Cercospora leaf spot is an infectious disease that affects smooth, panicle, oakleaf and bigleaf types of hydrangea in both landscapes and nurseries. This disease is caused by the fungus Cercospora hydrangea and is perhaps the most common disease seen on this ornamental during the months of July through October. The disease rarely kills the plant, but if it is severe, it can reduce overall plant vigor by repeated defoliation. For bigleaf-type hydrangeas in the landscape, Cercospora leaf spot tends to be less severe under shady conditions, but in nursery environments under shady conditions, frequent overhead irrigation can intensify disease activity and subsequent defoliation and loss of vigor.
Are your meetings creating valuable new insights for the business or are they a series of multitasking-filled monologues? Are they productive conversations about key business issues or a rehashing of the same stuff you’ve been talking about for months? Are your meetings getting better or worse? Answer the sample questions found in the box above. A score of three or more “Nos” indicates an opportunity to dramatically improve the efficacy and productivity of your meetings.
A meeting can be defined as a gathering of two or more people featuring collective interaction and engagement using conversations to make progress toward a purpose. Note the use of the words “interaction” and “conversations” in the definition. If you find yourself in meetings and especially teleconferences on a regular basis where the format is a primarily one-way presentation, there’s ample opportunity to improve your situation.
Research shows that meetings consume about 40% of working time for managers.
Up to half of the content of meetings is either not relevant to participants or could be delivered outside of a meeting.
- 20% of meeting participants should not be there.
- 40% of meeting time is spent on information that could be delivered before the meeting.
- 50% of meetings executives attend are rated as “ineffective” or “very ineffective.”
There are five critical steps you can follow to help your organization take a more strategic approach to meetings and teleconferences.
1. Conduct a meetings audit
Before you specify new meeting guidelines, it’s helpful to first baseline what’s happening today. Look at factors such as the types of meetings you attend, the frequency of meetings and the length of meetings. Then identify the reasons these meetings exist and if there are any meetings that are not necessary. Once the audit is complete, it provides a bounty of useful information to shape the future state of meetings.
2. Identify current meeting mistakes
Meeting mistakes occur in three phases: pre-meeting, in-meeting and post-meeting. They can also be categorized as either leader or participant mistakes. A common in-meeting mistake by the leader is failing to rein in off-track conversations. A common in-meeting mistake by participants is multitasking, which conveys a lack of interest in the topic and/or a lack of respect for the person speaking at the time. There are approximately 25 mistakes to look for in the three phases to ensure that the group is not sabotaging their own efforts at improvement.
3. Educate managers on what good looks like
Begin this step by collecting the current best practices being used by managers within the organization. Then look externally to see what principles and guidelines are being used by other organizations within and outside your industry as it relates to meetings. Examples of best practice principles include things such as “identify decisions to make in the meeting” and “create a virtual table of participants for teleconferences.” Use these best practices to compile a list of new meeting standards.
4. Use meeting tools
One of the keys to leading effective and efficient meetings is aligning the goals of the meeting with the appropriate tools and processes to get there. For instance, if you’re leading a strategy development meeting, there are more than 70 different strategic thinking tools you can choose from to help your team think and plan strategically. The key is to select the handful of tools that make the most sense based on the context of the team, business goals, competitive landscape, etc. Be clear on your meeting goals and then choose the process and tools to get there.
5. Develop meeting checklists
Research in the social sciences on habits shows that to effectively change someone’s behavior, it’s helpful to provide physical or environmental triggers. One highly effective trigger is the use of meeting checklists. These physical reminders ensure that teams across the organization are aware of the basic meeting principles, techniques, and tools to optimize their meeting time. However, the checklists are only valuable if they are accompanied by the corresponding discipline to utilize them on a consistent basis.
Effective meetings can be energizing forums to help your team set direction, make decisions and unify efforts. Ineffective meetings can be anchors that weigh people down with irrelevant information, didactic presentations and unclear priorities. Which type do you attend today? Do you think it will be different tomorrow?
Rich Horwath is a strategy facilitator, keynote speaker and creator of more than 200 resources on strategic thinking. His latest book is StrategyMan vs. The Anti-Strategy Squad: Using Strategic Thinking to Defeat Bad Strategy and Save Your Plan. www.StrategySkills.com
Star Roses and Plants launched a new optional brand, Bloomables, which was designed to focus on the flowers, giving consumers a “garden that blooms all season,” says Bradd Yoder, president of Star Roses and Plants. Bloomables consists of more than 35 varieties and will be available at retail in spring of 2020.
