While the still-being-constructed World Trade Towers signify closure and new beginnings for many, there were other signs of life around that area – trees. And the maintenance of those trees has been done by Bartlett Tree Experts.
The company became involved with the project in the summer of 2007, and since then has been responsible for every facet of care for the 500 trees. Wayne Dubin, Bartlett vice-president/division manager refers to the trees as "the world's most cared for trees" because of the high amount of attention they've received.
"We have a board certified master arborist who is out in the field monitoring these trees on average four days a week," Dubin says.
"We are sampling the water throughout the course of the season through the irrigation system, and we're sampling soil and custom blending fertilizer for each tree based on the origin of the tree from a nursery standpoint because they all have different soil profiles."
About 220 of the trees were planted in time for the ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The company has been caring for the trees at the holding yard for four years, and the planted trees at the 9/11 plaza since August of last year. About 40 of the trees will be planted in Shanksville, Pa., where United Flight 93 crashed.
The trees are a single species, swamp white oak, which Dubin says was selected because "it's a tough tree and it doesn't have any meaningful insect or disease problems, and it was felt that it would be very adaptable to an urban environment." The only tree that will be on the plaza other than the oaks is the "Survivor Tree," a Bradford Pear that survived the Sept. 11 attacks, he says.
The company also installed moisture sensors in 25 percent of the trees' root balls in the holding yard, and those sensors reported back to a computer and monitored which root balls were becoming dry.
"Those sensors provide us with historical data in terms of soil temperature and soil moisture levels for all of the trees over the course of the four years they've been under our care at the holding yard," Dubin says.
Bartlett also has an online log that they're required to keep so that the owners and people close to the project can go on any time and look up the history of any particular tree in terms of its performance.
"The level of sophistication – we made sure that we did things that we wouldn't normally have done to ensure that the trees were getting the very finest care," he says.
"It's a great honor to be associated with a project where we can help people get some peace from a tragedy that for all of us as Americans was unspeakable and unimaginable," Dubin says.
The author is an associate editor with Lawn & Landscape. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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I've always thought of the fall as the real start of the year. Here in Ohio, you can't really tell the difference between the cold, dark time of December and the cold, dark time of January, so New Year's has never felt like much of a time of change.
The fall, for me, has always been a time to start new things. I got married in the fall. My two daughters were born in the fall, and the oldest just started kindergarten. It's a time of fresh starts, new projects and big changes.
But these changes haven't always been good. This fall marks the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. This summer, I attended a talk from Richard Picciotto, commander of the 11th battalion of the New York City Fire Department. Picciotto has the honor to have evacuated the World Trade Center twice – first in 1993 and again in 2001.
I watched the live coverage 10 years ago, glued to the television with everyone else in the country, but to see the devastation again and hear Picciotto describe the sheer horror he saw brought it all back, and then some.
I have a cousin in the Marines, and several friends in other branches of the military. I support what they do, but if I had my way, I'd have them stateside and not getting shot at in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Capt. Picciotto's message this summer was simple: After the Sept. 11 attacks, the country came together to heal, repair and fight back. Since then, we've lost a lot of that feeling, he said. He's right.
Sept. 11 was a lot of things to a lot of people, but for me, it's always been a reminder of how short life can be. You never know what will happen or how the course of global events can impact your daily life. We can't change what happened 10 years ago, but we can change and improve what we do tomorrow.
So take some time this fall and see what you can start to improve – not just your own space, but that of those around you.
It's an uncertain world, and whether it's yourself, your family or your business, the next few months can be a time of great changes. I hope they're all for the best.
See my video blog at www.lawnandlandscape.com.
Swingle sees early increase in holiday lighting sales
In the months of June and July, Swingle's lead requests were up 50 percent and sold work was up more than 10 percent.
The company's marketing pieces have generated leads, and many of those resulted in sales made earlier than last year, said President John Gibson, who attributed the jump in activity to a mix of heightened focus on the company's part and clients' interests in holiday displays.
"We don't usually see quite this much volume this early in the year," said Tom Tolkacz, CEO of Swingle. "Businesses are seeing the benefits of custom lighting displays and many are under increased pressure to set themselves apart during the competitive holiday season."
A percentage of Swingle's increased sales have come from lighting themed around Halloween, special events taking place in the fall and even scheduling and design for the residential sector. Swingle's award-winning outdoor holiday lighting displays include Blossoms of Light and Trail of Lights for the Denver Botanic Gardens.
"Consumer interest and acumen in commercial lighting displays has grown commensurate with their popularity," said Swingle's Director of Sales and Marketing Aaron Dennis. "Our lift in bid requests is principally from townships, cities and retail shopping centers seeking to give shoppers a reason to come to visit their merchants and to refer others to do so as well.
"The overall increased use and established success of professional holiday decor as a marketing tactic means expanded displays and increased customization from our existing customers, and new market entry from businesses and organizations who, to date, have done it themselves but now are lost among the larger, more prominent and more striking professional displays." – Carolyn LaWell
The EPA continues to investigate whether the incidents of browning and curling is the result of product misuse, inadequate warning and use directions on the product's label, persistence in soil and plant material or other possible causes.
DuPont, which is also investigating the matter, started a return and refund program and set up a hotline and website in order for consumers to report problems.
