Memories of Dave Sansom

Our industry has lost a long time NHLA member. Dave Sansom died in late November after years of decline due to Alzheimer’s Disease. I got to know Dave when I was forcing plants for flower shows at Lake Street Garden Center. Dave was a co-owner and plant specialist at New Hampshire Landscaping, one of the real players in the 1980s. NHL put on exhibits at the New Hampshire Flower Show, which was held at the Manchester Armory. NHL was heavily into Rhododendrons if I remember, and put on a wonderful exhibit. Dave was our contact at NHL along with Don Tordoff and they made a great team, full of knowledge and experience.

Later when Leslie and I were planning to start our nursery, we called Dave and Don and asked if we could meet with them in their Hooksett office for ideas of what we should be growing and directions we should steer our new company. They had all sorts of plant catalogs that they shopped from, and they went through them with me, circling the perennials that they used the most. It was very helpful in our planning and they couldn’t have been more accommodating.

The next spring New Hampshire Landscaping got a huge job that took them nearly two years to complete. Dave bought a lot of plants from us and really gave our fledgling company a boost. He gave me a tour of the site one day: not only was NHL skilled at stonework, their designs and plant choices were spectacular.

When we moved Van Berkum Nursery from Chester to Deerfield 31 years ago, we made one day a moving party. We had about 20 customers, mostly from New Hampshire, who brought trucks and helped us schlep plants to the new site. Dave and his wife, UNH Thompson School professor Dana, were right there with a couple of trucks, moving plants all day. They brought leadership and great spirit to the momentous task. We had pots of food in slow cookers in the basement of our newly built house and everyone came in out of the cold to get food and drink. A wonderfully tiring day, and a true sign of what an incredible industry this is.

When NHL disbanded about 20 years ago, Dave came to work for us. He drove our delivery trucks for years, and helped out around the nursery during the winters. Dave was the most loved plant delivery guy in the industry, I am sure. He was friendly, helpful to the customers, knew his plants, and could answer any questions. He got to know all of our customers. One north country customer had a big German Shepherd dog and Dave would share his sandwich with this dog when he dropped off plants. It got to the point that the customer faxed in orders (back in fax days), he would tell us what kind of sandwich his dog was in the mood for, and Dave would make sure he brought the correct sandwich. Now that is service!

Dave loved to come to New England Grows and work at our nursery booth. When a customer we did not know came by, they would politely talk to Leslie and I, but they’d break away to chat with Dave as soon as soon as they could. That was where the bond was, and we thought it was great.
Around the shop, Dave could build or fix anything. He was the ultimate planner of projects, spending a lot of time scratching his head and working stuff out on paper before he touched the tools. It drove me crazy at the beginning, but when he started the actual building, the project went smoothly and was always well made. Dave and I got to joking about this tendency. I approached projects differently and would often be halfway finished before he even started. But by the time he was done, I had begun ripping my project apart because mine didn’t work. Yes, Dave got in the last word and he loved that.

We truly missed Dave after he fell ill and could not work anymore. He was smart, creative, and one of the best company reps we have ever had. We even created a holiday card one year, featuring Dave in a Santa hat with the caption “Santa Dave delivers!”. With his partnership in NHL, his design talents, and his incredible work ethic, his passing has left a large hole in our industry. Rest in peace, Santa Dave.

by Peter van Berkum

Alternatives to Invasive Landscape Plants

New Hampshire’s invasive species regulations currently prohibit the collection, sale, transport, distribution, propagation or transplantation of prohibited invasive plants. Invasive plants are non-native plant species that spread rapidly by seed or vegetative means and pose a threat to agriculture, forests, wetlands, wildlife, and other natural resources of the state. Of the thirty-five upland plant species on the current (2017) Prohibited Invasive Species list (See Table 1 at extension.unh.edu/resource/alternatives-invasive-landscape-plants-fact-sheet), three were historically popular and widelyplanted shrubs or trees: burning bush (Euonymus alatus), Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) and Norway maple (Acer platanoides). It is illegal in New Hampshire to collect, transport, sell, distribute, propagate or transplant any living or viable portion of any listed prohibited invasive plant species including all of their cultivars, varieties, and specified hybrids, but removal of preexisting plants is not required by the law.

