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Spring Issue 2015

THE DIRT
The VNLA Quarterly Newsletter
Volume 40, Issue 1

2015 VERMONT FLOWER SHOW

SPRING REFLECTIONS

president’s letter
Inside this Issue
Board of Directors

2

New Green Works
Members & VCH

3

Green Works Summer
Meeting

4

The 2015 Vermont
Flower Show

5

The Vermont Flower
Show Committees

9

Green Works 2015
Winter Meeting Recap

10

Green Works Award
Winners

11

Portrait of a Spring
Garden

12

News from the U

13

VT Agriculture
Businesses Face Audits

14

SOUL Program
Educates Tree
Enthusiasts

19

Understanding
Vermont Sales and Use
Tax

20

Lowe’s Joins Home
Depot in Phasing out
Neonics

21

Holiday Decor from
the Back Yard

22

Montreal Botanic
Garden & Jean Talon
Market Tour

23

Industry Calendar

24

2015 Vermont Flower
Show Sponsors

25

The 2015 Vermont Flower show is
beginning to feel like a distant memory
but it’s impact on all who were involved
and those who attended will certainly be
long lasting and far-reaching. I believe
that this year’s show truly has taken
Green Works to a whole new level with
regards to the public’s perception of our
industry and our name recognition as a
professional association. The credit goes
to so many who selflessly contributed
their time, talents, plants, and passion to
promote our industry. The creativity,
dedication, and vision of the Grand
Garden Display Committee, the
organization and competency of their
chairperson, and the spirit of cooperation
and collaboration amongst the
numerous volunteers resulted in a
wonderful experience for everyone
involved and a truly stunning landscaped
display and well-rounded and wellreceived show.
As we look ahead, the challenge will be
in how we continue to cultivate and
grow the momentum of the flower show
to continue to enhance our name
recognition and the promotion of our
members. This was a topic of discussion
at our recent board meeting as we
explored ways to use social media and
possible additional events geared
toward the general public to further
promote the association and our industry.
The willingness of our members to
contribute to these efforts will be critical
to our continued success. The financial
success of this year’s show will allow us
the flexibility to increase our marketing
efforts as we develop programs with this
goal in mind. As always, we welcome
your ideas and input.
On a personal note… as many of you
already know, after more than two
decades in the nursery business I have
hung up my nursery spade and plunged
head first into a new career in the
industry. A variety of circumstances
prompted this decision. Change is never
easy and it’s something that so many of
us resist in our personal lives and in our
businesses. Yet, change is inevitable and
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can result in opportunities that challenge
us and serve to expand our skills and
knowledge. During the past several
weeks I have been challenged in many
ways as I am learning new skills and
taking on new responsibility each day. It
is at times daunting and overwhelming
but is also reassuring as I am finding that
you can in fact ‘teach an old dog new
tricks’. My new career has allowed me to
see some beautiful properties, meet
many interesting people, and share my
passion for plants and their care with the
clients that I serve.
While this new path will likely take me
away from the regular interaction with so
many of you, I will be working hard to
maintain the relationships that I have built
over the years with so many in our
industry. With regards to the VNLA I will
continue to fulfill my role as President
through the end of my term in February
and plan to remain VERY active in the
association for many years to come.
After all, the VNLA is my ‘tribe’ as my wife
would say.
Spring has finally arrived and the change
of season will have everyone scrambling
and working long hours. The new season
will likely bring new challenges and
changes. I hope that you will embrace
the challenges, be open to change and
that you will learn and grow from it along
the way.
I wish you all the best for a productive
and prosperous season.
VJ Comai, Green Works/VNLA/President

board of directors
PRESIDENT
VJ Comai
Bartlett Tree Experts
184 Tamarack Rd
Charlotte, VT 05445
802.296.1797
vcomai@bartlett.com
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
David Burton
Ginkgo Design, LLC
22 Pearl Street
Essex Junction, VT 05452
802.857.5104
ginkgodesignvt@gmail.com
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

Maryls Eddy
Vermont Technical College
PO Box 500
Randolph Center, VT 05061
802.728.1207
meddy@vtc.edu
Shannon Lee
Sisters of Nature
135 Phyllis Lane
Waterville, VT 05492
802.825.1851
sistersofnature@yahoo.com
Ashley Robinson
Ashley Robinson Landscape Designer
PO Box 28
Charlotte, VT 05445
802.922.1924
arobinsonld@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

INDUSTRY AWARDS COMMITTEE CHAIR
Ed Burke
Rocky Dale Gardens
802.453.2782
LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE CHAIR
Shannon Lee
Sisters of Nature
802.825.1851
MARKETING & EDUCATION
COMMITTEE CHAIR
Ed Burke
Rocky Dale Gardens
802.453.2782
MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE CHAIR
VJ Comai
Bartlett Tree Experts
802.425.6222
PROGRAM COMMITTEE CHAIR
VJ Comai
Bartlett Tree Experts
802.425.6222
RESEARCH & AWARDS
COMMITTEE CHAIR
VJ Comai
Bartlett Tree Experts
802.425.6222
VERMONT CERTIFIED HORTICULTURIST
COMMITTEE
Nate Carr
Church Hill Landscapes, Inc.
802-425-5222

Are you and your
employees
certified?

For information on
Advertising
in The Dirt
contact

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.

Kristina at the
Green Works Office
888.518.6484
3

New Green Works Members - 2015
Ground Level Landscape
Melanie Acker
101 Elder Hill Road
Lincoln, VT 05443
802-349-5229
melanieacker6@gmail.com
Category: Landscape Install Maintenance
Active Member

Precision Work, Inc.
Steven Fregeau
75 Harbor Road
Port Washington, NY 11050
516-883-2002
F: 516-883-1400
stevef@precisionworkinc.com
www.precisionworkinc.com
Category: Supplier
Associate Member

Ideal Concrete Block
Rick Mazur
45 Power Road
PO BOx 747
Westford, MA 01886
781-894-3200
F: 978-692-0817
info@idealconcreteblock.com
www.idealconcreteblock.com
Category: Hardscaping
Associate Member

Studio Roji
Samy Wyatt
495 Quaker Street
Lincoln, VT 05443
802-349-0991
studioroji98@gmail.com
www.studioroji.com
Category: Landscape Design Build
Active Member

Thanks for joining and welcome!

New Vermont Certified Horticulturist - 2015
Lisa Hoare
UVM Medical Center
111 Colchester Avenue
Mailstop: 112EN3
Burlington, VT 05401
802-847-2873
lisa.hoare@uvmhealth.org
www.uvmhealth.org
Category: Hospital Grounds

Connect with Green Works Through Social Media!
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Pinterest: @greenworksvt & @vtflowershow

4

Mark Your Calendars for Green Works
Summer Meeting & Trade Show!
WHEN: August 6, 2015 - Thursday

Garden co-authored with Doug Tallamy. For more
information about Rick please visit www.rickdarke.com.

WHERE: Shelburne Farms - Coach Barn
Rick’s two-part presentation will center
around his newest book, The Living
Landscape: Designing for Beauty and
Biodiversity in the Home Garden, which
is co-authored with Doug Tallamy and
was recently published by Timber Press.
Doug Tallamy was our keynote speaker
at our winter meeting in 2013 and his
award-winning book, Bringing Nature
Home revealed the pressing need for a
biodiverse home landscape.

FEATURING: Rick Darke heads RICK
DARKE LLC, a Pennsylvania-based
consulting firm focused on landscape
ethics, photography, and contextual
design. Darke’s work blends art,
ecology, and cultural geography in the
design and management of living
landscapes. Projects include parks,
scenic byways, transportation corridors,
corporate and collegiate campuses,
conservation developments, postindustrial and historic brownfields,
botanic gardens, and residential
landscapes.  His many books including
The American Woodland Garden: Capturing the Spirit of
the Deciduous Forest, The Encyclopedia of Grasses for
Livable Landscapes, and The Living Landscape:
Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home

Rick will be giving two presentations:
“The Essential Layers of Living
Landscapes” and “Designing and
Maintaining the Living Landscape”.
We are excited to be bringing Rick
Darke to Vermont. More details for the entire day will be
coming soon!

