Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Arlington National Cemetery prettied up by trowel-wielding kids

ARLINGTON, VA — The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) held its 14th annual Renewal and Remembrance event at Arlington National Cemetery here Monday. More than 300 Green Industry professionals showed up with spreaders, sprayers, aerators and other equipment to work in 90-F.-plus heat to improve the grounds at the huge cemetery.

In what’s become a trend at the event, many brought their families to help, children too. I’m estimating about 50 or 60 young people (some of them very young) got an opportunity to watch the changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and then plant perennials in the nearby Children’s Garden.

The children, under the guidance of adult volunteers, lined up, fitted with aprons, gloves and with trowels in hand, and planted one perennial each, enlarging a garden some of them had worked in the season before.

Here are some images of the youngsters in action. We hope you enjoy seeing them as we did watching them planting the flowers. — Ron Hall

Saturday, July 17, 2010

When invasive species get loose they often turn into monsters

The offices of Landscape Management magazine in Cleveland are just blocks from Lake Erie.

There’s a monster at our doorstep, our lakefront. It threatens incredible harm. This monster is an invasive species, the Asian carp, and the only thing keeping it from damaging the ecology of our Great Lakes and its multi-billion dollar sports fishery is an electrified fence in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

If (when?) this fish makes its way around the barriers and into Lake Michigan it will be only a matter of time before it will spread to the other great lakes putting native species such as lake trout, walleye, whitefish bass and white perch (to name a few) in peril. The Asian carp is a voracious feeder and gobbles up much of the same food as these fish. The only difference being that the Asian carp can grow to 100 lbs. Anybody ever see a 100 lb. walleye?

Wherever the carp establishes itself the populations of native fish decrease. And the Asian carp has been establishing itself in many of our Midwestern river systems ever since escaping from southern farm ponds into the Mississippi River during the disastrous Midwestern floods of the early 1990s. Apparently catfish farmers had put them in their ponds to eat algae and other scum that, apparently, the carp are pretty good at doing.

The plant world has its share of invasive monsters, as well. One of the worst, the giant hogweed, is on the loose. It's horrific in a different sense than the carp. The giant hogweed's sap can cause severe, long lasting swelling and blistering to humans and animals. If sap gets into your eyes it can cause temporary and sometimes permanent blindness.

This problem plant can grow to a height of eight to 15 feet. Native to the Caucasus, it’s believed giant hogweed was brought into the United States and Canada as an ornamental, but it does particularly well where the soil has been disturbed, such as along railroads, abandoned construction sites and vacant, weedy fields. If conditions are right, it can dominate an area.

To date, giant hogweed has been reported in several eastern Canada provinces and from Maine to Michigan and as far south as Virginia in the United States.

Once established invasive species are often impossible to eradicate. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent controlling them, and many hundreds of millions more will be spent as the battle against harmful invasive species is literally never ending.

Click here for a good description of giant hogweed.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Embark's YouTube message strikes the right tone

Hurricane season is here. Landscape and tree-care companies get lots of cleanup work after a major hurricane. Some of the owners of these companies have told us they have enough to do without the hot dirty work of cleanup, fixup and hurricane debris removal, which some have described as “blood money.”

Houston-based Embark Tree and Landscape’s short (1:45 minute) YouTube video takes a positive and proactive approach to the possibility of hurricanes, advising viewers of what they should be considering in terms of tree care before the next hurricane arrives……and it will eventually, of course. This is a nice example of the social media being used effectively.

Click here to see the Embark YouTube video.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

We can only hope we're like Larry

(Image by Owen Baker, staff photographer The Daily Breeze)

Larry Marty, a great-great-grandfather who lives in Torrence, CA, is pretty amazing. The guy is 91 and goes to work four days a week as a landscaper, working in his grandson’s company.

I read about Larry in an article written by Dennis McCarthy in the July 9 issue of the Daily Breeze (actually

"Granddad's the first one to arrive in the morning, the only one on time, and he always takes the hardest jobs," says Mike DeVestern, one of Marty's eight grandchildren quoted in the article.

Stop what you’re doing and click here to read about Larry. This man is inspiring. — Ron Hall