An additional plant list, known as the Watch List (found at the same link as Table 1), identifies species of additional concern that do not currently meet the criteria for the prohibited list. Invasive aquatic species are listed elsewhere, as noted at the bottom of Table 2.

For information on identification and removal of invasive plants in New Hampshire, please see the NH Division of Plant Industry’s webpage (agriculture.nh.gov/divisions/plant-industry/index.htm). Neighboring states have their own invasive species regulations which may differ from New Hampshire’s.

As people become aware of environmental concerns related to the spread of these plants into native and naturalized areas, many property owners actively seek suitable plant replacements for their landscapes. UNH Extension worked with Green Industry groups to develop the following lists of suggested alternatives for consumers and landscapers. The lists are not meant to be comprehensive, but include several adaptable plant choices which are readily available at nurseries and have performed well in New Hampshire landscapes. While recognizing that no single plant can substitute directly to perform all the functional and aesthetic qualities of the invasive plant of concern, the list provides suggestions suitable for a range of site conditions and landscape functions. Other plants may suit the purpose as well.

Alternatives for Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)
Burning bush was for many years a popular component of the landscape, valued for its brilliant red fall color. Its adaptable nature and stress tolerance allow it to thrive in shade or sun and throughout a wide range of soil conditions. It has a dense, widemounded or spreading form up to 20′ wide and 20′ high at maturity. The ridged bark is an identifying characteristic. Its prolific seeds are eaten and spread by birds and other wildlife. Consider the following alternatives when selecting alternative large shrubs for fall color. All are deciduous shrubs.

Highbush-cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)
is not related to true cranberry, but has similar berry-like fruit that are good food for wildlife and sometimes used by humans in jams or sauces. This native plant is hardy throughout the state. Coarse in texture and form, it is adaptable to most soils, and likes full sun or partial shade. While the fall color is subdued compared to burning bush, it has multi-seasonal interest with large white flower clusters in spring, clusters of attractive fruit that may last through the winter, and burgundy fall foliage. Mature size varies according to the cultivar, but plants may grow 8′-10′ tall and wide. A word of caution, however–the viburnum leaf beetle, an invasive insect, does find this species an attractive host and may defoliate the plants in some years.

Highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)
Grown primarily for its large edible berries, highbush blueberry also makes an excellent landscape plant in the right conditions; i.e., moist, acidic soils in full sun to partial shade. Blueberries should be mulched each year to protect the shallow roots from drought or cold exposure. Native, cold hardy to zone 3, and slow in growth, the plants develop an upright, spreading form, up to 12′ tall and 6′-8′ wide. Fall leaf color may be red or orange, depending on the variety. This is one of the best plants for wildlife including insects, birds, and a wide array of mammals.

Redvein enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus)
Fall color varies, ranging from true gold to bright red, but all are very attractive. In addition, lovely clusters of pink to white bell-shaped flowers appear in spring. A slow-grower at first, this plant has a unique upright, open habit when young and fills out as it matures, reaching 6′-10′ tall and half as wide. It requires acid, moist soil for best growth, is best in partial shade, and is hardy to zone 4. Native to Japan.

Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii or Fothergilla major)
Fothergilla is an underused plant, with great fall foliage in shades of yellow, orange and red, all on the same plant. It also has fragrant, white bottlebrush flowers in spring, and a dense rounded form with medium texture. F. gardenii (2′-4′ high and wide) is a smaller version of F. major, which can grow 6′-10′ and form colonies from suckers. Like Enkianthus, it needs acid, moist soil, and full to partial sun. Native to the southeastern U.S., it may not be hardy north of zone 5.

