Friday, May 22, 2015

Minding My Garden, a human resources perspective on gardening

I am "going out on a limb" to make the correlation between my daily job duties at Loma Vista Nursery, as the Director of Human Resources, and caring for my garden. Choosing the right plant, whether it is an annual, perennial or evergreen is as important as choosing the right employee. Plants, like employees, get the nurturing they need to flourish and thrive in the correct placement. In my job title and as a gardener, I am responsible for understanding the perfect fit for each position/placement.

Over the past 12 years, I have had the opportunity to be part of the hiring process at Loma Vista Nursery with the pleasure of watching many employees establishing their roots within the company, both seasonal and permanent. I planted Wisteria, Honeysuckle, and Clematis, several years ago when I had a pergola added to my back yard. I have been patiently waiting for those vines to reach the top to provide shade to the backyard-it gets full afternoon sun. It reminds me of some of our employee's branching-out, going that extra mile in their jobs. They have cross-trained in different positions often starting from the bottom learning the skills needed to reach the "top of the pergola." Our customers depend and count on staff that they have developed a relationship with over the years. I depend on my Fat Albert Blue Spruce to always be in my front yard with Lilies, Echinacea, and Rudbeckia in the background blooming faithfully year after year. I carefully choose which annuals I plant in certain beds and track which ones do well from year to year which makes my garden stand out with unique quality from my neighbors.

Loma Vista's management team understands that we must also do our part to provide initial and ongoing training, helping to nourish our valued employees. One of my favorite "Miracle-Gro" applications is our weekly safety meeting. Managers, department heads, and team leaders provide useful information to keep workers safe; such as staying hydrated, proper insulation from environmental exposure, and tips on how to relieve stress, such as back pain from improper lifting. Weekly prizes are awarded to those who demonstrate safety in the workplace, with no mishaps. We recognize the importance of employment birthdays and saying thank you for being part of our family. Garden parties are always fun with friends and family and so are the ongoing company-wide events we throw for our entire workforce.

Loma Vista Nursery takes pride in cultivating our employees to do their best.  Each position has great importance and doing well reflects on Loma Vista's pride in consumer satisfaction. A Human Resources job title requires me to not only do the fun stuff like hiring, training, assisting with planning events, and getting to know our wonderful team on a personal level, it also requires unfavorable task like to "weeding out the rotten tomatoes" from my garden. Each and every employee understands the hard work required in the nursery business. Team work is essential and we want our employees to "come grow with us." I may be bias in thinking I have the best garden in our neighborhood, but then again, I also know the grass is greener at Loma Vista Nursery.
  Fall lawn program at Loma Vista

  By Leanne Rae Follet, Human Resources, Loma Vista Nursery

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Landscaping, an Accountant's View

Last year at the Sterk Homestead we started a 360 Landscape Upgrade.  That is the landscape all around our house was to be for the most part tore out and redone.  This was a scary thing to think about as I knew my landscape and plants better look good since I work at a nursery; but at the same time I am the CFO of the nursery and probably the least knowledgeable plant person here (don't tell anyone).  I am learning slowly but surely.  So, for a large overhaul I knew needed a little help from my friends, cue Joe Crocker, Kevin Arnold, Paul Pfeiffer and Winnie Cooper.

Luckily, not only do we have employees that service our customers exceedingly well, they are willing to help out a fellow Loma Vistan (I don't think the fact that paychecks come from my office affected this at all).  First, Ben Cecil, our Production Manager came out and helped my wife, Heather and I with a nice full landscape plan.  Looking at it was exciting but a little overwhelming as it seemed to be a big job, so we broke it off into phases.  Phase one started last year as we tore out and planted the front beds.  As you can see in the pictures the plant selections are great for the space and we have kept the plants up nicely as it everything looks happy.  If you look very closely you can see our Siberian Husky, Nadia, keeping watch so nothing comes and tramples or eats the plants.



This gave me some confidence so I move onto phase two this year.  That meant more help from friends as Don Mann came out and helped me rip out these three giant plants. I don't remember what they were but they were ugly and about 12' by 12'.  The bonus of Don coming out is we walked the property and he gave me some tree knowledge and some instruction on keeping up with what we have.  After the plants were out, I leveled the dirt and started planting some more. I am not quite done but look forward to a finished product. About half of the area is shown below in progress.



