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SNA News

Welcome to SNA's News Center – designed to provide you with timely and relevant information about the Southern Nursery Association, press releases and industry news alerts.
  • 07 Jan 2014 2:54 PM | Karen Summers (Administrator)

    The SNA Research Conference has enjoyed over 50 years of success. This success can be attributed to the enthusiastic support of the conference by the nursery industry and university research and extension professionals. 

    An integral part of the conference is the role of Section Editors. These individuals receive initial manuscript submissions to the conference, review them for appropriateness and editorial quality, and coordinate final submissions with authors. To provide continuity in the research conference, Section Editors serve SNA in three-year terms. In addition to providing a needed service to the SNA, being a section editor keeps you abreast of the latest research in your field and provides the opportunity to enhance your professional network. 


    We are currently seeking section editors in the topic areas listed below. Please consider serving as an editor. If you would like to volunteer your services, have questions concerning an editor’s role, or questions about the SNA Research Conference, please contact SNA ( or Nick Gawel (  


    Section Editors are needed for:


    Container Grown Plant Production

    Economics and Marketing

    Engineering, Structures and Innovations


    Field Production


    Growth Regulators 


    Plant Breeding and Evaluation


    Weed Control

    The 59th Annual SNA Research Conference will be held July 22 - 23, 2014 in conjunction with SNA 2014 at the Georgia International Convention Center, College Park, GA. For more details on the conference visit the SNA website at or CLICK HERE.
  • 07 Jan 2014 10:57 AM | Karen Summers (Administrator)
    Frances Panter Hobbs
    January 29, 1925 - January 5, 2014

    McMinnville, TN resident and Warren County, TN native Sarah Frances Panter Hobbs, age 88, was born January 29, 1925 and died January 5, 2014 at St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro, TN following a brief illness.

    Mrs. Hobbs was the co-founder of Warren County Nursery and bookkeeper for 63 years. She was named Tennessee Nurseryman Association's honorary life-time member. She was an avid bowler and member of the Gold and Silver League, and was also named as a Woman of Achievement in 2006. She was a life-time member of the Hebron Church of Christ.

    Mrs. Hobbs was the daughter of the late Art and Alma Clendenon Panter. She was married June 29, 1946 to Leslie Richard Hobbs who preceded her in death July 19, 2003. In addition to her husband and parents, she was preceded in death by siblings, Lovisia Harris and Billy Panter.

    She is survived by five children and their spouses, Richard and Kaye Hobbs, Michael and Margaret Hobbs, Phillip and Denny Hobbs, Jeffery and Tina Hobbs, and Elaine and Steve Wade all of McMinnville; fourteen grandchildren and spouses, Ricky Hobbs, Chris and Desiree Hobbs, Brandie and Mike Mansfield, Kristy and Mark Wright, Ashley and Adam Barnes, Jennifer Hobbs, Kyle Hobbs, Jason Hobbs, Derek and Ashley Hobbs, Emily and Davey Britton, Megan and Jon Paz, Travis Hoover, Grant Hoover, and Noah Hoover; ten great-grandchildren, Trey Hobbs and wife Shelby, Chance Hobbs, Mia Hobbs, Carter Mansfield, Lauren Mansfield, Ian Barnes, Elliot Barnes, Natalie Hobbs, Alec Hobbs and Felicity Buttram; great-great-granddaughter, Keleigh Hobbs; sister, Jo Eva Davis of McMinnville; sister-in-law, Willie Mae Carr of Altamont, TN; and several nieces and nephews also survive.

    Funeral service will be held at 1:00 p.m. Thursday, January 9, 2014 at Hebron Church of Christ with Chris Perry and Wayne Cantrell officiating. Burial will follow in Hebron Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 3:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Wednesday and from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. Thursday at High's.

    Memorial donations may be made to Hebron Cemetery Fund, Tennessee Nursery & Landscape Association or the American Diabetes Association.
  • 02 Jan 2014 9:33 AM | Karen Summers (Administrator)
    After some weakness in mid-2013 the homebuilding recovery now seems to be back on track.
    According to USA Today, housing starts rose almost 23% in November 2013, their highest level in more than five years and further demonstrating the housing market's growing strength. 

    This is not necessarily a national resurgence as various markets came out of the housing recession earlier while others still lag behind. One such area is the Atlanta housing market which has shown a slower recovery than markets such as Austin, Houston, and Phoenix. According to Metrostudy’s proprietary “boots on the ground” third quarter 2013 field research, Atlanta new home starts increased by 76% annually, and closings were up by 37% in 2013. Third quarter quarterly starts were up by 71% year over year and even increased above last quarter by 10%. Quarterly new home closings were up by 46% year over year and jumped above the previous quarters closings by 19%.

    David Ellis, executive vice president of the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association
    says, "While the final numbers for single family home starts in 2013 are not yet in, it is expected to be nearly 14,000 units, up from 8,000 in 2012. Projections for 2014 are in the 18,000 to 22,000 range. Right now, our builder members are having a hard time keeping up with the demand," he added. Ellis explained that with the increase in home starts there are several challenges builders are facing to get their operations going. Unlike pre-recession times, contractors are not building spec homes. It is a build-on-demand environment due to bank funding and building loan restrictions as well as avoiding an over supply of inventory. In addition, they are dealing with a diminished number of sub-contractors, laborers and suppliers.

