in it and if
these words I write make a difference for just one of you
then it will have been well worth the effort.
I hope that you are all making some time this summer for
family and friends and I look forward to seeing all of you at
the summer meeting on August 20
th
at von Trapp
Greenhouse in Waitsfield. As always I welcome any
comments or suggestions.
VJ Comai, Green Works/VNLA/President
PRESIDENT
VJ Comai
South Forty Nursery
184 Tamarack Rd * Charlotte, VT 05445
802.425.6222 * vjcomai@gmavt.net
VICE-PRESIDENT
Ed Burke
Rocky Dale Gardens
806 Rocky Dale Road * Bristol, VT 05443
802-453-2782 * ed@rockydalegardens.com
SECRETARY/TREASURER
Nate Carr
Church Hill Landscapes, Inc.
287 Church Hill Road * Charlotte, VT 05445
802.425.5222
nate@churchhilllandscapes.com
DIRECTORS
Carrie Chalmers
Quoyburray Farm
239 Lawrence Hill Road * Weston, VT 05161
802.375.5930
carriechalmers6694@gmail.com
Hannah Decker
Fairfax Perennial Farm, Inc.
7 Blackberry Hill Road * Fairfax, VT 05454
802.849.2775
perennialfarm@surfglobal.net
Shannon Lee
Sisters of Nature
135 Phyllis Lane
Waterville, VT 05492
802-825-1851
sistersofnature@yahoo.com
Ron Paquette
Paquette Full of Posies Nursery
10236 Williston Road * Williston, VT 05495
802.434.2794
ron@vermontnursery.com
Brian Vaughan
Vaughan Landscaping
40 Mt. Pritchard Lane
St. George, VT 05495
802.482.4228
vaughanlandscaping@gmail.com

ADMINISTRATIVE SECRETARY
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
Kristina@greenworksvermont.org
www.greenworksvermont.org
COMMITTEES
BUDGET AND FINANCE
COMMITTEE CHAIR
Nate Carr
Church Hill Landscapes, Inc.
802.425.5222
EVALUATION & PLANNING
COMMITTEE CHAIR
Brian Vaughan
Vaughan Landscaping
802.482.4228
INDUSTRY AWARDS COMMITTEE CHAIR
Ed Burke
Rocky Dale Gardens
802.453.2782
LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE CHAIR
MARKETING & EDUCATION
COMMITTEE CHAIR
Ed Burke
Rocky Dale Gardens
802.453.2782
MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE CHAIR
VJ Comai
South Forty Nursery
802.425.6222
NEWSLETTER COMMITTEE CHAIR
Brian Vaughan
Vaughan Landscaping
802.482.4228
PROGRAM COMMITTEE CHAIR
VJ Comai
South Forty Nursery
802.425.6222
RESEARCH & AWARDS
COMMITTEE CHAIR
VJ Comai
South Forty Nursery
802.425.6222
VERMONT CERTIFIED HORTICULTURIST
COMMITTEE
Nate Carr
Church Hill Landscapes, Inc.
802-425-5222
board of directors
New Vermont Certified
Horticulturist - 2014
David Burton
Ginkgo Design, LLC
22 Pearl Street
Essex Junction, VT 05452
802-857-5104
ginkgodesignvt@gmail.com
www.ginkgodesignvt.com
Erika Graham
Lorien Gardens & Landscapes
144 Butcher House Drive
Waitsfield, VT 05673
802-324-8394
erikagraham@yahoo.com
Congratulations on
becoming VCHers!
continued from page 2
4

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.
GREEN WORKS
Summer Meeting &
Trade Show
Please join us and our
hosts, Tobi and Sally
von Trapp of
von Trapp
Greenhouse,
Waistfield VT on
August 20, 2014
for our Summer
Meeting and Trade
Show. Registration is
available on-line and
through the mail.
Planning is underway for the
2015 Vermont Flower Show!!
Date: February 27, 28 and March 1, 2015
Theme: Spring Reflections
Get involved and be a part of our showcase
event! Join the Flower Show Committee by
contacting Kristina in the office.
5
On the evening of June 25
th
a handful of Green Works
members met at the Jeffords Building on the campus of
UVM for a twilight meeting. Stephanie Hurley, Professor
of landscape design began the tour with a detailed
description of her current bioswale research project
designed to capture and treat storm water from the
pavement in front of the building. Several swales were
constructed on both sides of the paved drive and are
planted with mixed herbaceous perennials. Each
section is equipped with sophisticated equipment that
captures water samples entering and exiting the system
during a rain event. Samples are then subjected to
detailed lab analysis to determine the system’s effect
on filtering storm water. Stephanie hopes to continue
gathering data from this project for several more years.
Of particular interest is the system’s ability to filter out
phosphorous and heavy metals that would otherwise
eventually make their way into waterways and
eventually Lake Champlain.

Following Stephanie, Mark Starrett, Professor of
ornamental Horticulture at UVM took members on a
walking tour of the extensive plantings surrounding the
building. The gardens include more than 100 different
types of plants and are comprised of a mix of
deciduous trees and shrubs, herbaceous perennials,
evergreens, and annuals. The majority of the plants
were propagated by Dr. Starrett and his students. The
gardens were planted and are maintained by interns
and UVM Horticulture Club members with some help
from UVM master gardeners. The area serves as an
outdoor classroom for UVM Plant and Soil Science
students and showcases a number of rare, unusual, and
marginally hardy plants. I would highly recommend a
tour of the garden by all plant enthusiasts.
