Atlanta, Ga. – The Southern Nursery Association (SNA) has announced the recipients of the 2019 SNA Awards. The awards will be presented at the 120th Annual SNA Business Meeting, scheduled for Jan. 8, 2019, at the Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, Md., during The SNA Conference.
The SNA Awards Program began in 1956, when the late John B. Wight, Sr., suggested to the officers of the Southern Nursery Association that an award be offered annually to the person of their selection who, in their opinion, had contributed most to the advancement of the industry in the South and to the welfare of the Southern Nursery Association. This award, considered a lifetime achievement award, was named the Slater Wight Memorial Award in memory of the late J. Slater Wight, brother of the late John B. Wight, Sr.
This year’s recipient of the Slater Wight Memorial Award is Dr. Ted Bilderback of Raleigh, N.C. Dr. Bilderback retired as an Emeritus Professor & Director of the JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University July 1, 2014, after 37 years as a Horticulture Science faculty member at NC State. His career included responsibilities for teaching, extension and research. Ted’s research and extension programs focused on environmentally conscious cultural practices for growing nursery stock. Irrigation, horticultural container substrates and plant nutrition were an emphasis of his educational programs that included advising or co-advising 24 graduate students. His research, extension and popular articles numbered over 500 publications and his career external funding resulted in approximately $2.2 million.
Established in 1974 by David E. Laird, Jr., in memory of his father, SNA past president David E. Laird, Sr., the David E. Laird, Sr. Memorial Award is presented each year to recognize qualified young men and women for outstanding service in the field of environmental horticulture and to offer inspiration for others starting out in the field. The recipient must be 39 years of age or younger and must be a member of his/her state nursery association.
This year’s recipient of the David E. Laird, Sr. Memorial Award is Jonathan Saperstein, current CEO of one of America’s largest nurseries, TreeTown USA. He began his career at TreeTown early in the company’s history working as part of the field crew before climbing the rungs of the corporate ladder; moving from field labor to farm maintenance and eventually working his way up to COO. While working at TreeTown, he attended the University of Texas at Austin. Saperstein was named a recipient of the Forbes 30 Under 30 award within the Manufacturing & Industry category in 2017. He was named 2018’s Gulf Coast Region EY Entrepreneur of the Year, and was a National Finalist for EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year award that same year.
At the age of twenty-seven, Saperstein became CEO of TreeTown after leading a management buyout in January 2015, which was later awarded by the M&A Advisor as the 2015 “Agricultural Acquisition of the Year.” With Saperstein at the helm TreeTown strategically completed four additional acquisitions as well as the sale of one non-core business. Today TreeTown and its subsidiaries, Village Nurseries and Hines Growers, produce on over 6,000 acres split amongst 18 facilities located in Florida, Texas, California and Oregon and produces over 30 million plants a year.
Saperstein divides his time between TreeTown’s locations in addition to visiting customers to ensure that they are receiving the highest level of service. Saperstein firmly believes that employee, vendor, and customer relationships are the driving force of any successful business. This is evident by the numerous initiatives TreeTown has undertaken since Saperstein acquired the business. Since becoming CEO in 2015, Saperstein has grown TreeTown’s employee base to over 2,000.
Established by the SNA Board in 1992, the SNA Pinnacle Award is given to the individual within the allied industry who, in the opinion of the SNA board, has contributed most to the advancement of the industry in the south and to the welfare of the Southern Nursery Association. This award is limited to SNA members. Nomination and selection of recipients is made by the SNA board of directors.
This year’s recipient of the SNA Pinnacle Award is Scott Martiniere, Southeastern sales director for Harrell’s. In 2003 Scott joined Harrell’s as sales manager. After building Harrell’s horticulture business from coast to coast and acquiring a soil plant in Fla., and making it a viable success, Scott was promoted to sales director for the Southeast. Along with nine sales associates, Scott continues to make a significant impact in the horticulture market.
In 1969, an Award of Merit was created to honor those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to ornamental horticultural research and, more speci?cally, to SNA. In 1972, the SNA Board of Directors resolved that the Award of Merit would be renamed the Porter Henegar Memorial Award for Horticultural Research in memory of the late Porter Henegar, past executive secretary of SNA (1959 - 1972). The recipient is selected annually by fellow research workers for his/her concern and work toward improving the nursery industry.
The recipient of the 2019 Porter Henegar Memorial Award is Dr. Allen Owings, Professor Emeritus, Horticulture, LSU AgCenter. Dr. Owings was born and raised in Hammond, LA. He holds a BS degree (plant science) from Southeastern Louisiana University, MS degree (Horticulture) from LSU and PhD (Horticulture) from Mississippi State University.