    So what does this mean for the our industry? With this housing market resurgence the nursery industry is certain to see a resurgence as well. However, trends seen in the housing industry normally impact our industry 12 to 18 months downstream. 

    Dr. Charlie Hall, industry economist, poses the questions that just because some economic indicators are back to where they were before the recession, it that necessarily a good thing? Well it depends. In his Charlie's Angle Season 3 session titled "Look Out for the Pothole" he shares his perspective and suggestions for positioning your business for the expected "pothole" in the road ahead. Although some adjustments (or corrections) are predicted mid-year 2014, he says it will be nowhere near the downturn we saw during the Great Recession. This correction will mainly stem from the drawdown anticipated by the Federal Reserve who is currently injecting 85 billion dollars a month into the economy - a big shot in the arm. Hall suggests that around 2018 or 2019 when they begin drawing this economic support back we may see the next sizable recession, but in the interim we will see modest growth. For a look at this informative video go to

    Housing Growth Reports and Resources

    USA Today
    Nov. housing starts highest since Feb. 2008
    Housing starts rose almost 23% last month, touching their highest level in more than five years and further demonstrating the housing market's growing strength. Housing starts hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million undefined topping October's revised estimate of 889,000 undefined and rising about 30% from the year before, the Commerce Department reported. November's rate was the highest since February 2008 and marked only the second month in the past four years that the annual rate cracked the 1 million mark. Single-family home starts reached their highest level since March 2008 at 727,000 undefined still far below normal undefined but up almost 21% above the revised October figure. READ MORE

    U.S. housing starts surged to their highest in nearly six years in November
    U.S. housing starts surged to their highest in nearly six years in November, a sign of strength in the economy that underscores the Federal Reserve's decision to start cutting back its monthly bond purchases. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday housing starts jumped 22.7 percent, the biggest increase since January 1990, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million units. That was the highest level since February 2008. READ MORE

    November Housing Starts Up 22.7% To Five-Year High
    Groundbreaking on new homes was 26.9% higher in November than one year earlier, and 22.7% higher than in October, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday, indicating that the housing market continues to recover. READ MORE

    Wall Street Journal
    US Housing Starts Up 22.7% in November
    A key gauge of home construction surged in November to its highest level in nearly six years, the latest sign of renewed momentum in the sector's recovery. U.S. housing starts rose 22.7% from October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,091,000 in November, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was higher than the 952,000 forecast by economists and brought the average pace of starts for the past three months to 951,000. READ MORE

    BuildingOnline eUpdate
    Overall Housing Starts Jump 23 Percent in November
    Privately-owned housing starts in November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,091,000, according to numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The figure is 22.7 percent above the revised October estimate of 889,000 and is 29.6 percent above the November 2012 rate of 842,000. Single-family housing starts in November were at a rate of 727,000; this is 20.8 percent above the revised October figure of 602,000. The November rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 354,000. READ MORE

    MetroStudyReport - Atlanta Market
    The Atlanta New Home Market Continues to Accelerate
    The temporary Federal government shutdown will prevent September employment figures from being released until November 21st but as of August, Atlanta employment grew by 57,100 new positions year over year (up 2.4%) and currently ranks as the fifth best MSA in the country in terms of annual employment gains. The biggest gains were in the construction sector, up a whopping 9.2%! “It’s no surprise that construction jobs jumped by such a large percentage since new home construction starts rose significantly as well, up 71% in the third quarter compared to the same period one year ago,” said Eugene James, Regional Director for Metrostudy, a national housing intelligence and consulting firm that maintains the most extensive primary database on residential construction in the US housing market. READ MORE

  • 02 Jan 2014 7:38 AM | Karen Summers (Administrator)
    USPS Rolls Out Increases This Month. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), the governing body that approves U.S. Postal Service rate increases, has approved a special "exigent" rate increase for USPS market dominant products. When the new Postal Service Shipping Services prices take effect, customers will see an overall price increase of 2.4 percent. How will these new rate increases impact your business?

    Market dominant products include First Class Mail letters, First Class Mail flats/large envelopes, postcards, Standard Mail (bulk mail), periodicals, Media Mail and Library Mail. Don't miss the discount for METERED mail.

    2014 USPS Postage Rates
    Market Dominant Mail Classes

     MAILPIECE  2013  2014  CHANGE
     First Class Mail - 1 oz. letter  $  0.46  $  0.49  $ 0.03
     First Class Mail - 1 oz. letter
     Printed from Online Postage/Meter
      N/A  $ 0.48  NEW!
     First Class Mail - Letters
     Additional Ounces
     $ 0.20  $ 0.21  $ 0.01
     Postcards  $ 0.33  $ 0.34  $ 0.01
     First Class Mail - Flat/Large Envelope
     $ 0.92  $ 0.98  $ 0.06
     First Class Mail - Flat/Large Envelope
     Additional Ounces
     $ 0.20  $ 0.21  $ 0.01
     Media Mail  - 1 lb.  Starts at $2.53  Starts at $2.69  $ 0.16
     Library Mail - 1 lb.  Starts at $2.40  Starts at $2.56  $ 0.16
     First Class Mail International - 1 oz. letter  $1.10  $1.15  $ 0.05

    The new rates will go into effect on Sunday, January 26, 2014.

