Raleigh, North Carolina: Horticultural Hot Spot!

Raleigh, North Carolina: Horticultural Hot Spot!

“The only thing that two gardeners ever agree on is what the third gardener does wrong.”   Tony Avent, Plants Delight Nursery

I love traveling. You might be able to tell from the illustrations on all of these pages. I especially enjoy traveling back to North Carolina. My step-brother lived on a plantation near Wilmington.

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Kirk R. Brown and Tony Avent touring Plants Delight and Juniper Level Botanic Garden.

These days it’s much easier to get to towns and cities more interior to my previous coastal travels. Raleigh is a prime example of a new city rich placed strategically on a confluence of roads and rivers. It is also a horticultural hotbed.

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Hellebores were in season at Plants Delight. Lovely to touch; impossible to leave without purchase.

I recently visited the nursery and botanic garden of one of the country’s premiere horticultural professionals. Plants Delight is just that: a place where horticulture is displayed and priced to entice the most jaded of plant collectors. The attached display grounds are known as Juniper Level Botanic Garden.

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Shipping and receiving at Plant Delights Nursery is very reminiscent of my own shipping operation at Bartram’s Garden. Big difference: corrugated cardboard, Styrofoam peanuts and plastic wrapping material.

These gardens are tended by plantsman extraordinaire, Tony Avent. He is a gentleman and a rabid Hortistician. He was a gracious host to my amanuensis and his traveling wife. If you are in the neighborhood it will be good for your soul to stop and touch the merchandise.

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Around the table: Kirk R. Brown, Brienne Gluvna Arthur, Jared Barnes, Lizzi Lathers, Erin Weston. Enjoying the best barbecue in the south!

While still in Raleigh, I also made contact with a new generation of professional plants people. Dinner with them was both entertaining and educational. I know that I shall reflect on the experience for many a future experience with people younger than 100 years old.

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Dr. Jared Barnes was introduced to his alter ego in the latest edition of Organic Gardening. He was named one of the horticulture’s rising star by Ken Druse.

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Brienne Gluvna Arthur working at Camellia Forest Nursery.

Brienne Gluvna Arthur, Dr. Jared Barnes, Erin L. Weston and Lizzi Lathers are in a group of rising stars of horticulture and should be watched…closely, carefully, and regularly…to see how their rooting is coming.

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Brienne Gluvna Arthur holding Cubby while Sara E. Stine Brown looks on with the envy only a cat person could have.

Williamson Free School Gardeners and the Quaker Botanical Trade

“I am continually impelled by a restless spirit of curiosity in pursuit of new productions of nature, my chief happiness consists in tracing and admiring the infinite power, majesty, and perfection of the great almighty Creator, and in the contemplation, that through divine aid and permission, I might be instrumental in discovering and introducing into my native country, some original productions of nature, which might become useful to society.”    William Bartram

Williamson Free School, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram, Philadelphia Flower Show

The flag is displayed proudly on the parade ground of Williamson Free School where all classes and categories of students gather each morning for roll.

The landscape and horticulture students at Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades are working on an exhibit demonstrating the complexity of trading in botanical specimens during the 18th century.  Their investigations in the trans Atlantic crossing of seeds, roots, cuttings, divisions and containers will be unveiled to the horticultural public during this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show:  http://www.theflowershow.com/  It will be a brilliant assemblage of English landscape design and American scientific ingenuity.

John Bartram, Philadelphia Flower Show, Kirk R. Brown, Williamson Free School

This miniature model of Independence Hall displays the level of professionalism and horticultural excellence attained by featured exhibits on the show floor.

The senior class, under the tutelage of Chuck Feld, invited me to tour their campus and discourse on the technical challenges of sending the dozens of Bartram’s Boxes that successfully landed on English shores.  Officially, the students attend this school to receive training in programs that award them a degree as an Associate in Specialized Technology.  Also helping the Horticulture, Landscaping and Turf Management class will be the combined efforts of the other programs in Carpentry, Paint and Coatings, Construction Technology and Machine Tool Technology.  http://www.williamson.edu/about/history.htm

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Philadelphia Flower Show, Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades

John Bartram joins the seniors of the Horticulture, Landscape and Turf class at Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades.