Woody Plant Shortage
The word on the street these days for people working in
our industry is that we need to prepare ourselves for a
shortage of woody plants in the coming few years.
When the recession hit in 2008, it had a tremendous
effect on the plant supply stream. Many wholesale
nursery growers were left with huge surpluses and as a
result reduced their plant production quite significantly
over these last several years. Some growers had to
destroy large amounts of trees/shrubs just to survive.

As the economy turns itself around the demand for
woody plant material is on the rise. That is the good
news. The bad news is the plant shortage is real and our
members will need to plan accordingly. Ordering early
will be essential and certain plants may not be available
at all. Check with local Vermont growers, who may be
able to accommodate your needs and/or suggest
alternatives. Keep in touch with wholesale suppliers
early as this plant supply shortage will be affecting our
industry in the immediate future and beyond.

The NEW VCH Study Manual is now available!
The all new VCH study manual is available for anyone
wanting to take the VCH exam and become a
“Vermont Certified Horticulturist”. The new manual is
also a great resource to have on your bookshelf
(remember books?)! Topics covered include:




Sustainable Landscape Topics
Specific Landscape Topics
Pest Problems, Pesticides

The cost of the manual is $50 for members and $75 for
non-members. Please contact Kristina in the office if
you are interested in ordering a copy. You can also
order a copy on the Green Works website.

Identification of Plants and Pests
Business Practices and Safety
Plant & Soil Information
5

The 2015 Vermont Flower Show - Spring Reflections
by Kristina MacKulin
As the 2015 Vermont Flower Show is fading to distant memory, I
am happy to report it has been our most successful show to
date. The show dates, February 27 - March 1, 2015 seemed to
arrive just in the nick of time. The long drawn out winter created
a “perfect storm” affect for our attendance, which we estimate
to be at approximately 11,000 people.
This translates to a 25% increase over our
last show and the highest attended
show to date. The Flower Show truly
helped people escape for a little while
and see, smell, and hear what surely
was awaiting all of us - a new growing
season in Vermont.

away from their own businesses and home life, to meet
monthly, coordinate donations, send so many emails, and
basically see to all the aspects and details of the show.
Sometimes it feels like the tasks are endless.
In particular, the Grand Garden Display
Committee chair, Melita Bass, and design
coordinators Ed Burke and Katie
Raycroft-Meyer deserve many thanks
and recognition for pulling together a
team that embodies collaboration.
Once again they created a
masterpiece.

One has to ask themselves how we
make this possible each show. While
sometimes it seems like magic occurs in
the 3.5 days of setup, our secret formula
to create a successful show is the many
wonderful people participating in
bringing the show to fruition. The Flower
Show Committees spent hundreds of
hours organizing and planning our
signature event over the past 18
months. Please see the complete listing
on page 9 of all the committee
members. With the theme, Spring
Reflections, in honor of our 50th year as
an Association, it was a show reflecting
on the past as well as moving to the
future.

The Flower Show Committee members
tend to the many other aspects of the
show: the vendors, seminars and
cooking demonstrations, state wide
essay contest, organizing the many
volunteers, the family room, plant sale
and auction and once again worked
together in such an effortless way. As
they say the devil is in the details and
each of these committee members
make it all go seamlessly.

We had many students involved with the
show this year. Students from the Natural
Resources Department at the Center for
Technology at Essex grew sod for the
display; students from the UVM
Horticulture Club grew vegetables and
Green Works/VNLA members, master
helped set up multiple days/evenings;
gardeners, students, and community
students from the Building Technology
members – literally hundreds of
Department at the Center for
volunteers – committed themselves
Technology at Essex built an “artist’s
for 3 ½ days to build a masterpiece.
studio” and moving water wheel; and
Others helped staff the event during
students at Vermont Technical
the three show days and then finally
College grew the animal topiaries
an amazing “clean up crew” helped
used in the garden display. Students
break everything down. The venue
from the Northland Job Corps were
was broom clean by mid-day on
instrumental in helping hang trees,
Monday. Association members and
helping with set up and returning on
supporters also donate almost all the
Monday for cleanup and chipping
plant material, mulch, hardscaping
trees. We even had younger students
materials, provide labor, trucks, tools,
(it was school vacation the week of
gasoline, expertise – you name it.
the show) working side by side with
The Grand Garden Display sets up in 3 days!
their parents and committee
We are also very grateful to our cash
members helping with set-up!
sponsors as we secured the most cash sponsorship than any
other previous show. We were able to produce a beautiful,
When the doors open and the public enters it makes it all worth
reusable VT Flower Show bag due to three of our cash sponsors. it and reinforces why Green Works continues to produce this
The bags were a big hit and it was really great to see flower
show. With 11,000 people attending, we can spread the
show goers walking around with bags in hand. Please take the “horticultural” word as well as educate and inspire. We offer a
time to read through the list of people who donated items/
precursor to Spring – the sites and smells unfold before their
plants, as well as the list of cash sponsors on page 25. We could
eyes. One of the best aspects of the Flower Show is that it
not continue to produce the Flower Show without their support.
appeals to all ages – there is really something for everyone. In
three short days we greet so many visitors and get to talk about
We are very lucky indeed to have a core group of people who
plants, gardening, landscaping, bark mulch, insects, cooking,
make up the Flower Show Committees and continue to be the
worms, and so much more! Visitors came from all over
inspiration, motivation, and doers who bring the show to life.
Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Canada,
They give up numerous hours of their own time, often taking
and beyond. Following are some highlights of the 2015 show.

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continued on page 6

continued from page 5
The Grand Garden Display, with the theme, Spring Reflections,
offered a place of refuge and reflection with water being the
common thread throughout the display. This presence of water
pointed out the importance of water in our lives as well as the
joy and beauty it provides. Our theme also allowed us to reflect
back on the 50 years the Association has been spreading the
horticultural word.

representing a new, sustainable option to the traditional
American front yard. Our new front yard offered a no-mow
alternative complete with a rain garden, shade trees, planters
boxes to grow food, and a compost bin. In keeping with
today’s lifestyle, a small studio attached to the house offered
the idea for an at-home business or artist studio. Students from
the Essex Center for Technology also designed and built the
studio, which they raffled off at the end of the show.

In keeping with the idea of reflection we recognized how
important art is in that endeavor. Over the course of all three
days we invited four
local artists to paint live
in the grand garden
display. It was a true
joy to watch their
paintings unfold live
before our eyes. Many
thanks to area artists
Libby Davidson of
Starflower Studio, Emily
Leopold, Reed Prescott
of Prescott Galleries at
Verde Mountain, and
Shanley Triggs of
Vermont H’Art.

The last section of the grand garden display offered a
“Reflection Overlook”
and allowed people to
climb the stairs to the
viewing platform (built
by the students at the
Essex Center for
Technology for the 2013
show). This view
afforded a moment to
reflect over the entire
display as well as
situated below were a
series of small,
reflecting pools made
from smaller, upcycled satellite
dishes.

The front entrance to the display
offered a 12’ diameter upcycled
satellite dish serving as a
reflecting pool – a first moment
of reflection. Walking into the
display a replication of a
mountain stream flowed
amongst alpine plants, mosses
and woodland plantings. The
mountain stream then
continued into a bog planting,
complete with birds, critters and
wetland plants. A small dock
and kayak planted the thoughts
of meandering waterways.

We saw many people walk
through the display over and
over again. It was a true replica
of Spring Reflections and was
the perfect place to look
forward to a new season and
what lies ahead. To see more
more photos of the show please
visit the Green Works website.
Also, Seven Days produced a
Stuck in Vermont video on the
show which can be viewed on
You Tube at: https://
www.youtube.com/watch?
v=34miIWvBISk.

Around the corner was the Oasis
It was a long winter as you can tell by the lines!
Garden, based upon Persian
While the Grand Garden Display
gardens – the birthplace for
is our true masterpiece, so are all
gardening both for food and ornament. The Persians were
the other offerings we provide at the show. We strive to have
masters with water, channeling this element through canals into something for everyone and appeal to all ages. We had 103
walled outdoor rooms. Our garden reflected that quiet beauty. vendors participate this year - which is another record! Vendors
Continuing on the path the next section revealed a “jumping
offered products and services that related to plants, gardening,
river” complete with colored, leaping fountains and beautifully
landscaping, composting, and much more. We had many
painted enamel trout leaping through the water. It was fun to
returning vendors as well as first time vendors. We also offered
watch as spectators tried to decide if the water stream was real the “Vermont Specialty Food Room” filled with vendors selling
or not!
their VT products.
In keeping with reflecting back, the importance of the mill and
water wheel were prevalent in our culture, pointing to the
importance of how water needs to be managed and
protected. Students from the Essex Center for Technology
visited Shelburne Museum’s water wheel and proceeded to
build a replica for our display. The water flowed into a beautiful
pond made completely out of blue pansies with a gorgeous
double arched stone bridge spanning it. It was a watercolor in
the making!

