9 min read

Hort Matters from Cultivate 2023

Hort Matters from Cultivate 2023

Angelique Robb Ep 12 Cultivate 2023


In the recent SYNKD On Air podcast, host Angelique Robb shares her experiences from the Cultivate Conference hosted by American Hort in Columbus, Ohio. She emphasizes the critical role landscape professionals play in harnessing technological advancements to improve tree health, manage urban tree mortality, and utilize stormwater as a resource for tree and plant growth. Angelique invites her audience to share their industry challenges, promising to connect them with resources, and stresses the need for the industry to continually adapt to better tackle climate change and water management issues. She ends the podcast inviting followers to connect via social media and participate in future SYNKD broadcasts.


Welcome to SYNKD On Air. I'm Angelique Robb your host. And I'd like to say a special thanks to Turfs Up Radio for having us. And convincing us to launch this podcast. Today is a little bit different in that I want to to tell you a bit more about the Cultivate Conference that is hosted by American Hort in Columbus, Ohio.

It was the first time I have been to Ohio. And it was great. I was really impressed with the conference, and how much there was to it. When you came into the reception area, there were so many beautiful setups, small gardens, even some greenhouse looking areas with hose art, you can look on my LinkedIn posts and Instagram, to see what I mean by that. But some really great opportunities for photos and to showcase new varieties of plants and new products, or old products that are, you know, improved, much more improved. So I'm all about that doing things better. You know, this industry, what I find is, I think it's just such a big industry, it's actually hard to find just those things that you need to do things better. And some people, you know, haven't been to Cultivate, because as a landscape business owner, it probably isn't exactly the right conference. But what I have found there are things, people, product services, that I haven't seen it other conferences, so it was very worthwhile.

I loved finding out about products that can conserve water, from rainwater harvesting, to additives to the soil that could reduce how much irrigation you need, especially, maybe in between irrigation periods that the plants maybe aren't drying out as much due to these additives.

But also some of the new plant varieties that are a take on a product that we may be all have used. And it's taking a special hybridized variety, to make it need less water, and actually bloom more. So some great new plants that aren't brand new to the market. They're actually out there to design and install with. So they're proven. But they're still that new that landscape designers landscape design and build companies should know about them.

So more on that in our next issue, our Fall issue, we're going to focus on the new varieties that are coming out and a little bit more of a horticulture focus, as well as looking at trees. Although we've had some, you know, in our publication, when we first launched, we were Pro Landscaper. In that that publication, we have had some great conversations with people like Dr. Ed Gilman. And then we'll see what issue this is. This is May/June 2021. And Dr. Ed Gilman was introduced to us through John Conroy at Fish Branch Tree Farm in Florida. And what I found fascinating about that article was how you can prune a tree to make the roots and the tree itself stronger. And Ed gave some examples of shaving off roots on the outside of the root ball, and how that can keep you from having girdling roots, but also printing methods that can make a more stable tree. You know, and of course, I'm in the south thinking of hurricanes and many people in neighborhoods get very afraid that a tree will fall in their house and they remove a tree. But in fact, what they should be doing is getting healthier trees, nurturing them more, and pruning them away that makes them stronger. And keeping that shade for the summer when we need it the most like these very, very hot days that we're having just now.

So back to Cultivate. I got a little distracted. But, you know, there are so many new things out there that I think are being targeted to garden centers, but really landscape business owners, especially design and build, but also those maintenance companies that for instance plant up containers for businesses every year. There are companies like Crescent Garden, that they are doing something I know about these kinds of products, I've been using them in Europe, there's a Spanish company that I bought from that have a reservoir of water, and an indicator on how much water they have in the pot in the base of the pot, that you don't, you can't tell, but it's in there. I've been using those for indoor plants. But what's interesting is that Crescent Garden have developed something that has an overflow. So that let's say you have these self watering planters outside, and it can keep them from getting over watered, as well as under watered. And just some really great large planters, that would be great for city centers, in parks, but also, I want some for my house because I'm a lazy gardener and I don't like to water plants. And in South Louisiana, we can't really have containers outside unless you're watering them all the time in the summer. And then you'll have a rainy few days, and then the plants will literally be floating in water. It's getting that balance right.

Some other products that I learned about are biochar. And what's interesting about this is by adding this as a top dressing for lawns and gardens, or using it in planters and flower beds, you are actually able to remove a certain amount of co2, so you're able to help reverse climate change by adding this to your soil. It says every pound of this biochar net removes about three pounds of co2. It also helps reduce the amount of watering that you need. So again, another benefit.

But there's also you know, things like a sustainable insect, mite and disease control solutions for outdoor and indoor gardens. I have also found out about a product that has let's see, it's an organic mix that you can add to planters or to your beds that supports water, agriculture and education projects throughout the world. And it helps your growing environment. So it's like an additive for your soil that is organic. And it also adds rich nutrients and has moisture control in it. And they're also doing some amazing things. I believe it's 10% of their profits are going to Africa and building schools. And so they're doing some really cool stuff. It's a great story. And we will be featuring how that product came about in the minds of the founder. So stay tuned for some of that.

Another great thing that I see coming up or native plants being marketed in a new way and getting their own brands. And we also have this native plant nursery Pizzo, that are growing native plants but in deeply rooted trays. Because we all know that native plants grow deeper roots. And I think that's why, you know, again, using these deeper trays or allowing the native plants to do better, and yeah, look for them if you're looking to add that to what you grow. This nursery in Florida can help you do that. Have lots of really cool things going on in our industry.