Green Works Summer Twilights
Stephanie Hurley, UVM Professor discusses her current
bioswale research project with twilight attendees.
Mark Starrett, UVM Professor gives a walking tour of the
extensive plantings around Jeffords Hall
Join Meghan Giroux from Vermont Edible Landscapes
on August 13, 2014 at Paquette Full of Posies, 10236
Williston Road, Williston, VT from 6-8pm. Meghan will talk
about how to create a fruit tree ecosystem. Learn to
increase biodiversity around fruiting trees; utilize plants
that accumulate nutrients, create habitat for beneficial
insects, and fix nitrogen in the soil. Assess the different
types of medicinal herbs, perennial vegetables and
berries that can be established in this edible paradise.
Unlike monocultures, polycultures contain diverse
mixtures of species growing together in symbiosis.
Creating polycultures around fruit trees can reduce the
need for offsite inputs, increase biodiversity in the
orchard, and provide various secondary yields such as
medicinal herbs, perennial vegetables, and much more.
Establishing polycultures around fruit trees is about
analyzing the needs of the tree and matching those
needs to the functions of various support species or
‘companion plants.’ The aim is to provide the basic
needs of the tree (fertility, pest management, weed
control, etc.) by using biological resources. Instead of
‘planting a fruit tree,’ we can think of this integrated
approach as ‘planting an ecosystem.
*If time permits Meghan will also talk about the soil
remineralization and it’s importance in establishing
healthy fruit and berry plantings.
Green Works Summer Twilight:
August 13, 2014 - Create a Fruit Tree Ecosystem
6
Harold M. Pellet, brother of UVM
professor emeritus Dr. Norman Pellett,
passed away unexpectedly on July 22,
2014.
Harold had a long and successful
career in horticulture, including over 30
years as a professor at the University of
Minnesota and as a leader in research
at the Minnesota Landscape
Arboretum and Horticulture Research
Center. In 1990 Harold founded the
Landscape Plant Development Center
with a mission of developing superior
cold-hardy landscape plants. He
remained very active in his retirement
years.

In 2006 Harold was the featured
keynote speaker at the VNLA’s annual winter meeting in
Rutland where he shared his passion and vast
knowledge of hardy landscape plants. Harold’s work
resulted in a number of new plant
introductions.

He is described by those who knew
him well as “a cheerful person with a
ready smile” who “touched the lives
of many people both in the
horticulture profession and beyond”.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years,
Shelby, 6 children, 13 grandchildren,
2 sisters and his brother Norman
Pellett of Charlotte.

A memorial service was held on
Wednesday, August 6
th
at the
Minnesota Arboretum. Our thoughts
and prayers are with his wife, family
and with his brother Norman.
Remembering Harold M. Pellett
Participate in Green Works
2014 Industry Awards Program
Scope out your
projects and
take lots of
photos this
season!
Entry forms coming
to your
mailbox in August!
The 2013 winners
were featured in a
full color spread
insert in Seven Days
newspaper this past
March!
7
I originally wrote this article for an ELA newsletter a little
over 10 years ago; today I would call the article, “Is
Your Soil Healthy?” Let’s see how much I got right and
how much the science has improved since then.
Indented text shows my amendments to the original
article that appeared in ELA’s print newsletter,
The Ecological Landscaper, in 2004.
In our increasingly paved-over civilization, soil is a
woefully under-appreciated asset. Just think what an
amazing resource it is! Soil naturally filters all of our
water. Soil enables us to grow all of our food, fiber and
flowers. Soil is home to millions of life forms. And it was
dropped here, free of charge, by the last glacier that
came through, 12,000 years ago.
Still true; soil is one of our most under-appreciated
natural resources. For a great story on soil, check out a
recent movie entitled Symphony of the Soil. You’ll never
again think of soil as just dirt! https://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=F98Lo2Mef4c.
Soil quality is interconnected by biological, physical,
and chemical factors. All three can be improved by
adding organic matter.
Today, the buzz word is soil health, and the health
biology in the soil determines to a large extent how
well your landscape or garden is going to perform. You
can learn more about soil health at the USDA Natural
Resources Conservation Service website: http://
www.nrcs.usda.gov.
The astute gardener knows that a healthy, biologically
diverse soil promotes a bountiful harvest and lush
landscape. Not long ago, manure from a neighboring
farm was the source of a soil’s biological diversity. Now
manure is more likely to come dehydrated in a plastic
bag.
Today, compost is much more readily available on a
commercial basis than it was 10 years ago. Innovative
farmers and landscapers are making compost from
yard waste, food waste, sea food waste, virtually
anything that contains carbons. Applying compost to
lawn areas is a great way to improve your landscape’s
soil health on a grand scale. In late summer, top dress
your lawns with a half inch to an inch of high quality
compost (be sure to ask your vendor for their latest
compost test results!) and watch the grass turn green
with joy!
But, even from plastic bags, the addition of manure,
leaf-based compost, bark mulch, or wood chips will
increase your Soil Organic Matter (SOM) level, the
amount of organic matter in the soil. Higher SOM levels
attract a multitude of arthropods, insects, and animals
(both invertebrate and vertebrate), bacteria and fungi.
Increased biological activity improves soil quality,
which, in turn, strengthens the root systems of plants.
The increased biological activity also improves the
soil’s structure, making the pore spaces in the soil
much more resistant to collapse and compaction.
If you are using organic practices, 10-20% SOM (by
weight) is ideal to maintain release of plant nutrients.
