New Hampshire’s premier winter event of interest to landscape professional might be the Farm, Forest and Garden Expo, Feb. 4 & 5, at the Center of NH, Manchester. This event joined countless other events during the nearly two full years of pandemic hiatus. With more understanding and science available about the Coronavirus transmission, and vaccine/masking and social distancing now common practices, it’s back as an in-person event midwinter. The organizers are building on the addition of “gardening” to the theme of the Expo and have offered NHLA a prime location in the central display and demonstration area on the Expo floor. We’d like to thank Kelly Bryer, as the Executive Director of the Garden State Ambassadors, for her role in creating the exhibition’s floor plan lay out, and for ensuring NHLA, along with other organizations directly related to the green industry, plants, and hobby enthusiasts, have a safe and secure showcase area for sharing their information during the two-day event.
Along with the central demonstrations, visitors to the Expo will have an outstanding array of exhibitions to visit. The number of visitors will be limited this year, along with added space in the walkways which lead through the floor plan. The two-day schedule includes many presentations as it has in the past, so look at the schedule and see which may pertain to you, or your crew, or serve as a relaxing informative hour where you may be introduced to something new. Recertification credits are available, for volunteering your time at the NHLA display or for attending workshop sessions – contact the Education Committee for information on earning your credit in those ways.
If you are interested in on-line learning opportunities, the Great Grow Along Virtual Garden Festival, March 11-20 (greatgrowalong.com) can offer you a bargain of education and exposure to new research, new techniques and presentations by nationally recognized authors and experts for the $29.95 registration fee. From Doug Tallamy on his work with trees, importance of tree health and pollinators, to trending influencers on indoor plant care and experts on soil health and amendments, or gardening with vegetables in containers, you will find over forty hours of informative sessions during the ten-day festival. This is a great opportunity for you to learn things your customers may be learning about from their online experiences also. In the past decade, we’ve learned a lot about what NHLA’s professional approach means for customer retention. Being aware of the solid research, trending decorative fads, and updated landscape techniques and sharing that information with clients, goes a long way toward the word-of-mouth referrals which are so important.
A third place to look for professional development is the Cornell Ornithology Lab, for information about landscaping habits to enhance habitat for birds. Habitats for pollinators are not distracting from the surging interest in our bird populations, rather they are gaining tandem visibility and importance. Learning about some bird identification techniques may at first sound a bit further from your landscape profession than you think is needed, but if you consider what you may be asked to plant or different directions in your care and maintenance of your customers’ properties, you will appreciate learning about the importance of birds in our environment. Knowing which birds may be nesting in short, thick shrubbery may mean you suggest certain plants (think Bridal Veil Spirea, or Mockorange) to offer nesting habitats. Knowing when to mow large expanses of fields or open areas will mean you won’t disturb ground nesters such as Kildeer. With some knowledge of birds and their requirements for nesting, food and foraging and protection from predators, you will help your clients understand some of the ways we are changing best practices for mowing, fertilizing, applying herbicides or choosing new plants to establish or rejuvenate an aging garden. With a full library of topics about everything you can imagine related to birds, the home page, www.birds.cornell.edu can be a go-to where you’ll start your professional development to include birds in the mix of things you consider helping your clients develop gardens for four-season interest.
These are just three suggestions for your winter review and use. Keep in touch with UNH Cooperative Extension and UMaine Cooperative Extension – being on their email lists will give you more info on their webinars and events. Here’s wishing everyone lots of success reviewing your past year in the landscape business and include continued education and meaningful growth in the field you can share with your crews and clients.
— by Chris Blackstone, NHCLP