Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Early in May I encouraged my friends, Linda and Billy Butterfield, FCLC, and Katy Moss Warner to meet me in Cocoa Beach on a Friday evening for the Brevard Fiesta. My sister, Mary was competing in a salsa competition (the food, not the dance) and they agreed to come over and add their support.
We made it an overnight trip and on Saturday morning headed to one of the best independent garden centers in Florida – Rockledge Gardens, owned by FNGLA members Theresa and Kevin Riley, FCHP. Theresa and Kevin are both active in FNGLA. Theresa is a member of the TPIE Planning Committee and Kevin serves on the FNGLA Short Course Committee.
Although it was a very warm day, the parking lot at Rockledge Gardens was full. There were plenty of customers picking out colorful plants, trees, mulch, and more at this inviting garden center. Rockledge Gardens is 12 beautiful acres of tropical and hardy trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials; a sprawling greenhouse full of house and patio plants, orchids, and bromeliads; a huge selection of garden gifts, accessories, tools, and supplies and very friendly helpful staff in every area of the garden center.
There are brightly painted buildings and facades which are reminiscent of the beachside look of Key West. Scattered throughout the garden center are miniature gardens which provide ideas and inspiration on ways to use the specific plants in a home landscape. My favorite was a full-size, brightly painted door used as a prop in one of the mini-garden.
I’ve had the good fortune to work with Kevin Riley on several FNGLA projects and consider him one of the truly gifted McGyvers in the industry. He is very clever and creative, using basic materials to create cool settings throughout the garden center.
I was on a hunt for a yellow tabebuia tree for my home landscape. As it happens, Rockledge Gardens has a tabebuia expert on staff, Bernie Peterson, FCHP. Bernie is involved with producing hybrid tabebuia varieties and was able to show us some of the interesting results. From the conversation, I learned Tabebuia umbellata is the variety which will do best where I live and provides the bright yellow flowers I love. Unfortunately, when the trees were in flower a few weeks prior, they were hot sellers and only 3 gallon sized trees remained, so I left Rockledge Gardens without a tabebuia tree.
But I did find a gorgeous nun’s orchid in bloom to take as a gift to a friend. The Butterfields and Katy loaded up their wagons with a variety of plants for container gardens and patio plantings. I think Billy also found some fruit trees to try. Even my sister found a blue delphinium she couldn’t resist, even though its season was near its end.
We had a great time taking in the beauty of Rockledge Gardens. I felt especially fortunate to not only have the knowledgeable Rockledge Gardens staff to provide plant info, but also 2 of the industry’s best horticulturists (Billy and Katy) to provide insight and guidance about all the plants and trees we were seeing. We even had a few customers come over and ask Billy and Katy’s advice about certain plants!
Special thanks to Kevin and Theresa for taking time to give us a tour, especially the Saturday before Mother’s Day – one of the busiest days of the season!
If you are near Rockledge, you should definitely take the time to visit Rockledge
Gardens. It makes you feel proud to be in the nursery and landscape industry! Rockledge Gardens will be one of the stops on the Garden Centers of America (GCA) tour at the end of June. Complete details at http://www.gardencentersofamerica.org/.
By the way, my sister did win the salsa competition – Voted the People’s Favorite for 2nd consecutive year. Ole!
Monday, April 12, 2010
FNGLA Broward Chapter isn't sitting on the sidelines waiting for the economy to recover. Chapter President Tony Burzo, FCLC, and his leadership team, decided to be proactive, creating a new marketplace event for buyers and sellers to meet and learn. The Broward event is unique as far as trade shows goes - the displays were created with trucks, not pipe and drape. Each vendor backed his truck (all shapes and sizes) into his assigned space, opened the back door or put down the tailgate to display the plants and products, hung his banner, and the show was on!
The event took place the afternoon of Friday, April 9 at the Howard C. Foreman Health Park in Pembroke Pines. This is a great location as far as available space
and serves multi purposes for FNGLA. The park is one of the permanent test sites for the FNGLA Landscape Certification Exams. Broward Chapter has made a strong committment to the FNGLA Landscape Certification program and took advantage of having the trade show at the test site. Tony and Rob Shoelson, FCLC, gave presentations at each of the exam stations to help potential applicants be well prepared for future exams.
