Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Lawn Guy With a Mission: Out & About with AOLCP Fred Holdsworth

By Kathy Litchfield

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Fred Holdsworth has always been a lawn guy. He also doesn't beat around the bush -- he says what he means and suggests his customers find someone else if they desire the fast effects of chemical weed killers and fertilizers.

“Many clients just don’t have the patience for organics. I’m honest with people and don’t try to fabricate anything or tell them something will work when I know it probably won’t,” he said. “Most clients I work with have mostly green lawns but they haven’t ever done anything. Very rarely do I have chemical lawns transitioning to organic. Depending on their expectations and budget, I tell them it’ll take a couple of years and here’s what we can do.”

Practicality has served Holdsworth well over the years. As a youngster, he worked with his Italian immigrant grandfather in the wealthy Villanova area, landscaping people’s yards and planting vegetable gardens.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Native Plants at Earthtones Nursery in Woodbury, CT by Jenna Messier

Lisa and Kyle Turoczi, owners of Earthtones Native Plant Nursery and Landscaping, gave our NOFA group a tour of their lush and lovely nursery which is snugly nestled among the hills of Woodbury, CT on a 68-acre parcel of land.  The couple are committed to improving the native habitat of Connecticut by producing high-quality native plants for various ecosystems such as wetlands, meadow, forest, and coastal to name a few.
Kyle in front of post and beam barn
Lisa speaking about biodiversity

Long term nursery bed up to 3 years
Ten years ago, they decided to start this nursery when they could not find an ample supply of these beautiful native plants to purchase and use on their landscaping and habitat restoration jobs. Today, their work and commitment has paid off, with hundreds of species being carefully and artfully cultivated on site.  Lisa told the group how they have studied and practiced various propagation techniques, some of which take 3 years to complete. To create new young plants, you have to have the patience of mother nature, whether it is reproducing nut trees which need stratification or ferns which come from spores.
Ostrich Ferns
Cold frame with babies
Deb Legge next to bog habitat

We witnessed the harmony of nature at Earthtones, first passing beaver dams in a pond along the driveway, secondly watching a butterfly swooping around the trees, and most notably when we saw a turtle laying its eggs. Lisa and Kyle believe in working with nature and never spraying pesticides, which encourages both beneficial insects and birds which can keep harmful insect populations in check. Kyle, as a wetland scientist, really loves creating bogs and cultivating wetland species.  Below is a lovely pitcher plant, which is a carnivorous species. On the right, Deb is sitting in front of the bog with a 12 year old larch tree along the back edge, sweet ferns on the hillside, and milkweed at her feet.
Pitcher plant

When asked what is "hot" in natives this year, both Lisa and Kyle answered - MILKWEED!  I am pleased to hear that public awareness is growing in regards to the decline in the monarch butterfly population and now "everyone and their brother" wants to buy milkweed plugs! Well, Earthtones is currently sold out and Kyle wanted to remind everyone that monarchs eat other plants, too. Butterfly weed Asclepias tuberosa is a beautiful plant and is welcomed by monarchs and gardeners alike with its brilliant orange flowers. 
Butterfly weed

You truly need to visit Earthtones to appreciate the quantity of native species available and their unique attributes of beauty and function. You can check out their species list online at   Lisa and Kyle give public talks, have landscaping services and are more than happy to "talk shop" with plant enthusiasts.  They offer plants in containers and plugs. By using more native species, we encourage biodiversity, provide food and habitat for our pollinators, and create low-maintenance landscapes which are lovely and enjoyable for all.
Baby Yarrow plants
Plugs are available    they hand collect the seed to cultivate dogwoods