ILT is in our fist week of the season. Each morning we are greeted at 6 am by new and old faces clad in ILT orange, busy preparing for their day.
The parking lot is a calculated maze of trucks and trailers weaving about gathering the materials they will need for the day.
It is a routine that has been taking place for 50 years, and although things have changed I’m still moved by the sight of it.
So many people who are so dedicated to the work. So many that are ultimately trying to do what most people are striving for…putting away a nest egg, sending children to college, and overall bettering their lives.
I’m fiercely protective of my team because I want to do what my dad has set a standard for before me…respect the hard workers so they can live out their dreams.
We have probably all marveled at the beautiful fields of blue that pop up around this time of year. Customers ask me all the time in wonderment, “What is that?!”
Scilla is a member of the lily family. Most varieties bloom in spring whereas a few are fall bloomers. It is coveted for it naturalizing tendencies. So year after year they will slowly multiply to form that lovely blanket of blue. I always warn that they aren’t for the faint of heart. These are a true gardeners plant. As seen below, if they love their home they can take over.
A mass of ScillaThey like full sun locations with well drained soil. Plant them en masse for the best show. you can even pair them with a Tete e Tete daffodil, which is a lovely dwarf variety in a creamy yellow. Once they are done blooming, they are similar to other bulbs and do best if you let the leaves wilt. Other plants like ferns and hosta can be used to help mask the withering leaves as they come up as the scilla is nearing the end of its season.
See how tiny the Scilla bulbs are?Once the Scilla have put on their show they disappear completely, back into dormancy for their next display the following year. If you have never noticed this unique plant, take the time to look around…you won’t forget it once you see it.
raise your hand if you are one of us that feels like it is never going to stop
snowing this winter. Mother Nature
started us off with a bang in November with some light accumulations leading up
to the big Thanksgiving blast that left seven to eleven inches on the ground in
the northwest suburbs. Then she seemed
to take a nap in December but woke up crabby and ready to wage weather war
again in January; and she has been relentless ever since.
Snow accumulation totals for this winter are already more than a foot over our average for an entire winter, and we still have a month left before we can even start talking about spring. Along with all of this snow we have had more than our share of all of the other nasty weather elements Mother Nature keeps in her bag of tricks. Historic ice storms, a polar vortex that crushed century old temperature records, rain, sleet, freezing rain, hail, and yes, even graupel. In case you were wondering what graupel is, read on…
storms don’t hit the Chicago area often because they require just the right
combination of cold upper air, warm air above ground level and cold air right
near the ground. But when they do happen, ice storms that leave less than an
inch of ice on the ground can be much more disruptive than sleet, freezing
rain, or snowstorms that leave similar amounts of precipitation.
But what exactly is the difference between
rain, freezing rain, sleet, ice, etc. and why do we need so many terms for this
winter precipitation. Whether or not precipitation remains snow or transitions to
rain, freezing rain, sleet, hail, or graupel by the time it reaches the ground
hinges on the temperature fluctuations the snowflakes may encounter as they
travel through the layers of the atmosphere.
When the temperature between the ground and
the clouds remains at or below the freezing mark (32F), precipitation will fall
in the form of snow. It is
possible for snow to fall when temperatures are above 32, as long as the layer
of above-freezing air near the surface is rather shallow, not allowing the
snowflakes to melt.
freezing rain occur by a similar process but are different
forms of precipitation. Sleet occurs when snowflakes melt into
a raindrop in a wedge of warm air well above the ground and then refreeze in a
layer of freezing air just above the surface. This results in frozen raindrops,
or small ice pellets. Freezing rain occurs when the wedge of
warm air aloft is much thicker, allowing the raindrop to survive until it comes
in contact with the cold ground. A
coating of ice then forms on whatever the raindrops contact. Freezing rain is by far
the most dangerous because it forms a solid sheet of ice, as opposed to sleet
that just has small ice pellets that quickly bounce off of the surface. Interestingy, sleet can even provide a little
bit of traction for drivers, as opposed to the obvious dangers of a solid sheet
of ice that forms from freezing rain.