Did you know the the station which seems to create the greatest challenge to people is grading and drainage? All these are timed stations, so not only do you have to do things correctly, but also timely. That's why going through the study guide in advance is so important - gives you a head start on some of the calculations needed.
In addition to the local industry members, 3 local high school hort classes were also in attendance at the Tailgate Trade Show. Their teachers had arranged it as a field day. They arrived early enough to give Tony a hand with set up and then had the opportunity to hear the presentations related to the certification exam. Apparently, some of the students will be taking the exam at their schools later in the term, so the day provided useful tips.
As a person who works on trade shows, I know how many details are involved in putting on an event. Broward Chapter did a great job organizing things. There were students to direct from the highway, signs to the site, nice id signs, a central info area and best of all, free food! Hamburgers and hot dogs right off the grill were available all afternoon, as well as cold water and sodas. It was a very warm afternoon so the cold drinks were greatly appreciated!
As always, it's a treat to spend time with FNGLA friends and members. It sounds like people are having a good spring - sales are up, finally. Here's a photo of my buddies Vickie Parrish with a Searle Brother on either side, Larry, FCLC and Jeff. Special thanks to Wes Parrish who helped me with the FNGLA banners. It helps to be more than 6' tall to pull those banners all the way to their full height.
I saw something new at the Tailgate Trade Show - a motorized cooler with an additional pull behind cooler. I guess this is the ultimate tailgate party equipment, so the perfect raffle prize for a Tailgate Trade Show. Tony did a terrific job describing all the attributes of this unique equipment - the ticket sales jumped after his sales job. He may want to consider a second career on the Home Shopping Network! Can't remember who won the cooler ride, but I know who didn't win - Bryan Mitchell. As a serious tailgater, he was very disappointed. He could already see the Gator logos on that cooler as it rolled down the road! Better luck next time, Bryan.
The raffle ended the afternoon of business and fun. Everyone repacked their trucks, secured the doors and the trade show rolled apart - literally. This was a great beginning for what the chapter plans to be an annual event. I'm looking forward to being there again next year!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Twice a year the FNGLA Dade Chapter puts together a nursery tour for landscape architects. It's intended to increase the dialouge between growers and landscape architects for everyone's greater success.
Sandy Stein, The Jungle Nursery and a member of the tour planning committee invited Joy Dorst, FCLD and me to participate on the tour and spread the FNGLA message, hopefully resulting in a few new FNGLA memberships.
Of course, we said yes, and on Friday, February 5 we joined about 35 landscape architects, designers and contractors to visit 3 nurseries, one stone company and take in 3 CEU sessions. It was a full schedule and we were ready with FNGLA membership recruitment packets in hand!
For those who may not know, Joy Dorst is FNGLA's "green" consultant. She is a landscape designer who is also an educator. Her focus for the past few years has been with sustainable and green-related programs such as LEED through the USGBC (US Green Building Council), Water Star with the St. John's Water Management District and Florida Friendly Landscaping through UF/IFAS. In fact, she is a LEED AP certified instructor and has a great sense for the potential connections and current disconnections between these popular sustainability programs and the original green industry - horticulture! Sustainable landscapes is an emerging hot topic for landscape professionals so Joy served as a resource on this topic throughout the day.
Being the non-sports people we are, neither Joy or I realized it was Super Bowl week end in Miami until we drove by the staidum - talk about being out of the zone! The tour was departing from Coral Gables and lucky for us, Coral Gables was not crowded with Super Bowl fans. Apparently, they were all at South Beach. So we found a charming, old-world themed hotel in downtown Coral Gables at a very reasonable price which Sandy Stein had recommended. It's called St. Michel's Hotel and I give it 2 thumbs up!
Allyson Humphries with Larry's Cap Rock & Stone and the head of the Dade chapter tour planning committee had things well in hand when we arrived at the bus. Badges were distributed, names were checked off the list and we left right on time! One fun thing - The owner of the Peterbrooke chocolate store across the street came over to the bus with a platter of chocolate covered pretzels and popcorn and a handful of business cards. She gave us the platter and encouraged us to stop at the store on our return. The platter of sweet and salty treats was placed on the 2nd seat of the bus so everytime we got on and off the bus we were taking "just one more" piece of the chocolate. No surprise, the platter was nearly empty by the end of the day. Two thumbs up for Peterbrooke Chocolatier !
