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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Farwest Show: Spring Fleecing Fringe Tree and Lemon Lace™ Elderberry Win Top Honors in the New Varieties Showcase

Press release from the Oregon Association of Nurseries:

Every year, the New Varieties Showcase at the Farwest Trade Show features dozens of outstanding plants that are new to the trade. This year was no exception.

The 2014 showcase featured 52 different trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals with interesting shapes, colors, growth habits and other characteristics. “This was one of the most outstanding collections of plants we’ve ever featured,” said Ann Murphy, director of marketing for the Oregon Association of Nurseries, which produces Farwest. “It’s the quantity as well as the quality. Our judges and attendees were truly impressed with the plants that were submitted.”

But only two of these plants could win top honors from judges and attendees.

The winner of the New Varieties Showcase Best in Show award, chosen by judges, was Spring Fleecing Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus ‘Spring Fleecing’). The judges were horticultural experts with longtime experience in the green industry.

Winning the People’s Choice award, chosen by those attending, was Lemon Lace™ Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa ‘SMNSRD4’ PPAF, CBRAF).

The judges also chose three Plants of Merit: Lemon Lace™ Elderberry, First Editions® Toscana™ Barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘BailJulia’ PPAF, and Mighty Velvet™ Stachys (Lamb’s Ears) (Stachys ‘Bello Grigio’ PPAF). Following are details on each plant that was honored:
  • Best in Show winner Spring Fleecing Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus ‘Spring Fleecing’), was selected by Sam Allen of Tarheel Native Trees in North Carolina. It is offered by Heritage Seedlings Inc. “Even when not in bloom, it is attractive,” Murphy said. “Judges said the foliage is beautiful and the stems are gorgeous. It should be used more in the landscape, especially as a street tree, and it has broad appeal across many zones.”
  • People’s Choice winner Lemon Lace™ Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa ‘SMNSRD4’ PPAF, CBRAF), was discovered by Tim Wood, Spring Meadow Nursery Inc., Michigan, and introduced by Proven Winners® ColorChoice®. It is available from Farwest exhibitors Spring Meadow Nursery Inc./Proven Winners® ColorChoice® and Fisher Farms LLC. “People really liked the bright chartreuse leaves in a modest-sized elderberry,” Murphy said.
  • Plant of Merit winner First Editions® Toscana™ Barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘BailJulia’ PPAF), was bred by Don Selinger of Bailey Nurseries Inc. and introduced by Bailey Nurseries Inc.
  • Plant of Merit winner Mighty Velvet™ Stachys (Lamb’s Ears) (Stachys ‘Bello Grigio’ PPAF), was developed by Goos Bartels, The Netherlands, and introduced by Agricola Management Group for the HGTV HOME Plant Collection. It is available from Farwest exhibitor Van Essen Nursery Co.
The People’s Choice award had four runners-up in the voting. They were Sombrero Adobe Orange Coneflower (Echinacea x purpurea PPAF), introduced by Darwin Perennials and offered by T & L Nursery, second place; Avantgarde Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Avantgarde’ PP23466), hybridized by Agriom and introduced by Ball Ornamentals, third place; Skyline Heather Collection (Calluna vulgaris ‘Stockholm’ PPAF and ‘Sydney PPAF), hybridized by Henk Hoekert and Henrick Rietberg, Edens Creations, and introduced by Ball Ornamentals, fourth place; and Marley’s Pink Parasol® Japanese Snowbell (Styrax japonicus ‘JLWeeping’ PP23755), introduced by JLPN Inc. and represented by Upshoot LLC, fifth place.

Making its public debut at this year’s Farwest Trade Show was Oregon Snowflake (Ribes sanguineum ‘Oregon Snowflake’ PPAF), a new flowering currant bred by Dr. Ryan Contreras at Oregon State University. It is novel for its highly dissected foliage and low-growing, compact growth form. Hardy to USDA zone 6, it offers full-size panicles of white flowers that appear in mid-spring. It grows to only 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide.

Blue Heron Farm and Heritage Seedlings Inc. are among the growers currently licensed to grow Oregon Snowflake. For more information contact Ryan Contreras at For licensing information contact Denis Sather at

The 2014 Farwest Trade Show was held August 21–23, 2014, at the Oregon Convention Center. The show serves professionals engaged in the nursery industry and related trades, including retail nurseries, wholesale growers, landscapers, landscape designers, and others involved in the green industry.

The New Varieties Showcase remains a very popular and unique feature at the Farwest Trade Show. “Every year, growers and retailers always consider the New Varieties Showcase to be a highlight of the Farwest Trade Show,” Murphy said. “Experienced gardeners are always looking for something new and different for their gardens, and the plants shown in the New Varieties Showcase fill that need. Retailers appreciate being able to find so many new, high-quality plants, all in one place. They can see how the plants actually perform, and visualize how they might look in-store. If they want to place an order for all the new plants that catch their eye, they can do that right from the show floor.”

To learn more about the varieties in this year’s New Varieties Showcase at Farwest Show, visit:


The Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN), based in Wilsonville, represents more than 800 wholesale growers, retailers, landscapers and suppliers. Oregon’s ornamental horticulture industry is among the state’s largest agricultural commodities, with annual sales of $745 million. Oregon’s nursery industry is a traded sector; nearly 75
percent of the nursery plants grown in Oregon are shipped out of state. For information, visit or call 503-682-5089.

The Farwest Trade Show is produced by the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN), a trade organization that represents and serves the interests of the ornamental horticulture industry. Any revenue realized by the OAN is reinvested into the industry through education, research, marketing support and government relations. For more
information about the 2014 Farwest Trade Show, visit or download the Farwest Show app for iPhone or Android.