Dr. Owings provided statewide extension service programming for nursery growers, landscapers, garden centers and secondarily to master gardeners and home gardeners for 25 years. He coordinated the LSU AgCenter Louisiana Super Plant program and conducted research in the area of ornamental horticulture plant trials and evaluation programs.
Since October 2017, Dr. Owings has been employed as senior horticulturist at Bracy’s Nursery in Amite, LA and horticulturist at Clegg’s Nursery in Baton Rouge, LA. In this role he works in the area of new plant recommendations, social media education, horticulture outreach and customer relations.
Dr. Owings has participated annually in the SNA research conference since 1987 and has published over 70 articles in the proceedings. He was an inaugural recipient of SNA’s Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship.
He is a life member of the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association (where he served as executive secretary for 13 years) and the Louisiana Society for Horticultural Research.
During his LSU AgCenter career he also wrote weekly landscape columns that were distributed statewide in Louisiana and also wrote for his hometown newspaper, the Hammond Star.
This year, one deserving industry member has been selected to receive a SNA Honorary Member Award: Donna Foster who served the South Carolina Green Industry Association (formerly the South Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association) as executive director for 22 years. Along with SCGIA she also was and continues to be the secretary/treasurer of the International Plant Propagators Society - Southern Region and the South Carolina Greenhouse Growers Association.
The Don Shadow Award of Excellence, named for the first recipient, Don O. Shadow, Shadow Nursery, Winchester, Tenn., is presented to an individual, corporation or organization that has provided exemplary service, leadership and generosity in the development, promotion and use of new and improved landscape plants. Recipients must demonstrate a sincere commitment to and passion for expanding knowledge and use of new and improved plants for the landscape.
The 2019 recipient of the Don Shadow Award of Excellence is Tony Avent, horticulturist and proprietor, freelance garden writer, international garden lecturer, and plant auctioneer. He and his wife, Anita Avent, own Plant Delights Nursery and established Juniper Level Botanic Garden in Raleigh, North Carolina. In addition, Tony is a well-known plant explorer, author and public speaker. In 1988, he and his late wife Michelle established Plant Delights Nursery, a small, family owned, mail-order nursery, offering unique, rare, well-grown, and properly-named perennials to passionate gardeners around the world.
Plant Delights Nursery/Juniper Level Botanic Garden has one of the most extensive perennial trialing programs in the country. Despite being best known as a mail-order nursery, they actually exist for their work as a private 28-acre botanical garden, spiritual retreat center and plant research facility focusing on ex-situ plant conservation, plant exploration, breeding, and propagation. They have had several new plant species named from their collections, and more in the pipeline.
Their horticultural educational efforts are visible in our catalog, our website, their presentations around the country, in public and scientific publications, and now on social media.
Tony’s plant explorations have led him to Argentina, Bosnia, China, Crete, Croatia, Korea, Mexico, Montenegro, Slovenia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, plus 67 plant expeditions in the U.S.
Tony is a contributing editor to Fine Gardening Magazine (2017 to present). He has been featured in numerous media including HGTV Martha Stewart Living, The Winter Garden Series, The Secret Garden Series, and PBS Cultivating Life. He has also authored So You Want to Start a Nursery (Timber Press, 2003).
For a list of previous SNA award winners, visit the SNA website at www.sna.org.
It is with great sadness that the Austin family announces the passing of David C. H. Austin Snr OBE VMH, rosarian and founder of David Austin Roses. David Snr died peacefully at his home in Shropshire on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, surrounded by his family. He was 92.
From school boy to rose breeder
David Austin, whose English Roses have captured the imagination of gardeners and rose lovers worldwide, was born on Feb. 16, 1926.
Growing up in the Shropshire countryside, Austin developed a passion for plants from a very young age. However, his interest in flowers was truly ignited when he first discovered a magazine called Gardens Illustrated, tucked away in the school library. After being encouraged by his teacher, he decided to pursue his newfound passion.
James Baker, a friend of David’s father, ran a nursery down the road from their family farm. David would visit with his father and was dazzled by the new varieties of lupins that James was breeding. It was at this time that the idea of developing new varieties of plants himself really started to take hold. Coming from a farming background, David had an innate knowledge of plants but taking this knowledge and applying it to the less practical world of flowers did not meet his father’s approval. It wasn’t until his sister gave him A.E. Bunyard’s book, Old Garden Roses, for his 21st birthday, that he fell in love with roses.
With his new passion for roses, David decided to take up rose growing as a hobby, ordering his first few plants when he was in his early twenties. Beguiled by their beauty, his interest only really lay with the Old Roses, but with the fashion at the time being for modern Hybrid Teas, he decided to order a few varieties to compare the two groups.
Although he wasn’t charmed by the Hybrid Teas he did recognize the attributes they possessed that the Old Roses lacked: a much wider color range and the ability to repeat flower. This was his light bulb moment, the realization that he had the opportunity to create something entirely new — a rose with the beauty and fragrance of his much-loved Old Roses but with the benefits of modern roses.