Red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)
Native to New England, red chokeberry is an attractive, slow-growing plant, 6′-10′ high and 3′-5’wide, forming colonies through suckers. It is adaptable to most soil conditions from dry to wet, does well in sun to partial shade, and looks best in a naturalistic planting. It has attractive red berry-like fruit (not considered edible by humans, but serving as a late winter food source for birds) and red fall foliage. ‘Brilliantissima’ is a common selection often said to equal burning bush in fall color. Hardy to zone 4.

Alternatives for Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
Japanese barberry is a durable, dense mounded, low maintenance plant, most popular for its red or purple-leaved cultivars which add color to the shrub border. Potential alternatives include some plants that provide the red color but not the compact form, and others that provide the desired form but not the red color. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find both in one plant.

Weigela (Weigela florida)
Old fashioned weigela tends to be a spreading, dense, rounded shrub which may grow as large as 6′-8′ tall, but a proliferation of new cultivars allows you to choose more compact plants and burgundy or purple-leaved cultivars if desired. It can provide a very nice splash of color in the border with prolific pink (or red or white) flowers as well. Best in full sun and adaptable to many soils, weigela is not native, but is generally hardy to zone 4 or even 3 with the selection of the proper cultivar.

Slender deutzia (Deutzia gracilis)
This is another good match for the low, broad mounding form of Japanese barberry, normally 2′-4′ tall and wide but new ground-cover types (1-2′) are now being marketed. It is a graceful low shrub with abundant white (or pink) flowers in spring and some show attractive burgundy fall color. Suitable for zones 5 and 6, not native to the U.S., the plant is tough and adaptable, and very ornamental when in bloom in the spring.

Atlantic (or common) ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)
Hardy to zone 3, this durable and adaptable shrub is an upright grower, coarse in texture. There are a number of purple leaved cultivars available on the market, with variable sizes ranging from 3′-10′ high. All have white flowers in midsummer and attractive peeling bark although it’s hard to see because of the dense growth. Cut them back in winter to keep plants more compact. A good native plant for bird shelter and pollinator support.

Shrub roses (Rosa species and hybrids)
Hardy shrub roses can substitute for the dense, mounding form of barberry, but the flowers make roses a focal point in the landscape. There are now hundreds of shrub roses for landscape use that are more reliable than grafted or hybrid tea roses and provide a long bloom season without requiring dead-heading. None are native except for Virginia rose, which is tall and thorny, and nearly all the roses have green leaves rather than burgundy. Proper selection and placement is critical if you want to minimize maintenance, since they vary widely in size and form.
Do not buy roses grafted onto Rosa multiflora rootstock, as multiflora rose is a prohibited invasive plant in New Hampshire. Many roses are still subject to Japanese beetles and diseases such as black spot and powdery mildew, although improved disease resistance is claimed by many types. Winter hardiness may also vary greatly, so seek out types developed in northern U.S. or Canada. Rose hips make good winter food for birds and mammals, and the dense thorny branches provide excellent nesting cover for songbirds.

A few more deciduous native shrubs you might consider using in place of burning bush or Japanese barberry include sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), small bayberry (Morella caroliniensis) and fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica).

Alternatives for Norway maple (Acer platanoides)
Norway maple, introduced from Europe in 1756, became one of the most frequently planted street trees in the eastern and north central regions of the United States. Its popularity can be explained by its rapid early growth rate, site adaptability, ease of transplanting, and tolerance of urban conditions including exposure to road salt. The cultivar ‘Crimson King’ has attractive maroon-red leaves all summer and became a favorite shade tree for home and commercial landscapes.
When selecting an alternative for this large-growing, attractive shade tree, consider the conditions at the intended planting site. While there is no shortage of desirable tree species to choose from, most are not as widely adaptable and tolerant as Norway maple.