In a letter to consumers announcing the sales suspension, DuPont's Global Business Leader, Michael McDermott, said, "We sincerely regret any tree injuries that Imprelis may have caused, and will work with you and all of our customers to promptly and fairly resolve problems associated with our product."
The product return and refund program cover all partial containers and all pack sizes of Imprelis.
The hotline (866-796-4783) and website (imprelis-facts.com) offer additional sources for Imprelis updates and allow consumers to report problems they've encountered after using the product.
DuPont's efforts and the investigations are in response to reports of, according to DuPont, injuries to Norway spruce and white pine trees in the Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Wisconsin geographic band. McDermott said that the company has engaged with 20 independent, certified arborist companies to work with anyone who has claimed damage from the product.
Multiple lawsuits have been filed against DuPont, charging that the company was negligent or reckless in putting a new weed killer on the market.
"We had a couple of offers, but unfortunately we ran out of money before the prospective buyers could finish their due diligence," said Alan Goldberg, who joined the company in March as its chief restructuring officer. "The company has ceased operations and is in the process of closing down."
The company's last day of operation was Aug. 5. At the time, it had about 500 employees, Goldberg said.
About a dozen employees remain with the company and the legal process of officially closing could take six months to a year, said Goldberg, who also owns Crisis Management, Inc.
"A lot of employees have gone with the companies that have taken over some of our jobs," Goldberg said, adding one of those companies is Terra Bella, a construction company based in Jupiter, Fla.
Vila & Son was heavily reliant on the construction market, in addition to offering maintenance, irrigation, tree care and lighting services.
"That's tough on a company," Goldberg said to Lawn & Landscape in July. "Construction, mainline construction, went down and landscape construction went down."
According to Lawn & Landscape's Top 100 list, Vila & Son posted revenue of $62.5 million in 2008, $53.8 million in 2009 and $45.9 million in 2010. This year, Vila & Son ranked 18th on the list of the largest companies in the industry.
In a letter to customers dated Aug. 5, Juan Carlos Vila, who founded the company in 1984, said "After 28 years of doing business in the landscaping industry we have had the opportunity to create meaningful relationships through our commitment to do whatever it takes to earn the loyalty of our customers and employees. This commitment has been tested by financial distress; we have worked closely with the bank and other entities to keep Vila & Son providing services to those who, like you, have trusted us with the honor to serve you.
"We did everything we could to stay in business, but today Vila & Son had to stop operating."
Goldberg said Vila is no longer with the company. – Carolyn LaWell
The company has brought on nearly two dozen franchisees during the past 12 months and currently operates in all 48 contiguous states.
The newest group of franchisees recently completed training at U.S. Lawns' home office in Orlando. The training consisted of classroom and field training in all areas of commercial landscape management. U.S. Lawns regional franchise advisers were assigned to each new franchisee and will work closely with the owners during the start-up months and provide ongoing, one-on-one training in both business planning and agronomics.
"These new franchisees are crucial additions in our efforts to create the nation's top commercial landscape-management network," said Ken Hutcheson, U.S. Lawns president. "As with all our franchisees, we will continue to mentor and support them as they grow and provide the outstanding commercial landscape-management services U.S. Lawns is known for nationwide."
U.S. Lawns' new franchisees are:
The discovery was made in Richmond, Va., when two Bartlett Tree Experts arborists noticed decline and dieback symptoms consistent with the disease on a group of black walnuts on a client's property.
"Knowing how important rapid detection and communication of the disease would be to help prevent its spread, we immediately contacted our Plant Diagnostic Clinic," said Alan Jones, an arborist and division manager at Bartlett Tree Experts. "With their help in collecting samples from the declining trees, a positive identification was made quickly."
According to the VDACS, Thousand Cankers is caused by a fungus that is vectored by the walnut twig beetle. Adult beetles bore through the bark and deposit eggs. As the larvae hatch, they tunnel through the tree, introducing the fungus and causing cankers under the bark.
The result is branch dieback, decline and eventual death of the tree.
Effective controls for the disease have not been developed.
>>Continual care: Bartlett Tree Experts cares for the trees that will be planted in the plaza of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. See the story on pg. 80.
The display gardens at Four Star are a stop on the Michigan Garden Tour, a coordinated open house of leading young plant growers across southern Michigan. Guests were able to explore the display gardens on their own or with the guidance of the new Display Garden Coordinator Pat Siebel. More than 20 in-ground landscape beds feature the new Proven Winners and Proven Selections plants for 2012.
A tour was also available of the greenhouse facilities and growing operation.
Stacey Hirvela from Spring Meadow Nursery presented a talk on "Ten shrubs that are better than what your competition uses – but won't take you out of your (or your customer's) comfort zone." She explained why ColorChoice varieties of plants widely used in the landscaping are a better choice – habit, flowers, seedless, disease resistance.
Peterson will report to Michael J. Hoffman, chairman and CEO, and succeeds Stephen P. Wolfe, who will be retiring after more than 25 years with the company.
Peterson, 50, joins Toro from Eaton Corp. There she most recently served as vice president, finance and planning for that company's truck and automotive segments, which had revenues of nearly $4 billion over the past 12 months.
"Renee's extensive financial leadership experience in global businesses and proven track record in process improvements and cost controls will serve us well as we drive profitable revenue growth," Hoffman said.