    For more details of the increase see the article on website or CLICK HERE.

    For direct USPS announcement CLICK HERE.
  • 01 Jan 2014 7:32 AM | Karen Summers (Administrator)
    For the green industry, the new year gets off to a busy start as the winter trade show circuit begins at National Green Centre on January 5 - 6 in Kansas City, MO and ends at SCHI on February 5 - 7 in Myrtle Beach, SC. With ten shows over a five week period within the SNA region, it's a fast track that leads us into the spring season.

    Winter Trade Shows Quick View:

     State    Event  Location
     MO  JAN 05-06  National Green Centre  Kansas City, MO
     MD/VA/WV  JAN 08-10  MANTS  Baltimore, MD
     NC  JAN 13-17  Green & Growin' Show  Greensboro, NC
     TN  JAN 17-18  Tennessee Green Industry Expo  Nashville, TN
     AR  JAN 22-23  PLANTS 2014  Hot Springs, AR
     GA  JAN 22-24  WinterGreen 2014  Duluth, GA
     FL  JAN 22-24  TPIE  Ft. Lauderdale, FL
     KY  JAN 23-24  Kentucky Landscape Industries Expo  Louisville, KY
     AL/LA/MS  JAN 29-31  Gulf States Horticultural Expo  Mobile, AL
     SC  FEB 05-07  SCHI Trade Show & Seminars  Myrtle Beach, SC

    With housing and general market conditions showing improvement this new year will be a year of rebound. Will there be a plant supply shortage in 2014 as predicted by some industry experts? Only time will tell, but there will certainly be some market correction along the way.

    For a complete list of state events see the Industry Events link on the SNA website home page. If you're attending GGIA's WinterGreen 2014, scheduled for January 23-24 in Duluth, GA, or the Gulf State Horticultural Expo, scheduled for January 30-31 in Mobile, AL, be sure to stop by the SNA booth. We hope to see you somewhere along the trail!
  • 20 Nov 2013 9:28 AM | Karen Summers (Administrator)

    The Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship Fund has announced the names of twelve students from eight southeastern universities chosen to receive academic scholarships this year. The $1,500 awards, totaling $18,000, were presented to:

    Jared Barnes – North Carolina State University

    Jamie Felipe – Auburn University

    Lauren Gragg – North Carolina State University

    Laura Kaderabek – North Carolina State University

    Daniel Leonard – University of Florida at Milton (Dr. James & Faye Foret Scholarship)

    Julienne NeSmith – University of Florida

    David Roberts – North Carolina State University (Robert L. VanLandingham Scholarship)

    James Rockwell – Virginia Tech (Art & Millie Lancaster Scholarship)

    Andrew Scruggs – North Carolina State University

    Kimberly Shearer - North Carolina State University

    Kevin Trostel – Middle Tennessee State University

    Sanford Wooten – North Carolina State University

    Scholarship recipients are determined through a competitive application process, administered by a selection committee, based on academics, determination, demonstrated interest in the horticulture industry, and financial need. This year’s recipients were chosen from a pool of nearly 30 well-qualified applicants.

    “Congratulations to this exemplary group of students who have excelled academically and demonstrated determination and a passion for horticulture,” said Danny Summers, Executive Vice President of the fund. “These scholarship awards will help lighten their financial load as they pursue their careers and I am confident each of these students will make an effective and positive contribution to our industry. I look forward to seeing their accomplishments as they complete their studies,” he added.

    To date, a total of $437,500 has been awarded since the fund was established. The fund’s current assets are now more than $800,000. Seven named funds have been pledged: the Carolina Weed Science Fund, the Dr. James & Faye Foret Fund, the Richard J. “Dick” Hackney Fund, Sr. Fund, the Lee C. Howell Fund, the Arthur A. “Buck” Jones Fund, the Art & Millie Lancaster Fund, and the Robert L. VanLandingham Fund. The financial support offered by the fund has allowed many students the opportunity to begin or continue to work toward their educational goals.

    Created in 1989 by the Southern Nursery Association (SNA), The Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship Endowment Fund is a 501 (c) 3 corporation providing scholarships to students in sixteen southeastern states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia – pursuing a career in horticulture. The scholarship is dedicated to one of the most honored horticultural leaders, the late Sidney B. Meadows, who was an avid supporter of student scholarships and believed that providing aid for students was an important way to ensure the growth and development of all facets of the industry.

    The fund derives its income from individual and corporate contributions and is governed by the Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship Endowment Fund board of directors.

    Applications for 2014 scholarships will be available on the fund’s website ( in early January. Those interested in receiving scholarship information or the latest fund news can subscribe to the automated information system on the fund’s website.

