GardenLine Profile: RCW Nurseries
"The Get It – Got It Nursery!"
For the past several years, I haven't paid much attention to, much less cared about the Love Bug. Why? That's because we had mostly black automobiles. For those of us now with white (or in our case, close-to-white-but-somewhat-pink-brand-new-Escalade; another story for another time, but I am very proud of my wife's success, if you understand the inference) vehicles, you may be like me and wondering what can be done to reduce the impact of these pests?
The answer is, NOT MUCH!!! That's mainly because, besides their suicidal missions on white and off-white automobiles, they are not considered a "harmful" insect. However, having said that, I will always remember what one of my mentors at Texas A&M referred to them as. Dr. Bart Drees, wrote this about the love bugs years ago: "Although their behavior and their common name may be amusing, their presence in such large numbers can be somewhat of a nuisance. Cars driving through these aerial orgies become spattered with these loving bugs.
Drees' article goes on to say that Love Bug larvae breed in moist habitats high in organic matter such as bar ditches and swampy areas. They are harmless as immatures and actually help nature by decomposing dead plant tissues. Mass adult emergence occurs during specific periods of the year as dictated by environmental conditions (prolonged period soil saturation from rains) conducive to their development. Adults spend their time sipping nectar from flowers and searching for mates and mating while hovering in the air. It has been thought that car fumes contained some properties that were attractive to these flies, but they are naturally attracted to open spaces within their generally wooded habitats.
Because of their harmless biology, chemical control using insecticides has not been recommended. They do not respond to insect repellents (citronella, DEET) since they are not attracted by carbon dioxide as are blood-feeding arthropods. Adulticides, as fogs and aerosol insecticides designed to quickly knock down and kill swarming adults, will effect exposed insects. However, these compounds are readily displaced by wind currents and are generally quick to lose effectiveness relative to the duration of lovebug swarming period which may last several weeks. At present, all that can be done is to learn how to cope with lovebug swarms. Populations of adult flies may be drastically diminished by heavy rains. Otherwise, adults may naturally be present for a period of several weeks in the spring and especially in late summer or early fall. It may be helpful to remember the following points during swarming periods:
1) Lovebugs do not fly at night, so driving schedules could be arranged to avoid swarming flies.
2) Fewer flies are smeared over car finishes if vehicles are driven at lower speeds. Some types of commercially available wind deflectors positioned on the front hood of cars and trucks may help deflect some of the flies and keep them from hitting the windshield.
3) Netting stretched over front grills can prevent crushed flies from clogging radiators and thus prevent overheating on long trips. These devices are commercially available.
4) There are commercially available products containing petroleum distillates advertized to facilitate the removal of crushed, dried insect parts from car finishes. Finally, as you may remember we linked you to the SNOPES website, years ago, to help refute the still persistent rumor that Love Bugs were/are an ‘escaped-mutated-bug' from some lab in Florida. They are not! Here's that link
15809 Tomball Parkway, Houston, TX
"The Get It – Got It Nursery!"
The first thing you should probably do, even before you finish reading this entire profile about the great RCW Nursery, is sign up for their weekly email tip at www.rcwnurseries.com then click on the "contact us" link and then scroll to the bottom for the subscription link to their news. They too send out email blasts, and not just about what deals and sales they might have each week. But it's not just about sales they might have, are loaded with great information week in and week out written specifically for gardeners in this market.
Okay, now that you've signed up for their weekly email tips; let me tell you a little bit about this amazing garden center. Of course I'm going to explaining why I call them the GET IT/ GOT IT nursery, but I'll also give some wonderful history about the place as well. RCW Nursery started in the summer of 1979 by three Shell employees of the last names Robinson, Cox and Williamson. It was Tom Williamson who bought out the other two in 1983, but kept the name in place. Since then, RCW has been a family-owned-and-operated business with Tom, his wife Doris and their three children (all grown adults now) David, Cheryl and Cindy.
If you've ever been to RCW, you know what I mean when I call them the GET IT / GOT IT nursery. Since 1983, when it became a full-time operation and business for the Williamson Family, they have also gone out of their way to hire employees who are passionate about horticulture. As such, those hires were specific too, getting them employees that were in-house experts on everything from Roses to Perennials to Herbs to Trees. So, the staff there "Gets It" when it comes to what they have in stock and what works in the Houston area. And because of that, you know they've "Got It" in stock or can get it for you through special orders.
One area "they get" more than any other is TREES. One of the reasons they always have the best looking trees for our landscapes is because they have their own tree farm located up in the Plantersville area. The tree farm is definitely papa Tom's passion. RCW's tree farm wholesales trees to other nurseries and landscapers. So, you can bet your bottom dollar that the best specimens from that tree farm always make their way to the retail garden center at 249 & Beltway 8.
Here's what I love about RCW Nursery. Besides how beautiful it is when you're actually walking around, they always have knowledgeable employees on staff. I especially love the fact that they carry almost everything I talk about on my radio show, but moreover now they carry probably the most complete line of organics in Houston. But they do it without "shoving it in your face." In other words, they still have a room full of all the products you remember from years ago, and whole other room dedicated strictly to organics. They have stuff in both rooms I haven't even talked about, to give you an idea on how well-stocked they truly are.
When you get a chance to talk to Doris or Tom, it's interesting to get the two different perspectives about what they are most proud of for a business that started so innocently nearly 30 years ago. Obviously, for Tom it would have to be the trees, because of their quality coming from the hands-on growing operation. But to both Tom and Doris, they always seem most proud of their employees, and how they've been able to hire those with that true passion for the business. That speaks volumes too in this day and age of mass-merchandisers, where you couldn't get anyone to answer detailed gardening questions at the big box stores or mass merchandising garden centers.
Speaking of people, Doris notes that one of the things that always makes her beam with pride are when the customers say things like "This place is amazing… This is my first time here, but I'm never going anywhere else for my gardening stuff again." Along those lines she just glows when she tells stories of customers who drive from 30 and 40 miles away to do their garden shopping with RCW, knowing there are many other choices probably much closer to their home.
Over the years, while RCW has always been there at the corner of 249 & Beltway 8, it has expanded little by little to a point where it is taking up nearly 4 acres at the corner of that rather busy intersection. But as I've termed it over the years, "they are that great, green oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle" and because of that you may not recognize it as nursery at first glance. So, take a long second look as you drive by that intersection next time. Better yet, stop on in any time during their normal operating hours and see if you agree with me that they are the true GET IT / GOT IT nursery of the Houston area.
15809 Tomball Parkway
Houston, TX 77086
Mon – Thurs - 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Fri & Sat - 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sundays - 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
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