The display will showcase all of the native North American botanicals that I introduced to the world of horticulture through my correspondence with many of the world’s most famous men of letters, science, and industry:  James Logan, Peter Collinson, Philip Miller, Carl Linnaeus, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Catesby, Peter Kalm, Johann Gronovius, and Johann Dillenius.

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Philadelphia Flower Show, Williamson Free School

John in a familiar pose of writing to his many horticultural correspondents.

Featured in the exhibit will be rooted seedlings of the Franklinia alatamaha.  This tree, collected on a tour through the swamps of Georgia along the Alatamaha River, was never again found in wild after the early part o the 19th century.  The examples that we now have of it are all descendants of the original copse of trees that my son William and I discovered in 1765.

John Bartram, William Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Franklinia alatamaha

John and William Bartram discovered the unique Franklinia during a collecting trip along the Alatamaha River in Georgia.

The exhibit will educate the masses about the how, why, when, where, and who of the start of international horticulture.  This fine concept will ultimately recognize the amazing vitality and economic incentive given the art and science of botany by those members of the Philadelphia Quaker community.  Please stop by the booth on your trip through this “Brilliant” Philadelphia Flower Show between March 2 and 10.  I will be fronting the booth to welcome all comers during the first weekend of the display.

Williamson Free School, John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown Philadelphia Flower Show

The senior carpentry class from Williamson Free School will be constructing the bones of the Philadelphia Flower Show Educational Exhibit

As the spring season opens, more will be said about the specifics of the display and the difficulty of translating a vision of 300 years of international plant search and sharing.

Travels Through a Green Nation

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  Confucius

“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance;  one cannot fly into flying.”  Friedrich Nietzsche

My amanuensis, Kirk R. Brown, has scheduled some days apart from me in this winter season.  He is attending to his personal business on many fronts relating to the greening of America.  These days and in this particular season they have gatherings of our clans of fellow gardeners across this vast country of ours.  He loves what he does.  His connections are numerous and his ease on meeting strangers makes good friends of potential enemies.  He plays the fool well but does not easily suffer them.

Kansas City National Green Center

This is a trade show rebranded from the original Western Nursery and Landscape Association

These clannish troupings of our tribal green color bring together all manner of possible combinations:  product endorsements, improvements, plants, equipment (a very mannish, clannish thing indeed!), educational opportunities, recognitions, reconnections, and escape from our everyday existence in an office or nursery or garden.  Kirk was farther afield last week than was in my awareness of time and space.

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Ball Horticultural put out a colorful display of their new selections

He went to Kansas:  a place over the rainbow and a left turn at the North Star.  Great, green fields awaited his arrival.  Fertile oases of alluvial ground watered by a great river in the center of our continent.  In life’s travels we pass many streams but once.  You must make special note of passing a great watershed.  Kirk retells his experience in Kansas last week as the passing of a great watershed.

Western Landscape and Nursery Association

A trade show floor is full of the products from the world of nature. Evergreen!

This clan was rebranded within a twelve-month period.  It was an ancient root out of the west.  Its lands and nurseries were abundant and strong throughout it 125 plus year history.  As with many old things, changes come sometimes planned, sometimes by choice, and most times by need.  Take my own ancient life as an example!  They needed to view life in a new way.

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The latest in equipment for garden illumination. How I wish it had been available in my youth!

The new clan is known as “The National Green Center!”  Isn’t that wonderful?  What a unique concept.  They believe themselves to be the center of this country’s green movement.  Isn’t that brazen?  My Darby Meeting would hardly approve, but then we know what they felt about my outrageousness.

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Color abounded in Kansas City

But this group of wise and far-sighted leaders wished to fly into a new dawn.  Realizing that they had need for wings, they first thought to dance.  The analogy fits like a clogger’s shoe.  It is hard and dynamic–dramatic almost–in its use.  They decided to first refashion the style of production:

They renamed.  They refit.  They colorized.  They developed a sense of Fashion!  They thought to enlist the help of other clans.  They recognized strangers and invited fellow travelers.  They opened the doors in preparedness for the day when the feathers would be dry and flight could be achieved.

