John Hoffman Given PPA Service Award
The Perennial Plant Association has awarded John Hoffman their 2014 Service Award. The award was presented at the 32nd Perennial Plant Symposium in Cincinnati, Ohio in late July.Read Post
The Perennial Plant Association’s (PPA) annual Symposium is a unique gathering of industry professionals and perennial plant enthusiasts. This year’s event, held in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, was a whirlwind week of tours, presentations, and networking events. Nursery owners John and Jill Hoffman attended, along with Shannon Currey, our Marketing Director.
The first day of the symposium is open to PPA members and the general public. Shannon was on the program addressing how grasses and sedges form the foundation of ecologically sound landscapes. She emphasized the ability of these plants to provide a range of ecosystems services. Other speakers included similar, general themes in their talks. Neil Diboll of Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin highlighted prairie plants for pollinators, and talked about ways to maintain the balance and diversity of our landscapes. Debra Knapke of The Garden Sage urged the audience to incorporate ecological principals when creating garden designs. The program also included talks on container plantings and perennials for cold climates.
The Garden Tour
While the talks throughout the symposium are wonderful, the tours are part of what make this event special. Attendees can choose tours that focus on retail garden centers, on wholesale growers, or on garden design. In this post, we’ll share images from the Design Tour. We loved the mix of public and private gardens, all of which blended functional and ornamental elements beautifully. Join us for a small taste of our day touring sites in the Minneapolis area.
Noerenberg Memorial Gardens
This public garden lies on Lake Minnetonka and is thought to be one of the best formal gardens in Minnesota. It’s owned and maintained by the Three Rivers Park District, and it’s one of the best public parks we’ve seen. The plantings were lush and offered gorgeous plant combinations. Grasses formed the backbone of many plantings. Many prairie species, such as Sporobolus heterolepis, Panicum virgatum, Andropogon gerardii, and Schizachyrium scoparium, were thriving in the hot days and relatively cool nights of Minnesota summers.
The tour also included several private gardens, including the Tolzman Garden, the Heiland Garden, and the Carmichiel-Kelley Garden. Each was impressive and offered different kinds of sites with beautiful gardens. The Heiland and Carmichiel-Kelley gardens featured areas designed to manage and treat water. The Heiland Garden borders a lake, so the owners built a series of berms and bioswales to slow rainwater and increase infiltration. That helps reduce runoff and ensure water is treated before it reaches the lake.
The Carmichiel-Kelley Garden included a large number of grasses and sedges. Their planting design included formal, landscaped areas and informal areas with more naturalistic plantings. The combination made exploring the garden quite engaging. You never knew what was around the next turn in the path.
Grass Heaven: The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
The final stop of our tour day was the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. With twelve-hundred acres, 32 display and specialty gardens, and 48 plant collections to explore, we could have spent multiple days there. The Arboretum offers a three-mile shuttle tour of the grounds, which gives a helpful overview. Knowing time was limited, our team really wanted to see the Ornamental Grass Collection. But made a few other stops, too.
For us, the Ornamental Grass Collection was the big draw. Dr. Mary Meyer oversees the collection, and she was available to gives tours and answer questions. The tour included that selections used in the national grass trials. Dr. Meyer led the trials, and her team will be releasing results of those trials in a article sometime next year. It will include data on Little Bluestem and Switchgrass cultivars from sites across the country. To find out about these trials, go to the National Grass Trials website.
Dr. Meyer presented some preliminary findings at the symposium on Thursday. While we can’t yet share specific data, we can share some general findings. They saw big differences in the height of Little Bluestem depending on the site. The heights of individual cultivars were quite different depending on where the plants were trialed. Also, where a cultivar was originally developed seemed to affect how well it performed at different sites. We’re eager to see the results, which we hope will help people make even better selections for their region.
We also saw several specimens that seemed garden-worthy and may come to the market soon. Dr. Meyer works closely with growers across the country to make sure the best selections get attention. We love working with her, and she’s great at answering geeky grass questions!
There were far too many individual events to share them all. For a complete listing of the presentations and tours, go to the symposium website.
A Note of Congratulations
We were happy to see a number of friends and colleagues honored by PPA. Brent and Becky Heath of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs received the Merit award in recognition of their contributions to the perennial industry. Brent Horvath of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens was given the Grower Award, and Klaus Peters of Stauden-Peters in Germany received the International Contributor award. Janet Draper of the Smithsonian Institute was recognized for outstanding service to PPA, while Dr. Jared Barnes from Stephen F. Austin State University won the Young Professional Award. Twitter friend and colleague Sean James of Fern Ridge Landscaping in Ontario won a Lansdcape Honor Award. There were others, but we weren’t able to note them all. Congrats to everyone for your contributions!