The other part of phase two I learned a valuable lesson in spacing as I got a little overconfident and placed the plants without anyone's help and I thought it looked good at first:



But then things started to grow:


Which reminded me that I am probably better suited for the accounting and finance world.  From my view I should get lots of help from my friends, let my wife keep the plants up (as she does a great job at it) and just dig the holes where I am told.  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Small Plants, Big Appeal

It's that wonderful time of year when temps are on the rise and flowers are on the plants.  It seems like this time of year you forget just how amazing the perennials look when they start to bloom.  Perennials are a nice way to spruce up a landscape without investing a lot of time and money in shrubs or even trees.  Some small in stature plants carry big appeal.

GAILLARDIA Sunset Cutie #1

LAVANDULA Hidcote #1
LAVANDULA Hidcote #1

PAEONIA Honey Gold
PAEONIA Honey Gold

Shade perennials are some of my favorites to add a burst of color into the gardens.

HEUCHERA Carnival Plum Crazy #1
HEUCHERA Carnival Plum Crazy #1



IRIS Caesar's Brother #1
IRIS Caesar's Brother #1

HOSTA Wide Brim #1
HOSTA Wide Brim #1

At Loma Vista, our perennial grower Jessi has things looking great.  Give us a call or email if you would like to add small plants, big appeal to your order.  

By Bobby Fields, Sales Representative, Loma Vista Nursery

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

This Year's Trend in Color

Marsala-a deep reddish brown is Pantone's 2015 color of the year. This stylish tone can be found in home furnishings, interiors and fashion. Add a new dimension to the landscape with this contrasting color. 


Photo courtesy of Sub Rosa

When I saw Ninebark out in the nursery, it quickly reminded me of the color Marsala. This is definitely its year to shine! If your customer loves this color trend, suggest using physocarpus and barberry in containers on the patio. The physocarpus can be left for winter interest as the bark exfoliates on the mature branches.

Physocarpus Coppertina
Physocarpus Coppertina® 3PW

Summer Wine Ninebark 
Physocarpus Summer Wine® 3PW - More crops in the upcoming weeks.

 Berberis atropurpurea Nana
Berberis 'Atropurpurea Nana' #5

Amber Jubilee foliage
Amber Jubilee® is my favorite Ninebark because of its numerous color tones of light green, chartreuse, gold, bronze, fiery orange and scarlet. Our next crop of the size 3FE is expected after Mother's Day. 

Marsala combo


A great way to showcase the color Marsala in your garden center or nursery could include an evening of wine tasting in an area with an endcap display similar to the photo above. The rich color tones are sure to captivate interest and the Berberis 'Orange Rocket' is very striking in front of the Amber Jubilee® as the Berberis Sunjoy® Gold Beret, Sunjoy® Gold Pillar, 'Rose Glow' and 'Concorde' in bloom also provide stunning interest. Add some Summer Wine® 2PW when they are in bloom and they are sure to be walking out the door! Contact your sales representative and we can discuss how to make your Marsala event a success.

By Sheila Balaun, Inventory Control/Customer Service, Loma Vista Nursery

Monday, May 4, 2015

Let's Plant a Tree

You and your customer may feel that a project requires a mature specimen(s) for the landscape.  Beyond ordering the plant material, we recommend that you do a bit of planning first so everything goes well and the plants thrive.  
Tagging the tree.  Visit the nursery to see the specimen plant for yourself and take a look at the size of the root ball while selecting the specimen tree.  Expected weight of specimen trees:  3" tree - 700-800 lbs. 3 1/2" tree - 850-900 lbs.  4" tree - 900-1200 lbs.  8' conifer - 700 lbs.  10' conifer - 900-1200 lbs.  12' conifer - 1200-1400 lbs.  
Handling the tree.  Are you going to load up your trailer at the nursery or are we going to deliver? Care in handling large trees is critical for survival when it comes to unloading and placement.  Rough handling of a large spruce will result in losses of over 20%.  With the cost of conifers, that doesn't leave room for a profit.  Just the shock of a ball falling to the ground from 3' is enough to damage the root system of a tree.  It is important to think about this delicate root ball and keep it intact from nursery to curbside to final planting.  Protect this investment and have a loader on site.  
Planting the tree. Whether you use an auger or dig the hole by hand, planting depth is critical.  High is better than low.  Planting too deep is a slow death.  Clay soils require good organic amendment to re-establish the root system of most trees.  
Follow up tree care.  The larger the tree, the more root loss experienced in harvesting the tree.  Expect that it will take 2-3 years for large specimen trees to recover the lost roots.  It's important to have them on a watering schedule for the first two years.  Stakes are critical for both deciduous and evergreens until they can establish their anchor roots.  As a general rule, you don't fertilize until the second year to avoid burning the new tender feeder roots.  
Have a safe and profitable spring.  
By Don Mann, Certified Arborist/Certified Chemical Applicator, Loma Vista Nursery