First stop - Manuel Diaz Farms. We were at their headquarters in Homestead which has as a central feature a very large reclaimed quarry lake. They have added landscaping which gives it a park-like setting and offers an impressive showcase for their various palms and trees. In addition to the horticulture, there is a menagerie of animals, from goats, pigs, horses, birds in aviaries and chickens. If I understood correctly, some of the pigs ended up at the company Christmas party, but not as guests! With the recent freezes on everyone's mind, the focus was on the cold-hardy palms which Manuel Diaz grows.
Second stop - Vila & Son Nursery. Vila & Son's friendly staff greeted us with food, drinks and a walking tour of a portion of the nursery. After riding on the bus most of the morning, it felt good to get the legs moving. Joy and I had a great conversation here with one of the landscape designers on the tour. He specializes in high-end residential work and said his company is very busy with jobs in Miami and the Keys. Good to hear! He is very intersted in becoming a FNGLA certified landscape designer, so we made sure he had all the details to take advantage of that program.
Third stop - Larry's Cap Rock & Stone (LCRS). We spent most of the afternoon here, as Larry's (LCRS) has a great space for classes and also an upstairs room that was perfect for lunch. There were 3 very interesting presentations provided. The first related to sustainable architectural and lansdcape lighting, provided by Jessica Stanley, SESCO Lighting. I didn't realize how critical the small details are for outdoor lighting, especially as it relates to aesthetics and safety.
It was nice to have members of the FNGLA Dade Chapter board join us for a delicious paella lunch sponsored by Luxe magazine. Following lunch Allyson Humpheries
discussed the fundamentals of rock and stone for landscape use. I thought I was back in geology class when Allyson showed the different types of rock and how they are mined. We were able to see the huge saws LCRS use to slice the rock. By the way, those sawblades don't come cheap! It was all fascinating.
And the final presentation was by landscape architect Phil Maddux who showcased many of the landscapes he and his partner have designed for Palm Beach estates. What a great treat it was to hear the personal stories and insights from Phil about these unique homes and the landscapes which frame them.
Here's a quote Phil used in his presentation which addresses the native/non-native plant question. "All the plants we use are native to planet Earth." A new book written by Bradford McKee features the various landscapes of Sanchez & Maddux. It's entitled "The Civilized Jungle:Residential Landscape of Sanchez & Maddux." Allyson made sure there were books on hand for those who wished to purchase them (at a discounted price) and have Phil autograph them. Not an opportunity you get everyday and one which several on our tour took advantage.
Back to Luxe Magazine who sponsored the lunch. I asked John Gallo, associate publisher, why Luxe was involved with the tour. If you're not familiar with Luxe magazine, as its name implies, it is geared to those who enjoy luxury lifestyles in south Florida. John is on a search for people who can provide content as it relates to the gardens and landscapes which are part of a luxury lifestyle. He was very pleased at the end of the day with the great resources he found among the landscape architects and designers on the tour. Sounds like Luxe will be a new promoter of the value of well planned and executed landscapes and gardens to an appreciative audience.
Final Stop - The Jungle Nursery. The Jungle has made major changes in crops and production as owner Sandy Stein and team respond to an ever-changing marketplace. Going with the theory that "it's 5 o'clock somewhere," the group was greeted with wonderfully refreshing lychee cocktails. As you can imagine, these were a BIG hit!
And, actually, it was almost 5 pm when we arrived at the nursery. Although people were welcome to walk through the nursery, Sandy's crew had made it easy for everyone to see the plants being showcased, by creating beautiful groupings of the plants near the entrance area. It was nice to see Sandy point out the FNGLA Florida Garden Select plants he is growing. The almond bush smells wonderful.
After a jam-packed educational day, we were back on the bus and inching along in Miami/Coral Gables Friday evening rush hour. But with the help of our lychee cocktails and the good company of many new friends, it was all good!Thanks Sandy and Allyson and FNGLA Dade chapter for inviting us along. Great day, great tour, great people!