Most of the soils of the Arnold Arboretum test between
10-20% SOM, primarily because grass clippings and
leaves are left on the site and there is little or no tillage
to oxidize soil organic matter. In my opinion, more SOM
is better, both for the soil and the plants. Howe3ver,
research has shown, if herbicides are employed for
weed control, levels higher than 4-8% SOM render them
less effective.
I was probably being a little generous on the SOM
percentages at the Arboretum, but if your SOM levels
are between 5-10%, you’re doing a good job of
creating a great home for all of those soil-dwelling life
forms! One additional benefit of SOM that we know
more about now is the increased water holding
capacity of soils with high organic matter levels. Every
additional 1% of organic matter in the soil can raise the
water holding capacity by an additional 25,000 gallons
of water per acre!
Soil texture (determined by the percentages of sand,
silt, and clay) is fairly immutable; unless another glacier
passes by or the top 12 inches of soil is otherwise
replaced, we will have to work with the soil we have.
However, both soil structure (how the soil particles are
glued together) and soil tilth (how tightly the particles
are glued) can be modified. Microbial biomass and
microbial exudates are the glues that coat, separate,
and hold soil particles in place.
Air movement (oxygen in particular) and water are
essential for all biological processes. Good structure
and tilth allow air to diffuse throughout the soil, water to
infiltrate freely, and permit root systems to explore and
mine the soil for nutrients to the fullest extent.
Organic matter in soil is a dynamic mix of decaying
plant material, the agents of decay, and humus.
Worms, insects, arthropods, bacteria, and fungi first
“Don’t Treat Soil Like Dirt!” or “Is Your Soil Healthy?”
by Thomas J. Akin
continued on page 8
8
consume the least-resistant forms of soil carbon such as
plant proteins, sugars, and fats. Resins, cellulose, and
lignin, to name a few, are decay-resistant plant
components; they are more chemically complex and
require numerous modifications by microbes before
decay is complete. As plant materials are consumed,
decay by-products are themselves transformed.
Carbon dioxide is generated and SOM evolves into its
most chemically stable form, humus.
All of this is still true today; two areas that I neglected to
cover in 2004 are the issues of tillage and compaction.
Tillage or any disturbance to the soil is bad for the soil
biology; kill your rototiller and use mulch instead! Soil
compaction is one of the biggest problems that goes
unresolved. Walking paths that are not mulched
become hard as pavement and almost as impervious,
leading to runoff, erosion, and eventually gully
formation. Once the pore spaces have been squished
out of the soil, the biological activity is greatly reduced
due to low oxygen. Be wary of heavy equipment and
lots of foot traffic. If there is a path that gets a lot of use,
mulch it with wood chips! The soil and your trees will
thank you.
Also, in place of “resins” referenced above, today I
would use the word “biological exudates.” Almost 20
years ago a USDA soil biologist discovered a chemical
compound in the soil which was named “glomalin”
after the order of fungi “Glomales.” The following is the
Wikipedia definition: “Glomalin is a glycoprotein
produced abundantly on hyphae and spores of
arbuscularmycorrhizal (AM) fungi in soil and in roots.
Glomalin was discovered in 1996 by Sara F. Wright, a
scientist at the USDAAgricultural Research Service.”
Glomalin is the glue that holds a lot of our soil together!
Humus consists of two decay-resistant organic acids,
humic acid and fulvic acid. Humus, like clay minerals,
has large surface areas of negatively charged sites that
attract and hold cations (positively charged ions).
Cations such as potassium (K+), calcium (Ca2+),
magnesium (Mg2+), and ammonium (NH4+) are the
most desirable. These are joined by strictly acidifying
cations such as hydrogen (H+) and aluminum (Al 3+).
Other naturally occurring elements such as the
micronutrients (copper, zinc, molybdenum, etc.),
sodium (Na+, not a plant nutrients), and heavy metals
such as lead (Pb2+), nickel (Ni2+), and cadmium
(Cd2+) may also be attracted to the negatively
charged sites. Because of this electrical relationship
with cations, humus is a sink (or storage reservoir), that
readily absorbs plant nutrients.
All true still today; make that nutrient reservoir bigger by
increasing your soil organic matter!
A soil’s ability to attract and hold cations is called its
Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) and is largely
dependent on the content of SOM and clay minerals.
Of the two, it is argued that, especially in New England,
SOM is more important because organic matter levels
can be manipulated while the chemical reactivity of
clay minerals is relatively low.
Once again, the more organic matter, the higher your
CEC will be and the healthier your soil will be.
Soil pH governs the solubility of most of the essential
plant nutrients. If soil pH falls below 5.0, many basic
cations (K, Ca, Mg) as well as phosphorus are rendered
insoluble. If nutrients aren’t soluble, plant roots can’t
absorb them. Soil pH is a measure of the concentration
of hydrogen (H+) ions dissolved in the soil water
solution. Buffer soil pH is a measure of the concentration
of hydrogen (H+) ions absorbed onto the soil colloids
(SOM and clays). This type of acidity is said to be held in
reserve because it is temporarily sequestered on the
colloids. If the active acidity is neutralized with calcium/
magnesium limestone, the hydrogen ions held in
reserve on the colloids will be replaced by the calcium.
The replaced hydrogen (H+) then will enter in the soil
solution and will take part in the active acidity. The
Base Saturation numbers presented in the soil test
report indicate the percentages of potassium,
magnesium, and calcium on the soil colloids; these
numbers, along with the percentages of hydrogen,
aluminum, and ammonium, constitute the CEC
number. The CEC and the Base Saturation levels are
some of the most important numbers on soil test reports.
