It Gets Better Every Year.

Friday, April 12, 1996

A Success.
After working our collective asss off for over three weeks in preparation, last Saturday's social event, aka Open House, was a success for the 6th time. Lots (an arbitrary figure) of people came to listen to Vivaldi by The York Symphony's String Quartet, sip graceful wines from a local vintner's cellars, and nibble on fine cheese pizza. Being a newly-converted vegetarian, I ate the pizza. But the wine was too tempting and I caved. Isn't wine made from grapes and aren't grapes fruit and isn't fruit....? I knew that.
The threat of more snow tomorrow didn't dampen spirits too much; everyone was chomping at the bit to get out and play in the dirt. Many familiar faces that I couldn't put names to showed up. Official attendance came in at 1,753 which was down from last year slightly. My scheduling of this event at Easter was probably responsible for the slight drop; most people were indoor, family and Holiday-oriented now and had listened carefully to the forecast. But it was suprising just how many people did bring their families and friends. I was glad to see them all. Everyone had a great time.

The Snow Wasn't Needed.
Sunday morning we got hammered again. Three inches of snow fell and it continued most of Sunday, dampening the Easter Holiday somewhat. Another inch-plus fell on Sunday evening. Luckily, it didn't stick to the roads; just to everything else causing a mess and inconvenience for almost everyone. The dire predictions of significant accumulations passed as the brunt of the nor'easter moved off the east coast and out into the Atlantic Ocean. Thanks for that at least. Sorry to hear Boston got 8+ inches.

I'm Impressed This Season.
This year, the quality and quantity of specimen nursery stock is awesome. Customers are stunned at the size of trees that I've brought-in for them. At the recent Open House, I overheard many people talking about the wonderful varieties and sizes of nursery stock we have this year. We've always had the varieties; we're well-known for that. But the 3-4-5-6" caliper trees and large B&B shrubs are the first in 6 years. I've always advocated initial size over 'fast growing' as the best investment one can make in their home's landscape. I can't remember our vendors ever supplying the quality they have this year. The truckloads of nursery stock are most impressive. I'm a tough judge of quality. If I professionally don't like the plant material items, we don't sell them here, regardless of who wants it or how many ask for them. Period. They're free to go elsewhere and get taken for a ride. Yes, I do impose my standards of quality upon others; it's my personal effort to banish the garbage and upgrade others to quality. This year, I'm very pleased with what we're offering and have no reservations about recommending anything.
In the last two weeks, we've unloaded 14 tractor trailer loads of nursery stock from Oregon, Tenessee, Kentucky, New Jersey, Texas and Northern California. On Monday, there were four trucks waiting when I arrived at 5:30am. I had barely enough time to drink some coffee, warm-up the John Deere 675B SkidLoader and start unloading by myself; the crews clock-in at 7am. Fortunately, my landscape foreman came early and pitched in to help get the first truck unloaded. These truck drivers have schedules to keep with deliveries to many nurseries, so helping them get back onto the road keeps them from getting cranky. And who needs a cranky truck driver at 6am? Not me, pal.
If there was a key word that could best describe our quality educational effort this year, it would be 'specimen'. By this, I mean that each year we carry more and more large plant material for use in landscape jobs and for retail sales. These are considered Specimen Grade. I'm 46 now and at the point where I don't have the time to wait for little trees and shrubs to grow-up. I want instant satisfaction and immediate gratification in a landscape. The ads that I write point this out to the buying public. And the response is overwhelming each spring and fall; hundreds of people buying large trees instead of "fast growing" little ones. I don't carry "fast growing" trees; they're brittle junk and would seriously damage my reputation for outspoken honesty in the industry. Other sub-standard garden centers and nurserys do carry Bradford Pears, Lombardy and Hybrid Poplars, species red and silver maples; all junk trees. Don't ever buy them. And don't frequent any place who sells them. If you buy any of these five bad trees, you'll be sorry in a few years. Not convinced because all the neighbors have one or two of these trees? Read this sage advice on the plain truth about "the five worst trees you can buy".

A Shame.
Several of the large specimens that we've just gotten in will be used to replace older trees damaged by the recent ice storm. It'll take a while for them to catch-up to their now deceased older siblings, which I brought in with an 80 inch tree spade six years ago. But they're large enough that I won't be in a retirement community with a drool bucket taped to my chin when they do grow up.

Pitfalls Of Progress.
Every spring, the calls come in with people telling me that some plant or another "is dead"; when actually it's either still dormant or just recovering from a brutal winter beating. So I do the obligatory go-look-see routine and, sure enough it's either one or the other. But usually not dead. The customer eventually sees I'm correct, as soon as the plant revives upon the arrival of warmer (55F+) ground temperatures and sunny weather. Occasionally, the plant didn't make it and we'll replace it quickly with another of the same variety so their landscape is always complete and healthy.

No Let Up.
After a warm, sunny Monday we heard on the NOAA Web Weather Page that Tuesday would see another snowstorm roll through. It did, making things miserable for all of us. The additional 4-5" of wet snow didn't stick to the streets or sidewalks, but it did attach itself to everything else. Sure, it was pretty but unnecessary at this point.

More Memory.
My friend, Pete Barry from Manchester Industries, Inc., York, PA. (717-764-6793) came over Thursday morning with another 16Meg of RAM for my 586 Pentium PC; now there's 96Meg banging around inside and hopefully enough to keep me from crashing while running all the animated gifs and JavaScript applets. Manchester Industries is one of those companies which, when you find a place of this high caliber, you stay with as a supplier. Good, honest, friendly people, with leading-edge products and fair prices. Richard Rinehart is top honcho, Geral Rogers is vice-honcho, Jeff Mohler runs the shop, John Crum and Steve Miller do sales, Pete and Brian Doll are master-technicians and Luann Cunningham is the software guru-ette. Sure, you could buy from a computer catalog and save 1-2%, but whom do you call when you need service or an upgrade? Some nameless, faceless gnome on an 800# who can't even plug-in a toaster? Think again.
The good news is that memory (RAM) is still coming down in price: it's about $30 per Meg now; down from $50 per Meg in 1995. Nice. Now if someone can just make floppy-disk drives faster!

Checking Your Page's Spelling.
While writing some of the Journal entries, I noticed that there was no spell checker in the web editor I use, HotDogPro. So I looked around the Web and found WebSter Spell Checker Page. Just type in your URL and it finds those nasty little typos. One word of caution; it is very smart, but doesn't recognize abbreviations, anagrams, initials, JavaScript, Java and other anomalies. So be sure not to freak if you get back a list of items it can't decipher; just make sure you know what they mean.

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