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  • Author or Editor: Mary H. Meyer x
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The American Society for Horticultural Science (Alexandria, VA) and Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, PA) engaged FleishmanHillard (FH, Washington, DC), a nationally recognized communications and marketing firm, to conduct research with internal and external audiences to determine the public perception of horticulture and careers in horticulture. Through stakeholder focus groups and general public online and phone surveys, the importance of horticulture, career perceptions, and the need for the promotion of horticulture were examined. Students, faculty, industry, and administrators in horticulture have a broad understanding of the field, much more than the public, especially young, ethnically diverse, and lower income participants. Although lack of public awareness is one of the biggest challenges in horticulture, it is also its greatest opportunity. Sixty-five percent of all phone survey participants as compared with 41% of 18–24 years old revealed a general awareness of the word horticulture. General public found agreement (48% to 59%) with four statements about the essential, universal, and invaluable worth of horticulture; however, strong agreement was less, ranging from 26% to 46%. Only 26% of respondents felt strong agreement with the statement, “Horticulture is a diverse area of study, and it offers viable, fulfilling, and respected career paths that I would recommend to others.” The research found strong stakeholder support for a national promotion of horticulture.

Open Access

Consumer horticulture encompasses a wide array of activities that are practiced by and of interest to the gardening public, garden-focused nongovernmental organizations, and gardening-related industries. In a previous publication, we described the current lack of funding for research, extension, and education in consumer horticulture and outlined the need for a strategic plan. Here, we describe our process and progress in crafting a plan to guide university efforts in consumer horticulture, and to unite these efforts with stakeholders’ goals. In 2015, a steering committee developed a first draft of a plan, including a mission statement, aspirational vision, core values, goals, and objectives. This draft was subsequently presented to and vetted by stakeholders at the 2015 American Society for Horticultural Science Consumer Horticulture and Master Gardeners (CHMG) working group workshop, a 2015 Extension Master Gardener Coordinators’ webinar, and a 2015 meeting in Washington, DC. Feedback received from these events is being used to refine and focus plan goals and objectives. The most recent working draft of the plan can be found on the website, where stakeholders and other interested parties can register to receive updates and to provide input into the process.

Open Access

Landscape plant evaluations were conducted in eight states: Colorado, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Vermont for 17 switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and five little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) cultivars. Additional locations in Florida (Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce, Quincy, and Wimauma), Nebraska (Lincoln), and Lubbock and San Marcos completed 1 or 2 years of the trials. Plants were established in 2012 and data were collected for 3 years, 2013–15. Sites were asked to compile annual data on plant height, width, flowering time, fall color, pests, foliage color determined by the Royal Horticultural Society’s color chart, plant form, flowering date, floral impact, self-seeding, winter injury, landscape impact, and mortality. Texas A&M Agricultural Research and Extension Center (Overton), Florida (all four locations), and Vermont had the highest mortality rate. Southern Florida locations lost 50% of their plants by the end of 2014. Wide variation was reported for landscape impact, individual cultivar height, and width from different regions of the United States. Three of the 17 switchgrass cultivars, Cloud 9, Northwind, and Thundercloud, had a rating of 4.0 or higher averaged over six or more locations for plant form, floral, and landscape impact. ‘Shenandoah’ and ‘Warrior’ switchgrass had a rating of 4.0 or higher averaged over six or more locations for plant form and landscape impact, but not floral impact. Only one of the five little bluestem cultivars, Blue Heaven® rated 4.0 or higher, for plant form and landscape impact when averaged over six or more locations. This range of variability in landscape plant performance demonstrates the importance of local plant evaluations.

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