Recent reviews of earlier research have since
disproved the theory that plants grow better in soils
where the cations are balanced to a particular ratio.
The best guidance is to follow the soil test
recommendations from Land Grant University or private
accredited soil testing labs; if the nutrient levels are in
the “optimum” range, your plants will thank you.
Each soil amendment comes with a unique microbe
population; the greater the biological diversity, the
better the chances for improved soil. Bacteria and
fungi are responsible for degrading carbonaceous
materials. They require nitrogen to complete their
lifecycles. The Carbon Nitrogen (C:N) ratio is vital to
choosing amendments.
Nitrogen in the soil, usually in the form of nitrate (NO3),
is incorporated into the microbial biomass as amino
acids and proteins. Absorption of all available nitrogen
by microbes is called “immobilization.” Nitrogen
deficiency shows up as chlorosis of the older leaves
and gradually moves up the plant.
continued from page 7
continued on page 11
9
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1177_Dirt_April2014.indd 1 3/26/14 4:49 PM
continued from page 8
10
Soon after the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was
discovered in the U.S. researchers began to look
for way to manage a pest with a seemingly
insatiable appetite for ash trees. In their search,
they identified three natural enemies of EAB native
to northern China: an egg parasitoid wasp, Oobius
agrili, and two larval parasitoid wasps, Spathius
agrili and Tetrastichus
planipennisi. These tiny
wasps, which do not
sting humans, lay eggs
into or on the EAB
larvae and eggs. The
researchers reared
them in a laboratory
and conducted
experiments to make
sure that the wasps
wouldn’t attack other
species besides EAB.
Since they were
approved for use, these
wasps have been
released in Michigan,
Ohio, Indiana, Maryland, Illinois, West Virginia,
Kentucky, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania,
Virginia and Wisconsin as part of a biological
control program for EAB. The question remains as
to whether these wasps will be able to keep EAB
at bay and save our ash trees.
To get at this question, researchers observed T.
planipennisi at six forest sites near Lansing,
Michigan and found that the populations have
been increasing and expanding out from where
they were initially released (Duan, et al. 2013).
Within four years after release, the number of
sampled EAB-infested trees containing at least
one brood of T. planipennisi increased from 33% to
92%. Similarly, the rates of parasitism on EAB
increased from 1.2% in the first year after the
parasitoid releases to 21.2%. T. planipennisi is a
dominant species of natural enemy associated
with EAB in its native range. They have the
potential to play a critical role in suppressing EAB
in the U.S. However, due to its’ relatively short
ovipositor (2-2.5mm long); T. planipennisi rarely
parasitized EAB in larger, thick-barked trees, typical
of trees greater than 12” Diameter at Breast Height
(DBH). To successfully control EAB on both small
and larger ash trees the researchers suggest that
other parasitoids with
longer ovipositors
should also be
evaluated.
Unfortunately, Spathius
agrili has a short
ovipositor as well (2mm
long).
To add to the light at
the end of the tunnel,
researchers found that
besides parasitism, EAB
larvae also suffered
heavy mortality by
other biotic factors such
as woodpeckers
(27-56% mortality), putative plant resistance
(1.8-15%), diseases (2.2-9% mortality), and other
native larval parasitoids (0.12-11% mortality). As
we all know it’s important not to put all of our eggs
in one basket and it is going to take a number of
agents to control the green menace.
Duan, J.J., L.S. Bauer, K.J Abell, J.P. Lelito, R.V.
Driesche. 2013. Establishment and Abundance of
Tetrastichus planipennisi (Hymenoptera:
Eulophidae) in Michigan: Potential for Success in
Classical Biocontrol of the Invasive Emerald Ash
Borer (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). Caitlin Cusack is
a Urban and Community Forestry Outreach
Specialist for UVM Extension.
Reprinted from June 25, 2014 article in the VT
Invasive Newsletter.
Keep Hope Alive:
Parasitoid wasps might just be able to
find EAB’s “Achilles’ Heal”
11
If the C:N ratio exceeds 30:1, as it does in pine sawdust
(C:N ratio of -3000:1), microbes may not have enough
nitrogen to degrade the available carbon. The
bacteria and fungi are then not able to multiply. In
manure (C:N ratio of -10:1), nitrogen is plentiful and
microbial processes can proceed. When nitrogen is
released from the microbial biomass back into the
nitrate form, the nitrogen is once again available to
plants.
A C:N ratio of 30:1 or slightly higher will immobilize
nitrogen to a slight degree, and organic matter levels
will increase. With the addition of organic amendments
with C:N ratios of less than 30:1 (such as manures at
5:1), soil organic matter levels may actually decrease
when too much nitrogen is present. This may occur
under high temperatures and adequate soil moisture,
when microbiological activity is at its highest levels.
Once again, I didn’t mention compost back then. Find
a good compost vendor who makes an earthy smelling
product with a C:N ratio of 20-30:1 and use it on your
lawn, mulched beds, and mixed with potting soil.
Remember, it’s all about the improving the biology!
Compost analysis and soil testing are available to the
general public as well as professionals through the
UMass Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Lab. A compost
analysis includes pH, C:N ratio, total N (nitrate and
ammonium), total C, moisture content, and bulk density
(tons/cubic yard). The bulk density number and C:N
ratio indicate the additional nitrogen needed to
supplement large amounts of organic amendments.
Similar soil testing services are provided by cooperative
extensions in most states.
Improving the soil is good stewardship, plain and simple.
First test the soil, then follow the recommendations! Be
vigilant concerning organic matter levels and soil pH.