Some salt tolerant shade trees hardy to zone 3:
Red maple (Acer rubrum)
has red spring color when in bloom, turning green as the foliage appears. Although red maple is native throughout much of the eastern U.S., cold hardiness of seedlings or grafted varieties is not always consistent and it is important to purchase plants from grown from northern stock. Red maple will tolerate wet soils and a moderate amount of salt, unlike sugar maple. Red maple reaches 75′ tall by 60′ wide at maturity.

Northern red oak (Quercus rubra).
Another large tree, 75′ tall by 60′ wide, northern red oak is sometimes difficult to establish and slow to start growing, but makes a nice green shade tree for lawn areas or parks. It is one of New England’s most common, native forest trees, but needs deep soil and may develop chlorosis in urban soils with high pH. The prolific acorns may be an annoyance to some people, but the squirrels love them.

Gingko (Gingko biloba)
is slow-growing but very long lived once established and has a nice, clear yellow fall color. It is salt, heat and drought tolerant, making it a good urban tree if given adequate room to grow. The tree will often reach 75′ tall by 40’wide, sometimes larger. Most Gingko in the nursery trade are male clones because female trees have malodorous fruit. Native to China, it is one of the oldest tree species still in existence, said to be 150-200 million years old.

Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulata)
is a good choice for a smaller tree; perhaps as large as 30’x20′ at maturity, but smaller cultivars are available. It can tolerate high pH soils and has lilac-type white blossoms in mid-summer (but lacks a desirable fragrance) and attractive cherry-like bark. ‘Ivory Silk’ and a few other cultivars are popular selections for more compact form and prolific bloom. It is not native and has been reported to become weedy in some circumstances. Of course, common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) can also be planted but generally forms a large multistemmed shrub rather than a tree form.

Some red-leafed trees:
European beech (Fagus sylvatica).
Numerous green leaved selections of this tree are available, but ‘Riversii’ European beech is one of the few large shade trees with purple leaves. This tree becomes enormous over time, at least 60′ tall by 45′ wide, so should not be used as a street tree or in other areas with limited growth potential. The nuts provide excellent wildlife food and the bark is grey and smooth like an elephant’s hide.

Flowering crabapple (Malus species and hybrids) or purple leaf plum (Prunus cerasifera).
For those who must have a purple-leaved tree, a few cultivars of flowering crabapple or plum fit this order. These are all much smaller than Norway maple, generally 15′-30′ high and 15′-25′ wide at maturity. Choose disease-resistant cultivars where possible, and prepare to tolerate insect pests such as Eastern tent caterpillar, as well as susceptibility to several diseases which could cause the trees to be short-lived. Plums especially are often subject to winter injury, so are best planted in zone 5 or 6, whereas most crabapples are suitable into zone 4. Although not native, both Malus and Prunus are beautiful in bloom and they provide fruit and cover for birds and other animals.

by Cathy Neal, UNH Extension, Nursery & Landscape Horticulture State Specialist Emeritus

More Than Native Plants – On to Urban Wildness and Social Justice

With Benjamin Vogt’s book, A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future, as a conscientious landscape professional you will find a lot of familiar information. References to biophilia, the ways gardens connect us to our health and wellness and the realization that without native plants we face a mass extinction event are in our common background and our shared body of knowledge.

In this book, Benjamin Vogt takes us to “why” we need to heed the signs and signals we are given through nature – awareness that we can use in our businesses and in our interactions with clients and potential customers to help the situation with education and action. The first chapters in this book share the reasons we need to remember and utilize in choosing native plants. Insects feeding on leaves may have a greater resilience to the nativar plant breeding programs, while ignoring the studies about pollinators’ appetites for nectar and pollen composition. You will be intrigued when you consider things Vogt writes about the pollinators’ extrasensory cues like ultraviolet light markers on petals, for example.