Western Nursery and Landscape Association

Networking opportunities were abundant. Michael Dirr confers with Reps from Bailey Nurseries and Ball Horticultural.

I heartily applaud the steps they’ve taken to ensure all of our collective and natural futures.  I congratulate them on their need to be sustainable:  in organization, in fiscal responsibility, and in connection.  With this green botanical nature that courses through all of us, we need to hold close and respect deeply those who choose to do battle with the angry gods of commerce and industry. 

“Ah! Sweet Melissa! There was a fashion show!”

“It’s a new era in fashion – there are no rules. It’s all about the individual and personal style, wearing high-end, low-end, classic labels, and up-and-coming designers all together.”  — Alexander McQueen
 
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“One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a Little Black Dress.” Karl Lagerfeld

{Submitted by Kirk R. Brown for J.B. approval.  Kansas City, Kansas.  National Green Center.    http://www.nationalgreencentre.org/index.php }

John!  There was a fashion show.  It’s a natural!  I mean, it’s of nature.  Listen:  the models paraded down a runway with plants.  It was a fashion show of lights, color, and beautiful models–with attitude.  The beautiful people were carrying pots of beautiful new plants.  Why didn’t you ever think of this? 

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“Yes Dorothy, there is a real Miss Kansas!”
 

It was called “The Sweet Melissa Fashion Show” and it introduced 50–FIFTY–new plants to the trade.  That’s one quarter of all of the plants you introduced in your youth!

The experience was exhilarating.  The crowd was raucous.  The bars were open.  The lights were brilliant.  And the runway stretched a green mile.

John Bartram Kirk R. Brown
The runway was crowded with fashionista.

I was just part of the crowd.  I was making notes in the program just like everyone else as the latest hort-couture designs paraded past.  There was a continuous buzz throughout the room.  Exhibitors, attendees, press, and nursery hybridizers hovered around the corridor of bright lights.

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It was a rainbow collection of new plant introductions. We spent a day in OZ!

Many of the introductions were represented by colorful broadsides illustrating the plant at height of bloom or seasonal color.  Backstage, the fashion collection was lined up waiting for the show to proceed.

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This fashion line up was waiting for the runway.

Both before and after the show, the runway became a focus of the trade show’s excitement.  People could meet and sit to discuss their business.  The carpet remained a colorful reminder of the show’s sparkle. 

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Maria Zampini and Emily Bibens have plantitude on the runway.

I respectfully submit this news release for the pleasure it may provide and the knowledge of new plants it may tease you to investigate.  http://www.nationalgreencentre.org/2012_FashionShow.vp.html 

Kirk R. Brown

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The author, Kirk R. Brown, doft a hat to stay tuned with the fashion harmonies.

A Green Industry Summit Council

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

“A plague [on all] your houses!”    with apologies to Mercutio from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet Act 3, scene 1

My amanuensis has sent field notes back to me of a meeting of leaders in this botanical industry.  The gathering of minds had an intent to define a way through the shoals of troubled water in which we swim.  There were sharp minds at council tables. 

Two statements of purpose were attached to the gathering of horticultural tribes:

1.  Provide a venue for leaders of the industry’s organizations and associations to share insights regarding the future of the industry and the opportunities and challenges that are likely to emerge as they work to support their members and constituents.

2.  Initiate the first phase of an ongoing dialogue among these leaders to support their efforts to address and capitalize on these opportunities as they explore [what?] they may mean for the future of their organizations.

National Green Center Summit for Industry Leadership

The foolscap newsprint was a image from my youth. These elephant folio sized sheets were the same that Ben Franklin would have used in his print shop.

This was a very heady agenda.  A lot of work was initiated by the brief confederation of horticultural colonies.  It was the first trumpet call to become a United Nation of Green. 