Dr. Leonard Perry organized 37 seminars and workshops over the
three days, 17 of which were presented by Green Works
members. The subject matter covered growing medicinal
plants, touring Great Britain and Sweden, pests and diseases,
pruning, bonsai, rain gardening, outstanding annuals, water
gardens, solar use in the landscape, and much more. Our
keynote speaker, Jane Knight, landscape architect of the Eden
Project in Cornwall, England gave two wonderful presentations
on The Eden Project, a stunning global garden located in
Southwest England with a bold vision and far reaching mission.
To learn more about The Eden Project visit:

In looking forward, the display then led to the “New Front Yard”

7

continued on page 8

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8

4/9/15 2:27 PM

continued from page 6
www.edenproject.com. We are very grateful Jane made the
journey to Vermont.
Cooking demonstrations once again were held in a room
complete with a beautifully built “outdoor stone kitchen
display”, loaned to us by Trowel Trades Supply. Committee
member David Loysen once
again organized top chefs
from area restaurants: Café
Provence, Mary’s Restaurant,
Heart at the Round Barn, the
Director and Vice-president of
the Culinary Operations at the
Essex Resort, the Hilton in
Burlington, a specialty pie
maker, and a local school
chef and coordinator for the
VT FEED program. These
sessions were well attended
and offered some amazing
food to sample!

display at the show and all the winners were able to visit the
show. You can view the winners names on our website.
During the three days of the show we offer a silent auction filled
with items that Green Works members and vendors of the show
donate. These funds go
toward educational
programming the Association
offers. At the close of the
show on Sunday we also
offered a plant sale. This
helps us with clean up and
allows people to enjoy the
flowers a bit longer.
I have just given you a
“snapshot” of what the 2015
Vermont Flower Show had to
offer this year. If you have not
had a chance to attend a
show put it on your list for
2017! We are proud to have
drawn a record crowd to the
show this year.

The very popular Family Room
was filled to the gills with kids
and parents planting seeds,
digging for worms, and
watching some awesome
entertainment provided by
Nicole Walsh of Dream City
Hoops, Rick Adam presented
“Shadowtales” – the timeless
magic of hand shadows,
Grandma Greenbean (Carol
Ann Margolis) and her growing
of the magic beanstalk
(everyone got to plant one!),
and No Strings Marionettes
presented “Bully! For the Three
Pigs”. The Family Room would
not be complete without
hat making! It is always such a
pleasure to see the many
“floral” hats being created and
worn throughout the show by
kids and adults!

While some of our members
might wonder what they get
out of a flower show when they
don’t live in Chittenden County
or nearby, I would say that our
members statewide and
beyond benefit from our show.
Every show we produce we are
promoting our members, our
Association, and the green
industry in Vermont through an
elaborate event that inspires,
educates, and entertains the
people who attend. We
market our Association and the
show statewide and beyond
through television, radio, print
and social media platforms. It
continues to be our mission to
enhance and support the
horticulture industry of Vermont
as well as promote a greater
awareness to the public of YOU
– our green industry
professionals that offer plants,
products and services. The
Vermont Flower Show offers us a
spectacular way to send that
message home with the people
who attend.

The Federated Garden Club of
Vermont held a National
Garden Club Standard Flower
Show, open to all garden club
members as well as a special
division for students and the
general public. The
arrangements and plant
specimens were spectacular!
Also returning was the Vermont
Garden Railway Society. Their
landscaped train display
continues to be a big draw for
all ages.

The planning will not be far
away for the 2017 show. I invite
you get involved and
The Vermont Flower Show appeals to all ages!
participate! New committee
Dr. Leonard Perry organized our
members and new ideas are
second state-wide Student Essay Contest. This contest was open always welcome. In the meantime, we have a couple growing
to students ages 6-18. The prompt for the contest was “Describe “seasons” to work through, all the while dreaming up what
what spring reflections means to you”. Winning essays were on
comes next!

9

The Vermont Flower Show Committees

A very special thank
you to all the
committee members
who gave so much of
their time, expertise,
and labor to the 2015
Vermont Flower Show!

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10

Green Works 2015 Winter Meeting Recap
With the Flower Show being held at the end of February
we moved up the Winter Meeting by a couple of weeks,
which was held on January 27,
2015. We were back at the
UVM Davis Center for the day.
Unfortunately the weather was
not as cooperative as we would
have liked that day! It was a
long winter.
We had 107 people in
attendance and some great
presentations. First we heard
from Jerry Fritz, our keynote
speaker. Jerry hails from
Ottsville, Pennsylvania and is
president of Jerry Fritz Garden
Design and Linden Hill Gardens.
Jerry gave two presentations, one
on “Good Design/Better Business”
and the second on “Trade Secrets
for Retail Success”. Jerry had
some great insight and ideas on
how to run a successful business
and had everyone engaged with
his presentations.

years. Allen passed away in 2013. The recipient of the
award was Betsy Gritman of Glebe Mountain Gardens &
Landscaping. The UVM student
merit award was presented to
Donald Keith III. The VTC student
merit award was presented in
April to Oliver Zeichner at the
VTC convocation. Lastly, the
winners of the Green Works
Industry Awards for 2014 were
presented and were featured in
the Winter Issue of The Dirt. You
can view all award winners on
the Green Works website, as well
as winning projects.
Congratulations to all our winners!
The winner of our annual Plant ID
contest was John Padua of Cobble
Creek Nursery. Other presentations
during the day include a 3 part
“Mini Energy Extravaganza” geared
toward energy conservation and
new technologies for greenhouse
growers. Chris Conant of
Claussen’s Florist & Greenhouse,
Bruce Parker and Donald Tobi from
the UVM Entomology Research Lab
and Bob Kort from the USDA all
presented.

Other events during the day
included our annual business
meeting and presentation of
awards. The Green Works award
recipients were as follows: The
Green Works Horticultural
Achievement Award was presented
to David Loysen of Shaw Hill Nursery;
the Green Works Environmental
Awareness Award was presented to
Rebecca Lindenmeyr of Linden
L.A.N.D. Group; the Green Works
Retailer of the Year Award was
awarded to Karen and Jack Manix
of Walker Farm. The New England
Nursery Professional of the Year
Award was presented to Gabe
Bushey.
The Allen B. Crane Horticultural
Employee Acknowledgement
Award was presented for the first
time by Chris Conant of Claussen’s Florist & Greenhouse.
Claussen’s has established this cash award in honor of
Allen B. Crane, head grower at Claussen’s for over 42

Josh Kelly, Environmental Analyst from
VT Waste Management & Prevention
gave a presentation - “A Future for
Leaf and Yard Waste” related to
Vermont’s Universal Recylcing Law
(Act 148). Universal recycling bans
disposal of leaf, yard, and clean
wood debris as of July 1, 2016.
We ended the day with a
presentation by Tim Schmalz from the
VT Agency of Ag on upcoming pests
and diseases to keep an eye out for
as well as the 2014 Industry Award
winners presentation of projects.
Again, thanks to all the attendees
and vendors who braved the weather that day!

11

Green Works Award Winners - 2014-2015
Right: David Loysen
accepts the
Horticultural
Achievement Award
presented by pastpresident Layne Tharp.

Right: Rebecca
Lindenmeyr, winner of
the Environmental
Awareness Award.

Left: Gabe Bushey,
winner of the NENA
Young Nursery person
of the Year Award.

Left: Chris Conant
presents the Allen B.
Crane Horticultural
Employee
Acknowledgement
Award to Betsy Gritman
of Glebe Mountain
Gardens & Landscaping
who was unable to be
there in person due to
the weather.