Vogt lives and works in Lincoln, NE. His descriptions of the various plants on the wide, open prairies or the small, focused reconstructed prairies, will take you to a place a lot different from our New Hampshire landscapes. His writing style reflects his background in creative writing with its simplicity, accuracy and alluring details. If you would like an introduction to his work before you get hold of this book, check out his Instagram @monarchgardensbenjaminvogt or his website, www.monarchgard.com, to see extensive samples of his private client garden designs, landscape photos. Learn more from the Instagram posts and web info about his work and landscaping philosophy. From his website, “Plants don’t want to be marooned several feet apart; plants want to cavort and mingle and be their own mulch while naturally improving soil with layered root systems.” That’s one important tenant of Vogt’s design work. It’s evident as you look at his portfolio of projects and may remind you at times of Piet Oudolf with the layer upon layer and depth and mingled, indeterminate textures.

More than a book review, I am hoping this article not only recommends the book to you, but leads you to Benjamin Vogt’s Instagram and website, and helps you think, during the winter, about your own designs and landscapes you maintain. Where can you wean off of barrowful after barrowful of fresh mulch and work in plants that will eliminate the need or create some of their own mulch? Where can you soften some edges of monoculture lawn area and work in more types of grasses or even replace some of the green expanses with more green leafy textures which may also sport blossoms at different times through the seasons? Where can you leave some plants in place, and help your customers relish in the winter interest they will discover with small birds balancing on the tips of echinacea cones with some frost on the remaining leaves draped off the flower stems?

Besides explanations and questions Vogt raises about pollinators and healthy ecosystems, we read a lot of varied references to different scientific thoughts of the author. He compares the sap in plants to our own blood, with magnesium in chlorophyll serving as our blood’s iron – one gathering light for photosynthesis and one gathering oxygen supporting our life cycle. The final chapter of this book is intensely involved with comparisons such as this, and with information on insect life cycles, too. It’s on the one hand a quick read, on the other, leads you to want to look up more – keep your smartphone handy for some quick googling as you read it!

Notes include not only Vogt’s references to material he used in research or background for this book or related work, but to recommendations for other books and authors to look in to if a particular aspect of this resonates with you. The notes are divided in segments correlating to the chapters in this book. Chapter 4, for instance, “Urban Wilderness and Social Justice” contains the recommendation of a good introduction to the history of landscape architecture by Elizabeth Barlow, Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History, which sounds like a great winter read. Even Vogt’s index at the conclusion of the book is helpful. You can readily look through it to find what you may be particularly interested in, such as butterfly bush or foundation beds. Any way you want to handle this book, it’s a reference, an informative cover-to-cover read, or a set of facts balanced with philosophies by other researchers and designers such as Douglas Tallamy, you may want to dive in to again with Vogt’s insights gathered in this book.

With descriptions of prairies, descriptions of how underground fungi is fast at work and with an extensive array of notes and suggested further reading, this is what I call a “Winter Companion Book.” Read it at one go or put it down and read it when you are in different moods – sometimes its relaxing and sometimes you’ll feel overwhelmed by the enormity of situations that may be out of control in the natural world already.

by Cris Blackstone, NHCLP

Membership Has its Rewards

by Cris Blackstone, NHCLP

Your NHLA membership brings many different benefits, and you each have chosen to support NHLA for the reasons you felt were most important. Some readers or members may also be NHLA Certified Landscape Professionals, and that designation brings with it a certain workload to maintain the certified status as well as its own rewards.

One of the rewards we hear about most often is the unmeasurable “camaraderie” present during the Joint Winter Meeting, the March Conference, and the various Twilight Meetings throughout the summer. To actually meet people with whom you may only exchange e-mails, phone calls, or follow Instagram accounts, and to share professional development opportunities during in-person events, means a stronger network for everyone! We are keenly aware of the upheaval from the pandemic and the adjustments made in every aspect of business, field work, and recreation.

We are learning different things about the coronavirus nearly daily, making predicting the future of our events more difficult. The Education Committee, working with the NHLA Board, has determined we’ll pursue virtual presentations, via Zoom, with the responses we reviewed from the surveys returned to us. Heartfelt THANKS to the members who volunteered to offer a presentation – we’ll be working to solicit input and create the schedule for those in the coming weeks. They will be announced through Constant Contact e-mail as well as in this Newsletter, based on the Newsletter deadlines in the coming months.

