Tag Archives: Valann Budischak

Understanding Today’s Agriculture, AGRI130 Guest Lecture #6- Horticulture/Greens Industry

On October 16, 2019 Ms. Valann BUDISCHAK & Tracy WOOTTEN spoke to us on the Horticulture/Greens Industry.  This was the first guest lecture where the guest speakers were actually at the Georgetown campus, instead of the Newark campus.  Each speaker took turns, giving information on their professional journey as well as current information on the industry around the state.

First to speak was Ms. WOOTEN. She informed the class that she had an extensive background in agriculture, with her grandparents having farmed ad she herself growing up on a farm.  She majored in Plant Science and Vegetable Education to become a horticulture agent for home horticulture.  She earned a BS in Plant Science where she observed 1/3 of the samples that were brought in suffered from ‘environmental problems’, i.e.,  problems due to how the plant grew on the weather , rather than disease or bacteria.

Next, Ms. BUDISCHAK spoke on her background.  She took a very different path that Ms. WOOTEN, working at Black and Decker for 14years and commuting between Baltimore and New York before deciding to make a change.  She decided to work for the Delaware Nursery and Landscape Organization before managing grants for the Delaware Dept. of Transportation (DelDOT) and then becoming an extension agent for the University of Delaware.  She then volunteered for the Botanic Garden of which she eventually became director.

After those brief biographies, the two speakers told us about nurseries.  First, that nurseries are usually selling products for the home garden- over 60% of sales a container plants.  Most nurseries are located in Maryland, though there are a few noteworthy establishments in the first state.  Many nurseries are plug and container nurseries.  Many nurseries sell floriculture crops of bedding and garden plants- the biggest purportedly in Lanesboro, PA.  Cut flowers may even be sold at CSA’s.

A nursey might sell broadleaf evergreens, trees, and shrubs- ‘ball and burlap’ evergreens that begin as cuttings.  A garden nursery might sell field or container plants, plants for garden store and centers, and zero-scaping for low-water, native plants.  Sod and turf nurseries may sell bent grass- used on golf courses- or tall fescue and Kentucky Blue- used for home lawns. Sod generates $13.8 billion in revenue.

Other retailers might earn revenue by selling videos and how-tos for independent garden centers.  Others my reach consumers through radio shows, displays, and unique offers.

Certain garden centers specialize in particular services. The Gateway Garden Center for example, specializes in ponds, as landscape, providing consumers with the service of install and maintenance.  Another garden center might only market major brands like Proven Winner brand, sell only annuals, or sell directly from growers. Sposato Landscape is one of the top three landscaping business in the US, located right here in Delaware. Sposato Landscape has implemented a container rental program where last seasons’ planters may be replaced according to consumer.  Other noteworthy garden centers include Coast Garden Center, RSC Landscaping, Ronney’s Garden Center, Lakeside Greenhouse, & Bess’ Buds.  These garden centers will aid consumers with the name recognition of plants and provide care instructions and ‘How-to’ tutorials. Though landscaping is a big industry there are a small number of garden centers.

There is a growing market within the industry for indoor plants.  Landscapers will go into large corporate buildings and office parks to maintain or change out potted plants.  Landscaping is a very science-oriented field. However, in addition to helping to design and build, a landscaper may also be expected to maintain by handling mowing, pest, and invasive control, fertilization, lighting, and water features. A landscaper may also use soil conservation techniques such as stormwater management, irrigation, and hardscaping, or by assessing plant health.  One such technique, accessing the health of plants, namely trees, is handled by Delaware Arbor Care.

Those jobs are not without risks however.  While working on some landscape maintenance, a Mr. Steve JOHNSON, a nationally-known plant pathologist from New Jersey dies via tree limb.    The limb fell from a pine with shallow roots due to the sandy soil of the area.  The pine was part of a stretch of trees in a homeowner’s property that posed a risk to the people living and working there.  Because of this, insurance had the rest of the trees taken down.

Landscaping is a large component of ‘Land Management’, particularly of parks, schools.  The largest landholder in Delaware is DelDOT.  DelDOT’s responsibilities include enhancing highways with warm season grasses & meadows.  DelDOT does this by conducting minimal invasive management in the roadside, planting pollination strips flanked by mowed edges to cut down on labor.  These mowed edges show the public that maintenance is indeed ongoing, while giving a less intensely manicured look that a simple mowed strip would provide.  These plantings help curb the spread of invasive weeds like Japanese Knotweed, though the speakers note the mowed turf itself is not so healthy as water runs over it as opposed to seeping into the water table. Creating rain gardens & bioswales is an effective solution, as these improve water quality by filtering run-off.

