Thursday, October 30, 2014

Making hay when the weather stinks

We've all heard of making hay when the sun shines. The Garden Corner retail nursery in Tualatin, Oregon — which is known for its creative marketing — recently did the opposite.

Owner Jonn Karsseboom put together this clever video showing the impact of recent wind and rain at his nursery:

Jonn then used his email marketing list to send the video to followers. It was a cool idea. It underlined his nursery's quirky branding and helped customers remember his business at a time of year when most probably won't have garden centers on their minds. And the thing is, videos like this are not difficult to make. Jonn's was made using the program iMovie, which comes with every Mac computer (we at Digger magazine know this, because we use that program, too). The music by Andy Williams was a very nice touch, as well.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Customers will pay more for the green label

Will retail customers pay more for plants that are labeled "water conserving" or "disease free?" According to Dr. James Pease, professor of agricultural and applied economics at Virginia Tech, the answer is yes.

Dr. Pease conducted a survey and found that the difference, in fact, could vary from 9 percent to as high as 60 percent, depending on the type of plant. He will share the results in detail during a webinar that is set for noon Eastern time (9 a.m. on the West Coast) on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.Industry members are invited to participate. Simply log on to and select "enter as a guest." Then type in your name. Then, dial the conference phone number (1-888-619-1583) and enter participant code 491981.

Monday, October 27, 2014

OAN honors the industry's best at annual convention

The Oregon Association of Nurseries recently honored several members for their outstanding achievements and service to the nursery industry. These awards were announced at the annual OAN Convention on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014 at The Oregon Garden Resort in Silverton, Oregon. The convention was hosted by past OAN presidents Bob Terry of Fisher Farms (2008) and Kathy LeCompte of Brooks Tree Farm (2001).

The convention also featured the passing of the president’s gavel from wholesale grower and nursery equipment dealer Matt Gold (Gold Hill Nursery and Midas Nursery Solutions, Hillsboro) to Mike Coleman (Arrowhead Ornamentals LLC, Hubbard).

Coleman will lead a 22-member Board of Directors, which includes a seven-member Executive Committee, in leading the 900-member trade association, which represents a nursery industry that regularly achieves gross sales of more than $750 million per year.

The awards were as follows:
  • The OAN Outstanding Service Award went to Sean Hogan, co-owner of Cistus Design Nursery, a wholesale and retail nursery and landscape design firm based on Sauvie Island in Portland. The award is given for outstanding long-term service to the industry and association. Hogan is a grower, designer, plant explorer, speaker and author with an encyclopedic knowledge of horticulture. He cofounded his business with his partner, Parker Sanderson, and it has become known worldwide for its advocacy of unusual and underused plants. His service to the OAN has included involvement in the Yard, Garden & Patio Show and the Farwest Trade Show, and currently, he is helping plan a trial garden for woody ornamental plants.
  • The Clayton W. Hannon Distinguished Service Award went to Mark Sander, who works with his brother, Matt, at Matt Sander Landscape Services in Hillsboro. The award honors specific and notable service to the industry. It is named for Clayton W. Hannon, the former OAN executive director. Mark was chosen in recognition of more than 20 years of volunteer service to the Yard, Garden & Patio Show. He took on the role of coordinator of the show’s Showcase Gardens, and to this day, he continues to work with Showcase Garden and Edible Garden designers and contractors to guide them through the processes of design, set up and tear down.
  • The Political Awareness Award went to John Coulter, general manager of Fisher Farms in Gaston. The award honors an individual who has shown exceptional political awareness in dedicated support of the nursery industry. Coulter was recognized for his two years of service as the chairman of the OAN Government Relations Committee. He played a key role as the OAN secured passage of the state’s first ever water supply bill and the driver’s card bill, and won increased funding for OSU Extension and state natural resource agencies.
  • The Distinguished Education Award went to Gail Gredler, who recently retired from Chemeketa Community College in Salem. The award is given for exceptional service through education, extension or government service. Gredler was honored for her service as the director of horticulture at Chemeketa. During seven years of service, she expanded the program’s role and its offerings, as well as its relationship with the nursery industry. Prior to joining Chemeketa, she served as a research technician for the OSU Department of Horticulture and the OSU Marion County Extension, an extension agent in Yamhill County, and the Director of Education at the Oregon Garden.
  • The New Nursery Professional of the Year Award went to Jason Hupp, owner of Western Evergreen, a wholesale grower based in Silverton. Hupp went straight into the nursery industry after high school, working with his grandparents, Delbert and Barbara Hupp, at Drakes Crossing Nursery. Then, a decade ago, he started his own nursery, Western Evergreen, which sells high-quality grafted conifers.
  • The Chapter of the Year Award was given to the Willamette Chapter. The award is given to a committee or chapter that is particularly successful in service to the OAN membership. The Willamette Chapter was chosen for its longstanding community involvement, for its support of future leaders of agriculture through a scholarship at Chemeketa Community College, and for its effort this year to re-engage the chapter community through collaboration with other chapters.
  • And finally, the President’s Five Star Awards, chosen by outgoing president Matt Gold, went to Jim Gilbert of Northwoods Nursery, Dick Joyce of Joyce Farms, Jerry Simnitt of Simnitt Nursery, OAN Executive Diretor Jeff Stone, and to the president's wife, Tonya Gold. These awards are given in recognition of outstanding or crucial service, assistance or support rendered during the president’s year.
The next OAN Convention was announced for November 13–14, 2015 at Eagle Crest Resort in Redmond, Oregon. The event will be co-hosted by past OAN presidents Kristin VanHoose of Amethyst Hill Nursery (2011) and Rod Park of Park's Nursery (1991).