Unlike the First and Second Continental Congresses, there were women present at the heart of this discussion.  Wisdom AND beauty.  Age and the enthusiasm of youth.  Brilliance of mind and those still dazed by the glare from the noonday sun.  And there were writers of well-turned phrases.

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Sarah Woody Bibens was in a leadership capacity as Executive Director of the Western Landscape and Nursery Association

The reporter on site took special note of the ease with which the discussions were facilitated.  I greatly respect the scientific method and the processes in place to develop a group dynamic.  Dr. David Renz was the professor in charge.  His degree is recognized and promoted by the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership, The Henry W. Bloch School of Management, University of Missouri, Kansas City.

National Green Center Industry Leadership Summit

The good Doctor was praised for his professional and efficient staging of the Association Summit.

In the world of my youth, we could have used such well-studied and eminently qualified professionals.  In my youth, I only had the wits with which I was born.  Now we can rest more easily on the taller shoulders of those who write better sentences…or possess more credentials…or speak with louder voices.

As in my day of Quaker Meetings, this group’s consensus was reached after strenuous exercise and posturing.  There was no argument.  There also was no vote.  The congressional leaders concurred to leave the observations in an unedited form.

Notes were taken, collected, and preserved.  I am told that those in attendance wanted to, “build on this session’s info and take it forward.”

The delegates to this congress were urged:  “DON’T WASTE THIS INPUT.”  In future, it might be brought out and viewed through a darkened lens.  But if it is not to be used immediately, how shall it not be wasted?

What proof can be drawn that this meeting occurred?  What sound does a falling tree make if unheard by a passerby?  When does a natural confederation cease to be a group of individuals and become an individual group?

This congress produced a set of Articles of Confederation.  Analysed in their pieces, they have a disparate and almost desperate need to grasp the roots and promote a horticultural revolution.  Again, Ben Franklin was there before us, “for if we don’t hang together, we shall–most assuredly–all hang separately…” 

Truer words were never spoken.  Or written.  We shall see if they are a call to action.

I Allow Others To Publish

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing”  Benjamin Franklin

I choose not to be original this week.  My amanuensis is engaged in a conference at some distance from me.  I would rather that he speaks for himself.  So, I have allowed him to post the following: 

{Submitted by Kirk R. Brown for J.B. approval.  Kansas City, Kansas.  National Green Center.}

GWA Dr. Michael Dirr John Bartram Kirk R. Brown

Dr. Dirr stirred the audience when he appeared at the National Green Center Conference and Trade Show

 

John, you must put this venue on your schedule.  It is imperative that you get to network with the “YOU” of this age.  Michael Dirr represents everything that you would subscribe to in the present world of digital communication.

He met with us at the Garden Writers’ breakfast.  His words were confrontational.  He has seen, and tried, and written, and been, and experienced everything that this industry holds in esteem.  He would be pragmatic and tell us there is no chance for success if he weren’t so passionate about his topic.

There were many of us at breakfast.  We talked a blue streak and impressed everyone with our credentials.  It was a moment of solitary elegy.  As individuals, we can shine in the roomful of self-defined authors.  I love this group!

GWA Breakfast National Green Center Kirk R. Brown

These writers gathered to be acknowledged for the wisdom they bring to the horticultural table. We had a wonderful breakfast.

 

Dr. Dirr has a horticultural glass which may be half empty, but it still brims with the sparkle of choice flowers.  His is a new world of COLOR.  It is loud and clear in his message.  He wants this world to be full of COLOR.

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Botticelli was passionate about color and light. This was every bit of his Venus and the Birth of Spring. But she said she didn't come with shells.

 

Dr. Dirr doesn’t believe that we can correct our mistakes or overcome our history of failed attempts.  He does not easily sign on to passing trends and fancies.  It was a day of revelation. 

This is the New Testament Gospel.  We need to recreate who we are.  We need to rewind the image of who we become when we dream.  And we need to change the direction of where we want to go.  He is tired of doing the same thing the same way.  His challenge is to live up to our colorful promise.

It will shortly be spring.  We need to see the light of this spring and take steps to make it different from those other springs of our youth.  The light is still there.  We just need to see it through different glasses.