Lake County Field Day

August 23, 2017
Lake County Field Day

The following article was written by Jim Chatfield, associate professor and extension specialist for the OSU Buckeye Yard & Garden Online.


Last week the Nursery Growers of Lake County Ohio (NGLCO) put on their 50th Summer Field Day at the lovely Chalet Debonne Winery. This event is always a great time to network, rediscover old friends and make new friends. And to see plants – and even owls. Here are a few visual highlights.

Charles Behnke, the Garden Guru, and Bob Froelich

In addition to the hibiscus above there is the always colorful Garden Guru Charles Behnke, former and ever OSU Extension Agent. Charles was chatting with Bob Froelich, Ornamental Specialist, newly with BayerCrop Science. Bob noted that Bayer and the aspirin-ish logo is the second most recognized brand in the world, after Charles Behnke, er, I mean Coca-Cola. Charles is, of course, still teaching.

Keeping an eye on Charles was the Ohio Falconry Association, not only the barn owl, Tyto alba, but also the laser-eyed Eurasian eagle-owl, Bubo bubo. They also brought along a Harris hawk, Parabuteo unicinctus.

Barn Owl and the Ohio Falconry Association

Eurasian eagle-owl at the Summer Field Day

The association is available to work out arrangements for animal control, blueberry-birds and rodents. As Jim Fowler (what a name) said to George on Kramer’s Merv Griffin set on Seinfeld: “Watch out, hawks and squirrels don’t get along with each other!” Too late.

Gilson Gardens. It won’t be the same.

Mark Gilson was there as the emcee, and it was quite something to see the For Sale sign for Gilson Gardens, in business for 70 years. Twenty years longer than the Field Day itself. I remember doing IR-4 fungicide trials on groundcovers there as a graduate student a mere 40 years ago. Nice to know ya, Gilsons.

Floyd and Rich Poruban were there, from Poruban Nursery, again a long-lived operation, started in 1964. As a graduate student (M.S. Plant Pathology, OSU) Floyd worked on the TI plasmid over 50 years ago. This plasmid contains the Tumor-Inducing Principal of the crown gall pathogen, Agrobacterium tumefaciens. What was learned of the extrachromosal DNA in bacterial plasmids was not only important to understanding this disease, but also pivotal to the introduction of germplasm from one organism to often very different organisms, ie. genetic engineering.

Floyd and Rich Poruban at the Field Day

The Porubans are always interested in talking about microorganisms, especially as they relate to the heath or rhododendron family, the Ericaceae. We had a great discussion of Monotropa uniflora, Indian pipe, a plant that is parasitic upon montropic mycorrhizal fungi that in turn are mutualistically symbiotic with tree roots.

Indian pipe, an ericaceous non-photosynthetic flowering plant with chloroplasts but no chlorophyll gets its carbohydrate from the non-photosynthetic fungus that gets it from the photosynthesizing tree. A tripartite symbiosis! They are also deeply interested in their growing practices with ericoid mycorrhizae, important in ericaceous plant nutrition.

Justin and Kim Thomas at the Field Day

Then there were the beaming Justin and Kim Thomas, second-generation growers from Pam’s Perennials in Norton, inheriting the plant bug from now retired Pam Thomas and dearly departed Ricky Thomas, who started R.G. Thomas Landscaping, now ably headed by Ricky’s brother Dave. And the wonderful Bob Englis, growing his maples and other plants down in Stark County, and… Well it is all about people.

Nurseryman Bob Inglis at the Field Day

Tim and Sonia Brotzman with weeping redbud

The final pictures are of old (I mean young) friend Tim Brotzman of Brotzman Nursery with is lovely wife, Sonia, who I first knew as Sonia Hidalgo when I was a teaching assistant in Plant Pathology back in the early 1980s. I still have her name in a grade book… An “A” of course – and it was not even close.

It never occurred to me until now, but Tim came by his “red bud” cred naturally. He is a good bud and he has (had?) flaming red hair. Finally, here he is with a new bud, Tom DeHaas the “new” OSU Extension, Lake County horticulture educator, and a fine one at that. Tim and Tom were truly excited recently looking skyward at, you guessed it, a tree! Finally, a picture of Tim, Tom, and Tom Koritansky of Lake Metroparks, at Chapin Forest in LMP.

Tom DeHaas and Tim Brotzman Amid the Trees

Tim, Tom, and Tom at Chapin Forest

Which brings up a Nature and Nurture Program next summer in Lake County, now in planning with John Pogacnik of LMP and Tim B, and Tom D, and OSU folks. We will feature Beech Leaf Disease that John has brought to our attention so well – and much more. For all Ohio plant lovers. Stay tuned.