One thing that really sticks in my mind, because I saw this on LinkedIn and just had to post something, it's a bit of a soapbox for me these days, and that I found out that urban trees have a 50% mortality rate. And first of all, I was just really shocked to hear that number. Because it's 2023. We have all of this technology, all this science, that's going into growing trees that don't have spiraling roots or girdling roots, I mean, feel free. I'm not an expert in any of these areas. I might use the wrong word sometimes, but you know, what I mean, where are the roots, because they're in containers are spiraling around. And if when you plant those, you don't do something about it. The will lead to death of the tree, an early death. And, you know, there's, there's just so many products that can help, what we're doing. And I feel like as a landscape professional, if you are involved in anything from landscape architecture, specifying you know, landscape design, so residential, or commercial, install, or construction of the site, first off, installation of the plants, or long term maintenance, it's really our job as professionals to know the best ways of doing things and to do things better. And it's been really upsetting lately, I've been traveling a lot, going to conferences, and meeting new people in the industry. I feel like everywhere I go, I am seeing trees that I can tell right off, will not survive to their normal lifespan, they their lives will be cut short, because of quite a few things. First off, wrong tree for the location, or for, you know, let's say it's in the middle of a parking lot, we all in the south like to park our cars underneath trees, so they're less hot. But if we don't provide enough soil for these trees to grow, they will be stunted and die an early death.

I had a presentation for some civil engineers recently in the city of Lafayette that showed them what soil cells are. If you don't use them in an urban paved parking lot, you know, urban area, how much they will be stunted. And these studies are going back to 20 years ago. So I still find it shocking that people don't know about it, especially when they're designing urban scapes. So soil cells, if you don't know what they are, look them up. These all tie in with stormwater management as well. And you know that we need water to grow plants and trees.

But over the years, we've slowly cemented things up, or had water drain to culverts underground. We're actually it's a, it's a precious resource, this water falling from the sky, that we should be using it to water our trees and our plants. And because their roots go so far, if you give them enough soil, they will draw that water in, use it to grow and also eliminate the flooding problems that we're having. It seems to make so much sense that we connect the dots on all these things. But I have a feeling from seeing so many new developments in so many different cities, that we're not connecting enough dots. And just so everybody who's listening knows, if you don't know what I'm talking about, or you want more information on this, please reach out to me because that's what I feel like SYNKD [is] here to do. We are here to connect people. We're here to connect, design, build, and maintenance. But when I say build, I mean, masonry, walling, decking, lighting install, irrigation, everything. We're trying to pull all of those sectors into one place. When I say maintenance, I don't mean just cutting the grass, but I do mean cutting the grass as well. But I mean, you know, plant care, horticulture. Talking about plant growth regulators, you know, how can we, you know, take what we have, and work with it.

Stormwater is such a great resource, and water is actually sometimes the biggest problem, it's also the biggest benefit and the biggest problem, but balancing that we can help everything if we use it wisely. So, again, you know, what I'm seeing from water and nutrients, and trees, at Cultivate, there are so many solutions. We are working on talking to a bunch of those people, either having them as advertisers, or in our editorial, or we'll have them here on our podcasts. We're gonna start doing that. I don't want to sound like we're only pushing advertising for advertising sake, we're pushing advertising, because I see a lot of problems, or we see a lot of problems in our industry. And I feel like we can't sit there and complain that people aren't paying enough for plants or wanting to pay enough for mowing the lawns or construction of of new gardens or paying for designs. Again, sometimes a contentious subject, but to do a design, right, you have to be paid for it. Because it is a lot of work to do it right. And again, that's done differently in each of the states. But I digress.

We all need to be looking for solutions. I've been in Europe for the past 20 years. And I've seen a lot of solutions that I can't find, or I'm just seeing come across the pond. It excites me because I feel like I can help that transition. I want people to say, hey, Angelique. What are you talking about? Can you can you connect me up with a company that can tell me all about what they can do and how they can help. They will fall over themselves to help you, we will fall over ourselves to help you. So really, solutions are all around us. What we hope to bring to the table are, you know, challenge the challenges that are being faced by our industry, and by homeowners and property owners. We want to educate you, the landscape business owner, the decision makers, the leaders or future leaders in our industry, so that you know where to look to solve some problems.

If we're not talking about something that is a problem for you, please reach out. We would love to have our platform be a bit more, you know, two way street, we have the publication. We have E-newsletters and webinars. We have our live event [SYNKD Live]. But we want to hear from you what's a problem. And there are many solutions, or there many people to contact to come up with solutions. So a lot of entrepreneurs out there coming into our industry. And again, that's what excites me so much about hearing people [who] didn't start in this industry. But six years ago, I saw a niche and I'm building a company that's going to solve problems for the future.

Great, bring it on because there is a lot of room for improvements. I'm not saying anything about how we're doing things now. But with the pressures of costs going up, with the pressures of globalization, you know, and the cost to working differently, you know, we need to start using technology, and looking to these companies that are developing some outstanding products, to elevate our businesses and therefore elevate the industry. So we don't have an issue with people coming into the industry, because they see it as such a valuable thing to combat climate change, which is ultimately what we're doing. So, you know, think about that, whenever you're, you know, getting pushed on costs of things. We are, you know, developing a lot of science to help climate change and keep people from getting their houses flooded. And you know, this water management issue that is all over the world.

Anyway, I've kind of gotten off topic, but I do think that Cultivate was an amazing experience. I loved it. It was great going to Columbus, Ohio for the first time. And yeah, I look forward to going each year from now on, so that I can keep on top of the latest solutions and products, how things are changing each year. And then I can report back to you guys and kind of have that full cycle feedback.

Thanks for listening. And please follow us on Instagram, [Facebook], LinkedIn, podcasts, wherever you get your podcasts and reach out if you want to be on here. We want to hear from you. Thanks and this has been Angelique Robb at SYNKD. Hope to hear from you.

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