Let’s be good stewards of a precious resource, the
living soil!
Amen!
About the Author: Thomas J. Akin is a former ELA Board
member. He is Conservation Agronomist at the USDA
Natural Resources Conservation Service in Amherst, MA,
and former Assistant Superintendent of Grounds at
Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, MA. Contact him
at 413-253-4365 or Thomas.akin@ma.usda.gov.
Permission to reprint this article was granted by the
author and the Ecological Landscaping Association.
The article first appeared in the ELA July, 2014
newsletter. For more information on ELA please visit
www.ecolandscaping.org.
continued from page 8
The Northeast Greenhouse Conference (formerly the
New England Greenhouse Conference) will be held on
November 5th and 6th at the Mass Mutual Center in
Springfield, MA. Save the date for the Northeast’s
premier horticultural event! Don’t miss the opportunity
to network with growers and other colleagues, hear the
latest updates from nationally recognized speakers and
visit the trade show.
Educational sessions will include 4 tracks throughout
both days focused on edibles (greenhouse vegetables),
pest and disease management, production techniques
and crops, herbaceous perennials and business and
marketing strategies. Pesticide recertification credits will
be available for many of the educational sessions. In
addition to the educational sessions, the trade show will
be held both days with three dedicated hours in each
day of the program.
Conference Highlights
EDUCATIONAL SESSIONS — Attend stimulating
educational workshops on a wide range of topics by
industry experts; acquire knowledge and gain valuable
insight.
TRADESHOW — Visit with innovative exhibitors during
dedicated tradeshow time, to gather information on
products and services that will benefit your business.
NETWORK — Share ideas and build relationships, and
make important face-to-face connections with others in
the floriculture industry.
Exhibitor & Sponsor Opportunities!
Registration for exhibitors and sponsors is now available!
Visit www.negreenhouse.org for Exhibitors/Sponsors
registration.
Northeast Greenhouse Conference and Expo
November 5 and 6, 2014
12
Summer is always a welcome time on campus, much
more quiet with students gone except for those taking
summer courses, and few if any meetings! With such
there is little new news from campus, such as a
changeover coming this summer to a new email system,
a name change for the hospital you may have read
about, and a name change for the Horticulture
Research Center (HRC) to Horticulture Research and
Education Center (HREC). This better reflects the
education outreach portion, particularly the events and
programs of the Friends of the Hort Farm, and use of the
facility for teaching.
Another change at the HREC is the creation of the
Catamount Farm summer experience, basically a group
of summer courses (www.uvm.edu/~summer/
catamount-farm/) replacing the previous Summer
Institute. Offered through Continuing Education, this is
separate from their very popular 6-month farmer training
program. The former student CSA program has been
disbanded with the CSA folded into the Catamount
Farm.
Hopefully by the time you are reading this, I’ll have
research updates and lists from my perennial field trials
online (perrysperennials.info). In brief, in the ornamental
grass trials, the already weak Panicum from last year
fared poorly (with many to be replaced as possible), the
little bluestems much better. Also faring poorly were my
coralbells and coneflower trials—with loss of well over
50% of each. At my trial zone, zone 5 in recent years, this
year was zone 4a reaching the mid 20’s below zero
several nights, -26F one night. Ground temperatures (at
2 inches) reached the mid 20’s (above zero F) several
nights, particularly the third week of January—the
coldest soil temperatures I’d recorded in over 20 years.
Our All-America Selections and new annual display
garden is once again at the Burlington Waterfront Park,
thanks to Burlington Parks and Recreation, all of the non-
AAS plants from D.S.Cole and Pleasant View
Greenhouses in NH, and to your association for support
for supplies starting the AAS varieties. Thanks! The list for
this year is online, with photos coming as well as ratings
the end of the season. You can view previous year’s
results and photos there as well. (pss.uvm.edu/ppp/
aaswp.html) Already out of the gate, some I find
attractive are a new euphorbia (Diamond Delight) and
cleome (Pequena Rosalita)
from Pleasant View, Hot
Topic celosia and Moonlight
Eclipse petunia from DS
Cole, and a new salmon
colored petunia African
Sunset from the AAS
program.
Annie White continues her
studies on pollinators and
their attraction to native
species and cultivars (nativars) of these this summer, with
plans to complete her analysis and writing this fall for her
thesis. She has begun collaboration with other
colleagues in the Northeast on native habitats for
pollinators, and has done several interviews, one of
which you can read online here
(www.ecobeneficial.com/2014/04/native-cultivars-vs-
native-plants). For an overview of Annie’s research
project please see the article on page 15.
Annie provides us a brief update: “I've compiled all my
data from last summer, and while I haven't done any
fancy statistics, I've done some basic calculations … with
no big surprises. Everything jibed with what I was
observing in the field. Of the fourteen pairs (of species
and a cultivar) I started with, I had enough data to
analyze nine pairs. Of these nine pairs, six of the nativars
attracted significantly fewer honeybees and native
pollinators than the straight species. (The two additional
Echinacea purpurea cultivars also attracted significantly
fewer native pollinators than the species.) One nativar,
the Veronicastrum virginicum 'Lavender Towers'
attracted significantly more native bee pollinators, but
fewer honey bees than the straight species. Lots to
ponder!