Farwest Trade Show continues strong momentum in 2014

Press Release from the Oregon Association of Nurseries:

Portland, Oregon — The 2014 Farwest Trade Show concluded its three-day run (August 21–23, 2014) with exhibitors and attendees in an upbeat mood. While attendance did not meet raised expectations, falling just shy of last year, the mood of the exhibitors was upbeat, the quality of attendees was high, and the show added 50 new exhibitors.

“We had a great show,” said exhibitor Pete Brentano, owner of Brentano’s Tree Farm LLC in St. Paul, Oregon. “Traffic was really good. We felt the quality of the attendees was very high. I think people are out looking again. I never got out of my booth, hardly. That’s a nice problem to have.”

Jeff Stone is the executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, which produces the Farwest Trade Show for the benefit of the nursery industry. He expects the improved mood at the 2014 show is just the beginning of some sustained positive momentum that will not happen by accident.

“We’re merely in the first few years of a five-year plan for the Farwest Trade Show,” Stone said. “We’re not just hoping things get better. You don’t get things by hoping. You get them by planning and working.”

Show organizers have done market research and will use the results to develop new ways to improve and broaden the show’s appeal. The goal is to attract more nursery industry buyers, decision-makers and even organizations to Portland for the show.

This year’s show included a keynote presentation by globally-known horticulture expert John Stanley and appearances by others of an equally high caliber, including Dr. Michael Dirr, Dr. Allan Armitage and Kelly Norris. All of them gave well-received talks on how to point the green industry in a more innovative direction and embrace new opportunities.

The 2014 Farwest Trade Show also featured the successful debut of Equipment Innovation Day, which provided an opportunity for those attending to see innovative nursery equipment demonstrated in the field, and make head-to-head comparisons.

For the first time, show visitors also had the chance to walk the show floor with Dirr, Armitage and Norris for a personal tour of the newest and best plant selections on the market. This feature was particularly well received.

Next year, more innovation is in store at Farwest. For the first time, woody ornamental plant trials will take place during the show, in conjunction with the establishment of a new trial garden in Aurora, Oregon. For 2015 the International Trials Conference will take place during show week, as will a native plant experts’ gathering. All of this is intended to support the largest nursery trade show on the West Coast, and one that supports the industry back through education, advocacy and innovation. “We are proud of the relationship between our show and the industry, and the important role that each plays in ensuring the other’s continued success,” Stone said.

The association plans to dedicate additional resources to ensure the continued success of the Farwest Trade Show — and exhibitors such as Don Sprague of Garden Gallery Iron Works in Hubbard, Oregon said they appreciate the effort. “I think the show is run very professionally,” Sprague said. “Over the years I’ve done a lot of shows, and I would say that Farwest is one of the best.”

Planning and marketing efforts are already underway for the 2015 Farwest Trade Show, which will take place next August 27–29 at the Oregon Convention Center.

# # #

The Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN), based in Wilsonville, represents more than 800 wholesale growers, retailers, landscapers and suppliers. Oregon’s ornamental horticulture industry is among the state’s largest agricultural commodities, with annual sales of $745 million. Oregon’s nursery industry is a traded sector; nearly 75 percent of the nursery plants grown in Oregon are shipped out of state. For information, visit or call 503-682-5089.

The Farwest Trade Show is produced by the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN), a trade organization that represents and serves the interests of the ornamental horticulture industry. Any revenue realized by the OAN is reinvested into the industry through education, research, marketing support and government relations. For more information about the 2014 Farwest Trade Show, visit or call 503-682-5089.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Farwest Seminar: So, you want to launch an online store?

An industry forecast that has much talked about on and off the show floor is keynote speaker John Stanley’s comment that “30 percent of sales will be online in the next five years.”

From left to right: Sid Raisch, Kristin VanHoose,
Jonn Karsseboom and Nicholas Staddon.
Sid Raisch, owner of Horticultural Advantage, who moderated this panel discussion, thinks that figure is conservative: “I think it’ll be closer to 60 percent,” he said.

Speaking about their online experiences were panelists Kristin VanHoose, owner of Hydrangeas Plus®; Jonn Karsseboom, "Rebel Leader" at The Garden Corner; and Nicholas Staddon, director of new plants and company spokesperson for Monrovia Nursery Company.

In attendance, based on a show of hands, were many retail garden center owners who have yet to launch a business website.

Raisch kicked off the discussion by stating that today's “ground zero” of customer relationships is online, citing research which has shown that more than 70 percent of transactions begin online. "Many customers are coming into retail settings with more information about the products sold than many retailers are knowledgeable of," Raisch said. 

"The goal of our website is to drive customers into independent garden centers," Staddon said. Monrovia has only recently made a substantial push into social media outlets such as Instagram and Pinterest, and incentive-driven online marketing programs. "The biggest challenge of marketing online versus retail sales is making sure inventory matches what’s being promoted online," Staddon said.

VanHoose said that her business established its Internet presence early on in 2000/01. Today, they have more than 71,000 friends on Facebook and actively advertise on Google.

Asked what's the future of her online marketing strategy? VanHooose replied, "Expanding social media and refining the business's back-end shopping cart platform. "Most people are using three different software programs: one for inventory, another for processing credit card sales, and so on. Getting them to work together is the biggest problem. Off-the-shelf solutions are very inflexible.

Informative, short videos were cited by Raisch as a key component of keeping customers on your website, and Karsseboom is a big porponent of the practice, posting videos weekly to YouTube.

Explaining his online strategy, Karsseboom said, "A lot of people think having a website means selling to the world. But I see it more as, 'Is there something we can do for our existing customers to make them buy more?' My goal is to keep customers in their garden." He said his biggest challenge is keeping photos updated on the website so that they reflect what’s in inventory.