The 2014 Industry Award winners - bottom row: Nate Carr of Church Hill
Landscapes, Inc.; Megan Moffroid and Kirsten Seibert of Broadleaf
Landscape Architecture; Sarah Stradnter and Charlie Proutt (not
pictured), Distinctive Landscaping. Top row: Gabe Bushey for Lisa
Boege, Church Hill Landscapes, Inc.; Silvia Jope, Old World Garden
Design; Chris diStefano, Andrew Newton and Mike Vannostrand,
diStefano Landscaping; Caroline Dudek, Landshapes; and George
Wohlgemuth, George Wohlgemuth Landscapes.

12

VJ Comai congratulates UVM
Student Merit Award winner
Donald Keith III.

Portrait of a Spring Garden
by Judith Irven, Vermont Certified Horticulturist
It has been a long tedious winter and, for the past two
months, it seems like we have all been concluding our
emails with plaintive entreaties to ‘think spring’!
But by early April the mood is shifting. A palpable sense
of anticipation fills the air and now people are sharing
the signs that spring is
finally coming.
As a gardener, I will be
watching as the new
growth gradually unfolds
after an extended period
of dormancy. Here are
some of the flowers I am
looking forward to
greeting in my garden
when spring finally arrives.

light purples and lots of yellow, and of course the yellowgreen of new leaves.

To illustrate the many ways of combining some of the
bountiful flowers of spring, I
would like to share with
you five different areas of
my garden and some of
the spring flowers that
thrive there. All are easily
grown and would make
lovely additions to any
Vermont garden.
On the barn slope
This steep western-facing
slope, capped by a
handsome 75-year old
Spring: intense but fleeting
farm barn, is easily visible
from the house. The space
My garden is on the
is bisected by the path up
western slopes of the
to the vegetable garden,
Green Mountains at an
Atop an old boulder wall, a large patch of lilac-colored moss
and
a rustic boulder wall
elevation of 1700 feet
phlox, Phlox subulata, makes a beautiful color contrast beside
runs
along
the base. In
elevation, in the tiny town
the bright yellow Aurinia ‘Basket of Gold’.
springtime
this
is a sunny
of Goshen. Our winters are
space,
but
by
the
end of
usually cold and snowy
May
the
nearby
ash
will
(most winters the
cast
their
shadows.
thermometer will
occasionally drop to
As soon as the snow pulls
around -20℉ which puts us
back in the middle of April, I
into Zone 4b). So, by the
will be eagerly waiting for
second week of April, I am
the first snowdrops to
waiting impatiently for a
emerge across the upper
telltale row of yellow
parts of the slope, telling
daffodils to appear in the
me that spring is finally
warm soil next to the house.
starting in the mountains.
What follows next is almost
By May, large patches of
magical. As if to make up
moss phlox (Phlox subulata)
for lost time, spring unfolds
trail over the wall, providing
by leaps and bounds with
welcome splashes of color. I
an intensity and urgency
am particularly fond of a
that is totally unmatched
bluish purple phlox growing
Hellebores are one of the first flowers to emerge each spring.
at any other time of year.
beside a clump of bright
Flowering trees and shrubs, Once flowering is complete, the leaves remain as a handsome yellow Aurinia ‘Basket Go
clump for the remainder of the season.
perennials and bulbs, in a
Gold’; for several weeks
rainbow of colors, all come
they make a wonderful
together to celebrate the end of winter.
picture together.
Spring lasts a mere six weeks. By early June, it is time for
the flowers of early summer—lilacs and peonies, roses
I also use the space behind the wall to experiment with
and irises, catmint and salvia— to take center-stage in
new plants—or at least plants that are new to me. Now
our gardens.
several sizable clumps of creamy double hellebores, as
well as several kinds of trillium grow in this easily
Fortuitously it seems that all my favorite spring plants
accessible soil. This spring I will also be carefully
have clear bright colors that mix easily together—blues
watching to see if a small patch of bunchberries (Cornus
that match the hue of the mid-day sky, brilliant pinks,
canadensis) I planted a few years back will finally bloom
for me.

13

continued on page 17

organic apple production (the reason many of the crabapsley Richards and I think we have some great
ples were cut down in order to reduce scab and other
ns put together, with a focus on about 20
diseases) with full details online
tunias (near the boathouse), several new coleus
(http://www.uvm.edu/~organica/), and the third year of
new sweet potato vines. One of my favorites
by Dr.
Leonard
- UVM
Extension Horticulturist
trials
on hardy
grapePerry
varieties
(http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/).
s most unusual is the new Pretty Much Picasso
olet purple with a lime green rim. Another
Submitted
by Leonard Perry
some
years selection
now, those
us mealycup
in Extension in Vermont
variability and weak
g newFor
and
unusual
isof
the
on campus have been in the College of Agriculture and growth. The bluestems
Sallyfun Blue Emotion, tall, blue florets with

news from the U

Life Sciences, but have been funded by Extension which were fairly uniform
is a separate unit off campus. After 8 months of
within a cultivar, but
negotiations among Deans of these units, and with
cultivars varied widely in
AAS garden features about 50% plants from
budget cuts across campus during the latest financial
vigor, only a couple
iew Gardens
(Proven Winners and Selections
crisis, Dean of Extension Doug Lantagne and the
being really
aboutExtension
40% from
DS Coledecided
Growers,
and about
leadership
recently
that 3 of the 6
acceptable, very
eed (All-America
Selections
and
others).
I hope
college campus
Extension
positions
would
now be
uniform and typical
ee these
gardens
insupervision,
Burlingtonwhile
(at the
of
directly
underifhis
thefoot
remaining
3
(Blaze, Blue Heaven with
positions
in low
areas no
worthy of
this by far the best with
by the
ECHO were
center
andpriority
boathouse),
notlonger
only for
support--Equine, and
At least I'm in
excellent fall color).
but as
the bedsDairy,
are planned
to beHorticulture.
different next
good
company
with
a
couple
other
senior
faculty
in
to planned construction and road reconfiguration
main areas of Vermont agriculture. We have heard of
Plans are underway for
no
eliminations
of
positions
in
Extension
administration
or
another
annuals
at the
Burlington
Foundation
Acctseason
ED99, of
79new
Upper
College
Road,
Kingston,
om page 9)
off campus.
Waterfront Park, made possible by support from your
RI, 02881.
association, vegetative new introductions from Pleasant
tal inAs
the
development of the Learning Landscape
my contract runs through June 2016, I will continue
View Gardens and D.S.Cole
former
VT State Pathologist
and Green
URI. until
In 2008,
wascurrent
recognized
forand
his with
many
then he
in my
position
current Scott Pfister,
Growers,
and collaboration
with Burlington
Parks and
Works
supporter
has
left
his
position
in
June
at the
ons toactivities
the green
industry
and
received
the
and research. Plans are for me to then retire,
Recreation. Check out the results from last
year, photos,
Vermontand
Forest
Scott has taken a
s honor
one and
of the
first to
besuite
inducted
into online
yetoftobeing
continue
expand
my
of popular
our Protection
list this year Department.
in June on my website
courses.
I also
plan to continue
(pss.uvm.edu/ppp/aaswp.html).
USDA-APHIS in Washington, DC and will be
A Hallhorticulture
of Fame. He
was also
inducted
into the "some"position with
of my outreach
retirement, on my own or under
the
nd Agricultural
Hallpast
of Fame.
coordinating
the USDA’s programs for the Asian longhorned
Plant and Soil Science umbrella, such as website, Across
beetle, emerald ash borer, and firewood pest mitigation. We
the Fence, articles, garden tours, and support for Green
will miss him and wish him and his family well.
in Ken's
memory may be made to The Kenneth
Works and other industry groups. I also plan to continue
t - RINLA
Horticultural
Scholarship,
URI
my field hardiness trials of new perennials, and
Burlington Waterfront Park display garden. So next June,
after 35 years at UVM (a good run I'd say), I look on this
big change as opening a new chapter in my career. I'm
+34(".)("$!),56"$-()&,$!78."89
excited about the additional time this should afford me
to reach more students with horticulture.
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I'm also excited to continue my field hardiness trials past
next June. Vermont continues to provide an extreme
test site for perennials, particularly it seems in recent
years. This includes the ornamental grasses
(switchgrasses and little bluestem) in my field trials (in
zone 4a). This site provides the coldest of the 18 or so in
this National Ornamental Grass trials program
(grasstrials.com). Check out the website for our results,
as well as those of other sites.
Last winter (2013-14) had a severe ice storm at my site
(1” or more on surfaces), but ground temperatures
remained fairly average. This winter (2014-15) may
prove a serious hardiness test, with 14 days in
January having soil temps. below 28F, and 6 at 25F or
below-- the coldest temperatures in 25 years of my
recording in this zone. This past summer (2014) also was
cooler than normal, with only 4 days 90F
or above, the highest being 93F, and no days in August
at 90F or above. So while the Panicum grew more than
the previous year, with several decent performers
(Dewey Blue, Northwind, Prairie Sky, Shenandoah
Thundercloud), overall many still had quite a bit of

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14

Vermont Agriculture Businesses Face Audits, Big Tax Bills
by Dan D'Ambrosio
This article appeared in the Burlington Free Press on April
2, 2015. We wanted to re-print the article so all of our
members can become aware of the use tax issue that is
impacting our members.