In the last issue of the DIRT, some early history of our Plant
and Soil Science Department was given, both as part of
our recent major review this spring by 3 external
reviewers (which by the way went well), and our
department’s 50
th
anniversary. The history began with
the merger of Agronomy and Horticulture departments
in 1964, and continued through the addition of
Entomology in 1970. Below is the growth period of the
1970’s through the 1990’s—a period you may recall if
you are an alum.
news from the U
by Dr. Leonard Perry - UVM Extension Horticulturist
News from the U—Dr. Leonard Perry
PAGE 12 THE DI RT VOLUME 35, I SSUE 2
Summer is a great time at universities if you like it quiet
with no meetings, and ability to park even with the much
reduced spaces due to construction! I'm spending much
time outside with perennials, building stock for next year's
freezing studies, working on field trials (currently 190
different plants), and accumulating coralbells (Heuchera)
for both field and freezing studies funded this past year by
the NH Plant Growers Endowment. I"m currently up to
about 60 cultivars of coralbells, including very new
introductions and new villosa hybrids which some growers
question their hardiness (as they are from France), hence
this study. I'll keep you posted here and on my website
(perrysperennials.info) of this and other research your
association has helped fund. Data is collected, I'm just
waiting for some rainy days to get it written up.
We once again planted about 100 varieties of annuals at the
All-America Selections Display Garden at Burlington's
Waterfront Park the first week of June, thanks again to
help and collaboration with Burlington Parks and
Recreation. This is the garden that we won a national AAS
award for this past year. As in previous years, I'll be
posting the plant listing and ratings at the end of the
summer on my website. Here also you can find lists and
results from the past several years. This year my assistant
Sarah Kingsley Richards and I think we have some great
combinations put together, with a focus on about 20
different petunias (near the boathouse), several new coleus
and several new sweet potato vines. One of my favorites
and perhaps most unusual is the new Pretty Much Picasso
petunia, violet purple with a lime green rim. Another
outstanding new and unusual selection is the mealycup
sage Salvia Sallyfun Blue Emotion, tall, blue florets with
white eyes.
This year's AAS garden features about 50% plants from
Pleasant View Gardens (Proven Winners and Selections
and trials), about 40% from DS Cole Growers, and about
10% from seed (All-America Selections and others). I hope
you get to see these gardens if in Burlington (at the foot of
College St. by the ECHO center and boathouse), not only for
the plants, but as the beds are planned to be different next
year. Due to planned construction and road reconfiguration
beginning after Labor Day this year, the main two front
beds will disappear forever, with a new front bed planned
closer to the boathouse in the grassy area.
On campus, the good news is that thanks to federal
stimulus money, the state greatly reduced cuts to UVM and
Extension. Coupled with support from the college, no
on-campus Extension faculty member (to my
knowledge) was cut this coming fiscal year. However once
this money runs out in a couple years, we may be back to
round two of big budget cuts.
So if opportunities arise in your future to support Extension
with your legislators or even UVM administration, it can
surely help. Our new plant science building (Jeffords Hall)
is now enclosed, with connection underway to the UVM
greenhouse. We are still scheduled to move in next
summer. In our department, our fairly recent faculty
member Sarah Lovell will be returning home to take a
similar position in landscape architecture at the University
of Illinois, so her design courses will be taught by yet un-
known person this next year, with a new search hopefully
in our future. Main research at the Hort Farm now
includes two projects of Dr. Lorraine Berkett-- a USDA
funded large project (recently refunded and highly rated) on
organic apple production (the reason many of the crabap-
ples were cut down in order to reduce scab and other
diseases) with full details online
(http://www.uvm.edu/~organica/), and the third year of
trials on hardy grape varieties (http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/).
Submitted by Leonard Perry
instrumental in the development of the Learning Landscape
Project at URI. In 2008, he was recognized for his many
contributions to the green industry and received the
prestigious honor of being one of the first to be inducted into
the RINLA Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the
Rhode Island Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Donations in Ken's memory may be made to The Kenneth
Lagerquist - RINLA Horticultural Scholarship, URI
Foundation Acct ED99, 79 Upper College Road, Kingston,
RI, 02881.

Scott Pfister, former VT State Pathologist and Green
Works supporter has left his position in June at the
Vermont Forest Protection Department. Scott has taken a
position with USDA-APHIS in Washington, DC and will be
coordinating the USDA’s programs for the Asian longhorned
beetle, emerald ash borer, and firewood pest mitigation. We
will miss him and wish him and his family well.
(Continued from page 9)
continued on page 14
13
The American chestnut, which in some parts of its' range
represented one in every four trees, was once referred to
as the "redwood of the east". Because the wood was
straight-grained, strong and highly resistant to decay it
was a highly valued commercial species. Furthermore, a
mature chestnut could produce over 6,000 nuts that
were eaten by a wide variety of wildlife. Oaks, in
comparison, can produce 300-1,000 acorns depending
on the year. Today, American chestnuts are hard to
come by due to the devastating effects of the chestnut
blight. But keep hope alive! The American Chestnut
Foundation is close to having a disease-resistant chestnut
to reintroduce to our forests and they need your help!

Approximately 150 young chestnut trees in a breeding
orchard need weeding and feeding. This spring
maintenance involves:
• removing the weed mat at the base of the tree;
• hand weeding any grass or other weeds growing
up at the base of the tree. Remove witch grass
roots that infiltrate under the weed mat;
• applying a half cup of Osmocote fertilizer in an
even circle around the base of the tree; and
• replacing the weed mat.

To get involved contact Grace Knight: gsknight@tds.net;
802.263.9613 home; http://www.acf.org/
Help Urgently Wanted in
Weathersfield VT Chestnut
Restoration Project!