Resolute in purpose, David began the slow process of breeding this new type of rose. Unfortunately, his inexperience revealed itself when he lost his first set of seedlings to a fungal disease, and he had to start all over again the following year. However, with time and extraordinary dedication, David created his first rose, ‘Constance Spry’ (Ausfirst), in 1961. Industry professionals said nobody would buy these ‘old-fashioned roses’ and nurseries refused to stock them. Not one to be easily discouraged, David decided to ignore his detractors and sell his roses to the public himself, using his own kitchen table in Shropshire as his distribution center. He also sold a wide range of other roses, including Old Roses, climbers and ramblers.
Coming into bloom
By 1969 David had refined the breeding process and launched his first range of repeat-flowering ‘English Roses,’ the name he coined for his groundbreaking varieties that fused the old with the new. He reasoned that the French have the Gallica roses, the Scottish the Scots, so why shouldn’t the English also have a group of roses to call their own — especially with the rose being so intertwined in England’s culture and history.
The early years were quite a struggle, particularly because he was trying to compete with so many other rose nurseries. However, with the support of his wife Pat, combined with the unique combination of attributes his roses had to offer, the English Roses grew in popularity and the Old Rose style began to enjoy a long overdue renaissance.
In 1983 David experienced his first real breakthrough when he introduced three very good English Roses at the Chelsea Flower Show, including the rose named after his good friend and mentor, the revered horticulturist, Graham Thomas. The response from the press, as well as the general public, to Rosa ‘Graham Thomas’ (Ausmas) was overwhelming and David credited it with being the rose most responsible for the recognition and success of the English Roses. The following year saw the first of many gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and the David Austin garden gradually became one of the highlights for visitors, which continues to this day.
With the increased popularity, the nursery business started to grow, the extra income meaning that the rusty, draughty old barns could be replaced by modern packing sheds and the falling down breeding greenhouses replaced by bigger and more spacious ones, although still secondhand. The fledgling rose garden, now considered one of the most beautiful rose gardens in the world, also increased in size.
The art of rose breeding
The increased income also gave him the opportunity to gradually expand the size of his enduring passion, the rose breeding program, which today is one of the largest in the world. Each year David introduced three or so new varieties. From pollination to sale, the whole process of creating a new rose takes nine years. For each new rose released, roughly 120,000 unique roses will have been grown for research ? a process which took all of David’s patience, dedication and expertise.
“There is nothing more exciting than having 350,000 seedlings growing that no one has ever seen before,” David C. H. Austin once said.
His rose breeding endeavors have resulted in a number of awards, with one of his proudest achievements receiving his OBE in 2007 for his services to horticulture. On receiving the award, he said “Every day, I marvel at my good fortune to have been able to make a life out of breeding roses. My greatest satisfaction is to see the pleasure my roses give to gardeners and rose lovers around the world”. He was also awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour from the RHS, an honorary degree from the University of East London and the Dean Hole medal from the Royal National Rose Society. His roses too have won many awards around the world. ‘Graham Thomas’ (Ausmas) was voted the world’s favorite by the World Federation of Rose Societies (WFRS) in 2009 and ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ (Ausbord) twice voted the UK’s favorite. 28 of them have also been honored with the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the RHS. The garden at Albrighton, both home to David Austin and the National Collection of his English Roses, received the Award of Garden Excellence from the WFRS in 2015.
Through the generations
In 1990 he welcomed his eldest son, David J. C. Austin, into the business. Together they have developed David Austin Roses into a worldwide business, extending the UK operation to Europe and in more recent years to the United States and Japan, where they now have offices.
Not one to rest on his laurels, in 1992, with the driving force and support of David Junior, he decided to start up a completely new side to the breeding program. The aim being to develop varieties that were specifically for the cut flower market, available all year round, whilst retaining the beauty, fragrance and charm that had become so recognizable in his garden roses. The first group of cut roses was released in 2004 and like his garden roses, it took some time for them to be accepted, being a very different proposition from the status quo. Today David Austin cut roses are considered to be some of the most prestigious and sought-after wedding and event roses in the world and have been used to celebrate the most intimate of private occasions through to the most prestigious Royal Weddings showcased on a global stage.
David Austin Roses has grown significantly over the decades but it still remains very much a family business at heart. The third generation, Richard Austin, David Senior’s grandson, and son of David Junior, joined the company in 2010 continuing his father and grandfather’s passion and their lives’ work. They in turn are supported by a loyal team, with many having been with the business for more than 15 years including his Rose Breeding Manager, Carl Bennett, who has worked for him for almost 30 years. As the company has grown, so too has the wider David Austin family who affectionately refer to David Senior simply as ‘Mr A.’