Conant told the auditors he had never paid use tax on
his soil before, but was told that based on the criteria set
forth in the state statute, he should have been. "Plants
are exempt, not the soil they're grow in, not the media
they're grown in," Conant said.

Chris Conant didn't know how mad
he could get until he was audited by
the Vermont Department of Taxes.

Conant asked the auditors if
they thought that "when our
forefathers decided to
develop this criteria in
Montpelier that plants were tax
exempt, do you think they
were thinking everything at the
soil level down was taxable?"

The co-owner of Claussen's Florist &
Greenhouse in Colchester said
auditors were in his business for the
months between April and July 2014
— his busiest season — going over his
records.
"I'm not a rude person, I always make
sure to be very cordial to people I'm
dealing with, but at one point I got so
frustrated because of inconsistent
information that for the first time in my
life I walked away from them and
said, 'I'm done, we're done having this
conversation because obviously
you're challenging my integrity,'"
Conant said. "You're calling me a liar."

Chris Conant, co-owner of Claussen’s
Greenhouse in Colchester, seen on Feb. 26.
Claussen’s is being audited back to 2011 to
possibly pay a 6 percent tax on items that he
didn’t previously pay tax on. 
(Photo: GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS)

The issue that brought Conant to the boiling point was
the sales and use tax. Gregg Mousley, deputy
commissioner of the tax department, explained the
difference between the two types of tax and how they
are collected.
Take flowers, for example, something Conant sells.
Flowers are sold retail, sales tax is collected, and
therefore flowers are exempt from use tax. The sponge
that holds the flowers, the plastic wrap that wraps them,
the wires and ribbons that adorn them and hold them
together, are not being resold and are therefore subject
to use tax.
"It's a question of whether the item is going to be resold
or if it's being consumed," Mousley said.
If it's resold, sales tax applies. If it's consumed, use tax
applies. Sounds simple, but in Conant's case the
distinction took on almost Orwellian overtones, leaving
Conant frustrated and perplexed.
"They started digging out invoices and looking at
products we use and all of a sudden the language of
use tax came up," Conant said. Conant learned he
would be charged use tax for the soil to grow his plants.
"I don't understand," Conant said. "How do you get a use
tax on soil you grow your plants in when you can't grow
a plant without the soil and the plant is exempt?"

Not our problem, came the
answer, according to Conant.
The plants are exempt, the soil
isn't.
A very fine line

Deputy Commissioner Gregg
Mousley understands Chris
Conant's frustration.] "It comes
down to while the use tax very
generally might make sense to people, how it's
interpreted involves a very fine line regarding what's
eligible and what's not," Mousley said. "It's not always
clear and it's complex and difficult for business owners to
keep track of all the law changes."
As Conant's audit progressed, and the use tax he owed
began to pile up, he realized the seriousness of the
problem he faced. "So when it comes to something like
soil, we don't buy it, we make it out of components,"
Conant said.
Claussen's makes 35,000 yards of soil a year, mixing the
components in a tumbler 10 yards at a time. That adds
up to about $30,000 in use tax he owes going back for
the three-plus years of the audit, 2011-2013 plus two
months of 2014, Conant said. The state statute sunsetted
in July 2014, making the components of soil no longer
subject to use tax, but Conant still owes for the 38
months in the period of the audit.
Conant's total bill for use and sales taxes owed, once his
plastic wrap, tags, pots, packs, boxes and flats were
added to the tally, was nearly $150,000. As of Dec. 1, he
had gotten that bill down to $46,000, "basically through
the diligence of explaining to them about our industry,"
Conant said.
"I don't want this to be a bitch session because I'll do
whatever I'm told, but up to this point there's been

15

continued on page 15

continued from page 14

nothing laid out on the table for us to be told our
obligation for this use tax," he said. "Virtually everything I
touch is being taxed, except the plant," Conant added.

needed roles. Unfortunately, state government was
cutting positions at the same time it was adding them,
Mousley said, which meant the tax department's net
gain of auditors was "significantly less" than 16.

Tom Jennings at Green Mountain Florist Supply in South
Burlington is two years into his audit and is still waiting for
the tax department to get back to him regarding his
counter-offer to the tax bill he was given.

The new auditors also had to be trained in the
complexities of tax law before they could go into the
field. "I can tell you when you hire an auditor they don't
bring in money right away," Mousley said. He said
auditors do not have a quota of unpaid taxes they are
expected to collect.

"They basically came in here looking for any scraps they
could find," Jennings said. "They came at me with
packaging, that what I sold was not floral-related, that it
was packaging."

Another revenue-raising strategy was to hire a data
mining firm to go through massive amounts of tax data
to find what it believed were anomalies, Ashe said.
"Instead of one human being having to pore over
thousands of returns to see if anything stands out,
Vermont followed the lead of other states to have
massive data run through a program to see if anything
stood out wildly," he said.

That non-exempt packaging included vases. Jennings
was handed a $200,000 bill. He has made a counteroffer based on what he felt was fair that is considerably
less than $200,000. That offer was made right after
Christmas. Jennings said he is sitting on "pins and
needles" waiting for the state to respond.
"My biggest issue, I told them all along, if you really want
to work with businesses, instead of sending out auditors,
send out advisors," Jennings said. "Knock on the door
and ask, 'Would you be interested in knowing if you're
compliant or not?' Come on in and have a meeting. But
that's not how this thing flew."

What that resulted in was a series of industries coming
under heightened scrutiny. One year it was auctioneers.
Another it was people who sell mulch. Then it was
agricultural equipment dealers.
The equipment dealers present a particularly interesting
case, because to be exempt from sales tax, a piece of
equipment must be used 96 percent of the time for
agricultural purposes. If you're talking about a manure
spreader, Gregg Mousley said, the case is pretty clear.

Mousley said the tax department is trying to reach out,
mostly through 15 fact sheets available on its websites.
The tax department is also doing what it can to meet
with business owners face to face.
"We are getting to some industry groups," Mousley said.
"We go out to the Better Business Bureau booth at
certain trade shows. We are doing our best. We only
have two positions that do that and they can only reach
so far."
There are currently more than 500 active appeals like
Jennings' appeal before the tax department, Mousley
said. Predicting how long those appeals will take is
impossible because each one is unique. Often taxpayers
have to produce additional documents as part of the
appeal process. Appeals can take a few weeks, or a
few years, Mousley said.
More auditors, more money
Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, provided the back story
on the surge of audits that spread across Vermont's
business terrain following the Great Recession of 2008.
"Back in 2009 and 2010 when the recession was really
deepening, one of the strategies for increased revenue
was to add additional auditors," Ashe said.
Mousley said the department added 16 positions in
2009, intending all of them to be auditors, but ended up
with only 12 new auditors and four people fulfilling other

But when you're looking at a skid-steer loader, a highly
versatile piece of equipment that can do everything
from cleaning out your barns to clearing your driveway
of snow, there's a gray area big enough to swallow a
dairy cow.
When you're cleaning your barn, you're exempt. When
you're clearing your driveway, you're non-exempt. And
we're not talking chicken feed when it comes to the tax
bill at stake. Skid-steers can easily go for $50,000, which
calculates to about $3,000 in sales tax.
"Let's say you run a small farm and you plow your
mother's driveway across the street with a skid steer,"
said Bill Moore, the Vermont Farm Bureau's legislative
director. "When you calculate plowing mother's
driveway and pulling somebody out of the ditch, both of
which the tax department says are not related to
production, you can whip up four percent really fast."
Don't clear the snow
Gregg Mousley described the difficulty in making those
calculations that presumably go into determining
whether a piece of equipment is tax exempt. "It's really
hard to prove," Mousley said. "In many cases the tax
department has just assumed that certain pieces of

