Thursday, November 3, 2011

IPPS 2011 Annual Meeting, Valdosta, GA! Part Two

So I did this in two parts, mainly because I needed a break from all the writing, hehe!  But also because anyone reading it probably would need a break too!  The second day of the conference was all talks, a little different than the traditional IPPS conference since the places to tour were all far away it was best to do tours all day then talks all day.  The one talk that really stuck out to me was Dr. John Ruter's on Tea-oil Camellia: A New Edible Oil Crop for the U.S.  I never knew this could be an edible crop!  It was interesting that the crop could produce that much oil.  After a long day of talks it was time to unwind for the Banquet and Plant Auction.  The food was good...I see a trend here...and the auction went well.  The next day brought on more tours...yippee!  First up was Monrovia Nursery.  I was excited to see this one since they usually do a great job, plus they are customers of ours, maybe I would see some babies all grown up!  I did not see any of my babies and the one thing that really stuck out was how empty they were.  Because of the economy they had really scaled back with lots of empty beds around the nursery.  As we were touring we got to see their super secret trimming machine in action. 

Top Secret Machine..get too close and get shot!  j/k!

I really want one of these for liners, I know they make them but they are pretty pricy!  This machine used to be secret but now it is not so much since they got a patent on it.  The other thing I noticed was the way nurseries loaded trucks in this area, I am in the liner business so maybe I am out of the loop but it seems most nurseries in the Texas market use rolling racks.

Plants ready to ship.

Then they had different ways to load trucks with a pallet style rack that could be loaded into a soft side trailer.  Much easier in loading and unloading as long as the customer had the equipment to unload the order. 

Nice and neat, ready for delivery

Lastly we got to see the water recycling at this location which is very well thought out.  It has many holding ponds so that each step the water becomes cleaner with the use of gravity to settle thing and water plants to use excess nitrogen.

Clean water here

After the tour we grabbed a boxed lunch and got on the buses to head to Clinton Nurseries. 

Wagons ready to roll!

This is where Kay Phelps works so it was nice to see.  First off we got to see their pruning machine in action...again I need something like this for liners! 
Pruning machine at work!

The thing I noticed here was that they had really nice blocks of Juniper.  Being alot of the nurseries are really close together we were able to just stay on the wagon to skip over to May Nursery.

Police escort from Clinton Nurseries to May Nursery

  This was another nursery I looked forward to seeing since they are a customer of ours.  Babies....Where are y'all?  May Nursery was really nice and had a really good looking drainage system. 

May Nursery Watering Hole

Oh the things you drool about when the system you have in non existent!  Richard, send me some of those pipes!!!  May Nursery had a nice mix of product, I especially enjoyed the fields of Nandinas!

My babies all grown up!

After our tour at May we headed off to Hackney, hey guess what another customer...exciting! We got the grand tour from George, well my wagon did.

George Hackney gives us the grand tour

Wow, that is ALOT of Knockout roses.

I'm gonna Knock you out...

Now I know there are some Nandinas there! George assured me they were and looked good, we just did not drive by them on the tour...well I'll be darned!

Robot Wars!!!

The coolest thing we saw was the robot that spaced plants...I for sure need one of these, it needs to plant, trim, spray, water and most importantly do all of that and leave me alone! yes!  After another great tour it was off to Tallahassee Nursery, wee, that is like spelling Mississippi, did I get it right?  What a great looking retail nursery, a person could lose themselves there!

I don't like birds but I really like this birdhouse!

  We had dinner here, fried seafood, yum!  After dinner was the ice cream social and question box.  I was suprised the question box did not get too heated in discussion, perhaps everyone was in an ice cream haze and ready for night night time. 

Ted pouting because he didn't get enough ice cream, haha!

Luckily we had bus drivers to get us home!

IPPS 2011 Annual Meeting, Valdosta, GA! Part One

After almost a month of being back in the office it was time to get away again. This time I was off to Valdosta, GA for the Annual IPPS Meeting. I have honestly never heard of Valdosta so I was ready for the adventure. IPPS is the International Plant Propagator Society. Yes, the ultimate in plant nerdiness!!! People talking plants all day, touring places with plants all days, bidding wars at plant auction...plants selling for over $200.00 a piece...a plant lovers dream! I flew into Valdosta Saturday, a bit on the early side since it was really the only flight available! This gave me plenty of time to leisurely make my way to the hotel then off the the conference center to check on the plant babies I sent for the auction. The plant babies came out pretty good, a little tumbled but I don't usually pack one gallons, perhaps I will do a better job next time! The flat of mixed succulents came in very nice though!
My beautiful babies...BUY ME!!!
Alan Shapiro of Grandiflora Nursery ended up winning these, I think for around $50-$60, what a steal!  After everything was unpacked it was off to the hotel for some down time, a movie, a nap, then a workout.  IPPS is a pretty intense meeting with very little downtime so I figured I better get a little in before everything started the next day.  The first day started bright and early with a board meeting at 6:00 AM!!!!  Definitely early for me, I used to wake up early to teach 5:30 spin I have converted to a night owl, staying up till midnight, it is so hard to wake up now!  After the board meeting it was off to the buses for our first day of tours, this is my favorite part of IPPS!!!