14
“The liaison between PSS and Extension was
strengthened when Extension Plant Pathology moved
into PSS in 1980 with Alan Gotlieb (hired in 1974) from
Botany (now Plant Biology), becoming chair of PSS from
1980 to 1985. During his tenure as chair, the PSS and
Botany greenhouses were consolidated and placed
under common management. Dr. Norman Pellett
moved to a teaching position, his extension position
filled for a year by Susan Littlefield until the hiring of
Leonard Perry in 1981. Gotlieb also brought both the
Plant Diagnostic Clinic and Master Gardener Program
into the department, further strengthening the link
between science and outreach that is a hallmark of the
department.
In response to an external review, Bill Jokela was hired as
a soil extension specialist. Upon Glen Wood’s retirement,
Bill Murphy was hired as a pasture management
extension specialist. Under the leadership of Alan
Gotlieb, PSS established a B.S. major shared with forestry
called Community Forestry and Horticulture, renamed
Urban Forestry and Landscape Horticulture, and again
renamed in 2001 to Sustainable Landscape Horticulture.
Fred Magdoff served as chairperson from 1985 to 1993.
Part of his legacy was bringing the Agricultural and
Environmental Testing Laboratory into the department
and overseeing its move from Morrill Hall to renovated
space and new equipment in the Hills Building in 1988.
Lorraine Berkett was hired as the first woman faculty
member in the department in 1982, bringing expertise in
fruit entomology and pathology. She chaired the
department from 1993 to 1999.
The 1990’s into the early years of this
century experienced several key
personnel changes. The department
lost two Extension entomology positions
(Nielson and MacCollom), and two
other extension positions experienced
change. Specifically, Costante retired
from tree fruit horticulture, and Berkett’s
plant pathology extension appointment
was back-filled with Agricultural
Experiment Station funds. Faculty line
vacancies created by the retirement of
Norman Pellett, Joe Costante, and
Bertie Boyce were filled by hiring Mark
Starrett (ornamental horticulture), Elena
Garcia (tree fruit horticulture), and Milton Tignor
(vegetable horticulture), respectively. In 2004, the tree
fruit extension specialist (Garcia) and soil science
specialist (Jokela) were cut, and both Bill Murphy
(agronomy) and Richmond Bartlett (soils) retired, without
any replacements. Dr. Bartlett’s 0.50 FTE Agriculture
Experiment Station appointment was transferred to Dr.
Don Ross (soils, soil testing lab), bringing his appointment
to a 50:50 staff: faculty split. With college reorganization,
John Aleong’s position was transferred from the College
of Agriculture and Life Sciences administration as Station
Statistician to PSS as tenured Professor. “ (The final
chapter of the history to the present will be in the next
DIRT).
Finally, mark your calendars if you are involved in
greenhouse growing and garden retailing for our
Northeast Greenhouse Conference this fall, Nov. 5 and
6, at our NEW location in Springfield, MA
(www.negreenhouse.org/index.html). The Mass Mutual
center there should provide a much more user-friendly
and right-sized venue for our conference. The program
as of late June is pretty much together, and should be
online by August as well as early discounted registration.
There will be over two dozen sessions with nationally-
known speakers, a keynote, as well as regional experts,
plenty of opportunity for pesticide credits, and of course
the chance to visit vendors and network with other
professionals.
continued from page 12
Llmore Poots Pruit Tree & 8erry Nursery
802.888.3305 elmoreroots.com
15
vtc.edu | 800 442 8821
Ntw ulcntton oi
scitNct otontt:
Landscape
Design &
Sustainable
Horticulture
ENROLLING
NOW!
16
University of Vermont Ph,D. student, Annie White has
been conducting research on improving plant selection
for pollinator habitat restoration in the Northeast. With
the support of a Northeast SARE Partnership Grant, a
Green Works grant, and under the guidance of Dr.
Leondard Perry, Annie is currently comparing “true”
open-pollinated native wildflowers to native cultivars in
terms of their ability to attract and provide nectar and
pollen resources to beneficial pollinators. Following is an
overview of Annie’s research, which is ongoing.
Annie’s research aims to improve flowering plant
selection for pollinator habitat enhancement in northern
New England. The primary objective of this research is to
improve flowering plant selection for pollinator habitat
enhancement by comparing “true” native plants (open-
pollinated) to native cultivars (human-bred) in terms of
their ability to attract and support native pollinators. Our
research project also aims to disseminate information to
horticulturalists, agriculturalists, and home gardeners
about the importance of native pollinator habitat and
methods for establishing and/or restoring habitat to
support beneficial native pollinator populations.
Why are pollinators important?
About 70% of food crops species worldwide require
animal-mediated pollination, making sustainable
pollination services integral to global food supply. Like
most of America, the northeast relies heavily on the
services of a single domesticated species, the European
honey bee (Apis mellifera). Bee keepers have struggled
in recent years to maintain healthy populations of honey
bees, given their susceptibility to parasitic mites, viruses
and colony collapse disorder.
Declining honey bee populations and rising costs for
employing their pollination services have led farmers to
reevaluate the potential role of native bees for
pollinating their crops. There are approximately 4000
species of native bees in the U.S. and about 275 here in
Vermont. Actively restoring habitat for native pollinators
can serve as an insurance policy against further
struggles with domestic honey bees. When bees aren’t
pollinating food crops, they need other sources of flower
nectar and pollen available in the landscape to get
their energy and to feed their young.
What is a native plant?
A native plant is a plant that is a part of the balance of
nature that has developed over hundreds or thousands
of years in a particular region or ecosystem.