16

continued on page 18

17

continued from page 12

Under the serviceberries
native Virginia bluebells
(Mertensia virginica), as well as
By the end of April the native
some blue lungwort (Pulmonaria)
serviceberries (Amelanchier
among the yellow globeflowers
arborea) in the woods around
(Trollius chinensis).
here will burst into flower; it is an
amazing sight like ‘snow in the
About the third week of May two
springtime’.
large azalea bushes,
Rhododendron ‘White Lights’
But, not to be outdone, at the
and R. ‘Bright Lights’, come into
entrance to our back garden I
flower and completely dominate
planted four smaller Shadblow
the scene: indeed people
Serviceberries (A. canadensis)
driving along our dirt road will
that each spring create a
stop to enquire what they are.
dainty white canopy over the
This large patch of bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis,
bed below.
Around the gazebo
grew from a tiny section of root that Judith planted
This lightly shaded bed has
Finally, in late May, just as the
about six years ago.
proven to be the perfect
weather is warming up enough
environment for some of our
for outdoor living, the three crab
native woodland wildflowers,
apples behind our gazebo—two
including bloodroot (Sanguinaria
elegant ‘Liset' cultivars, plus a
canadensis) with clear white
larger Selkirk—completely cover
flowers that look lovely among
themselves with rose-pink
with the purple woodland phlox
flowers. And on the ground, a
(Phlox divaricata). There is also
carpet of forget-me-nots,
Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla)
punctuated by dozens of
which contrasts beautifully with
beautiful apricot and white
the adjacent fringed bleeding
Salome daffodils, completely
heart (Dicentra eximia).
hide the soil.
In the more heavily shaded area
Nearby the pure white flowers of
towards the back of the bed
two Weston’s Innocence azaleas
there are large swarths of
perfume the air with their intense
The brilliant pink flowers of the Japanese Primrose,
epimedium, with their fresh
fragrance, while also making a
Primula kisoana, are profuse and long-lasting, and make pretty picture next to the deep
green arrow-shaped leaves.
a real stand-out in the spring garden.
pink flowers of a ‘Wine and
And, along the front of the bed,
Roses’ Weigela.
you can’t miss a small
Koreanspice bush (Viburnum
In the wild
carlesii) filling the air with its
Over the years I have planted
heady fragrance. This is
lots of carefree daffodils in my
surrounded by a carpet of
flowerbeds. However all daffodil
bright pink Japanese Primroses
bulbs will multiply in place and
(Primula kisoana). I do note
eventually start to take over
however, that, while I love the
valuable bed space. So every
brilliant color of Primula kisoana
June, I make a habit of digging
in my spring garden, it needs to
up clumps that have outgrown
be enclosed with a six-inch root
their welcome. I relocate these
barrier to prevent it from overto our meadow or along the
running other less exuberant
edge of our woods. This chore is
neighbors.
best done as soon the flowers
Sweet Betsy, Trillium cuneatum, is a lovely addition to a
In the shade of old maples
have
died back, but before the
woodland garden. A native of south eastern USA, it is
leaves
turn brown.
At the front of the house a huge listed as hardy to Zone 5, but has been growing for
grey rock, a relic of the ice age, several years now in the author's Vermont garden.
They continue to expand in
creates a massive backdrop to
these wilder areas, and each
the bed that I see from my study window. This bed is
spring they emerge out of the cold ground, creating ‘a
shaded by three ancient maple trees growing beside the
host of golden daffodils’, as immortalized two centuries
road. But, despite the inevitable tree roots in the soil,
ago by William Wordsworth.
each spring it is filled with flowers.
I hope some of these ideas will help you create spring
For a full month the perennials in this bed create a
gardens for your clients that they will enjoy for many years
delightful study in blue and yellow. There are lots of yellow to come.
English primroses (Primula vulgaris) interspersed with our
18

continued from page 15

equipment are not tax exempt. You would have to have a
log to prove you use it 96 percent of the time on
agricultural purposes. That's where it gets really hard. If you
push the snow out of your driveway you're done."
The Farm Bureau got involved in the sales and use tax
debate after equipment dealers became the focus of
audits.
"It's on our list of priority issues to straighten out because it's
a mess and ultimately the people who will pay the bill for
shrinking of the farm exemption will be farmers," said Clark
Hinsdale, a Charlotte dairy farmer and long-time president
of the Farm Bureau.

What Are You
Planting Today?
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Gary Morris, owner of Essex Equipment, organized a
meeting in October with legislators, business owners and
others to discuss the audits, including his own, which he has
appealed. Morris declined to talk to the Burlington Free
Press for this story.

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Bill Moore explained why some dealers may be reluctant
to talk. "I will tell you I am personally aware of over $2.5
million in disputed exemptions just among equipment
dealers," Moore said. "The dealers don't want to talk to you
because there's real money involved."
Meanwhile, back at Claussen's Greenhouse, Chris Conant
waits for his grievance to be processed by the tax
department. He tried to settle for just over $20,000 but that
didn't fly. He thinks there could be 100 businesses ahead of
him in the queue and figures it could be more than a year
before he gets "closure."
"I'm frustrated," Conant said. "Every bill that goes through
my hands, based on what's being challenged, I'm
accounting for it in preparation for paying use tax. I have
to. If I don't they can randomly come in and say, 'How
come you're not paying use tax on this?'" "I'm scared stiff
of how much more I'll have to pay, I really am," he said.
Reprinted with permission by the Burlington Free Press and the
author. Contact Dan D'Ambrosio at 660-1841 or
ddambrosio@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at
www.twitter.com/DanDambrosioVT.

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19

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YEARS

SOUL Program Educates Tree Enthusiasts
On Saturday April 18th, 20 participants completed their
SOUL training with a day filled with classroom and
hands-on workshops. SOUL,
an acronym for Stewards Of
the Urban Landscape, is a
training course offered by
the Vermont Urban and
Community Forestry Program
in partnership with UVM
Extension to educate
individuals throughout the
state on trees and their
proper care providing them
with skills that they can apply
as tree stewards in their local
communities.

project in their community in order to earn certification
as a Vermont Tree Steward. Training included topics on
Vermont tree laws and
policies, tree biology and
health, identification, and
proper planting and
maintenance among others.

Participants attended four
consecutive Wednesday
evening sessions and the full
SOUL Tree Stewards.
day Saturday session at the
UVM Extension Service
offices in Middlebury and
were required to design and complete a volunteer

Many individuals have
completed this training
throughout the state over the
last several years and their
contribution to maintaining
the trees in their communities
has been invaluable. If you
are interested in taking part
in future SOUL trainings
contact the Vermont Urban
and Community Forestry
Program for more
information. Healthy trees
make healthy communities.

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20

Understanding Vermont Sales and Use Tax

by Shannon Lee - VNLA Legislative Committee Chair
In response to some of our members being audited
regarding sales and use tax in Vermont, board member
Shannon Lee has written the below article that speaks to the
basics of Vermont sales and use tax.

subject to tax even if it is later to be removed from this state.
In general, any exercise of right or power over tangible
personal property by the purchaser is considered use.
Use tax is a tax imposed on the purchaser of property used
in Vermont. It applies only if sales tax was not paid on
property that would have been taxable in Vermont. The
purchase can be either in Vermont or outside of Vermont. In
general, vendors outside Vermont should collect use tax on
shipments coming to Vermont. If the vendor does not have
any other connection with Vermont, the state may not have
the ability to require the vendor to collect the use tax. In
these situations, the user is then legally obligated to pay the
use tax directly to the Vermont Department of Taxes. In-state
vendors should also collect tax unless they have a properly
executed exemption certificate from their customer, but
sometimes errors are made and if Sales tax was not
collected, Use Tax is still due.

This age of internet and interstate commerce has left many
state governments gleaning less tax revenue. Vermont is no
exception. Budgeting at the state level makes necessary
finding the funds to implement a myriad of mandated
programs. Increased tax audits have targeted a number of
different industries in the state. In the past few years, a
number of Green Works member businesses have been
approached by the Vermont Tax Department on grounds of
noncompliance with the state Sales and Use Tax.
Most states levy a tax on the production, use, or
consumption of goods and services. This tax takes a variety
of forms—the most common being Sales and Use Tax.
Currently, every state imposes sales and use taxes except
Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon.
In recent years, states have become increasingly aggressive
in the sales and use tax area through both legislative
changes and enforcement. In Vermont, the likelihood of
being audited has increased, and companies need to be
prepared for challenges. Understanding your business's sales
and use tax liabilities is crucial to your ability to comply with
tax law.