Monday, October 20, 2014

October Digger arrives in mailboxes

Ferns, epimediums and other Northwest natives are just a few of the plants that can withstand the darkest, driest growing conditions (PDF), as featured on the cover of the new issue of Digger magazine.

Other stories in the October 2014 issue include:
"A new crop of leaders" (pdf) — These young guns of Oregon's nursery industry represent the future.
"The best/worst time for pathogens" (pdf) — New, weather-driven risk models indicate when box blight and apple scab are more likely to spread.
"Conversation-piece plants" (pdf) — Garden columnist Mike Darcy picks the plants that will get people talking.
"The plan before the plants" (pdf) — To make money in a post-recession economy, a good production plan is vital.
"Oregon at a crossroads" (pdf) — OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone outlines the reasons why voting yes on Measure 88 is crucial for the state's economy.

You can also read this month's flipbook edition of Digger (Flash required; fast connection recommended). Please send your comments on the issue to editor Curt Kipp at

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Consumers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly plant containers, study says

Previous studies conducted by the Horticultural Research Institute have shown that consumers are willing to pay a bit more for eco-friendly plant containers. Now, a new study recently published in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture puts some numbers on how much consumers value sustainability and the environment.

Plant buyers were willing to pay:

  • 16.7 cents more for plants grown using sustainable production methods
  • 16.5 cents more for plants grown using energy-saving production methods
  • 18.2 cents more for plants in compostable plant containers
  • 14.3 cents more for plants in plantable containers
  • 15.3 cents more for locally produced plants
  • 37.8 cents less for plants produced outside of the U.S.

Purchase decisions were largely based on how much plant buyers considered future versus immediate consequences of their choices. Those who were more concerned with immediate outcomes were not willing to pay a price premium in most cases. However, they were willing to pay a premium for compostable and water-saving ones (both of which offer short-term benefits).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Brown marmorated stink bug sightings increase

There’s been a sharp uptick in reported sightings of the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), an invasive insect which can cause heavy damage in home gardens as well production nurseries.

The insects are known to enjoy munching on cucumbers, raspberries, beans and several types of ornamental plants and trees. According to a report on KATU, preferred hosts include gold chain tree, Oregon ash, holly, Oregon grape, butterfly bush, catalpa and the empress tree. The pest initially was considered a mere nuisance, but high levels of economic damage on the East Coast have elevated the level of concern.

Those who spot the bug, particularly in a grower environment, are encouraged to first confirm it using this guide, as it is often confused with similar species. Once it is confirmed, you may report it by sending an email to Please attach a digital photo if possible. For more information, click here.

Rogg taking over for Hilburn at ODA Plant Program

Dr. Helmuth Rogg (pictured) has been appointed the new director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture Plant Program Area. He replaces Dan Hilburn, who will retire at the end of October.