    More information on the 2013 scholarship recipients can be found at For more information on the Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship Endowment Fund forward your inquiry to PO Box 801513, Acworth, GA 30101, 678.813.1880, or visit

  • 19 Nov 2013 4:02 PM | Karen Summers (Administrator)

    The Southern Nursery Association (SNA) announced today that the proceedings of the 58th Annual SNA Research Conference Proceedings has been compiled and is now available online at This 343 page proceedings is searchable, downloadable and printable, and is provided free to the industry.

    The 2013 proceedings includes thirteen sections of the latest horticultural research on Container Grown Plant Production, Economics and Marketing, Engineering, Structures and Innovations, Entomology, Field Production, Floriculture, Growth Regulators, Landscape, Plant Pathology and Nematology, Plant Breeding and Evaluation, Plant Propagation, Water Management, and Weed Control. Sixty-one titles were presented by 174 authors from 15 states and Mexico. A complete list of titles can be found in the Covers and Introduction section, page viii.

    The SNA Research Conference, which began in 1956, provides a forum for horticultural researchers to communicate relevant and recent research findings to the industry. Its origin cannot be traced to any one individual, but the roots were planted by several SNA board members that recognized the need to consolidate duplicate research programs throughout the region. From an informal effort of compiling papers gathered from several horticultural research centers and assembled and printed, this two-day conference is held annually and has become world-renowned for quality research. Participants are the top horticultural research and educational leaders from across the county. Hundreds of topics in thirteen categories are shared in presentations that run approximately seven minutes each. A printed agenda and the conference format permits selection of research topics of special interest for those interested in attending. All industry members are invited to attend.

    The annual publication SNA Research Conference Proceedings, from 1991 to 2013, is available on the SNA website at in Portable Document Format (PDF) for downloading and viewing or printing (23 years and 2,933 titles comprised of 11,589 pages).

    Founded in 1899, the Southern Nursery Association is a non-profit trade association representing the horticultural industry in the southeastern U.S. SNA provides member services to wholesale growers, brokers, retailers, landscape contractors, landscape architects, grounds maintenance contractors, interiorscapers and allied suppliers. The SNA strives to unite and advance the horticulture industry through educational, research and marketing efforts.

    Details of the 59th Annual SNA Research Conference will be released soon. For more information on the SNA Research Conference, contact the Southern Nursery Association, Inc., PO Box 801454, Acworth, GA 30101, 678.809.9992, or visit the SNA Website at

  • 18 Sep 2013 10:48 AM | Karen Summers (Administrator)

    The Southern Nursery Association (SNA) has announced the release of the Best Management Practices:  Guide for Producing Nursery Crops Version 3.0. The manual is now available, for the first time, online as a reference tool on the SNA website at Printed manuals will be available later this fall. Past versions have cost $75 (member) and $100 (non-member), but through funding provided by the USDA’s Risk Management Association (RMA) in cooperation with the North Central IPM Center at the University of Illinois, the only cost for the printed manuals will be a small fee to cover shipping and handling.


    The Best Management Practices (BMP) Guide is designed to help growers identify and promote exceptional management practices, methods and procedures. Any of these management practices can be implemented regardless of nursery size or location, and empowers container and field-grown plant producers to operate at a higher level of efficiency and effectiveness while implementing proactive management practices necessary to produce plants with minimal environmental impact.


    This ever-popular guide has become recognized as the undisputed benchmark for horticultural BMPs in the U.S. with more than 6,000 copies in use today. The Best Management Practices Guide, v 1.0 was published in 1996 with an updated v 2.0 printed in 2007. Version 3.0 features two new sections – Constructing Wetlands:  A How To Guide for Nurseries, as well as Crop Insurance for Nurseries. Version 3.0 will also be translated to Spanish later this year. Both English and Spanish versions will be available to the industry on the SNA website and are scheduled for printing later this fall.


    Funding for this update project is made possible by the USDA's Risk Management Association (RMA), in cooperation with the North Central IPM Center at the University of Illinois. RMA’s mission is to promote, support, and regulate sound risk management solutions to preserve and strengthen the economic stability of America’s agricultural producers. As part of this mission, RMA operates and manages the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC). RMA was created in 1996; the FCIC was founded in 1938.


    Founded in 1899, the Southern Nursery Association is a non-profit trade association representing the horticultural industry in the southeastern U.S. SNA provides member services to wholesale growers, brokers, retailers, landscape contractors, landscape architects, grounds maintenance contractors, interiorscapers and allied suppliers. The SNA strives to unite and advance the horticulture industry through educational, research and marketing efforts.


    For more information on SNA, contact the Southern Nursery Association, Inc., PO Box 801454, Acworth, GA 30101, 678.809.9992,, or visit the SNA website at

  • 03 Sep 2013 10:47 AM | Karen Summers (Administrator)

    Officers of the Southern Nursery Association (SNA) who will serve for the 2013 - 2014 term were elected during the 114th annual meeting held at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta, Ga., during SNA 2013. The election, open to all active SNA members, determines representation from the four geographic regions of the association:


    Chapter 1 – Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia

    Chapter 2 – Florida, Georgia and South Carolina

    Chapter 3 – Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee

    Chapter 4 – Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas


    Jeff Howell, Rocky Creek Nurseries, Lucedale, AL, was elected president succeeding Bill Boyd.