Essentially, the Vermont Tax Department is legally entitled to
collect sales tax or use tax from the end consumer for all
tangible personal property. If, in the conduct of business,
you are required to purchase and resale any tangible
property, you take on liability for paying this sales or use tax,
with the exception being, you collect the sales tax from your
client and remit it to the tax department. If the property was
used as a component of an end product, it should be
clearly itemized as such when invoicing and taxing your
client, the end consumer. This is necessary because the
burden of proof is on you, the business owner, should the tax
department have any questions.

Sales tax is a transaction tax, calculated as a percentage of
the sales price. The Vermont Sales and Use Tax is imposed on
the retail sales of tangible personal property unless
exempted by law. The Sales and Use Tax rate is 6%. Certain
municipalities may also levy a local option tax of 1%. A sales
tax may legally be imposed on the seller or the purchaser,
but it is typically collected by the seller from the purchaser
and remitted to the state. A seller must collect Sales Tax at
the time and place of sale. If the tangible personal property
purchased is subject to Sales Tax, but it is not charged, then
a Use Tax is imposed on the purchaser of such goods. For
example, if you purchase an item online or in a state that
does not charge Sales Tax, you must then pay a Use Tax.

If you find you have a Sales and Use Tax liability, you must
register your business. You should complete an Application
for Business Tax Account, Form S-1, which is available at
www.state.vt.us/tax or by calling 802-828-2515. You will
receive your assigned Vermont Business Tax Account
Number, license and filing instructions from the Business Tax
area. Once your application has been processed, you will
receive a packet with your assigned Vermont Business Tax
Account number, Sales and Use Tax license, and Sales and
Use Tax Returns. You will also receive instructions and a PIN
number you can use to file online using BIZ FILE. You may file
and pay your taxes online or on the returns provided in the
packet. No substitute returns are authorized for Sales and
Use Tax and a tax return must be filed as scheduled even if
no tax is due for that reporting period.

The Use Tax is the same rate and has the same exemptions
as the Sales Tax. The sales tax and use tax work together to
create the same tax result regardless of whether property is
purchased from a vendor who does or does not collect
sales tax. If another state’s sales tax is paid, Vermont gives
credit for any sales tax paid legally to another state on the
items to avoid double taxation. If that state’s sales tax is less
than Vermont, the purchaser is responsible for the
difference. For example, sales tax in State of Utopia is 2%
and sales tax in Vermont is 6%. The purchaser needs to pay
a 4% use tax on the purchase. Note that use as defined in
the Vermont Sales and Use Tax law does not just mean
consumed goods. Property which is received, stored,
operated, as well as property consumed in Vermont is

While this article discusses the sales and use tax issue, it is not
intended to provide tax, legal, or accounting advice.
Before using this information to establish policies or
determine the taxability or exemption of transactions, it is
recommended that you review the issues thoroughly with
your tax, accounting, and/or legal advisors.

21

Lowe’s Joins Home Depot in Phasing out Neonics
P.O. Box 92
N. On
Ferrisburgh,
VT it’s
05473
April 9 Lowe’s said
phasing out shelf products that
contain neonicotinoid-containing pesticides (neonics) and
will work with growers over the next four years to eliminate
the use of neonics on bee-attractive plants they sell.
Lowe’s made the announcement on page 27 of its 2014
“Social Responsibility Report” in a section titled “Listening to
Stakeholders.” Lowe’s joins Home Depot and independent
garden center chain Bachman’s, who last year announced
that they were phasing out neonic-containing shelf
products and plants that had been treated with neonics
during propagation and grow-out.

by Gregg Robertson
The state of the science
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural
Research Service (ARS), which has been the lead federal
agency investigating honey bee CCD concludes that, “No
scientific cause for CCD has been proven.” (http://
www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=15572).
USDA outlines a wide range of potential threats to honey
bee populations:
“But CCD is far from the only risk to the health of honey
bees and the economic stability of commercial
beekeeping and pollination operations in the United
States. Since the 1980s, honey bees and beekeepers
have had to deal with a host of new pathogens from
deformed wing virus to nosema fungi, new parasites
such as Varroa mites, pests like small hive beetles,
nutrition problems from lack of diversity or availability
in pollen and nectar sources, and possible sublethal
effects of pesticides.”

Science or stakeholder pressure?
But while taking action to phase out neonics, Lowe’s
acknowledged its move was driven by more by
“stakeholder“ pressure than scientific evidence showing
neonics are the cause of honey-bee colony collapse
disorder (CCD).
Lowe’s Social Responsibility report states: “Studies indicate
that multiple factors, including mites, poor nutrition, loss of
habitat and genetic conditions, are potentially damaging
the health of pollinators. Some studies say that
neonicotinoid (neonics) pesticides may be a factor.”

In a 2014 report, USDA concludes there’s a growing
consensus among researchers that one of the largest
contributors to poor colony health and colony losses is the
continued on page 23

22

Holiday Decor from the Back Yard
by Mary Sullivan Cliver
When I begin with a new landscape client, I usually ask
questions about how they plan to use the space, likes
and dislikes and their expectations. One specific
question is about plant materials that will provide cutting
flowers and other materials for the house.

Microbiota that flank our River Birch and were a
wonderful burgundy bronze in color. Buried in snow,
what they add to an arrangement makes getting them
into the house worth any inconvenience. And if a few
curls of bark come off that Birch – they’d be most
welcome in a rustic arrangement for the kitchen.

I finally finished putting Christmas 2014 away – it’s been
too cold to spend much time in my unheated attic, but it
occurred to me while packing up that I need to broaden
that question to include the winter holidays. If you want
seasonal accents for inside for Thanksgiving, Christmas
and New Years, being able to reach outside your front
door or clip along your hedgerow can help your
homeowner personalize their holiday decor and make it
uniquely their own. This year, looking outside two weeks
before the date, I’d probably consider Easter in that plan
and add some easily forced shrubs and other elements.

Many Hollies will thrive in Vermont, either evergreen or
deciduous and these are prime candidates for use
indoors. The native Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata)
and its many hybrids provide the perfect touch of red to
enhance mostly evergreen centerpieces. They were
particularly spectacular last fall. I did see a wonderful
colony next to the Brandon Police Station, but
trespassing there is probably not a good idea. Add
some mums, carnations, alstroemeria or other fresh
flowers from the florist and you have something
wonderful for your holiday table.

What first comes to mind, of course are the evergreens –
which now come in so many more colors than green.
Careful clipping can produce a wonderful array of
textures, colors and scents to be enjoyed indoors. So
spruce, pine, fir and yew, cedar, juniper, cypress and
many others are easily within reach. In designing for my
clients, I’ll track down some of the smaller versions of
these often giant plants to provide that Vermontessential, garden winter interest as well as potential
materials for the winter arranger. From having spent
many hours this winter gazing longingly outside, I see that
I need to add some larger evergreen interest to my own
yard. All of my ‘minis’ have been buried for months.

Dried Hydrangea blossoms either served ‘au natural’ or
lightly sprayed with gold or silver are a delicate
counterpoint to more solid dark greens. So are milkweed
pods in their native state or lightly brushed with gold or
silver. The spent flower stalks from Astilbe or the
wonderful chocolate heads of Sedum are also great
tucked into fresh or dried arrangements. And that
branch that came off the oak with leaves still
attached ... I didn’t see it at Thanksgiving, but I can
probably spray them gold for next year and add them to
the ... well, I do try to keep my inner Martha Stewart in
check, but there are times when I just want to decorate
till I drop. And any or all of the above could be brushed
or sprayed with pale pastel colors to create that perfect
spring centerpiece with a few purchased daffodils or
tulips or other forced bulbs to add some springtime joy.

I do have hardy Boxwood that are big enough to clip to
provide wonderful, aromatic, shiny evergreen foliage to
supplement my purchased flowers. Another favorite
from my yard are the two delicate looking, needled

Participate in Green Works
2015 Industry Awards Program
Scope out your projects and
take lots of photos this season!
Entry forms coming to your
mailbox in August!