The first stop was Tobe Gardens.  This is a family owned garden that was started in the 70's but the bulk of it started getting built around 1993.  It was interesting but it was mostly trees and large shrubs in a more native looking planting.  I really like gardens that are more formal..but that is just my personal opinion.  There were some interesting building and sculptures around that were all hand built by the Tobe family.  The temple was the most interesting, it must have been really hard to build!  It was a great place for a group photo!
IPPS Southern Region goes to Nepal!

The next stop was Superior Trees. This was an interesting operation because I had never seen so many field grown tree liners. in fact I thought at first the trees were grasses because they had said they grew grasses. Turns out they were thousands of Longleaf Pine seedlings. This operation was 120 acres in productions with 196 total acres. It was started in 1953 by St. Regis Paper Company. They grow about 4 million bareroot seedling a year and have over 300 varieties.
Not grass, these are trees!

We got back on the bus and were off to Simpson Nurseries. On the bus I was updating the IPPS facebook page after each stop. I figured the information would be extremely timely and it would prevent be from procrastinating to get it done later! We we arrived at Simpson Nurseries we were immediately shuffled into line for lunch, my kind of stop! Next we loaded onto wagons and toured the nursery. The weather was just perfect at this point, the morning had been a bit cold but now the sun was shinning...belly was full, wagon was rocking just right...eyes were was almost nappy time! I stayed awake though because the tour was very interesting. I learned that this nursery was huge! Just when I thought we were almost back to the start we were not, being 1000 acres with 500 acres in production this was the reason! The one thing that stood out here from other nurseries was the use of liquid feed..I mean we use it but most nurseries are on a slow release program.
That is not a retention pond, that is a retention lake!

After a great tour we were back on the buses and headed off to Pebble Hill Plantation for Dinner. Yes, more food! Obviously my plans to eat healthy were spoiled by all the wonderful food is so hard to diet when traveling! Pebble Hill was a very nice location for everybody to unwind and socialize. There were horse carriage rides and house tours before dinner.
Also there was wine tasting, blueberry wine!
Social hour, yes plant nerds still know how to have fun!
After a nice dinner it was back on the buses and off to the hotel...time for night night before a full day of talks the next day!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sakata, Spring Trials 2011

I loved this stop for all of the color, as many people who know me well know I am a color feen! At the office I have every color of highlighter, sharpie, clicker sharpie, gel pen, you get the picture! I loved the retail display side, they had one side of the greenhouse dedicated to production and the other to retail. Of course I gravitated to the side with the displays and all of the color blocking. I am so attracted to this type of display, I know if a retailer used these methods they would definitely get some sales from people like me. See the color for yourself on our Flickr slideshow below:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Takii, Spring Trials 2011

I was not sure there would be anything to look at here since we do not grow many seed variety annuals, really any annuals due to the hot humid climate here. I was surprised to find a few things! Cannas in particular. Now that's a plants that likes hot and humid! We have grown some of the Tropical series as a contract grow and to be honest the germination sucked! The seed is expensive and we had around 10% germ. If I remember correctly it runs about 1-200 dollars per 1000 seed. I was told at this stop that they are working on this problem and have now started to laser stratify the seed. I guess we will see if that helps. If we can get good germ it would be great to be able to provide this product from seed rather than from the expensive tissue culture process. Yes, I know we have a lab, but this is a product that we would only sell once a year and in small numbers so it is not really worth keeping stock in a lab all year for that, this is why we stopped doing bananas, they were making me bananas! Anyway enjoy the pics!

Rancho Tissue Technologies, Spring Trials 2011

Wow, Spring is truely kickin' this year so I am trying to get caught up in the office when I can! Here are a few shots I got at Rancho Tissue Technologies while I was there for Spring Trials. I had to kick myself because I totally forgot to charge my camera and it died before I could take all the pics I wanted to take! I did get some good shots though. I am in love with the new Echeveria 'Cante' as well as a new Dyckia in the works, I believe the name is something like 'Marnyay'. See the pictures below to see for yourself. Black was in a few years ago for plant color, I say white is the new black! Of course who can resist all the mini Aloes, I have placed an order for the 'Marmelade' I think it will be a nice addition to our ever growing aloe line. Did you know we have 7 now? How cool is that? Also I really liked a larger Aloe they are releasing, Aloe rubroviolacea 'Violet'. Tons of Agave as well, it was hard to decide which one I liked the best. I really like the 'Little Sharkskin', so hopefully we can get some of those in soon. If you have never been to RTT, you must go just to see the big hill planting of tons of succulents. Heather told me it used to be the dump pile, definitely a huge improvement! There are plants there you will not see anywhere else. The breeder on staff, Kelly Griffin, travels the world in search of succulent goodness. Keep on tracking the globe for these babies, we love them!