    The complete slate of officers is as follows:


    Jeff Howell, President, Rocky Creek Nursery, Lucedale, MS

    Richard May, Vice President/Treasurer/Director Chapter 2, May Nursery, Havana, FL

    Eelco Tinga, Jr., Director Chapter 1, Tinga Nurseries, Castle Hayne, NC

    Michael Hobbs, Director Chapter 3, Warren County Nursery, McMinnville, TN

    Dusty Knight, Director Chapter 4, Plantation Tree Company, Selma, AL

    William Boyd, Immediate Past President, Flower City Nurseries, Smartt, TN.


    Newly-elected SNA President Jeff Howell and his wife Melinda own and operate Rocky Creek Nurseries, Inc. in Lucedale, MS. Founded in 1962 by Jeff’s parents, Owen and Connie Howell, Rocky Creek Nurseries was incorporated in 1984 with Owen, Connie, Jeff and his older brother Lee serving as officers. With Lee’s untimely passing in 2000, Jeff became company president, a position he holds today. Rocky Creek Nurseries produces container-grown woody ornamentals, trees and perennials.


    In addition to his nursery responsibilities, Jeff is active in his community. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the George Regional Health System, a multi-county hospital, nursing home and physician’s practices enterprise. He is a Sunday School teacher and Lay Leader at Lucedale First United Methodist Church. Jeff is past president of the Mississippi Nursery & Landscape Association and past chairman of the George Republican Party. In 1998 he was awarded the SNA David E. Laird Memorial Award.


    Jeff and Melinda, a kindergarten teacher, have two children, Tyler (23) and Jeffrey (20).


    Joining the SNA Board this year, Dusty Knight is from Franklinton, LA, where he worked for Windmill Nursery and Zelenka Nursery of Folsom, LA for 20 years.  In 2000, he and his wife Joan moved to Prattville, AL, where he brought that 20 years of experience to Plantation Tree Company as manager. Plantation Tree Company has over 400 acres of premium quality field-grown shade and ornamental trees and shrubs in production. Established in 1993, Plantation Tree Company has quickly set the standard for quality field grown trees and ornamentals and introduced three plants to the industry. A superb Vitex 'Lilac Queen', an unusual Magnolia 'Cinnamon Twist', and an outstanding magnolia that has become a standard in the industry the 'Green Giant' Magnolia.


    Dusty and Joan have two children and two grandchildren. Dusty is an avid hunter, fisherman, and loves to spend time with his grandchildren.


    SNA Executive Vice President Karen Summers is excited about the diversity and leadership skills of the SNA Board members, and believes this newly elected board will help catapult the association forward with positive results. “The combined experience and skills of this board will be invaluable to this association during this time of rebuilding and moving forward to once again become a strong and relevant association,” Summers stated.  “This board represents a group of industry leaders with a broad variety of ideas and perspectives on how SNA can meet the needs of its members. I am very optimistic about the future of SNA and our industry, and with these knowledgeable leaders I am even more confident of our ability,” she added.


    Founded in 1899, the Southern Nursery Association is a non-profit trade association representing the horticultural industry in the southeastern U.S. SNA provides member services to wholesale growers, brokers, retailers, landscape contractors, landscape architects, grounds maintenance contractors, interiorscapers and allied suppliers. The SNA strives to unite and advance the horticulture industry through educational, research and marketing efforts.


    For more information on SNA, contact the Southern Nursery Association, Inc., PO Box 801454, Acworth, GA 30101, 678.809.9992,, or visit the SNA website at

  • 03 Sep 2013 10:46 AM | Karen Summers (Administrator)

    The Southern Nursery Association (SNA) has announced the recipients of the 2013 SNA Awards. The awards were presented at the Annual SNA Business Meeting on Wednesday, August 7, 2013, at the Georgia International Convention Center during SNA 2013.


    The SNA Awards Program began in 1956, when the late John B. Wight, Sr., suggested to the officers of the Southern Nursery Association that an award be offered annually to the person of their selection who, in their opinion, had contributed most to the advancement of the industry in the South and to the welfare of the Southern Nursery Association.  This first award, considered a lifetime achievement award, was named the Slater Wight Memorial Award in memory of the late J. Slater Wight, brother of the late John B. Wight, Sr. Nomination and selection of recipients is made by the SNA Board of Directors.


    This year’s recipient of the Slater Wight Memorial Award is Dr. Nick Gawel, Director of the Tennessee State University Otis L. Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, TN. Nick has been associated with SNA for close to 20 years and has served as Assistant Director of Research (2005-2008) and Director of Research (2008-present). In this voluntary role he is responsible for coordinating the annual SNA Research Conference. Gawel received his PhD from Texas Tech University and worked for USDA/ARS in Griffin, GA and Phoenix, AZ prior to joining Tennessee State University in 1993.  Gawel’s research area is Plant Breeding and Genetics, Phylogenic Analysis, and Molecular Markers, and he has published numerous research papers. Nick has been happily married for 24 years and counting, and he has the two best kids in the world.


