East Coast Garden Center’s journey is its ‘destination’
MILLSBORO, Del. — On one of the hottest days of the summer, Aug. 8, RSC Landscaping Ltd. hosted the Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association’s Summer Turf and Nursery Expo at East Coast Garden Center.
RSC Landscaping was begun in 1990 by Valery, Rick and Steve Cordrey. When the family could not find local sources for the unique plant selections needed for their landscaping projects, they opened East Coast Garden Center with its own growing division to fill the void.
Now, with more than 70 greenhouses in full production and plant material brought in from around the country, the garden center serves both homeowners and wholesalers who are searching for high quality, unique plants ranging from annuals, perennials, shrubs and tree to houseplants and tropicals.
Valery Cordrey’s dream of turning the garden center into a “destination,” with display gardens, an enrichment center for classes and even a Children’s Garden, has come true.
RSC Landscaping boasts five designers who can assist with any size landscaping project and maintenance teams to keep them looking their best.
The garden center itself was certainly at its best as more than 100 members of the DNLA attended concurrent educational workshops, visited exhibits and accepted a challenge to identify plants, weeds and diseases.
Matthew Boyd of Star Roses and Plants discussed selection, culture and care of roses, the oldest known cultivated garden plant on earth.
He introduced some new stand-alone roses for 2018: “Brick House,” a floribunda; “Highwire Flyer,” a climber; and “Sweet Mademoiselle,” a hybrid tea. Coming in 2019 are “Cherry Frost,” a climber; “Pinkerbelle,” a hybrid tea; and “Sweet Spirit,” a grandiflora.
Among diseases discussed was rose rosette virus. Boyd listed four important things you can do to manage the spread of this disease:
• Remove any and all multiflora roses on the property;
• Remove immediately and destroy any symptomatic plants;
• Spray with products labeled specifically for control of eriophyid mites; and
• Trim roses regularly, and especially in winter, since mites overwinter in the top third of branches.
Dale Carey of Atlantic Irrigation and Ronnie Lowe of Site One gave a presentation on remote access controllers for irrigation.
About one-third of their audience acknowledged some experience with wifi residential controllers, which have been out for a couple of years.
Carey said the No. 1 request from homeowners is to be able to control their irrigation from their smartphones. While a lot of homes now have “smart” systems that include irrigation with the package, Carey does not recommend them.
He listed several benefits of wifi controllers to contractors, including the ability to charge a “monitoring fee” for fixing a controller when a homeowner fouls it up, and new revenue for retrofits and upgrades on new installations.
Likely clients are techies and older folks who use smartphones to contact their grandkids. With a seasonal adjustment button, controllers can be set up to monitor the weather and adjust to it. Alert notifications to the contractor in event of an issue lets them be proactive when the owner may not even be aware of a problem.
Wifi controllers are a boon for unoccupied vacation homes. Winterization and shut-off can be done remotely.
Customers benefit because they can help reduce water bills with use of predictive watering and there’s less risk of turf or plant loss due to irrigation issues. And, because most controllers have commands for Alexa, Google Home, and so forth, homeowners can turn on irrigation with a voice command to scare off geese.
There are some considerations for contractors. For one, you become an IT guy. Some customers may not grant remote access due to privacy concerns.
You need to make sure there is good reception where the controller is located. “Ask the kids where the best reception is,” Carey suggested. Interference can come from something like a metal filing cabinet or mirror. A reliable wifi connection is a must. If connection is lost — when wifi is down — the controller will continue to work, you just can’t change it, he explained.
After a brief break, Sue Barton and Brian Kunkel, both of University of Delaware Cooperative Extension took separate groups into the nursery selling area. Barton was in search of “unsung heroes for the home landscape.” People in the horticulture industry want plants that are new and exciting, she said, but it’s not until the marketers are tired of something that homeowners are just starting to use a new plant.
“It is important to preserve the diversity of natives and re-introduce them into home and managed landscapes,” she said. Among her suggestions were Viburnum deniatum and Rhus aromatica.
Viburnum deniatum makes a nice hedge. Growing in full sun to part shade, this deciduous shrub grows 6 to 10 feet high and 6 to 10 feet wide. It has clusters of white flowers in the spring, then fruit for the birds. Its fabulous fall colors add to its multiple season interest.
“Landscape designers draw circles. Some of those circles need plants under them to fill out and cover the stems. You never want open mulch. You want plant cover. Viburnum is one of those shrubs that needs underplanting, Barton said.
She found two examples of underplanting. Rhus aromatica, found at East Coast Garden Center as Gro-Low ‘Sumac’, only gets 1 or 2 feet high but spreads 6 to 8 feet. Suitable for full sun to part shade, it has fragrant, colorful leaves, and attracts birds and butterflies. It can be used for erosion control.
There are taller, generic varieties of Rhus available from sellers of native plants, Barton noted.
St. John’s wort ‘Hidcote’ or Hypericum p. ‘Hidcote’, also makes a good groundcover. It is not a native, however. It grows in sun or part shade up to 3 feet tall with a spread of 1 to 1.5 feet. It has yellow flowers. Barton suggested cutting it down to 6 inches would make it bloom again.
Entomologist Brain Kunkel led his group in search of “lightning rods for pests,” that is, host plants.
Most of the workshops were repeated in the afternoon.
1-800-634-5021 410-822-3965 Fax- 410-822-5068
P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925