In addition to highways, DelDOT also has a part in maintaining railroad tracks.  By maintaining the vegetation around the tracks they prevent obstruction and mitigate fire risks by cutting back encroaching plants to prevent ‘railspark fires’, which pose a risk to farmers and can burn crops.  The risk of fire also allows them to impose burning bans.  They will also scan for and remove invasive weeds.

Lastly, DelDOT contributes to the management of parks and recreation areas, like sportsfields.  Replacing turf is often cheaper than replacing mature trees and shrubs, as such, sod is a big component of volume purchases.  When designing and maintaining these fields there is a choice to be made between cool and warm season turf grasses or simply synthetic groundcover. Warm season grasses grow with rhizomes & stolons that knit together & create a smoother playing surface than cool season grasses, which grow clumped in bunches and spread via seed.  To keep the fields in optimum condition, they must be aerated, especially in high-traffic areas such as those found in front of goals, where compaction of the soil causes sand to crust on clay pockets.  To amend the soil, compost may been used.

To conclude, the lecture ended with the speakers informing the class on the various in-state opportunities for anyone who might be interested in pursuing landscaping.  To begin, it is helpful to know certain definitions such as annual, perennial, and bi-annual.  An annual plant grows in one season, i.e., Impatiens plants, while a bi-annual plant has a two-year lifespan, and lastly, a perennial dies and comes back, for example, the invasive Japanese Knotweed where pieces of the plant may break off and it’s underground runners can generate a new plant.  In Delaware, a license is required to sell plants, but for the average homeowners, there are tools to inform them of the best ways to manage their properties.  For example, a rain garden cannot be created from, ‘wet spots on the lawn’, but rather, must be able to drain.  This information and more is available from Delaware Livable Lawns, a program that helps homeowners and lawncare professionals mitigate run-off from nutrient applications from drifting into waterways.  In addition, they also have 2.5 month internship gardens.  For professionals, there’s the Delaware Nursery & Landscape Association (DNLA) at https://www.dnlaonline.org/.

Tracy Wootten & Valann Budischak Guest Lecture

Hearing Tracy Wootten and Valann Budischak talk was so cool. I didn’t know that there was such a job as a master gardener. But, now that I know it is a job and it sounds like an amazing job. I love that Tracy said that she calls herself a plant detective that is such a awesome title. It is a title that definitely makes sense because sometimes in my garden I feel like a detective when I’m trying to figure out what is wrong with my plants. I also always wondered about why states don’t try to make all the side areas more dense with flowers and high grass. So I am super happy to hear and see that  there are programs in place to make the highways better for the environment and look better overall. I never realized that state parks would need a land manager but it definitely makes sense to have one now that I think about it.


On October 17th, 2018 we had guest speakers Tracy Wootten and Valann Budischak talk about Delaware’s Green Industry and Horticulture. They started off the lecture by talking about the Green Industry and how in 2014 it came in at $21,774,000. The people that make up the Green Industry are producers, retailers, landscapers, land managers, golf courses, and suppliers. Within nursery production there are two types of horticultural crops that they grow. Floriculture crops are your bedding and garden plants and the other one is nursery crops such as broadleaf evergreens and deciduous shrubs. Within the industry is many ways that they are grown and sold. This varies from container planting to balled and burlapped. From here the plants are sold to either a retailer or directly to the consumer. Retailers help bridge the gap between people and horticulture plants by having displays with the plants in different designs. This allows people to see what they can do with them without being a plant expert. This is where Landscapers play a part in this industry. Landscapers have a vast knowledge of plants and perform task from designing a landscape to maintaining a landscape. This involves knowledge on mowing, invasive control, fertilization and plant identification. I found this to be an interesting lecture since I am a Landscape Horticulture and Design major. Thank you Tracy Wootten and Valann Budischak for being amazing guest speakers in are class.

Delaware’s Green Industry

The class lecture on Delaware’s Green Industry was presented by Tracy Wootten and Valann Budischak.  I thoroughly enjoyed this lecture due to the fact that I’ve never been lectured on this subject and I was able to learn a lot from it!  The lecture was introduced with the question of what/who is the green industry.  Wootten and Budischak then went into describing different crops such as floriculture and nursery crops.  Before learning about these crops, I had no idea what they were but Ms. Tracy and Valann did a great job with visuals and their definitions which helped me understand the difference between these two crops.  Although this industry doesn’t relate to my major both woman provided the class with great job and internship opportunities.  I wasn’t aware of the many different job opportunities that exists in this industry, I found it very fascinating.  Overall, I enjoyed learning about Delaware’s Green Industry.

