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Ron Smith answers questions about flowers, trees, gardens and shrubs.

By Ron Smith, Horticulturist

NDSU Extension Service

Readers: Being an NDSU Extension horticulturist for the past 27-plus years has been an interesting and rewarding experience-filled career for me. It has been interesting in the sense that it continually offered a challenge and there was constant change.

The rewards came most importantly in the form of the friends and associations I’ve made across the region. Certainly, friendships and associations were made in North Dakota, but also in Minnesota and South Dakota.

Many people have invited me into their homes to share a meal when I’ve been on the road. I also have a nice, fat file of letters of appreciation that I dub “my feel good” file.

One of the nice things about horticulture is pretty much the stable nature of the subject. An Aesculus glabra (Ohio buckeye) that I studied and learned about more than 50 years ago still is the same Aesculus glabra.

What has changed is the means of communication. At first, face-to-face presentations were of the utmost importance. I lived up to that expectation to the best of my ability. Then the Internet opened up and the nice, cozy Hortiscope column consisting of North Dakota readers suddenly became national and international in reach.

My first realization of that happening was when a correspondent asked if I could send a reference book to him in Tokyo, Japan. I’ve since fielded questions from other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, England, Israel, Italy, Sweden, Cost Rica and Germany and probably more.

Today, everything is digital. In addition to emails (more than 5,000 per year), expectations are for us to communicate through Facebook, blogging and Twitter. Quite frankly, this is beyond my reach of desire, interest and skill. I constantly wrestle with the quirks and idiosyncrasies of those means of communication. Hopefully, my replacement will have a better comfort level working with the ever-changing media than I have been.

My other reward in this career path I’ve had is the privilege of working with some of the most competent and talented people I’ve ever known. The North Dakota taxpayer is getting his or her money’s worth from the folks here in the NDSU Extension trenches. They reach out, support and guide everyone to a more rational and productive life.

My best wishes to all my colleagues and everyone whose acquaintance I’ve made these past 27-plus years!

For answers to general horticultural questions, go to

NDSU Agriculture Communication – Dec. 19, 2012

Source:Ron Smith, (701) 231-7971,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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