What does the word Green mean? To grow? Na´ve? Full of envy? The color between blue and yellow? Sick? Not ripe? Wood that has not been dried? Not causing harm to the environment? The beauty of the English language.

What does the word Green mean? To grow? Naïve? Full of envy? The color between blue and yellow? Sick? Not ripe? Wood that has not been dried? Not causing harm to the environment? The beauty of the English language. Green seems to be appearing on many labels from food to cleaning supplies to automobiles. Learn about your Green product before buying simply because it is advertised as Green. Green is rapidly joining artisan, fat-free, no sugar added or organic in the misleading word category designed to suck in the concerned consumer.

Today you may encounter Green Media, Green Chemistry (creating safe, sustainable products), Green Business (focus on a sustainable planet), Green Marketing, Green Building (incorporating environmental considerations and the efficient use of resources), Green Products and the Green Industry of plant nurseries, landscapers, horticulturalists and turf growers. You really can’t get any greener than the Green Industry.

Thursday, August 9th 2018, the “Plant Materials for the Green Industry Professional and End Consumer” conference was held at Oklahoma State University. Charles and Linda Shackelford are the retired founders of TLC Garden Centers in Oklahoma. Their contributions, spanning well over 40 years, now support many venues in the OSU plant world. This workshop was part of the Shackelford Lecture Series. This conference brought together specialists in the many Green fields: landscapers, greenhouse operators, educators, Master Gardeners, students. Both Linda and Charles were there.

Mike Schnelle, Charles and Linda Shackelford Endowed Professor of Floriculture and Extension Specialist in Horticulture, started the day by challenging the Green people to expand their plant selections by taking into consideration not only natives (native grasses, wildscapes) and non-natives (pest resistance, unusual traits) but also nativars (unique native clones with altered reproduction and less genetic diversity). Each has its pluses, minuses and, when planted in moderation, will show the public plants they might never notice or appreciate. Examples: the ‘Rising Sun’ redbud (Cercis canadensis The Rising SunTM) nativar with apricot colored leaves, Littleleaf walnut (Juglans microcarpa) native to TX, OK, KS and NM with yellow foliage, and Chinese Fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus) from China, Korea and Japan noted for its fragrant white flowers and striking peeling bark.

The cold hardiness envelope has also been pushed. Species unable to overwinter decades ago now routinely do so. Plant materials must survive winters, summers and the consumer! But then, Dr. Schnelle once had a client request a fact sheet on tornado-resistant trees. He responded that “regardless of country of origin, the outcome of plant material after a tornado is always the same.” There are no guarantees in growing plants. Posted at one was Howard’s Guarantee: “If the plants die that you purchase here, we’ll sell you more!”

Extension Educator Joshua Campbell and Dr. Steve George of Texas A&M co-hosted ‘Earth-KindTM Gardening’. This new approach to soil management for landscape beds and gardens is being tested at several sites and in 5 foreign countries. The largest research area is Myer’s Park near McKinney TX. To help the homeowner deal with landscape issues, waste of water, misuse of fertilizers and pesticides, Earth-Kind has combined organic and conventional gardening techniques to support healthy plants with little to no chemical input. Strong plant genetics combined with the right environmental soil management makes for a great landscape. Interesting facts: The difference in temperature between the top of a three-inch deep layer of mulch and the soil below can be as much as forty degrees. The soil amendment recommended for heavy clay is expanded shale. Earth-Kind is currently setting up research plots and putting their techniques into everyday practice that will help not only family and community but the environment.

Bill Farris—Prairie Wind Growers outside Norman, OK—says yes to native plants and no to pesticides and artificial fertilizers. He remarked Oklahoma is a 2 state…too hot, too dry, too cold…and then up came a picture of the hardy Purple Prairie Clover that can grow here. Landscapes are dynamic. Of concern are the songbird populations in decline for several decades due to habitat loss. Field and Stream editor-at-Large Bill Heavey: “I’ve long maintained that the American lawn is one of the greatest mass brain-washings of all time. How we all voluntarily signed up to spend untold hours growing and cutting a non-native monoculture of green which we lace with poisons to kill plants and insects never ceases to amaze me.” 50,000 miles of lawns cover the US. Think how this scenario would change if every lawn owner put some or all of their lawn into native plants.

Farris showed a series of flower shots including asters, pink muhly grass and frost weed (Verbesina verginica). The hollow-stemmed plant in winter exudes water which freezes into ice sculptures. Gardening note: If aphids are on Oleanders or milkweeds, a Dawn soap solution (2 T Dawn in one gallon water) sprayed on the leaves early in the morning may do the trick.

‘Landscaping with Natives’ and Eloise Smith of The Garden House & Nursery in Enid, OK came next.

Eloise, a very youthful 86 years old, began her journey into the Nursery business by making Memorial boxes. An opportunity arose and she bought a greenhouse business with the idea of selling bedding plants. She discovered every hardware and convenience store sold bedding plants that year. Mrs. Smith persevered through practical learning and hands-on experience as her son worked with a mason to discover the magic of rocks to create walls and garden waterfalls. Her business expanded to baskets, imaginative plant combinations, dish gardens, Poinsettias, Gediflora ‘Belgian mums’ and trees. Her last picture was a small white terrier. This was Oliver, her mascot.

At lunch Al Sutherland, Mesonet guru who has given so many weather and climate presentations, announced he was retiring on Friday, August 10th. His replacement will be Wes Lee. His parting shot: climate change is real.

Help Camp Turf. This two-week science academy has been held the past nine years. It introduces OK High School students to horticulture and landscape careers at a time the number of people interested in plants has dwindled. To further distance kids from nature, the State Regents for Higher Education, whatever that means, has cut all funding, leaving the academy penniless. If you value education and plants in this state, Camp Turf is for you and yours. The Camp is asking Garden Clubs, Master Gardeners, businesses and individuals for contributions and sponsorships. Camp Turf 10 will happen next year if 20 students are funded. Do a better than good deed. Contact shelley.mitchell@okstate.edu.

Pottawatomie County Fair September 5-8 2018. Complete 2018 Fairbook is posted at www.freefair.org. You have 2 ½ weeks. Get your entries ready!

End of Part 1