The Joint Winter Meeting will take a new format. Those details are led largely by UNH Cooperative Extension, with our interest and support. This is important for you to know now, so you can plan accordingly. It’s important for the landscapers to know the full one-credit option for attending the Joint Winter Meeting will not be an opportunity we can offer in January 2021. A shortened format is in the works and will be announced as details are available. We don’t know what credentialing will look like for the 2021 cycle, so it will be incumbent upon the NHCLPs to seek re-certification options knowing this full credit in January for that one day-long event is not slated. The Certification Committee will be the go-to for working with you on your folio of credits, as usual, with the Education Committee able to help you find re-certification opportunities.

Professional development is essential for our face to the public, adhering to the most up-to-date best management practices and implementing the current research for our work with customers and accounts. At press time for this issue of the Newsletter, we are unsure of the March conference and what it may look like. This is not all meant to be gloom and doom, by any means! The most exciting news to come from the Board and Education Committee lies ahead, with work beginning to research what a late summer event could look like, encompassing working partners and growing relationships with businesses and organizations directly related to the landscapers throughout NH! Imagine being able to convene, in a brand-new venue, with both indoor and outdoor opportunities, and a time set aside at the conclusion of the day or days, (yes, this could be spread over two days!) for the socializing, no matter what shape “socializing” may take in nine months.

Please take time to seek information from vetted, reliable sources on your own, and if you have questions, your Certification Coordinator and I are ready to help you verify options. In previous issues of the Newsletter, you can find extensive listings of organizations to check out on your own. Here is a quick overview of sources for webinars you may want to review and see what could be of interest to your or your company and crews:

Check your vendors and brands they represent. Many of them are turning to Zoom, Facebook Live, or in-house filming of topics they would otherwise introduce at trade shows or to you, as you may have had in-person, customer-specific events in the past. These presentations are intended to introduce you to new products, new safety features, and new applications available through their brands.

Check government sources. Multi-session courses, and on-off webinar presentations are offered through both New Hampshire and Federal government sources. From the NH Department of Environmental Services, Coastal Adaptations Workgroup, and other stormwater runoff study groups, you can learn a lot about how to mitigate drought conditions and what is involved in protecting the watersheds and keeping our water clean and safe. The USDA website is chock full of tabs where you can find info to follow for pollinators, meadow protection, soil health, and soil mitigation techniques. Take some time to familiarize yourself with what these types of sources offer. OSHA is a resource for health, safety and wellness online workshops, which will offer landscapers accurate information as we enter the cold weather and conditions winter brings. Check out hypothermia signs and preventions, for instance, and consider ensuring your crew members are all aware as they are facing long, long days and nights snow plowing.

UNH Cooperative Extension has gone digital with informative presentations. Consider joining their newsletter subscriptions to learn about their Facebook live presentations on topics such as pruning techniques, no-till drills for planting bulbs, growing small fruits, research on fig trees, and various production techniques for plants your customers will be asking about. While there’s no substitute for in-person demonstrations for some of the topics we’re used to, the Extension staff have gone to great lengths to offer timely, and lively, demos and informative webinars.

Public Gardens, Arboretum sites, and Commercial Growers offer online tours and informative presentations about “plants of the year” and current design trends. Do a cursory search of sites in these categories and see what they are offering for “Adult Education,” “Community Outreach,” “Online Courses,” as a quick example of where to look. Organizations related to our work as landscapers include professional development opportunities, also.

Here’s hoping you are ready for the pivot to online learning and what the exposure to information from many, many sources can mean to your professional development and growth opportunities. Stay ahead of your customers’ changing lifestyle habits and see what they are learning online, too. We’re excited to be planning nearly a year ahead, while cautiously optimistic for the plans we’re brainstorming near-term.

