In This Issue
Lawn Alternatives and a Winter Burn
In anticipation of a busy spring, we've started cutting back our gardens and vegetated areas. We're also burning back plants in spaces where it's safe to do so. 

Burning Blue Grama
Josh Quinlan burns this dormant stand of Bouteloua gracilis (Blue Grama). In natural ecosystems, fire often favors Blue Grama, increasing its frequency and production.
Several of the areas we burn are in our GrassSolutions™ garden. We have stands of short grasses that we use as lawn alternatives, including Bouteloua gracilis, Sporobolus heterolepis, and Eragostis spectabilis. These species are low-growing and can be mowed occasionally or left to grow naturally. 

They don't require irrigation or fertilizer and have few pests. Substituting one of these grasses for traditional turf grass can conserve resources and help build an ecologically sound landscape.

As you may know, many grass species respond well to fire when they're dormant, and some require periodic exposure to fire to thrive. Burning is also an efficient way to clear larger areas. We burn on days with low wind speed and prepare cleared pathways to serve as firebreaks. That way the fire can be controlled and contained.

Get more info on lawn alternatives. And learn more about fire ecology in the southeast and search the Fire Ecology Database maintained by the Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy in Florida.

Wrapping up the Winter Shows
Pix from the Winter Shows The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. We talked, laughed, and visited with folks at CENTS, Green & Growin', and MANTS. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to visit!

Read below to hear who we talked to and what was happening. Get more highlights plus visuals in our photo post.

CENTS in Columbus, Ohio

Scott Epps presented two talks on grasses for CENTS University. He talked about functional uses for grasses and got great feedback from the audience.


John Hoffman and Scott spent time with "Perennial Diva" Stephanie Cohen and Bobbie Schwartz, of Bobbie's Green Thumb. They discussed Scott's talks, particularly grass and sedge selections for rain gardens. Both designers are long-time friends of Hoffman Nursery, and we always enjoy seeing them.


Our team also talked with staff from the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. They're trialing a number of native sedges that we've been growing in our trial gardens, too. We're eager to compare how the sedges do across time in these disparate locations.


Green & Growin' in Greenboro, North Carolina

Winter trade show wrap-upStaff members from a large municipality came by the booth. Their renovating the city's Convention Center landscape. The venue has been a huge success, but the landscape needs help. They're looking to grasses for low-maintenance, year-round interest. And they're planting a roof-top garden that will include a number of grass species.


We talked to Dr. Helen Kraus, who's on faculty in the Department of Horticulture at NC State. Her research focuses on plants in rain gardens and other green infrastructure features. She's currently studying weed suppression in rain gardens and bioretention cells. She's also working on quantifying nutrient removal for specific plants.


Recently retired from NC State's Horticulture Department, Bryce Lane will be teaching an 8-session course on gardening basics at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum. It's a wonderful outreach for the garden. He'll de-mystify soils and give beginners the knowledge and confidence to get going.


MANTS in Baltimore, Maryland

Flamingos were all over the place. Find out why in our photo highlights.


We talked with several team members from the US National Arboretum. We helped them out with grasses for their Grass Roots Initiative. Even though the initiative focuses on turfgrass, it incorporates ornamental grasses in the displays and landscape elements. The installation got a late start last August, but they expect it to take off this spring.


The EverColor� sedges were a big success at all the shows. The containers and trays of liners looked sharp. A team from a Washington, D.C.-based group of garden centers was really excited about using these evergreen sedges in their mixed containers and winter gardens.


We also got wind of a couple of new native sedges. One sounds perfect for rain gardens--it does well in wet sites yet performs in upland conditions, too. The other is a cultivar of one of our favorite species. We'll be trying out both of these for sure!

Internships at Hoffman Nursery
Internships at Hoffman Nursery We are excited to offer a 10-week internship program from late May through the end of June. It's available to students and recent graduates interested in working with plants and learning about the nursery industry.

The application deadline is March 1.

The experience will include working with a wide range of people at the nursery. Further, interns will choose one of four areas of concentration:
  • Exploration of sedges
  • General nursery management of a wholesale nursery
  • Landscaping with grasses
  • Stormwater management BMPs

If you're interested or know someone who might be, please go to our Internships page. You can get more details and download an application.
Grasses, Water, and Conservation
We've been spending a lot of time talking and thinking about green infrastructure and building ecologically sound landscapes. Recently, a few stories crossed our desks, and we want to share them with you. They're from regions to our west, but they're relevant for all of us.
Building Sponge City
This engaging story explains how water has been managed in California and how that model needs to change. Rather than building cities to send stormwater away, there's a call to build them like giant sponges.

That means designing cities differently and using green infrastructure features like bioswales to slow and capture water. Grasses, sedges, and other plants will play a key role in this new type of development. Read more to find out about sponge city and what's happening. And for another great article on designing cities for drought, read here
Sustainable landscape projects
Palomar Medical Center - Spurlock Poirer; Union Tribune San Diego
Waterwise Trumps Flowers
Landscapes in San Diego are changing, too. Waterwise landscape were notable among recent awards from the local chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

According to chapter President, Patricia Trauth, many designs feature less ornamental and more drought-tolerant plant palettes. "You're seeing a lot of businesses and institutions taking the time and money to really convert their landscape into something that's more sustainable."

The article notes that will mean greater use of native grasses, which also complement modern architecture. For more on the awards and to see the winners, follow the story.
Grassland award winners
Photo credit: Brian McCauley
A Passion for Native Prairie Grasses
And finally, in Missouri a couple was recently recognized for their work in conserving native grasslands. They grow about 40 acres of native prairie grasses.

While they're happy with the award, they're most proud of how their healthy prairie contributes to the local ecosystem. Read more about their efforts and the grasses they grow.
Revelling in EverColor™
After three very successful trade shows this month, we couldn't be happier with the EverColor™ series of sedges. We took containers and trays of liners to the shows and got lots of wonderful feedback.

People were excited about the look these sedges give in containers and their year-round color. These selections make bright groundcovers for partially shaded areas. If you haven't seen them yet, check out our  recent post on these fabulous sedges.

And because we know they're a little hard to keep straight, here's a quick guide.

EverColor Sedges

Download Combined Availability & Order Form
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