23

continued from page 21

Varroa mite, an Asian bee parasite first found in the U.S. in
1987.
Hive losses due to CCD fell during the winter of 2013-2014,
which USDA suggests may have been due to more
aggressive treatment by beekeepers for Varroa mites. In
fact, USDA recommends aggressive treatment for the
Varroa mite as one of the most effect means of staving off
CCD in commercial hives.
Honey bees do play an important role in U.S. food
production, increasing crop yields by an estimated $15
billion per year. Some crops, such as almonds, rely almost
exclusively on pollination by commercial honey bee
colonies, according to ARS. Many fruit tree crops, such as
apples and peaches, also rely on commercial honey bee
pollination.
Neonics effective and less toxic
Neonics have been shown to be an effective and less toxic
solution to controlling insect pests, which accounts for their
now widespread use in production agriculture and the
managed landscape. Neonics are the only effective
treatment for the hemlock wooly adelgid, which is
devastating native hemlocks in forests and home
landscapes. Likewise, neonics are the only effective
treatment for control of the emerald ash borer, which
threatens to wipe out ash species across North America.
But public opinion is running ahead of the science when it
comes to the health of the honey bee population. Antineonic groups have mounted a very effective public
relations campaign targeted at large retail chains that carry
neonic shelf products and neonic-treated plants. Home
Depot and Lowe’s were the first to fall. So far Walmart has
made no public statements on use of neonics in its garden
center products and plants, but it’s clearly in the crosshairs
of the anti-neonic forces.

How will this affect you?
How will this trend affect professional use of neonics in the
managed landscape? First, you may find some of your
customers request you not to use neonic-treated plants in
your installations or neonic-containing pesticides in the
maintenance work you do. The anti-neonic forces have
been quite successful in molding public opinion on this issue.
Second, some states and localities may impose their own
restrictions on neonicotinoid use. Last year, the city of
Eugene, Ore., banned the use of neonics on city property.
The state of Oregon recently banned the use of neonics on
linden trees and other Tilia species. Others may follow as the
anti-neonic forces move to the local and state levels with
their campaign.
Finally, I don’t think we’ll see a federal ban on neonic use in
the near future, if at all. EPA has begun a review of all
neonics, but their reports are not due until 2017-2019. I
would not be surprised to see some further label restrictions
on the use of neonics, but the possibility of an outright ban is
remote. Hopefully, in reaching a decision on the future on
neonics, EPA will follow the science and not public opinion.
For more information on neonics and pollinator health,
AmericanHort has an excellent website and video on the
topic. Go to http://americanhort.org/bees.

About the Author: Gregg Robertson, Landscape
Management's government relations blogger, is a government
relations consultant for the Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery
Association (PLNA) and president of Conewago Ventures. From
2002 until May 2013 he served as president of PLNA. Reach him
at gregg.robertson@conewagoventures.com. This article
originally appeared on LandscapeManagement.net and has
been reprinted with permission.

Montreal Botanic Garden & Jean-Talon Market Tour September 14-15, 2015
You will not want to miss this first overnight tour Green Works
& UVM Extension is offering to one of the world’s top garden
attractions, the Montreal Botanic Gardens, to see the
famous Chinese lanterns by day and by night. You’ll have
the chance to dine in Old Montreal, and spend several
hours the second day at the Jean-Talon Market, one of the
largest produce markets in North America located in Little
Italy.
Leaving the Horticulture Research Center in So. Burlington
at 8am, returning around 5pm on day 2, we'll travel in a
Premier luxury coach. Overnight will be at the Hotel
Universel near the gardens. The tour price includes
admission to the greenhouse conservatories, gardens, and
Insectarium (celebrating its 25th anniversary), and includes

an optional hour guided tour. Also included are the hotel,
breakfast day two, and driver gratuity. Lunch on day one
may be purchased at the gardens, or you may bring your
own. There are many eateries at the market, as well as fresh
produce, for dining day two.
For complete details on the tour and to download a
registration form please visit www.greenworksvermont.org/
2015/04/17/montreal-botanic-gardens-tourseptember-14-15-2015/. The registration deadline is August
7, 2015 but register early to ensure your spot! The cost per
person is $249 (double occupancy); add an additional $90
for a single room supplement. Contact Kristina in the
office if you have any questions.

24

Industry Calendar
July 27-August 1, 2015
Perennial Plant Association’s
Perennial Plant Symposium
Hilton Baltimore
www.perennialplant.org/events

September 14-15, 2015 - TBA
Montreal Botanical Gardens & JeanTalon Market Tour
Registration Deadline: 8/7/15
www.greenworksvermont.org

August 6, 2015 - Thursday
Green Works/VNLA Summer Meeting
& Trade Show
Shelburne Farms-Coach Barn
www.greenworksvermont.org

October 39, 2015
Landscape and Forest Tree and Shrub
Disease Workshop
UMASS Extension
UMASS-Amherst
www.ag.umass.edu/events/
landscape-forest-tree-shrub-diseaseworkshop-0

September 10, 2015
Selected Topics for Tree Care
Professionals
UMASS Extension
Holiday Inn
Taunton, MA
www.ag.umass.edu/events/
selected-topics-for-tree-careprofessionals-1

December 2-4, 2015
New England Grows
Boston Convention Exhibition Center
www.newenglandgrows.org

25

March 9-10, 2016
Ecological Landscape Alliance
Annual Conference & EcoMarketplace
UMASS Amherst Campus
www.ela.org

THANK YOU TO ALL OUR VERMONT FLOWER SHOW SPONSORS!

Sponsors
50th Anniversary Supporters

Presenting Sponsors for 2015

Karl & Diane Neuse, Middlebury, VT

Bag Sponsors
Cooking Display Sponsors

Media Sponsors

Contributing Sponsors
Deborah Healey, Shelburne, VT

Daily Seminar Sponsor

CW
LLC.

Lighting

In-Kind Sponsors:
Agway, Essex
Agway, Middlebury
Aquarius Landscape Sprinklers, Inc.
Ash ley Robinson, Landscape
Designer
Bristol Electronics
Center for Technology, Essex
Charley MacMartin, Queen City
Soil & Stone
Church Hill Landscapes, Inc
Claussen’s Florist & Greenhouse
Cobble Creek Nursery
Craig Scribner Trucking
CW Stageworks
Denice Carpentry
Dixondale Farms
Eben Markowski & Heidi
Mahoney
Emily Leopold
Evergreen Gardens
Fairfax Perennial Farm
Full Circle Gardens
Gardener’s Supply Company
Ginkgo Design, LLC
Green Feet Gardening
Greenhaven Gardens & Nursery
Green Mountain Compost
Green Mountain Florist Supply

Homer Wells
Horsford Gardens & Nursery
Iron Arts
Jeffersonville Quarry
Kate Brook Nursery
Katie Raycroft-Meyer
Landshapes
Long Leaf Landscaping, LLC
Longacres Nursery
Marie P. Limoge, Designer for
diStefano Landscaping
Marijke’s Perennials Plus
Masefield Dry Stone Masonry
Matt Atkins Property Services, LLC
Melita J. Bass, VCH
Millican Nursery
Milton CAT
Mur phy Landscape Design &
Sitework
NES Rentals
Nortrax
No Waste Tape
Nor th Branch Farm and Gardens
Northern Nurseries
Northland Job Corp
Nourse Farms
Pete’s Pines and Needles Tree
Farm

26

|

Audio

|

Staging

Prescott Galleries
Price Chopper
Prides Corner Farm
River’s Bend Design,
Garden LLC
Design
Rocky Dale Gardens
R.R. Charlebois, Inc.
Shaw Hill Nursery
Shelburne Farms
SJC Garden Services
Sisters of Nature
South Forty Nursery
Starflower Studio
Swift Greenhouses, Inc.
Techo-Bloc
Trowel Trades Supply, Inc.
University of Vermont Extension
UV M Extension Master Gardeners
UVM Horticulture Club
Van Berkum Nursery
Vermont Department of
Forest, Parks & Recreation
Vermont Garden Railway Society
Vermont H’Art
Vermont Mulch Company
Vermont Natural Ag Products
Vermont Technical College
Wright Family Farm, LLC

55

PO Box 92
North Ferrisburgh, VT 05473

visit us at www.greenworksvermont.org

27