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Archive for the ‘Plants’ Category

Image of the week

Kousa dogwoods produce edible aggregate fruits that vary in fleshiness (juiciness) according to cultivars. Fruits from this particular tree are very large, sweet and juicy. Fruits are evident on kousa dogwoods well into November this year.

Kousa dogwood from UConn plant database.
#UConnHomeandGarden #UConnExtension

Meet undergraduate student Taylor Cheek

  • Getting ready to battle the cane grass and deciding which tool to use: machete or sickle?

Taylor Cheek is a senior and expects to graduate in May 2018.

“What are you going to do after you graduate?” Ah, that inescapable question that everyone asks. If you’re anything like me, you have no idea. My whole college career has pretty much been a bunch of “winging it.” This approach, however, has left me with a sense of fulfillment and an eagerness to embrace whatever comes around the corner next.

How on earth does one go from art school to a B.S. in horticulture? I don’t really have an answer for that, besides simply doing what you love and taking every opportunity that arises. My advisor, Gerry Berkowitz, told me a story about himself  that I think everyone in college could  hear. When he was in school, a professor stopped him and told him he was approaching his education the wrong way; he needed to put himself, his passions, into his work. Focus your work toward things you’re passionate about. This is how you’ll get the most out of your college career, and life beyond that.

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Horticulturist brings patience and perseverance to development of new plant cultivars

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The original plant selected in 2012 to be Prunus x cistena ‘UCONNP001’. The cross was made in 2012. In 2016, the final decision was made to introduce and license the plant, and Brand was able to provide hundreds of plants generated via tissue culture to Monrovia Nursery, the licensee.

It takes years of perseverance and patience to bring a new plant cultivar to market. Mark Brand, professor in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, has what it takes to plod through this lengthy process. To date, his lab has introduced twenty-seven new cultivars and currently has about a half dozen others in trials, of which he is optimistic several will be licensed in the next year or two.

The first step in launching a new cultivar is choosing a particular species of plant. Some ideas come from grower suggestions, others from a specific need. The latter was the case for Berberis (barberry), a plant that used extensively in commercial landscaping that had become an invasive. Brand developed a sterile version of the plant. Other new plant cultivars come about when an unusual seedling or plant habit is observed, such as a different growth pattern or color, presenting an opportunity to produce something special.

“Occasionally, you find these serendipitous things about a plant,” Brand says. “We originally started working on Buddleia [butterfly bush] because we wanted a sterile version. In Connecticut overwintering Buddleia can be problematic, but in milder climates butterfly bush can be weedy and invasive. With Buddleia, that was our original tactic. But our mutation breeding program produced a dwarf mutant that had a cool form and habit but so-so flower color, so we bred it with other cultivars with strong flower color to get dwarf plants in a range of colors. These plants have been introduced as the Better Homes and Gardens Soda Pop series.” The same mutation breeding program also produced the variegated ‘Summer Skies’ butterfly bush that is part of the Proven Winners® program.

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CAHNR in the news

Students with mobile devicesThe Daily Campus reported about the Major Fair event, which seeks to assist students in exploring majors. It quoted Julia Cobuzzi, who was described as a seventh semester nutrition major.

Hartford Courant listed some of the activities available at Celebrating Agriculture in Woodstock. One of the groups mentioned was UConn Extension.

Time included comments from Nancy Rodriguez about the advisability of eating before exercising. Rodriguez is a professor in nutritional sciences.

NBC Connecticut quoted Thomas Worthley about the progress of fall foliage. Associate Extension Professor Worthley is from the Department of Extension in Middlesex County.

Awards and accolades for CAHNR

The Integrated Pest Management Team was selected to receive the 2017 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Public Engagement in the team category. The IPM team includes: Donna Ellis (IPM Program Coordinator, invasive species, curriculum, nursery, and school IPM), Mary Concklin (fruit), Leanne Pundt (greenhouse), Ana Legrand (invasive species, turf and landscape), Candace Bartholomew (pesticide safety education), Joan Allen (plant diagnostic laboratory), and Victoria Wallace (school, turf and landscape).  Jude Boucher (vegetable) retired in 2017, and Alejandro Chiriboga (nursery) is no longer with UConn.

The team will be recognized at the Excellence in Public Engagement Reception on November 14. A poster the team’s accomplishments will be displayed at the reception and, beginning in January, in the Connecticut Legislative Office Building.


Cooperative Extension, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities announced that Extension Educator Chester Arnold was chosen for one of the five 2017 regional Excellence in Extension awards. Arnold, who is in the Department of Extension in Middlesex County, was the sole awardee for the northeastern region.

He will be recognized in Washington, D.C. on November 12. According to the news release, these awards represent the finest examples of the many positive impacts of Cooperative Extension work in the United States. (more…)