Delaware’s Green Industry

On October 18th, Tracy Wooten, Master Gardener State Coordinator and Valann Budischak, Executive Director of Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association, spoke to our class about Delaware’s Green Industry. The green industry in Delaware has a total cash receipt of $13.8 billion in 2014 and is a growing industry.

What and who make up the green industry? Producers, retailers, landscapers, land managers, and suppliers. Producers are those you grow the variety of crops and sell to retailers. Retailers in Delaware specialize in different categories and Delaware is the home to the biggest garden center on the East Coast – East Coast Garden Center. Next there are landscapers, they have a variety of jobs that design, build and maintain anyone’s landscape. Land managers typically work for the state and maintain the roads, railroads, open area and state parks. DELDOT is the largest land manager in Delaware. Lastly, suppliers do not directly work with plants, they are those who provide the tools and equipment needed to grow and maintain the crops.

I found it very interesting that when you buy plants, it is typically at its third home. It begins at one location that plants it and grows it to a seedling. Then the second company will grow it to a pot size, that then is sold to a Garden Center to sell to the public. Now in the Green Industry there are two crop groups; floriculture and nursery crops. Floriculture Crops are bedding/garden plants, cut cultivated greens, cut flowers, potted flowering plants, foliage plants, and propagative floriculture material. Whereas Nursery Crops are broadleaf greens, coniferous evergreens, deciduous shade trees, deciduous flowering trees, deciduous shrubs and other ornamentals, fruit and nut plants for home use, cur and to-be-cut christmas trees, and propagation material or lining-out stock.

Lastly, some organizations that you should look into if you like landscaping and the green industry are Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association, Livable Lawns as well as Master Gardeners. Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association is a non-profit trade organization serving Delaware’s horticultural related businesses and the companies that supply them. Livable Lawns certifies homeowners and lawn care companies that follow environmentally-friendly best practices in fertilizer application while educating homeowners on these best practices. Master Gardeners is volunteer educators whose mission is to provide residents with information to make the best possible choices for managing their home landscapes in ways that are environmentally responsible.


Guest Lecture: Tracy Wootten & Valann Budischak

The Green Industry Guest Lecture was my favorite guest lecture of the course! I majored in Landscape Architecture, and I currently have a minor in Landscape Horticulture and Design. I also interned at Longwood Gardens, and so I have a passion for the Horticulture industry. I loved hearing these two women speak about University of Delawares horticulture programs and opportunities, and also the industry as a whole. They covered a lot of very interesting topics such as nursery production, green house production, liveable lawns, landscapers, florists, and crop production. I loved learning about each of these sectors in the industry separately, and how they work together like a puzzle piece. It was also interesting to be informed about their efforts to educate the public about smarter gardening by utilizing native plantings. It makes me feel very hopeful to know that there is a unified effort to create a sustainable earth! I even enjoyed learning about the Christmas Tree business, because I never realized how involved it is. I thought these two women were incredibly knowledgable, and I enjoyed their lecture very much!

Delaware’s Green Industry

Tracy Wootten and Valann Budischak did a fantastic job during their lecture on “Delaware’s Green Industry” and everything associated with it. Like I have said in previous posts, I am a Plant Science major, and it’s always a great day when we get a chance to break through in Agriculture, rather than livestock always having the spotlight. I thought it was great that Tracy and Valann kind of defined what the Green Industry included, especially job wise, so that if this is something you really liked, you could see that there are lots of jobs for many different things. I liked that State Parks and land management was included because I have completed internships with State Parks and want to continue working with them once out of college. They also mentioned nursery and floriculture production, which is what I originally came to the University of Delaware for, so it was good knowing I was not too far off track.

Delaware’s Green Industry

In this lecture Tracy Wooten and Valann Budischak spoke about Delaware’s Green Industry.  Delaware in 2014 had $21,774,000 in horticultural product sales this includes numerous different nursery products such as Containerized which was 62.4% and B and B which concluded of 28.7% of the production. The plants are grown in a nursery and can either be a floriculture crop which is garden plants or nursery crops being trees and shrubs.  From here their sent to retailers and then eventually sold. Nursery crops bring in 8.0 billion and floriculture crops bring in 4.8 billion, each year more and more plants are being sold bringing in more money.  The Green industry is overseen throughout Delaware by landscapers and DelDOT who is the largest landholder in the state.   DelDOT provides management and maintenance for the land on the side of roadways such maintenance includes invasive plant removal and design to help boost appeal.