Consumer friendly tags present the common name first, which consumers are more likely to recognize and there is a simple call out, showing why the plant is special or how it can be used. For more: bloomables.com
2 perennials named AAS winners
Echinacea Sombrero Baja Burgundy and Rudbeckia × ‘American Gold Rush’ are the first winners from the All-America Selections three-winter Herbaceous Perennial Trial. This trial, in partnership with the Perennial Plant Association (PPA), was launched in 2016 with five entries grown against 10 similar comparisons. PPA’s input and assistance was instrumental in creating a multi-year trial where the proper plant characteristics were evaluated and rated.
AAS Winners are marketed through social media, public relations and trade shows and are grown in 190 AAS Display Gardens across North America.
For more: all-americaselections.org
Ball Seed partners with ForemostCo Inc.
Ball Seed recently entered into a co-exclusive agreement with ForemostCo, Inc., a Miami-based young plant supplier for foliage, tropical and succulent plants. The partnership meets the growing market demand for houseplants and other trending plant genetics, according to a released statement. Through the new partnership, ForemostCo’s year-round availability of rooted and unrooted cuttings, vegetative and tissue-cultured liners, air-layered plants, bulbs, canes and rhizomes will combine with Ball Seed’s systems, sales coverage and service model to bring these key products to customers. For more: ballseed.com, foremostco.com
Hardy fuchsias are stunning beacons of color in the garden from early summer to fall and deserve much more attention from a horticultural perspective both in nursery production and on garden center benches. There are few other plant genera that are as useful in garden design as hardy fuchsias. They bloom from June until well into October, much to the appreciation of hummingbirds, who thrive on the sweet nectar from the flowers.
The genus Fuchsia was first observed by French botanist Charles Plumier on an expedition to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, now Haiti, and the Dominican Republic in 1696-97. Plumier is widely considered the most influential botanical explorer of his time. He named this new plant Fuchsia after German physician and botanist Leonhardt Fuchs, (1501-1566). Plumier published Nova Plantarum Americanarum Genera in 1703, a year before his death, where along with hundreds of other genera, you find the new genus and species Fuchsia triphylla. The vast majority of fuchsia species are native to Central and South America, with the exception of a couple of very interesting species native to New Zealand, F. exocorticata and F. procumbens.
Putting the word "hardy" in front of a plant name can be problematic, especially if you live in say, northern Minnesota, where the hardiest of fuchsias are certainly annuals. However, anyone gardening in USDA Zone 7 or higher can enjoy hundreds of fuchsia cultivars that will be reliably perennial. A trick I’ve learned to eek-out a little more cold tolerance is to plant fuchsias very deep, covering at least half of the stems so that only the top third of the plant sticks out above ground. Like a tomato plant, everything below the surface will quickly form roots, and the deepest roots will be 1-2 feet below the ground and more protected from winter freezing. Mulching heavily in USDA Zone 6b might help protect fuchsias from freezing. Even if you’re not able to over-winter fuchsias in colder climates, they are fast growers and are beautiful in the landscape as annuals. In maritime climates, fuchsias are definitely best grown in full sun with plenty of summer water. In hotter and more humid climates, they will benefit from afternoon shade.
In nursery production, a 72-cell liner will finish a beautiful gallon by April if planted in late August or early September and grown in a cold frame or greenhouse with minimal heat. The plants will establish easily through fall and go through a brief dormancy until late February. They will be blooming nicely for Mother’s Day, when you’ll have a robust root system ready to grow in the garden.
Why grow hardy fuchsias?
- They are beautiful, long-flowering perennials in USDA Zones 7-9.
- They come in a wide variety of plant sizes and flower colors.
- They are highly collectable plants, given the wide variety of forms.
- They are attractive to hummingbirds and other pollinators.
- They can be grown in nursery production with minimal heat inputs.