    Established in 1974 by David E. Laird, Jr., in memory of his father, SNA Past President David E. Laird, Sr., this award, considered the young nursery person of the year award, is presented each year to recognize qualified young men and women for outstanding service in the field of environmental horticulture and to offer inspiration for others starting out in the field. The recipient must be 39 years of age or younger and must be a member of his/her state nursery association. Nominations are made by the State Associations within the SNA region with final selection by the SNA Board of Directors.


    This year’s recipient of the David E. Laird, Sr. Memorial Award is Joseph B. Hillenmeyer, Joseph Hillenmeyer Garden Design, Lexington, KY, who was born into a family with a horticulture tradition that dates back to the 1700’s in France and Germany.  Joseph’s great-great-great grandfather, Francis Xavier Hillenmeyer, came to America in 1838 after training at the famous Baumann Brothers Nursery in France. His arrival set into motion what has now been six generations of his family in the horticulture industry in Lexington. He grew up in Lexington, leaving in 1993 to attend The McCallie School in Chattanooga, TN. After graduation, he worked with Don Shadow at Shadow Nursery, Winchester, TN, a nationally recognized horticulturist noted for his work in developing new cultivars of ornamental plants. In 1996 Joseph traveled to New Zealand where he worked as the horticulturist at a horse farm and interned at a perennial nursery. His next trip took him to Western Turkey where he worked at the well-known Karaca Arboretum outside of Istanbul. This is where he was really able to begin forming comprehensive ideas about garden design and thinking about organic connections between the garden and the home. Joseph has now returned to Lexington where he began his own garden design firm in 2001. Since then he has had the opportunity to continue to travel the world and the U.S. studying garden design and horticulture.


    Established by the SNA Board in 1992, the SNA Pinnacle Award is given to the individual within the allied industry who, in the opinion of the SNA Board, has contributed most to the advancement of the industry in the south and to the welfare of the Southern Nursery Association. This award is limited to SNA members. Nomination and selection of recipients is made by the SNA Board of Directors.


    This year’s recipient of the SNA Pinnacle Award is Gary L. Stover, Stover Manufacturing, Port Orange, FL. Born and raised in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains near Middletown, New York, Gary was drafted out of college in 1968, pursuing an engineering degree. Discharged from the Army in 1970, and thinking about a new career path, he earned a private pilot license, and with new wife Shirley, headed for Daytona Beach to attend Embry Riddle University to get an A&P license and work in commercial aviation. A daughter (Melissa) arrived in 1971 and at the time there was more money working on boats and he worked as a mechanic a local marinas. During that time a relationship with John Powell developed while working on his boats. One fateful day in 1973, John waded out of the Halifax River (his boat broke down in front of the marina where Gary was working), and he offered him a job at Economy Label Sales. His career path was cast and his family was growing with the addition of their son Joshua in 1976. At Economy Label, Stover had the opportunity to modify and build production and printing equipment, and learn the tag and label business. John was an employer, mentor and friend. In 1997 Economy Label was sold and his position terminated. He was fortunate enough to join Horticultural Printers in Port Orange and continue working in the industry – and specifically building the thermal/roll tag business model for Horticultural Printers. In August 2012 Horticultural Printers moved the Port Orange production equipment to Dallas and shut the facility down. He chose not to move to Texas. Currently, with partners Robert Grooms, Mike McClure, and John Thompson, they are again building the thermal/roll tag business model – this time to their own specifications.


    Established by the SNA Board in 1999, the SNA Environmental Award recognizes individuals and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and through their voluntary efforts exemplified inspiration, vision, innovation, leadership and action to preserve and protect the environment. This award is not limited to SNA members or to the horticulture industry. Nominations for this prestigious award are made by the SNA Participating State Associations and SNA Members with final selection by the SNA Board of Directors.


    This year’s recipients of the SNA Environmental Award are Saunders Brothers, Inc., Piney River, VA, and Dr. John Lea-Cox, University of Maryland. In awarding two Environmental Awards this year, the SNA Board acknowledges not only Saunders Brothers for water conservation efforts in the implementation of using the Evapotranspiration (ET) based irrigation in their nursery, but also Dr. John Lea-Cox for his work in the development of advanced sensor-based wireless networks for decision-based irrigation and nutrient management.


    Saunders Brothers began as a partnership between five brothers in 1915. Today, third generation brothers, Tom, Bennett, Jim and Robert, with their dad, Paul, operate the wholesale nursery, orchard, and farm market. The wholesale nursery operation now consists of approximately 75 acres of container production and 75 acres of field production. They ship over 1,000 products to garden centers, landscapers, and re-wholesalers throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Their 125-acre orchard provides fresh fruit for their farm market as well as other wholesale and retail markets.


