HAMMOND, La. – Horticulture enthusiasts and landscape contractors alike attended the Second Annual Margie Jenkins Azalea Garden Horticulture Lecture Series and Industry Open House at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station on June 5.
The event recognizes Margie Jenkins, a longtime supporter of Louisiana horticulture who is still active in the horticulture industry.
The program included speakers from Texas, Alabama and Florida discussing plants in trials in their areas as well as plants from their areas in trials here, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings.
Mike Arnold, a Texas A & M horticulturist, discussed plants that will do well in coastal areas and shared information on some salt-tolerant plants they are looking at in his state.
University of Florida horticulturist Gary Knox discussed plants that are doing well in Florida that he’s interested in introducing to Louisiana landscapes.
“Some of the plants that we are looking at in our facility in Quincy, Florida, we are interested in promoting those plants to a similar climate like here, thinking that they would do very well here,” he said.
Knox said the work at the Hammond Station inspires him. The crowds drawn to the programs at Hammond are something he wants to see at his Florida facility.
“Dr. Owings clearly has a lot of impact, given all the industry that is here today,” Knox said. “It’s quite an asset for Louisiana and this part of the Gulf Coast.”
Bobby Green, owner of Green Nurseries in Fairhope, Alabama, discussed some of the native and exotic plants that are being improved through breeding programs in his area.
Green said the Hammond Research Station is special because even though it is a trial garden, the layout is like a beautiful landscape.
“This is pretty unique because most trial gardens are just row after row of regimented plants, each with their own little label. But here, this is just a beautiful garden,” Green said.
Amanda Stack, a greenhouse manager at Louisiana Nursery in Baton Rouge, said she and two of her coworkers came to see and hear about the new plant varieties that are becoming available and can be offered to her customers.
Stack said this is the fifth time she has visited the research station, and she always leaves with valuable information that is helpful to her customers.
Owings said this event attracts many nursery and landscape professionals from around the state.
“We have nursery growers here, landscape contractors, retail garden center employees and managers. And we also have some Master Gardeners and home gardeners,” he said.
Owings said the take-home message from this year’s event is try some new plants.
“Whether you’re a landscaper, a nursery grower, or a retail garden center, try something that’s new to you,” Owings said. “Plant a plant that’s new to you; sell a plant that’s new to you, or grow a plant that’s new to you.”
The tour of the gardens at the station was an opportunity to show the attendees new plants in the Piney Woods garden.
Owings said those in the landscape industry are always looking for new plants to generate consumer interest, and the open house is a great way to showcase what’s new.
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