Memories of Frank Wolfe

by Peter van Berkum

New Hampshire lost one of its true horticulturists on Monday, November 16, 2020. Frank Wolfe died in his sleep surrounded by his family. Frank started and ran Lake Street Garden Center in Salem until his son Tim took it over about 10 years ago. I was lucky enough to work for Frank as his grower for five years before Leslie and I started our nursery.

Frank was a mentor to me. He taught me that growing was as much art as science. He helped me understand how vast the plant world was. He helped me see how fascinating and exciting growing plants could be, and he encouraged us to pursue our dreams to start a nursery. In fact, after the initial job interview in 1984 when he offered me a job, he said that from what I’d said and by my resume he assumed we wanted to start a business of our own. He told me that if I went to work for him, he’d help us out, and did he ever! Not only by teaching me all he could about plants, but with ideas for plant markets, giving me contacts, helping us check out potential nursery sites, and just general encouragement. And later when we were setting up the nursery in Deerfield, he was over with his brush helping paint our new house.

I had already grown a few perennials at previous growing jobs, and I already had an interest in wildflowers. But Frank was way into perennials. He grew thousands of varieties, and I was put in charge of them. I had a lot to learn, and he had a lot to teach, a great combination. It was a five-year immersion in perennials, and I loved it. But perhaps the most interesting part of the job was forcing for flower shows. In those days the Boston Flower show was a big deal, and there was also a show at the Manchester Armory. Lake Street Garden Center was one of the primary places that did forcing for these shows. We forced for many landscapers and garden clubs, which means getting thousands of different plants to bloom on exactly the right day, judging day. We would have hundreds of different species, from big trees to dwarf daffodils. We had five greenhouses, all set at different temperatures. My job was to have the plants in the correct greenhouse for the right length of time, moving them from house to house to speed them up or slow them down. All this under Frank’s watchful eye; he just had a sense for it. Every week or so the organization that we were forcing the plants for would stop by to see the progress. Frank and I would lead them around to see their plants, scattered around depending on their temperature schedules. Frank was always squeezing the flower buds knowingly. Finally one time after a customer left I asked him what he was doing. He answered that you can tell a little by how soft the bud was, but with that twinkle in his eyes, he said he mostly did it because it impresses everyone, makes them think you really know what you are doing. Typical Frank!

My first year at Lake Street on a really busy spring day, I was working with Frank’s son Tim, who was 14 at the time. There were people everywhere. Lake Street has always been a true horticultural destination. Suddenly I heard this really loud, enthusiastic and bad singing rising above the din of all the plant shoppers. I asked Tim what on earth that was, and he looked at me sheepishly and said ”that’s my stupid father.” When things got really busy, Frank liked to sing loud songs about his two dogs, Anthony and Fido. Most of the clients were used to it and paid it no mind.

My other favorite memory was how he got rid of late customers. I think the nursery was open until 7 then. And as with any nursery in the spring, we were working long hours. He’d never kick people out at 7, he’d let them hang around a bit, but after half an hour or so, he’d go out and tell them that we were closed and it was dinner time. A few minutes later he’d go out and tell them again. If they still didn’t leave, he’d go into the shop where the irrigation controls were and turn on the overhead sprinklers. And he’d spy out the window laughing as the folks rushed to their cars.

Frank retired about ten years ago. Tim is doing a fantastic job with Lake Street now, modernizing it, but keeping its distinctive flavor and horticultural excellence. Frank spent a lot of his time after retirement at his camp in Northwood, not too far from our nursery. We got to see him once in awhile, going out for dinner or just hanging out on his porch by the lake. He always had his dogs around him. And he always had plants. His camp, with its tiny yard, became his own horticultural oasis, and when he ran out of space he lined his dock with containers. You can’t take the nurseryman out of someone like that.

I am grateful for the education that Frank gave us. And I am grateful for the friendship that we shared for 37 years. Frank, I hope there is a garden big enough for you wherever you are, and that there are some folks that want to learn about plants like Leslie and I did. We were lucky people to have known you.