Memo from Brightman Logan, AFNN Cultivar Committee Member, All Native Flora

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Cammie Donaldson

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on: February 13, 2006, 06:09:12 PM
Dear Fellow AFNN member,
 
 I am not going to debate the aspects of genetic “pollution”. This is best left up to the experts. I do want to discuss the function of our association and its place in the horticultural industry as the promoter of native plant use.
 
As the only association of Florida nurserymen promoting the use of native plants, are we now proposing to promote only those plants that are seedling produced or do we want to promote all types of native plants? Are we going to promote an ecological approach to native landscapes only?  Is the education of our clients to not use certain types of native plant selections part of our mission or is that more the function of the FNPS? The mission statement of the FNPS is “to promote the preservation, conservation and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida. The statement of purpose of the AFNN is “to promote, foster and encourage more efficient and progressive methods of growing and marketing native plant nursery stock and plants; to enjoy the manifold benefits of joint and collective effort; and to share in scientific knowledge.” I feel that many times we end up combining these two entities as trying to achieve the same purpose, when really they aren’t. I believe that as an association, representing native plant growers, we need to take a careful look at the whole picture and the fact that the decision we make could limit the sale of high demand native plants for our membership.
 
We have two distinct disciplines in our association – those growing plants for restoration/creation projects and those who are growing for the landscaping demand (in some cases, these do overlap). This seems to be where the dividing line is among our members on this issue. Cultivars and selections should obviously never be utilized in any restoration or creation projects, but what about in landscapes? I understand and appreciate the argument that these selections could possibly cross-pollinate with endemic plants and have a detrimental impact on the genetic makeup of a localized genotype. Is this an issue that we insist on a ban within our association to not promote the use of these products?
 
I have to agree with David Drylie that the majority of potential sales are located in the landscape segment of our industry. Because of new ordinance requirements, developers are looking for more quality natives to implement into their projects. Just look at the new development going in down the road from you (I’m sure there’s one there) and look at the natives they are planting (I’m not talking bunch grasses and wax myrtles). There really aren’t that many diverse native plants going into these projects. Some of the reasons this isn’t happening is the lack of quality natives, lack of sufficient numbers to supply the demand and lack of uniformity.  I feel that we are losing the battle as a percentage of total landscapes being planted with native plants.
 
 The average consumer demands a quality plant for their landscape, which means uniformity and aesthetic appeal. This will always be a factor in most residential landscaping projects in our state, no matter how we feel about it. We have made many strides to finally get the landscape industry to start accepting natives. One of the advancements has been selecting out native plants that exhibit unique characteristics and that have uniformity.  Let’s not limit our options by adopting a policy that could further detach us from the rest of the landscape industry.
 
The question for us has always been; How can we make native plants fit into the norm of landscapes, but somehow retain ecologically functioning habitats? Good luck! With the current way of landscaping, this is an almost impossible task. This has to be undertaken on a community wide basis of development or it will fail.  We need to bridge the gaps that exist between our view of landscaping and the norm. This will not happen overnight and will be a long time in transition. This needs to be the front line battle that we address as an association promoting the use of native plants. I truly believe that once we are able to “hook” the average consumer with aesthetically pleasing natives, the next step is that they will be open to our ideas and to the ecological benefits of using more natives in their landscapes. We have been dealing with this issue since the start of our association and it is one of the reasons that we started the AFNN.  There are very few developments that are embracing our ideas and the ones who are still demand the uniformity of product.
 
In his response to this issue, Jay Allen makes the point that, “once they (ornamental growers) see the profitability of a native cultivar, they will grow it”. Do we want the ornamental nurseries to be the only ones to promote growing these selections with our members being left out? This is where the growth in plant sales will be within our industry in the coming years. This is obviously going to happen no matter what our opinion is. Should we accept what they will bring to the table or get in with them and educate people on the proper ways to utilize these plants.
 
As an association, we need to decide whether we want to compete on this level or go out on our own and state a position that will limit sales to our potential customers.  My personal opinion is that we need to list and denote the cultivars and selections of natives and let FNPS address the genetics issue in a full page article within the AFNN locator and on our website. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
 
                                                                  Brightman Logan
 
« Last Edit: February 13, 2006, 06:37:13 PM by Cammie Donaldson »

Cammie Donaldson

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Reply #1 on: February 13, 2006, 06:12:05 PM
Amen! If you wish to promote a positive response in the use of natives in an urban environment you need to remember it is an urban environment. The natives performance needs to be one that is aesthetically pleasing for an environment it did not come from. At the rapid growth within the state it would appear there is more urban areas than natural areas. You will be doing the organization a great disservice if you do not promote the use of cultivars in this urban environment.

