Coming Full Circle In Columbus

The Perennial Plant Association (PPA) returned to its roots in Columbus, Ohio, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its Perennial Plant Symposium. PPA was founded by Executive Director Dr. Steven Still, an emeritus landscape professor at The Ohio State University (OSU). Past presidents and original founders joined about 800 attendees for special banquet and shared memories focused on fun times and friendships within the organization. The banquet began with the awards video footage from our Medal of Excellence event at the OFA Short Course in July, when we presented PPA with our Medal of Excellence for Industry Achievement to recognize all the association has done to grow a market for perennials.

Pictured are Dr. Still with grower George Pealer of Millcreek Gardens in Ostrander, Ohio. Fresh out of OSU, Pealer was one of the youngest growers attending the first symposium and a special meeting to organize an association for perennial plant growers. This year he chaired the host committee for the milestone event and was presented with PPA’s Award of Merit – its top honor for an individual who has significantly contributed to the industry.

Millcreek Gardens LLC was a stop on the tour the next day. The nursery specializes in perennials, herbs, ornamental grasses, ground covers and hardy ferns and sells to garden centers, landscape contractors and municipalities. Innovations include automation and a display garden, and of course, hiring many OSU grads.


Delilah Onofrey, Aug 15, 16:59

Kudos For Corso

Gus Corso of Corso Perennials in Sandusky, Ohio, accepted the Grower Award recognizing a PPA member who exemplifies high standards for production. Corso’s was a stop on the Saturday tour of operations west of Cleveland, including Willoway Nurseries in Huron, Green Circle Growers in Oberlin and Casa Verde Growers, the production facility for Petitti’s Garden Centers.

Corso’s, which has been in business since 1941, started out as a retail greenhouse and now consists of seven acres of greenhouse, three acres of outdoor production, a retail flower shop, garden center and landscape department. In the 1980’s, the family business began to grow perennials for their own retail market and a few wholesale accounts. Perennials took off and the company now supplies garden centers throughout Ohio, Michigan, Western Pennsylvania, Indiana, northern Kentucky and Buffalo, N.Y. Large retailers like Lowe’s have also become major customers. Corso’s grows more than 4 million plants a year in 4 ½-inch pots, gallons, 2 gallons. Brands include Stepables and Herb Herbert herbs.


Delilah Onofrey, Aug 15, 16:55

Catching Up With Adrian Bloom

I had the pleasure of dining with the world-famous Adrian Bloom of Blooms of Bressingham Perennials during the dinner banquet. Ten years ago, I interviewed Adrian for articles when Blooms of Bressingham was just getting established in the United States through Yoder Brothers and Gary Doerr of Peppergrove Perennials. At the time, I decided he was the most famous person I ever interviewed and that still holds true today.

He and his father, Alan Bloom, are world-class icons in horticulture, introducing many of the best and most innovative perennials on the market today and revolutionizing landscape design with perennials. In addition to his own Foggy Bottom gardens in England, Adrian has designed substantial perennial gardens in the United States. Just a few weeks ago, he designed a full-acre transformation at the Massachusetts Horticulture Society’s gardens. This was Bloom’s largest perennial demonstration and display garden to date, covering more than an acre and planted in a single day by more than 150 volunteers. More than 8,000 perennials, trees, and shrubs were donated for the project.

Two years ago, Bloom designed a 5,400-square-foot mixed garden for The Ohio State University’s Chadwick Arboretum Learning Gardens. During the Perennial Plant Symposium, it was dedicated in honor of PPA Executive Director Dr. Steven Still, who taught and mentored thousands of students from 1980 until retiring in 2005. The garden is unique in that it has no paths to its inner collections and has been a focal point of the learning gardens.

One idea I presented to Adrian, that I’d love to see come to fruition, is to have him design a small garden for each future host city of the America In Bloom (AIB) symposium as a lasting legacy for hosting AIB. For instance, Hershey, Pa., is thinking about hosting in 2009. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a river of chocolate-colored heuchera in a special garden designed by Adrian? And with a name like Bloom and his credentials, you can’t go wrong!


Delilah Onofrey, Aug 15, 17:01

Celebrity Chef

The All-America Selections (AAS) Summer Meeting kicked off with a private cooking demonstration by celebrity chef Jim Coleman at Normandy Farm. He really loves his veggies and we learned new ways to cook them and more about their origins. Many were native to the United States before becoming popular in Europe.


Delilah Onofrey, Aug 08, 13:13

Gracious Hosts

We had a wonderful time at Fordhook Farm, the W. Atlee Burpee estate. In addition to wandering the grounds and looking at the trials and past AAS winners through the decades, owner George Ball presented a fascinating history of the Burpee family and company. We also had delicious catered dinner and lunch on the grounds. Pictured are George Ball with Atlee Burpee, the grandson of W. Atlee Burpee.


Delilah Onofrey, Aug 08, 13:09

Medallion of Honor Winner

During the banquet on Friday night, Heather Will-Browne of Walt Disney World sure was surprised to be this year’s AAS Medallion of Honor recipient. The award recognizes her years of dedication as a trials judge, to AAS as an organization and all her work educating the industry and the public through Disney. Congratulations, Heather!


Delilah Onofrey, Aug 08, 13:05

Reminiscing

One of the best parts of the 75th celebration and AAS Summer Meeting was listening to the stories of those who have been in the seed industry for generations. Here, Atlee Burpee, the direct descendent of W. Atlee Burpee, listens to John Gale of Stokes Seeds in Canada during our wonderful reception on the veranda.


Delilah Onofrey, Aug 08, 13:02

Walking The Trials Together

We walked both the flower and vegetable trials of AAS entries together as a group and judges discussed what they observed with the same varieties in their regions. Pictured are Al Gerace of Welby Gardens in Colorado, Haldor Howard of Oklahoma State University and Dean Bemis and Joel Goldsmith of Goldsmith Seeds.


Delilah Onofrey, Aug 08, 12:58

Wish I Had A Watermelon!

We got to taste our way through the vegetable trials, because taste is an important criteria for judging vegetables. This new watermelon wasn’t quite ripe. Grower Al Gerace of Welby Gardens cuts it open to check it out.


Delilah Onofrey, Aug 08, 12:55

Get Out The Crayolas!

Color themes abound in the plantings at Longwood Gardens. The idea garden had large square plots of really full, three-dimensional concepts that can be viewed on all sides. This picture is from a long strip focused on color, starting in the center with reds and going in one direction to yellow and the other direction to purple and blue. Children could definitely appreciate the intensity of color here. The secret is to plant vibrant plants en masse. One of these days, I’m going to have to try that at home. Too many of my plantings are just specimens and don’t make a real color statement.


Delilah Onofrey, Aug 08, 12:51

Wonderful Water Gardens

One of the biggest attractions at Longwood Gardens is the water gardens near the conservatory full of impressive water lilies. Longwood breeds the really large lily pads. I also didn’t know there are varieties that bloom at night vs. the day. If I were a frog, I would want to live here. I didn’t see or hear any frogs though. I wonder if they are discouraged.


Delilah Onofrey, Aug 08, 12:46

Lovely Lilies

Taking close-up pictures of the water lilies was addicting! This was my best of the bunch.


Delilah Onofrey, Aug 08, 12:43

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