Inside Information at the Green Expo

One of the great things about editing Northern Gardener is I get a chance to attend the Minnesota Green Expo, the annual trade show and educational event of the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association (MNLA). I went to Minneapolis this morning to catch the last day of the show.

img_0720.jpgAs always, the Northern Gardener bookstore was hopping with nursery and garden center owners, landscape designers, and others who work in the horticulture industry, looking over new and classic garden books. My to-read pile of gardening books has gotten too high, so I stayed away from the booth and went to a couple of educational programs instead.

C. Cole Burrell gave several talks on native plants and the native-plant movement. He noted that some of the more extreme voices in the native-plant movement think gardeners should confine themselves to plants that thrived in their area at the time of first contact with Europeans–400 or 500 years ago. What those advocates ignore, Burrell pointed out, is that Native Americans were trading plants and moving plant material up and down North America for a long time before any Europeans landed. For example, the Kentucky Coffee Tree, which has some medicinal value, was moved from the south to northern climates by Native Americans. Burrell defines a native plant as on that was “growing in a particular region or ecosystem without direct or indirect human intervention.” Burrell advocates that gardeners structure their gardens as “functional communities, as ecosystems,” which means letting some plants spread a little. Burrell will be giving two talks tomorrow at Bachman’s on Lyndale Avenue in south Minneapolis. The 10 a.m. talk is sold out, but there are still tickets available for his 1 p.m. talk about the native plants movement in the United States.

img_0725.jpgI also attended a seminar on the perennial trials of the Chicago Botanic Gardens. (More on that later.) Then, I hit the trade show floor, where I ran into Jim Kohut, a Northern Gardener columnist who runs the Canadian Web site, northscaping.com. Be sure to check out the plant library at northscaping as you plan your gardens for next year. Several of the larger companies had gardens on site, and I couldn’t resistimg_0727.jpg taking a photo of Blushing Bride, the new hydrangea Bailey Nurseries of Newport is introducing. I also ran into fellow Northfielders, Bill and Terri Schwalbe. The Schwalbes own a stonescaping firm that provides carved rocks for companies and private individuals. They were showing their wares to the many designers and contractors attending the show, and said that it had been a very busy three days at the Green Expo.

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