NHLA Members: Send us Your News

NHLA Members: Do you have news from your company you’d like to share with NHLA Newsletter readers but are not sure how to do it? Do you have a new employee filling a key role, or a team approach that could be interesting to other NHLA members? Not sure how to write it up or spread your news? Please let me know (crisablackstone@gmail.com) because I’d love to interview you and help write that article!

We want to include news about your projects or your community volunteer work related to the Green Industry and the horticulture world. We know there are different members who have earned awards or citations for their work, and sharing that news would be really interesting and motivating for others.

You are likely busy, and writing about your work or personnel isn’t “your thing,” but sharing the news and views would be terrific for all of us! Don’t hesitate to let me know, and we can arrange an interview time! I will be in contact with members I may have read about from other sources or newsletters, but hate to think there’s a story out there that should be shared and we might miss it.

This is a feature of NHLA: mutual support and the ability to show we are interested in each other help make this a vibrant organization capable of educating each other and our clients (current and future) about what we do and what membership means. I’m happy to help – no charge – all part of giving back to the organization that holds a firm place in the list of organizations recognized and respected statewide.

Send your notices to Cris Blackstone, NHCLP: crisablackstone [at] gmail.com

Invasives More Evident in Winter

This may be a good time to take note of your client properties to see if there are any invasive plants encroaching the properties with naturalized border areas. There are invasive plants thriving on compacted, disturbed areas in hellstrips or in new construction locations. This is the time of year the distinctive rusty burnt orange color of patches of knotweed are evident, and those are the areas to watch for in the early spring as the fresh green sprouts of this plant will be evident then with the first warmth melting the remaining snow on the ground.

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Knotweed is visible in seasonal die-back now, pointing the way where to look for the fresh green sprouts.

What does this mean for your team and ultimately, your clients? Taking time to train your crew to recognize what the earliest sprouting invasive plants or the earliest leaves on plants such as Autumn Olive or Glossy Buckthorn can mean your eradication plans will be beneficial. Getting these plants hand pulled or even machine-dug can mean you are ahead of their wily ways. Understanding the importance of getting all the roots, and of the proper disposal will be important. This is the time of year to do some training on recognizing the life cycles of the most common invasive plants in New Hampshire so if you are using herbicides, you’ll be effective in managing or eradicating the plant and that also means cost reduction in your payroll costs and your costs buying those products!

How do we learn about the life cycles of the invasive plants in New Hampshire? The first go-to can be UNH Cooperative Extension with their fact sheets or with the USDA and their fact sheets and various videos. Offering your staff paid time for this type of training might be a consideration of yours, to help attract and retain motivated employees. You might also consider offering group training times, by arranging group training with speakers from the Extension service, tailoring a program for your specific region in the state.

Understanding the ways adults learn is important for your training programs to be effective. Offering multiple ways to get the information is essential so you are reaching everyone “where they’re at” and not risking any embarrassment on your part or on the employees. Between language acquisition (imagine learning this type of skill if you were learning a new language!) or different reading abilities in your native language, you can consider offering poster pictures of the plants you are on the lookout for, as well as checking sources for videos to show about the culprits.

When you are looking for web resources, bear in mind that some will be sponsored by companies with financial considerations in selling products – not necessarily a bad thing, but be aware of the sources of some video material. Understand that some people want to see examples and some want to have material to read later on their own. Providing the most access, in many ways, will mean your information is shared equitably AND is showcasing your expectations throughout the season.

Along with training about invasive plants and that service you can offer your clients, your company will benefit from different aspects of an overall recognition of company wellness.

Work in the winter can have its stressors – between your seasonal staff working diligently on snow removal and your upcoming seasonal workers wondering when they’ll be called back in for springtime, you may see a sense of apprehension coupled with anxiety about earning overtime or even getting on the payroll.

Expecting your crew members to care about learning about invasive plants might seem like a priority for your company’s mission and profile or brand, but your crew members’ sense of where they fit in the company brand image is something to focus on.

A well-rested workforce is going to be more important than ever as we wind up the winter workload and enter spring. Coming off two years of pandemic mentality has meant a lot of symptoms of insomnia and the health issues that can cause. Check the National Sleep Foundation for posters and info fact sheets to share with employees to show your care and concern for every crew member’s health, well being and ability to be a contributor to the company. Sharing your appreciation of every employee’s health and sleep hygiene can also result in increased work productivity! There’s plenty of data showing accidents increase with decreased sleep or poor sleep driving the workforce. That means your workman’s comp can be affected when there are accidents on job sites. This can be avoidable if everyone is bringing their best work habits to the job sites.

The New Hampshire Municipal Association’s professional journal Nov/Dec ’21 issue featured a thorough article about workplace wellness and concluded with an important tip: HAVE FUN! “Healthy Selfies” was one suggestion in the article. Create a bulletin board in the community area of your offices where employees share photos of how they had fun in their down time (heck, for our purposes, even at work if it was safe and helpful to the job site with camaraderie) to show you care about them holistically and how they are much more than “employees.”

So starting with keeping an eye out for invasive plants to manage or eradicate from your client properties this time of year, there’s a metaphor here. Keep an eye out for the invasive and disruptive ways poor work ethics can invade your company through employee attitudes reflecting their own stressors or mental health.
Visit your job sites, pay for training meetings, offer awards and incentives to reach goals, and most of all, don’t let things you can actually control invade your company wellness!