P.S. I won a prize on the bus for knowing what SSI stands for: Sustainable Sites Initiative. Lots of good tour quiz questions, lots of prizes, lots of fun.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
When I first came up with the idea to visit as many FNGLA Chapter Holiday parties as possible, some people questioned my sanity. It is a lot of travel in a short period of time, and a time that is already very busy with all the normal holiday preparation and commitments, as well as a very busy time at work getting ready for TPIE. The enthusiasm that came from Billy Butterfield to do this kept me inspired. I need to thank him, not only for being the designated driver on every trip and always having snacks, but keeping the spirit of the adventure high and making the whole thing as much fun and educational as possible. Thanks also to his wife, Linda, who not only supported our adventure, but also joined in when she could.
Billy and I were not the only FNGLA people who like to party hop. I saw some of the same folks at more than one chapter party. I think Larry Walker made it to 3 or 4. He's a very busy partier! Others I know who attended more than one were Carolan and Dennis Mahr, Joe and Lenore Cialone, Bryan Mitchell, Dr. Wayne McKay and Jesse Oliver. Who else out there is a multi-FNGLA chapter partier?
I also wish to give attaboys and attagirls to the IFAS folks. At each of the parties we attended there was at least one, and often several IFAS people in attendance, particularly the extension folks. The close connection between FNGLA and IFAS, both at the state and local level, is a very important one and its nice to see there is genuine fellowship between the people wearing the orange and blue, and the people who make their living with the green.
And, of course, thanks to the 9 chapters (Action, Broward, Coastal Springs, Dade, Lake Region, Manasota, Palm Beach, Tampa Bay and Treasure Coast) who so generously welcomed us to their Holiday events. For several of the chapters these holiday parties are as traditional and closeknit as family holiday events, so thanks to each of you for so warmly including us in your holiday fun.
This was my first holiday season without my husband who died in Feb. of 2009. This holiday adventure served as healing medicine to keep my own holiday melancholy to a minimum. The welcomes, handshakes and smiles, the hugs, sharing of food and drink, the attention and care; the inclusion with the gifts and games - all the many ways FNGLA people make a person feel part of the family - I experienced. What an awesome Christmas gift to receive from my FNGLA family of friends!
There is already talk of a FNGLA chapter party adventure for the 2010 holiday season. People have asked about joining the chapter party league. Billy's talking about chartering a bus! Let's us know if you want to join! Ho! Ho! Ho! Happy New Year! And look, it's time already to say Happy Valentine's Day!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
The meeting was at Rapscallions restaurant in Land O’ Lakes, a community I had never visited and was curious about. Okay, this is a dumb question, but is this where Land O’ Lakes butter comes from or is that in another state?
The FNGLA group had a private room at the restaurant which was already filled when we arrived. Chapter Secretary Rebecca Grillo, Land O’ Lakes Tree Farm and Chapter President Bill Sellers, Farm Credit of Central Florida, had things well organized, registering people and selling raffle tickets at the same time. Billy bought lots of raffle tickets and generously shared them with Marilyn and me. No doubt at least one of us would go home with a prize from this meeting!
Bill got the meeting started with introductions. At most meetings, introductions are limited to speakers and guests, but everyone in attendance introduced themselves. The group was large enough that we didn’t all know each other, and small enough that it didn’t take too long for the introductions to be completed, so it was a great way to get started and know who you're hanging out with.
As with all the other chapter parties, the meal was extra-special fare. We enjoyed a Cuban buffet complete with pulled pork and great desserts. The chafing dishes seemed bottomless as the staff continued to refill them so much that guests were encouraged to get to-go boxes and take the leftovers home!
Paul Rauch, FCLC, and Billy have served together as field exam judges for FNGLA's Landscape Certified Professional program for the Pinellas test. Apparently, they enjoy vieing for bragging rights on who is the best judge. Not that they are competitive or anything! Paul is the President of the Tampa Bay Chapter this year.
The program for the evening was presented by Christine Collins, FCHP, Wildrose Lawn Care. She and her family have established Pay It Forward Farm in Spring Hill which offers a place for single mothers and children to receive education and training, as well as emotional support. The farm will provide organic food for single mom’s in need, as well as offering horticulture classes and training. It’s a neat connection between gardening and horticulture and improving the lives of others.
These two chapters really know how to throw a raffle! There were soooo many raffle prizes that it was hard not to have a winning ticket for something. I won several great prizes, including 2 rain gauges, some landscape tools and a shirt.
As you would expect from a group of nursery and landscape professionals, the plants being raffled were the highlight. Randy Jacobs with Flowerwood had brought a couple of new azaleas in bloom which were showstoppers!