    Saunders Brothers, the 2013 Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association’s Environmental Stewardship Award recipient, was recognized for their water conservation efforts utilizing technology that was developed in row crop production. They began using the ET-based irrigation during the summers of 2011. The goal of the ET-based irrigation is to determine the amount of water lost from a containerized plant during one day and to replace exactly that amount through irrigation. Base numbers for irrigation were determined through testing that was coordinated by two University of Florida’s researchers, Tom Yeager and Jeff Million. Using these figures as a guideline, irrigation in 2012 was monitored using Leachate Fraction (LF) testing. Through testing in 2011, Saunders Brothers Inc. determined that equal or better quality plants could be grown using less water and less fertilizer. It was determined that fertility levels could be dropped on some crops from 30-40%. In 2012 when local rainfall levels were 25% below average, overall water use dropped by over 50% when compared to the previous 5-year average. Starting in the fall of 2012, SBI installed their first wireless irrigation controllers on a third of the nursery. Designed by Fralo Control Systems, irrigation run times are entered on PC’s and wirelessly transmitted to irrigation control panels. Sensors monitor pump pressure and flow to maximize the efficiency of the irrigation system. Through the new system crops can be grouped based on their individual needs to water at any time of the night or day. Part of the wireless system in 2013 will be controlled by a computer program that automatically adjusts irrigation amounts dependent upon crop stage, container size, plant spacing and daily weather data from a weather station on-site. Continued trialing of plants using lower rates of fertilizer will take place. By the fall of 2013 the company intends to irrigate all of its woody plants using the wireless system while continuing to monitor the LF of the crops. LF testing will expand in 2013 to include herbaceous crops as well.


    John Lea-Cox is a Professor and Nursery Research and Extension Specialist at the University of Maryland, College Park. He teaches courses in Principles of Water and Nutrient Management, Greenhouse Crop Production and co-teaches Senior Capstone and Sustainable Seminar courses. His research and extension programs are focused primarily on increasing the efficiency of water and nutrient applications in the nursery and greenhouse industries. John leads the water and nutrient management extension program for ornamental production in Maryland, with one other colleague. To date, this program has trained over 130 professionals and growers who have written over 350 water and nutrient management plans for nursery and greenhouse operations. He currently leads a national $5.16M USDA-NIFA specialty crops project, which is developing advanced sensor-based networks for decision-based irrigation and nutrient management in nursery and greenhouse systems.  More information on the project, the participants and project impacts can be accessed at During his career, John has established or co-established five major research and extension programs, co-authored one book and five book chapters, published 24 peer-reviewed journal articles, 32 national and international conference papers, and more than 60 society, trade or extension articles.  He has been invited to speak at more than 50 International and national conferences, and has given more than 300 other national, regional presentations and workshops.


    Two deserving industry members received SNA Honorary Member Awards this year. Each recipient has made outstanding contributions to the association and the industry during their active participation in the Southern Nursery Association. The SNA Board of Directors recognizes Wilbur C. Mull, Classic Groundcovers, Athens, GA, and Dr. Carl. E. Whitcomb, Lacebark Publication & Research, Stillwater, OK, for their dedication to SNA and the field of horticulture.


    Wilbur C. Mull, celebrating his 50th anniversary – in business that is– is founder of Classic Groundcovers in Athens, GA. Born in Albion, NY, Mull came to Georgia and received his B.S. in Ag Economics in 1963, followed by his M.S. degree in 1965. Later that year he started sticking cuttings in the back yard of Dr. Jerry Padgett for 75 cents per hour. But he continued marketing and business and learning more about the green industry while teaching marketing classes and running a local country club. Finally, he decided to make the move and open Classic Groundcovers. Wilbur has served as President of the Georgia Nurseryman’s Association (1981). He received the Georgia Green Industry Association’s Jake Tinga Distinguished Award (2003), and the Vivian Munday/Buck Jones Lifetime Achievement Award (2011). He has served as Georgia Governor to the American Nursery & Landscape Association. He is a past recipient of SNA’s David E. Laird, Sr. Memorial Award (1976) and the SNA Slater Wight Memorial Award (1993). Like his talent and service to this industry, he has been recognized by numerous other organizations outside the green industry. As impressive as the credentials are, Wilbur is always quick to give the credit to others, a true sign of humility.


    Dr. Carl E. Whitcomb, author, lecturer, researcher and consultant, was born and raised in Kansas. He received his B.S. in Horticulture from Kansas State University (1964), his M.S. in Horticulture, Agronomy from Iowa State University(1966), and his PhD – Horticulture, Agronomy and Plant Ecology from Iowa State University (1969). He was professor at the University of Florida and Oklahoma State University before founding Lacebark Publications and Research. Dr. Whitcomb has authored numerous technical papers, articles and books. His excellence and dedication to the industry has been acknowledged throughout his career. He received the SNA Porter Henegar Memorial Award in 1977, the American Nurserymen & Landscape Association’s Chadwick Award (1983), the Outstanding Oklahoma Nurseryman award (1985), the SNA Slater Wight, Sr. Memorial Award (1986), the Florida Nursery Growers & Landscape Association’s Outstanding Industry Person Award (1987), and the Award of Merit from the Garden Writers Association of America (1988). He was named Fellow of the International Plant Propagators Society (1993) and received the International Plant Propagators Society’s Meadows Award (1999). Whitcomb has received numerous other awards. He and his wife LaJean have two sons and recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.