— by Cris Blackstone, NHCLP

Printed a Decade Ago, Now With Increased Relevance

Taste, Memory: Forgotten Foods, Lost Flavors and Why They Matter by David Buchanan is subtitled “Restoring Diversity to Our Fields, Markets and Tables.” This is a book relevant to landscapers who can infuse the goals of a healthy garden or landscape within the vision of growing healthy food.

The immediate takeaway is how the book connects our current trend in thinking about container gardens, including some edibles interspersed with the coleus and petunias. There’s a lot of color and texture to be seen in the ways the vegetables grow and produce their bounty in a container garden, usually growing much taller than the colorful flowers chosen for seasonal interest. With so many creative ways to include a trellis or a “found object” to add height and dimension to a container garden, it’s possible to really make a statement with the plants chosen for a container – whether it’s located on a back patio or a front entryway!

For NHLA members and guests who attended the summer Twilight Meeting arranged by Mike Barwell at the Canterbury Shaker Village and featuring Jeremy DeLisle, UNH Cooperative Extension, this book might offer a strong appeal after learning about the heritage apples and the restorative pruning project in the Shaker Village remaining orchard specimen trees. For anyone interested in great flavors, or reminiscing about how great fresh vegetables taste as we’re blanketed with frost and snow this time of year, or going back further in memories of apples or peaches on a relative’s farm visited as a child, this book will kindle a deep interest in what it means to be a heritage apple or fruits pre-pesticide use. Thinking back on fruits we enjoyed as a kid, we might really focus on how they were not necessarily uniform in size or shape, since machine harvesting had not yet demanded those characteristics.

This book is also a page-after-page, chapter-after-chapter fascinating conglomeration of facts and intrigue. Buchanan travels far and wide to learn about the diversity in our familiar fruits and vegetables, with a description early in the book of his trip to Pullman, WA, to the USDA Western Regional Plant Introduction Station which is a gene bank for basic crops gathered from around the world. Reading this chapter, “Seeds of an Idea,” led me to think of the various shapes and sizes and even colors of beans I have seen in different regions of the US, or in different countries. Imagining what plant specialists and agro-specialists think about the climate affecting plant growth and natural mutations in response to climate and growing conditions, leads to a lot of intrigue about how to prepare for those changes and provide food for a growing population.

Not to spoil a big surprise that came straight at me as I read the book, I hope you’ll be as impressed when you read about Buchanan’s visit to Portsmouth, NH, to visit Evan Mallet’s Black Trumpet Bistro bar and restaurant. With an increased appreciation for local foods, and now the Slow Food movement, the connections this book can make with the landscape profession becomes evident. On the smallest scale, doing what we can to help everyone no matter what property they own or call home, there’s an opportunity to grow food – to realize the health benefits we have heard more about during the pandemic, and to feel the sense of accomplishment knowing something in the salad or salsa was from your own work and attentiveness to what that plant needed!
David Buchanan raises our awareness of the importance of the heirloom fruits and vegetables when he writes about the Slow Food International Foundation for Biodiversity, based in Italy. With a focus on economic viability and commercial value, that might be the strongest gateway to seed-saving and promoting the original shapes, colors and most of all, flavors of the vegetables and fruits they consider including.

There’s even an overtone throughout much of this book about economic and social justice and accessibility to fresh fruit and vegetables, with a strong connection to how we think of food production and where there’s an intersection between manual labor and machine harvesting. Environmental considerations are woven through the book, no surprise, and for many readers, you’ll remember when strawberries were a seasonal treat available only during a particular window of the calendar year and how research (although well-meaning) found ways to store, freeze, and market strawberries for use throughout the year. Now, there are more conversations about “real strawberry flavor” and uses of frozen strawberries are for many more types of recipes than on a homemade shortcake or biscuit with real whipped cream.

Again, that’s a connection landscapers can make between topics in this book and the work done throughout the year for clients to realize the role their lawns and gardens can play in the overall ecological health of their neighborhoods and for the planet.

Chapters cover David Buchanan’s experiences with hoop houses, greenhouses, and cold frames and what veggies are appropriate for each growing environment. Reading this book kindled an interest for me in learning more about the heritage flavors I could appreciate from different peppers, for instance, but that may have been influenced by the late January snowstorm.

You can take up this book for a quiet winter read, and not focus on the actions you can take with clients to encourage biodiversity in their gardening decisions. His writing style is very conversational, and his reflections feel accurate and not enhanced by being overly sentimental. He writes with a factual approach, based on his own rich and varied experiences. I think it’s a particularly satisfying book to read since he is now focused on his working farm outside of Portland, ME, with a connection to a cidery, so the book felt relevant to me with a similar growing region and a definite interest in cider apples!

I recommend this book for these reasons: information to share as you plan spring and summer gardens for clients; including biodiversity and edibles with the plant choices; and encouraging seeking out original plant species for the area. I can also recommend this book for a relaxing read, to enjoy learning Buchanan’s trajectory from Princeton to the Pacific Northwest and then to Maine. With adventures in plants, food, and growing things, it’s easy to identify goals to restore a healthy mindset about our expectations for our gardens and landscapes.

— by Cris Blackstone, NHCLP