P. J. Klinger is one of the industry’s most respected horticulturist so when he told about the selection of plants he brought, including an agapanthus from South Africa, people were paying close attention.
As the evening came to a close, the generosity of this industry showed its face once again. As I mentioned earlier, there were more prizes given out at this meeting than any of the others we had attended. And truly showing how to “pay it forward,” almost to a person, the prize winners gave their winnings (plants, fertilizer, landscape tools) to Christine Collins to use at her new Pay It Forward Farm. It was a fitting finale to the FNGLA Christmas Party Road Trip, as their actions reflected the nature of the season - giving, sharing and enjoying the fellowship of friends. Another wonderful evening with our FNGLA family of friends!
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Palm Beach mixes fun with business at its Holiday Party. While everyone has plenty of opportunity to eat, drink, dance and mix and mingle, there is also serious fundraising going on for the chapter and its causes. Raffle tickets are sold throughout the evening with a small room dedicated to the raffle prizes. Numbers were called throughout the night so people had a chance to flaunt their prizes and encourage others to buy tickets.
In the center of the room was a fabulous array of creative and fun gift baskets which were being sold in a silent auction format.
I didn’t count how many there were, but I’m guessing at least 40. I think Lyn Cacella was the organizer of the baskets and she and her crew deserve a big "Atta Girl" for a very diverse collection of enticing gifts. Everything from sports themes to plants and gift certificates. I went around the table 3 times trying to decide on which to bid. It felt just like being on a shopping trip. As it turns out, I bid on 3 of them and went home empty handed. I think I need more practice on this silent auction bidding routine. I’ve decided, like a lot of things in life, timing is the key to winning the prize!
One of the best benefits of going to so many chapters is catching up with FNGLA friends who I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. The Palm Beach party was no exception. I was honored to sit at the President’s table, which means I sat with 2 of my Wedgworth alum buds, Mike and Susie Graham. Mike is Palm Beach Chapter president this year. He and I were classmates in Class IV of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute. Susie and I became friends during those 2 years as well. Mike was well prepared to lead the evening’s program as he had kept his notes and reminders close to his plate and Susie helped him keep things moving.
The festivities started with a champagne toast by Fred Marrero with Atlas Peat. Very classy, but then I’m biased. I happen to love champagne, so any champagne toast is a good one as far as I’m concerned.
Just as dinner was drawing to a close, President Mike (tall guy on the right in the photo) was back at the microphone to give a surprise award to Joe Mulvehill for his long time coordination of the holiday party. It is quite an endeavor to put these events together year after year!
Then Mike announced the winner of the chapter’s highest award, the James J. Lulfs Industry Service Award for 2009 went to Dave Self. His long list of services covered not only chapter activities, but also the many roles he has had on the state level, including serving as state FNGLA President in 2007-08. This was followed by one of the traditional highlights of the party, the live auctioning of the original painting used for the cover of the Palm Beach Locator. The proceeds from this go to Hoskins McDougal Horticulture Scholarship Fund. This year the bidding reached $1000 with Joe Mulvehill (or maybe his wife) going home with a new painting for his walls.
Billy and Linda Butterfield, my central Florida travelling cohorts, and their new best friends, Joe and Lenore Cialone were seated together. They had spent the day touring the grand homes of Palm Beach, while my FNGLA trade show colleague, Jessica Oliver and I took care of some TPIE business in Ft. Lauderdale during the day. Jesse stayed for the Palm Beach party (her 2nd FNGLA Christmas party of the season) and she was sitting at the “troublemakers” table with Deb Joneck and Matt Antos. My guess is Jesse was the ringleader of the troublemakers.
When we were told to look under our chairs for a sticker to claim the centerpieces on the table, Jesse tore off the actual chair tag under her seat and tried to use it to win the centerpiece. I think the group took pity on her and let her take the plant home!
Although this party had lots of activities going on, there was plenty of time left for dancing. One of my favorite moments was watching Syd and Suzanne Spears slow dancing, still a couple of love birds with a lot of style! As the dancing continued, my travel party (Billy, Linda and Jesse) and I said our goodbyes. We had decided to do an “all-nighter” and drive back to Orlando that night. We piled in Billy’s truck and headed north with our prizes, plants and good memories of a stylish and swinging group of FNGLA members!