Show brings new plants, ideas for landscape

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 24, 2014

SALISBURY — Last week I went to the Green & Growin Show held at the Greensboro Coliseum. The exposition provided an educational program and trade show for nurserymen, landscapers and other allied landscape professionals throughout the region. Sponsored by the North Carolina Nurserymen Association, the show also allowed those in the green industry the opportunity to share what’s “vogue” in the landscape industry.
A popular plant show nationwide, the event drew 425 vendors from 27 states, including three Canadian provinces. The more than 4,500 people who attended had a chance to visit 760 booths and displays of plant materials, shade trees, shrubs, turf and other landscape or nursery-related accessories. There was even a display of fake indoor plants.
The show featured everything from warm season turf to 4-inch caliper (trunk diameter) trees. But what seemed to be interesting were local North Carolina nurserymen traveling internationally to bring new plants of interest.
Many professionals travel the globe in search of new plant materials.
Research plantings at the JC Raulson Aboretum often feature plant materials recently collected from around the world.
Groundcovers seemed to be one of the key plants of interest. Many booths featured new types that fit well into today’s low-maintenance landscape schemes.
Plant material with unusual leaf shape, color, fruit, flower and bark interest is always appealing. Contractors appreciate the use of tough plant materials — plants that can withstand droughts, poor growing conditions and pests. Reduced irrigation and pesticide usage are benefits both homeowners and maintenance contractors seek from plant materials.
Landscaping is not limited to areas around the yard and home. Planters and containers of all shapes and sizes give sidewalks, decks and patios a splash of color. Window boxes and containers planted with both annuals and perennials add a full season of color to both outside and inside the home.
Flowering perennials, shrubs and trees providing winter interest and attracting wildlife are very popular. Gardens featuring berry-laden plants give a hint that homeowners are yearning for more outdoor activities in both summer and winter.
Contractors are seeking low-maintenance materials, However, there are still those who demand high maintenance areas. It may be a sign of environmental awareness, a fascination with backyard wildlife or a yearning to be outdoors, but the popularity of home gardening seems to be increasing.
One important note: With the upsurge in the building industry, there may be limited plant materials this spring. The nursery industry is greatly affected by supply and demand of the building industry.
It’s time to rethink azaleas and boxwoods and consider newer plant introductions. You’d be surprised at how much the nursery and landscape industry changes within a year — almost as much as in women’s fashions.
Darrell Blackwelder is county Extension director for the Rowan County Center; 704-216-8970;