Rogg has served as the manager of the ODA’s Insect Pest Prevention and Management Program since 2008, and was an entomologist with ODA for three years prior to that. He holds a doctorate in entomology and biocontrol from the University of Giessen in Germany, and a master of science from the University of Regensburg, also in Germany.

Rogg indicated he would spend some time learning the issues and getting to know people involved with ODA as well as the nursery industry. “I have some big boots to fill that Dan is leaving behind,” he said. “I want to work really closely with our nursery industry and help show people the value of our programs. We want to hear from the industry, as well, what we can do to be of greater service.”

Hilburn has served as Plant Division administrator since 1995. Prior to that he served as an ODA staff entomologist for five years. “I didn’t know anything about the nursery industry when I started, and it’s been a great education,” he said.

During his 19 years in the position, he gained nursery knowledge, as well as a strong respect for the nursery industry. “I think we’ve made it a good balance between our enforcement role and our assisting role,” Hilburn said. “The nursery industry has been a great partner.”

Growers, the OAN and the ODA Plant Division have all worked together to address pest and disease issues, so that Oregon-grown plant material remains clean and suitable for the market. “People continue to look to Oregon for high-quality nursery stock,” Hilburn said, “and that’s what we want.”

OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone said that Hilburn has provided key leadership on the issue of plant pests and diseases. “He has been a tremendous partner and advocate for Oregon's program to ship clean quality plants to domestic and international markets,” Stone said.

Dr. Prakash Hebbar agreed. Hebbar is the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s national policy manager for Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes sudden oak death. He credited Hilburn with a key role in pushing for a systems approach to plant health, rather than the more traditional endpoint inspections, which cost more and are less effective. “The leadership role Dan Hilburn played was instrumental in building confidence among the stakeholders on the regulatory program implementation in Oregon and spreading the crucial message of the importance of systems approaches for managing pests and diseases,” Hebbar said. “He has set a very high bar indeed.”

But one that Rogg, as Hilburn’s successor, hopes to be able to match.

“The challenges that we are facing are huge, and we can’t solve them alone,” Rogg said.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Asian longhorned beetle outbreak reported on Long Island

Officials are redoubling their efforts to stamp out the Asian longhorned beetle in New York City and Long Island, according to a report in the New York Times.

The invasive insect destroys maple, willow, birch and other trees by laying eggs under the bark. Overwintering larvae destroy infested trees, and their vascular systems, from the inside. State and federal governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to eradicate the insect through extensive scouting, and the removal of afflicted trees. They've also tried removing host tree species, in order to deprive the bug of its habitat.

The insect is still considered eradicated in New Jersey, but quarantines are still in effect in the states of New York, Ohio and Massachusetts. Neighboring states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions are considered at risk for the bug.

For further information, log onto the USDA's ALB site at

Monday, September 15, 2014

September Digger features fetching conifers, Farwest highlights

Fascinating foliage and shifting colors are just two of the captivating qualities that landed Cryptomeria (PDF) on the cover of the new issue of Digger magazine.

Other features in the September 2014 issue include:

“Farwest continues its momentum in 2014” (PDF) — The 2014 Farwest Trade Show was a smashing success, with exciting new features and a more positive vibe on the show floor.
“Knowing your Phytophthora (PDF) — It’s difficult, but important, to distinguish between different species of the deadly plant pathogen.
“Spreading nutrition over time” (PDF) — Knowing the effects of temperature and timing will help growers get the most from controlled-release fertilizers.
“Reaching toward Farwest’s future” (PDF) — The 2014 Farwest Trade Show is barely a memory, yet OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone says the association is already forging big plans for 2015.

You can also read this month's flipbook edition of Digger (Flash required; fast connection recommended). Please send your comments on the issue to editor Curt Kipp at

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Invasive species cook-off set for Sept. 28

Chef Philippe Parola and his
Asian Carp dish with Tour Eiffel
Invasive species, such as nutria and Japanese knotweed, pose a major threat to native habitats, costing the U.S. an estimated $120 billion annually.

One way to beat them is by eating them! Promoting this idea is the “Eradication by Mastication” event. The fundraiser, now in its second year, was created in response to a national movement of chefs who are experimenting with invasive species dishes.

A cook-off competition, live and silent auctions, and buffet featuring fare made with invasive plant and animal species will take place from 2–7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 28 at Zenith Vineyard in Salem, Oregon. Tickets are $75.

• For more information, visit the the event website at