There’s growing evidence that native bees prefer native
flowers to non-native flowers (Cerqueira 2005), perhaps
because native pollinators are evolutionarily adapted to
coexist with native plants (Comba et al. 1999).
What is a native cultivar?
A native cultivar is a variation of native species,
deliberately selected or bred for desirable
characteristics that can be maintained by propagation.
There is a tremendous amount of variation in the origin
of native cultivars, how they are propagated, and the
desirable traits for which they are maintained.
We promote native plants for their ecological benefits,
yet little is understood about the ecological benefits of
native cultivars versus true open-pollinated native
species.
About our research plots
A controlled field study is underway to determine if
cultivars of native flowering plants are as attractive to
beneficial pollinators and provide the same nectar and
pollen resources as true native species. Two field plots
and two educational gardens were designed, installed,
monitored and maintained during the 2012 and 2013
growing seasons at three farms in Vermont.
What’s growing at our research plots?
Our main research plots are located at Riverberry Farm
in Fairfax, Vermont, and Maidstone Plant Farm in
Maidstone, Vermont. Riverberry Farm is in the Champlain
valley of northwestern Vermont and Maidstone Plant
Farm is in the upper Connecticut River Valley of
northeastern Vermont. Each plot is an approximately
3000 sq. ft. randomized complete block experimental
design, with three blocks per site, and contains 540
plants.
Fourteen species of native herbaceous flowering
perennial species were selected for the study alongside
14 cultivars of the same species. All species are native to
the Northeastern U.S. and are frequently recommended
for pollinator habitat enhancement. Flower species were
also selected based on their availability. Efforts were
made to include a diversity of flower colors, flower
structures, and bloom times.
Please see the table on page 17 for the list of native
flowering perennials and native cultivars chosen for our
study:
During the 2013 growing season, data was collected on
the frequency of pollinator visits to each flower species
and cultivar. Following statistical analysis, the results will
be shared. In 2014, more data will be collected on
pollinator visits as well as available nectar quantity,
nectar sugar concentration, and pollen mass.
For more information and to follow this ongoing research
visit www.pollinators.org.
An Overview of UVM Grad Student - Annie White’s
Ongoing Research Project
continued on page 17
17
Botanical Name Common Name
Achillea millefolium Common Yarrow
Achillea millefolium ‘Stawberry
Seduction’
Strawberry Seduction Yarrow
Agastache foeniculum Blue Giant Hyssop
Agastache foeniculum
‘Golden Jubilee’
Golden Jubilee Hyssop
Aquilegia canadensis Wild Columbine
Aquilegia canadensis
‘Corbett’
Wild Columbine
Asclepias tuberosa Butterfly Weed
Asclepias tuberosa ‘Hello
Yellow’
Butterfly Weed
Aster novae-angliae New England Aster
Aster novae-angliae ‘Alma
Poetschke’
New England Aster
Baptisia australis Wild Indigo/Blue False Indigo
Baptisia ‘Twilite’ Prairie Blues False Indigo
Echinacea purpurea Purple Coneflower
Echinacea purpurea ‘White
Swan’
Coneflower
Echinacea ‘Sunrise’ Big Sky Coneflower
Echinacea purpurea ‘Pink
Double Delight’
Pink Double Coneflower
Helenium autumnale Common Sneezeweed
Helenium autumnale
‘Moerheim Beauty’
Sneezeweed
Lobelia cardinalis Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis ‘Fried Green
Tomatoes’
Cardinal Flower
Monarda fistulosa Wild Bergamot/ Bee Balm
Monarda fistulosa ‘Claire
Grace’
Wild Bergamot/ Bee Balm
Penstemon digitalis Beardtongue
Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker
Red’
Beardtongue
Rudbeckia fulgida Black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’Black-eyed Susan
Tradescantia ohiensis Spiderwort
Tradescania ‘Red Grape’ Spiderwort
Veronicastrum virginicum Culver’s Root
Veronicastrum virginicum
‘Lavender Towers’
Culver’s Root
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continued from page 16
List of native flowering perennials and native cultivars
chosen for Annie White’s study:
18
P.O. Box 92
N. Ferrisburgh, VT 05473
19
August 13, 2015
Green Works/VNLA Summer Twilight
6-8pm
Create a Fruit Tree Ecosystem
Paquette Full of Posies
Williston, VT
www.greenworksvermont.org
August 13, 2015
VT Urban & Community Forestry
Program
Community Nursery Field Trip
Chittenden County
8:30am - 4pm
Contact Elise Schadler at
802.881.1256 or
elise.schadler@uvm.edu
August 20, 2014
Green Works/VNLA Summer
Meeting & Trade Show
von Trapp Greenhouse
Waitsfield, VT
www.greenworksvermont.org
September 8-10, 2014
The Water Education Summit
Crowne Plaza Resort
Asheville, NC
Registration: http://
www.h2osummit.org/#/agenda
September 15, 2015
Montreal Botanical Garden Bus Tour
www.greenworksvermont.org
February 4-5, 2015
New England Grows
Boston Convention & Exhibition
Center
www.NewEnglandGrows.org
November 5-6, 2014
Northeast Greenhouse Conference
Mass Mutual Center
Springfield, MA
www.negreenhouse.org
November 18-20, 2014
8th Annual Invasive Species
Outreach Workshop
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY
Contact: chuck.oneill@cornell.edu
February 27, 28 and March 1, 2015
2015 Vermont Flower Show
Champlain Valley Expo
www.greenworksvermont.org
802.425-5117

Industry Calendar
20
PO Box 92
North Ferrisburgh, VT 05473
visit us at www.greenworksvermont.org
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