    Other awards for 2013 was the Porter Henegar Memorial Award, presented at the SNA Research Conference Awards Luncheon and the Don Shadow Award of Excellence, presented at the Southern Plant Conference.


    In 1969, an Award of Merit was created to honor those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to ornamental horticultural research and, more specifically, to SNA. In 1972, the SNA Board of Directors resolved that the Award of Merit would be renamed the Porter Henegar Memorial Award for Horticultural Research in memory of the late Porter Henegar, Past Executive Secretary of SNA (1959 - 1972), to commemorate his years of tireless effort and service to the SNA. The recipient is selected annually by fellow research workers for his/her concern and work toward improving the nursery industry.


    The recipient of the 2013 Porter Henegar Memorial Award is John W. Olive, Auburn University, Auburn, AL. A native of Columbus GA, John received his B.S. in Agronomy from the University of GA and a Master's degree in Plant Pathology from UGA in 1986. He worked in the UGA Extension Plant Disease Clinic in Athens for 3 years where he helped diagnose disease problems for commercial growers as well as homeowners. In 1989, he accepted a position in Mobile to work as plant pathologist at the Ornamental Horticulture Research Center (in Springhill). In 1990 he became the superintendent (director) of the Research Center.  Besides coordinating research projects at the center, he assists commercial growers, identifying plant diseases, troubleshooting other problems and helping recommend controls.  John has been attending and participating in the SNA Research Conference since 1989.  He has co-authored papers in several different sections and has served as the plant pathology section chairman.  He has chaired and been a judge on the Bryson James Student Research Competition several times. Although his position as Center Director has a lot of administration responsibilities, he has been fortunate to work with great research faculty who have encouraged him to actively participate in their research.


    The Don Shadow Award of Excellence, named for the first recipient, Don O. Shadow, Shadow Nursery, Winchester, TN, is presented to an individual, corporation or organization that has provided exemplary service, leadership and generosity in the development, promotion and use of new and improved landscape plants. Recipients must demonstrate a sincere commitment to and passion for expanding knowledge and use of new and improved plants for the landscape. This award is presented to an individual, corporation or organization that has provided exemplary service, leadership and generosity in the development, promotion and use of new and improved landscape plants. Awardees must also demonstrate a strong volunteer and/or service commitment to bringing better plants to the landscape. Recipients must demonstrate a sincere commitment to and passion for expanding knowledge and use of new and improved plants for the landscape. Nominations are accepted from attendees of the Southern Plant Conference and SNA Members. Nominees may be carried forward from one year to the next. Selection is made by the SNA Board of Directors.


    The 2013 recipient of the Don Shadow Award of Excellence is Rick Crowder, Hawksridge Farms, Hickory, NC. Rick began his career in the nursery business after finishing high school in 1972. He received his Associates Degree in Ornamental Horticulture from Catawba Valley Community College. He began working at Hawksridge Farms in 1982. Rick helped with the nursery setup and daily operations and became General Manager and President of the company in 1985.


    Rick has served on the Board of Director’s of North Carolina Association of Nurserymen from 1995 – 1999, serving as President in 1998. He served on the Board of Advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum for 6 years, and formerly served on the Board of Advisor’s for NC Arboretum in Asheville, NC. Rick also served on North Carolina’s Green Industry Council. He has been active in the International Plant Propagator’s Society since 1990, and was President of the Southern Region in 2010.

    In 2003 Rick’s commitment and service was recognized with NCAN’s Copeland Award for Lifetime Achievement, which is the highest honor given to nurserymen in North Carolina.


    Rick has traveled many times to the West Coast and British Columbia searching for new plants. He has made numerous trips to Japan, Holland, England and Scotland, as well as Germany, Italy, New Zealand and Belgium in the last several years visiting various nurseries, arboreta and gardens.


    Hawksridge Farms is well known in the industry for the development and introduction of new plant cultivars to the trade.


    SNA believes industry members should be recognized for their distinguished talents, extraordinary service and life achievements. The SNA Awards Program is designed to recognize professionals who have demonstrated their commitment to the Southern Nursery Association and the industry through these annual awards. For a list of previous SNA award winners, visit the SNA website at


    Founded in 1899, the Southern Nursery Association is a non-profit trade association representing the horticultural industry in the southeastern U.S. SNA provides member services to wholesale growers, brokers, retailers, landscape contractors, landscape architects, grounds maintenance contractors, interiorscapers and allied suppliers. The SNA strives to unite and advance the horticulture industry through educational, research and marketing efforts.


    Photos of all award winners can be found on the SNA website at


    For more information on SNA, contact the Southern Nursery Association, Inc., PO Box 801454, Acworth, GA 30101, 678.809.9992,, or visit the SNA website at

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