Cammie Donaldson

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Reply #2 on: February 13, 2006, 06:15:05 PM
As a retailer / landscape member, I agree in total with  Brightman's argument.
Bruce Turley / Wilcox Nursery

Cammie Donaldson

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Reply #3 on: February 13, 2006, 06:15:54 PM
Regarding the discussion of cultivar use and promotion of native plants, I agree with Mr. Logan, that the mission statement of the AFNN clearly states progressive marketing as a goal.  I think it is a good idea to keep the goals of FNPS slightly at odds with for former.  If the growers who comprise these entities can work together, I think it will benefit the acceptance and proliferation of natives being planted, which is the ultimate goal in my mind.  As Ms Kastenholz says, we are now primarily an urban environment, like it or not.  I don't have a problem with cultivars, and in fact enjoy their characteristics as do my customers.  My thanks to both organizations for their tireless efforts.  On the front lines of retail, I can say this:  If the plant is attractive, easy to care for and low maintenance, it will sell, native or not.  So, let's sell more natives, cultivars, or not.  Thanks for your ear, Donna Torrey, The Garden Gate at Sears, Pompano Beach.

Cammie Donaldson

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Reply #4 on: February 13, 2006, 06:34:34 PM
I have to agree as a retailer/landscaper the Walter's Viburnum cultivars have been attractive, and I am assuming this is the main plant we are talking about. I don't sell any others at this time.  Always have got past the Ilex cultivars , azaleas, etc. and until the Walter's Cultivar used only true natives. Which brings us back to our original nursery stock working for the industry.  So where does this leave the landscaper.  We are conforming.  Maybe we need to truly look at our landscape designs and customers and remember our original goals to not have a sterile look but a more natural Florida appeal.  Promote honestly and move toward a landscape that does not require watering,  fertilizing and yes,  cultivars!  It was our nurserymen that introduced them. We could phase them out.

May be we should add to our organizations goals that we need to be truly  honest when promoting them.

Sharon/ Maple Street Natives

POSTING EDITOR's NOTE: Walter's viburnum cultivars are promoted in the directory and meet the requirements of AFNN's current policy, which is that they originate within the state's boundaries. When I responded to Sharon and clarified that the issue was cultivars that originate outside of the state, such as Little Gem Magnolia (originated in South Carolina) or Ilex schillings (Lousiana), Sharon's response was:

Well, then I don't see that we need to use or promote them.  Sharon/ Maple Street Natives

Cammie Donaldson

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Reply #5 on: February 14, 2006, 08:58:51 AM
I agree totally with Brightman. In our nursery we grow over 25 named native culitvars and are very sucessfull marketing them all over the southeast.   JIM

Bill Bissett

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Reply #6 on: February 19, 2006, 09:14:15 PM
The issue is not whether or not to list cultivars of native species, the issue is whether to list cultivars of native plant species developed from genetic material found outside the political boundary of Florida.  We need to be sure we understand what that means.  If we accept the latter, AFNN would have no choice but to list cultivars of Ilex opaca from new Jersey and Wayside Gardens Georgia.  AFNN would have no choice but to list Cyrilla racemiflora from Granitville S.C. and potentially from as far flung as the West Indies and  Brazil. We would have no choice but to list cultivars of Rudbeckia hirta with names like" Bambi" and "Double Gloriosa" from as far away as British Columbia. 

To be sure, any AFNN member nursery can offer any plant for sale, native to Florida or not.  Any member nursery can advertize those plants in at least half  dozen other plant marketing listing services.

The AFNN Plant & Service Directory has been the ONLY exclusive listing source for plants native to the political (however arbitrary that might be) confines of Florida.  That is a very important standard to many in the Environmental Consulting, Florida Environmental Ageny, Landscape Architecture, Restoration, and Landscape fields.  It is certainy important to our friends in FNPS.  Do we really want to betray that trust?

Bill Bissett

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Reply #7 on: February 20, 2006, 07:50:30 AM
The "Fmailliw" of last post translates to

Bill Bissett

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Reply #8 on: February 20, 2006, 07:55:48 AM
As I started to say - The "Fmailliw" of the last post translates to:  William F. Bissett ASLA, The Natives Inc,

And the post should have ended with:

"Respectfully submitted"