An author and poet
Apart from his passion for roses he had a great love for literature and his sitting room is lined with bookcases filled with a great variety of books. The first book he wrote was The Heritage of the Rose, published in 1988. In 1993 he published the first edition of The English Roses, the definitive work on his own creation, which won great critical acclaim around the world. He especially loved poetry and published a collection of his own poems in 2014 entitled The Breathing Earth, which draws on his life experiences and his love of nature.
The Father of English Roses
He will be remembered as one of the greatest rosarians and rose breeders of all time who is responsible for creating the world’s first horticultural brand. With over 240 varieties to his name, he was still absolutely passionate about developing new varieties of English Roses until the very end. He died already knowing what the future may hold, having planned and undertaken the next crosses, which will hopefully create a new rose that will be introduced in nine years’ time.
Despite continually discovering new found inspiration his dream, broadly speaking, remained the same as when he first started breeding roses as an amateur, all those years ago: to create the perfect garden worthy rose that combines beauty, fragrance, repeat-flowering ability and good disease resistance with great charm – the quality his English Roses are most renowned for. As he said in his book, The English Roses, he had one goal that was more important than any other, “… that we should strive to develop the rose’s beauty in flower, growth and leaf.” Of fragrance, he wrote, “[It] may be said to be the other half of the beauty of a rose.”
He leaves behind a legacy that very many around the world will treasure as a result of his passion, unwavering vision and lifetime’s work.
More than 95 million U.S. households will celebrate the 2018 holiday season by displaying a Christmas tree, according to the eighth annual Christmas tree survey from the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA) conducted by Nielsen.
Eighty-two percent of the Christmas trees displayed will be artificial and 17.9 percent will be real trees, according to the survey.
"We are delighted to report that Christmas trees, both real and artificial, continue to be a highlight of the holiday season for so many across the country," said Jami Warner, executive director of ACTA.
"Consumers have so many wonderful types of trees to choose from and at all price points," said Warner. "There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to choosing your Christmas tree. "Family traditions and holiday memories can be made with any tree, be it classic, green, flocked, upside down, table-top, mini or majestic," Warner said.
"Many consumers are choosing to display multiple Christmas trees and more than one type," she added. "Why not spread the joy of the holidays by decorating our homes with the many types, colors, species, shapes and sizes of trees now so widely available?" Warner said.
"After all, it's not what kind of Christmas tree you have, it's who's around it," she added.
This holiday season, more U.S. consumers are opting to pick up their real Christmas tree from home improvement chains, mass retailers, and grocery stores – and less from traditional tree farms and lots, according to the survey.
"Consumers are increasingly choosing convenience," Warner said. "While many families still enjoy the Christmas tradition of picking out their real Christmas tree from a tree farm or lot, more have shifted to purchasing the tree from national retailers rather than local tree farms and tree lots."
The 2018 Nielsen survey data showed that the number of consumers who plan to display a real tree is generally steady, down 0.4 percent versus 2017. Purchases from mass/discount chains, home improvement/DIY centers, and grocery stores are up a combined 2.25 percent over 2017 while purchases from tree farms and tree lots are down 1.42 percent versus last year.
"The Christmas season can be stressful for shoppers and perhaps they find one-stop shopping easier. This comes as a loss to the thousands of local tree farms and tree lots that depend on making sales to individual consumers this time of year," Warner said.
"We're glad that families are creating traditions and holiday memories by decorating the Christmas tree together, whether real or artificial or bought from a tree farm, tree lot, home improvement store, or even online," said Warner. "We will continue to monitor these shifts in consumer behavior and report on them in the future.
TOKYO, Japan — Suntory Flowers has announced that Lorentina McKoy has joined its North American team. As national sales representative, she is focused on grower relations and product development. Based in Brenham, Texas, McKoy brings strong propagation, production planning and trialing experience.
She has worked for several large operations, including Greenleaf Nursery, Magnolia Gardens Nursery and Altman Specialty Plants. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science degree in horticulture and a focus on greenhouse management and nursery floral crop production.
Since starting with Suntory in mid-October, McKoy has met with and visited more than 25 grower customers from coast to coast. This is the first time Suntory Flowers has had a dedicated sales/product representative in North America.
“We’re very excited to have Lorentina,” says Masashi Matsumura, international business manager, Suntory Flowers. “In addition to the experience she brings as production manager, she has a great passion for plants. We now have two highly experienced people in North America – Lorentina as sales representative and Delilah Onofrey as marketing director. Together, I believe our new division will be able to provide our customers with even better service.”
McKoy adds, “Suntory continues to bring new, exciting, quality plants to market. Now I hope to bring those same qualities front and center to the growers in the United States and Canada. Being able to share my passion for these plants and knowledge with so many growers and production facilities is the best part.”