In this issue:
  • New Resources for Green Infrastructure
  • Rain Gardens in NJ: Even Small Projects Help
  • Collaborations Create Value and More Plants for Stormwater Projects
  • Evaluations from the Chicago Botanic Garden
  • Find Natives That Work
  • Grasses That Stand Up to Salt
  • Featured Grasses: Blackhawks Big Bluestem, River Oats, Blue Lyme Grass
  • The Landscape Architect-Nursery Grower Relationship
  • Our Winter Summit
  • David Hoffman in AgPack Strong: The Young Professional
Green Infrastructure
New Resources for Green Infrastructure
In the good news department, the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act recently became law. This legislation will increase resources for and strengthen green infrastructure projects related to water management. Think rain gardens, stormwater wetlands, and other features that treat and manage stormwater.

Historically, many state and local governments struggle to comply with federal clean water requirements. This act promotes the use of green infrastructure as a way to meet those requirements, while providing huge benefits to communities.

It's particularly good news for the green industry. Green infrastructure gives us more opportunities to supply plants, fill skilled jobs, and improve our managed landscapes.

Find out about the act and get links to resources here.
Green infrastructure features like this parking lot bioswale and permeable paving improve water quality by helping manage and treat stormwater.
Rain Gardens in NJ: Even Small Projects Help

A community rain garden may seem like a minor contribution to the multibillion-dollar overhaul of New Jersey's water infrastructure. But communities are buying in and making a difference.

Read more
Our current Catalog of Grasses focuses on collaborations within and outside the green industry. Working with others offers our team opportunities to learn and share information. Our last post in this series highlights work with our state's stormwater program.
More Plants for Stormwater Projects
Stormwater control measures (SCM) are structures that treat and manage the water that runs off parking lots, roof tops, and other impermeable surfaces during and after a rain event. North Carolina's stormwater design manual gives technical guidance to professionals on designing these projects.

Annette Lucas, program supervisor for NC's stormwater program, convened a team of experts to update the plant information in the design manual. The group included people from nurseries, NC State's stormwater engineering group, and landscape contractors. The group’s input more than doubled the number of tree, shrub, and herbaceous plant species on the lists. The revisions added information on which plants provide support for birds and pollinators and updated guidelines on installation and plant specifications.

The revisions have given engineers, landscape architects, and SCM designers better information and more choices. State officials expect it to improve the functionality and appearance of SCM in the state. We also hope it will increase demand for green infrastructure plants regionally.

To read more about the stormwater manual update and get the plants lists, see our post, More Plants for Stormwater Projects.

To read more about our collaboration with Annette Lucas and others, see our Collaboration Profile.
Grass Resources
Evaluations from the Chicago Botanic Garden
The Plant Evaluation Program at the Chicago Botanic Garden is one of the few in the U.S. that evaluates perennials. Managed by Richard Hawke, the program publishes their results as plant evaluation notes. The latest issue (#43) addresses hardy ornamental grasses.

The evaluation included 109 taxa across several years. Twenty-two grasses received five-star excellent ratings. Several well-known selections made the list:

  • Andropogon gerardii 'Blackhawks'
  • Molinia caerulea ssp. arundinacea 'Skyracer'
  • Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal'
  • Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Red Head'
  • Schizachyrium scoparium 'Carousel'
  • Sporobolus heterolepis 'Tara'

To see the full list and read about the methodology, download the report.

Get info on the garden's evaluation program and access other reports here.
Find Native Plants That Work
Want to know the best-adapted, workhorse plants that are native to where you're planting? There's a nifty new tool that might help. It's called the Ecoregional Revegetation Application (ERA) and is hosted by the Federal Highway Administration. We learned about it via PlantCampNews, the blog site for the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference. We'll let them explain:

"The ERA is a draft online database of locally adapted and appropriate plant species. It was developed by botanists and ecologists at the Forest Service, Federal Highway Administration, universities, and other institutions.

The ERA is meant to assist highway planners, land managers and others to select appropriate native plant species for revegetation projects...All the plants listed are said to be commercially available and can be used not only for habitat restoration but also for pollinator enhancement in EPA-designated ecoregions."

Read more on the Roadside Revegetation Page or access the ERA directly.
Grasses That Stand up to Salt
Coastal landscapes, snowy roadsides, and drought-prone areas share a common threat to plant health: highly saline water.

Researchers at Utah State University evaluated the effect of irrigation water with elevated salinity levels on seven ornamental grass or grass-like species. All showed a strong tolerance to the salinity levels. However, all the plants were smaller than normal, and some had foliar damage.

Even with reduced growth, three of the tested grasses still looked good and remained marketable: Leymus arenarius 'Blue Dune', Muhlenbergia capillaris, and Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Foxtrot'. These toughies kept their cool.

For a larger list, check out our blog post on Salt Tolerant Grasses.
Featured Grasses
Our Newest Addition | Blackhawks Big Bluestem

The native good looks and adaptability of Big Bluestem get an intense infusion of color with 'Blackhawks'. It goes from green to burgundy, and in fall the entire plant intensifies to a dark, rich purple that's almost black.

Read more
Northern Sea Oats | The High Line

The High Line regularly features plants from their plantings. This late December post highlights Chasmanthium latifolium (River Oats), a native favorite. Their descriptions are beautiful, and the post includes advice on managing it in the landscape.

Read more
Blue Lyme Grass | Gardenista

Gardenista covers Leymus arenarius 'Blue Dune': It's a rare plant that can be described as "aggressive" and still be useful in a garden setting. But choosing this one thoughtfully and planting in the right environment can work beautifully.

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Connecting the Industry
The Landscape Architect-Nursery Grower Relationship

In our region, Hoffman Nursery connects with landscape architects via lunch & learns and nursery visits. At the 2018 ASLA conference, North Creek, Pleasant Run, and other growers helped landscape architects better understand nursery production.

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At the Nursery
Our Winter Summit

Our team started off 2019 with a new event—a three-day Winter Summit. With a diverse workforce spanning several departments, and our time together is limited. The summit was a way to update everyone, strengthen our team, and have some fun!

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AgPack Strong: The Young Professional

The spotlight turned to our own David Hoffman recently when he was featured in a Young Professionals profile. North Carolina State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences interviewed him about his career in horticulture. Go, David!

Read more
Upcoming Events
February 6-7, 2019
Athens, GA
Every year the University of Georgia's College of Environment + Design hosts a short course for landscape architects. It's a blend of presentations on plant materials, hardscape, and practice. Hoffman Nursery is pleased to help sponsor this event and will be there to chat with attendees about all things grassy. 
February 21, 2019
Morganton, NC
Hosted by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, this annual workshop provides updated information on ornamental plants, production practices, and pest identification and control for the nursery and landscape industry in the Southeastern US. Hoffman Nursery's Shannon Currey joins the workshop speaking on " New Perspectives in Ornamental Grasses." Find out how demands for more sustainable landscapes and native grasses are driving breeding efforts and shaping the market. 
You can always see where we'll be on our Upcoming Events page.
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