Mark Leichty is the Director of Business Development at Little Prince of Oregon Nursery near Portland. He is a certified plant geek who enjoys visiting beautiful gardens and garden centers searching for rare and unique plants to satisfy his plant lust. firstname.lastname@example.org
Decker’s Nursery in Groveport, Ohio, is in the midst of a $250,000 solar project. The nursery is working with Ecohouse Solar to install two solar panel systems that will provide all the electric for its propagation barns and greenhouse which equals the size of three football fields. Decker’s, which is approaching its 100th year, provides local and national retail and growers with wholesale shrub liners, specialty conifer grafts and finished material.
Recently, Nursery Management editor Kelli Rodda sat down with Pam Dukes, special projects director at Decker’s, to find out more about this new solar project.
Nursery Management: What is the scope of the project?
Pam Dukes: We are installing two solar panel projects on our propagation side of the nursery. We have multiple electric meters throughout the nursery and are currently targeting two meters with the solar system.
One meter covers a barn, our actual propagation production area and part of a 400-foot tunnel. We have a total of 24 propagation greenhouses — 12 north and 12 south extending on each side of the tunnel that utilize energy to monitor mist systems, irrigation, fans, radiant in-floor heating systems, etc.
The second meter covers the balance of the 400-foot tunnel and associated greenhouses and a 3-acre greenhouse with computerized weather systems that trigger automated greenhouse roof adjustments based on environment diagnostics.
With an average nursery kilowatt per hour use of around 200,000 kwh a year, we are working on eliminating 48% of our current electric costs by implementing the two solar panel systems, and more importantly this mass consumption and its impact on the environment.
NM: What started the nursery even thinking about solar?
PD: It’s the right thing to do. This has been on our radar for years, and we were looking for the right opportunity. The reduction in price of solar panels and materials, as well as the government tax incentive made this year the right year for us. On top of using the sun to power us, we can also sell our SRECs (solar renewable energy credits), which is power generated but not used, back to the power company.
NM: What infrastructure is required?
PD: Part of our vendors program was to have electrical and structural engineers out to tour the structure and address any concerns. Direction and roof grade are taken into consideration to maximize the system recommendations. Fortunately, Decker’s Nursery builds ‘old school’ and our building is not only positioned optimally, the structural integrity can handle additional irrigation piping and the weight of the solar panels with ease.
NM: What are the pros and cons?
PD: The pros: we will reduce or eliminate our electric bills associated with those two meters, and over a year, the savings really add up. Solar will also give us a leg up on having control over rising energy costs. We can receive credit on our solar power produced but not used, and this adds to our savings and helps make the payoff period shorter. And the environment — one of our vendors shared that our system would be like removing 470 cars from service for one year, or the equivalent of 57,675 trees planted and grown for 10 years. Everyone can relate to those comparisons! The cons: Other than a temporary added workload to execute the project and managing the investment of this project — both of which we are happy to do — I have not come across any major cons. I will say that this should not be considered as a huge money maker and credit programs on SRECs vary from state to state, something to research prior to the commitment for sure, but likely not a barrier to proceeding with the project.
NM: How do you expect to benefit from it?
PD: Cost savings, helping the environment, being an industry influencer and it just feels good!
Cost savings and helping the environment are very important to Decker’s Nursery. If we can lead by example and hopefully influence others in our industry by sharing our experience and generate more solar projects, that will benefit not only our environment, but their bottom lines, as well.
NM: In general, what were your energy costs prior to solar and what do you expect to save?
PD: Based on the last 12 months usage for just two of our meters being outfitted with solar energy, we are looking at an annual savings of almost $25,000 on our electric bill.
NM: Were you able to apply for grants to help offset the costs?
PD: After heavily researching, we did not take advantage of the grants. It was a timing issue. The variables to eligibility and the likelihood of being awarded a grant are comparable to a lottery situation, and the grant application is not a simple process. If you have a larger scale project, are willing to work with and pay a grant writer and the timing allows (such as cut off dates of grant application periods) then it is certainly an opportunity for possible savings. Keep in mind that, depending on the size of your project, a grant writer fee can start at $5,000.
NM: Did you look at other alternatives?
PD: In a nutshell, no. We have had our eye on solar options for a while and our next step was to take advantage of the tax credit offered by the government.
NM: What advice would you give other nurseries considering solar?
PD: Do it! Not only for the long-term savings, but for the environment as well.
For more: www.deckersnursery.com