And I have
not forgotten, in case you
were wondering what graupel is, graupel (snow
pellets) forms when snowflakes are coated with a layer of ice. Graupel is
typically white and opaque. Unlike hail or sleet, graupel is soft and can fall
apart easily in your hand. Graupel is also usually smaller than hail, with a
diameter of around 0.08-0.2 of an inch.
The demand for ice melt applications to remedy
this onslaught of frequent, diverse precipitation has been high, exacerbated by
the intermittent freeze/thaw cycles we have also seen that create melted runoff
that refreezes overnight. The need for
more salt/chemical applications has resulted in some difficulty on the part of
the suppliers keeping up with the demand of contractors. Typically, suppliers are required to supply
municipalities and transportation authorities first to ensure that the road
ways are kept safe, leaving a high demand from contractors to take care of
private properties. Higher demand can
also mean higher prices, which you may see in the future.
If your budget has been blown up by the cost
of clearing snow and keeping up with these applications, you are not
alone. Commercial building managers,
retail mall owners, and HOAs alike share in the budget pain that this winter is
However, the safety of
employees, residents, visitors, etc. and the ability of vehicles to effectively
navigate around your property should always be paramount when balancing the
cost considerations that must be confronted in the midst of a winter like this
Hang on though, two weeks ago, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from
his burrow around 7:30 a.m. ET and did not see his shadow, predicting an early
spring for us all. A member of Phil’s
Inner Circle read from the groundhog’s prediction scroll to the cheers and
applause from the crowd;
“Faithful followers, there
is no shadow of me and a beautiful spring it shall be.”
As the legend goes, if Phil sees his shadow, he considers it an “omen” of six more weeks of bad weather and heads back into his hole. If it’s cloudy and he doesn’t, you can put away that winter coat sooner than expected. But of course, his predictions aren’t always correct. Statistically, you’re better off trying to decide what the rest of February and March will look like by flipping a coinsince Phil’s accuracy record is only 40%. At least with a coin you will be right half of the time.
It is an amazing moment for ILT Vignocchi. We have been awarded a Gold Award from the Illinois Landscape Contractor’s Association (ILCA). It is one of two Gold Awards that we received this year. Below is a visual tour of the first project in Skokie, Illinois. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to explore old videos as well as new…let them inspire you to get outside. Dream of the possibilities. And most important. Call us NOW to help you create them.
It was another great ilandscape show held at the Schaumburg Convention Center last week. I found it so invigorating for so many reasons…new technologies and products, interesting seminars and seeing all the award winning projects from 2018 (more on that next week)! The show is meticulously planned out by the Illinois Landscape Contractor’s Association’s Experience, Awards and Education committees and ILCA’s amazing staff and Executive Director. In short, it’s a very big deal attracting 6,800 attendees.
I think most people dread attending events of its nature. I saw several people, even those promoting products that definitely fit that bill. But that attitude is SUCH a waste of an opportunity. One of my favorite things to do when I come across those people is to interact with them, pull them out of their shell. Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll get a laugh. Try to turn around their day.
That’s the human interaction that is so important. Sure sharing best practices, learning about new innovative ideas, those are vital to our business. But there are those moments in between. Asking about someone’s kid without trying to sell them something, but because you care. Telling someone you love their tie, because you actually DO.
Put simply, taking time away from thinking about your problems, and to do lists and general needs to be inquisitive of someone else’s. Try it, it’s very fulfilling, especially face to face and not through a text message.
I hope that one day we don’t completely lose that feeling we should all feel after a genuine face to face conversation. That it would be an actual tragedy to have the true beauty of a laughing smiling face in person be replaced by yet another clever emoji.
Harry Vignocchi having some fun at the ilandscape show!
I think when I started working for my dad 24 years ago, he thought, “she’ll get bored, find something she loves and move on.” What I think both of us didn’t expect is that I did, find something I loved.
There is so much that I love about our company. I was first struck by how hard our men work, and what they can accomplish! I love when our customers tell us how much they appreciate how kind our people are. I love the smell when you walk into a green house. I love the moment when the sun is rising and the trucks are rolling out. But I think what I love the most is that I get to spend time with my dad, because when I was growing up, he was spending time growing the business.
My dad has a tremendous work ethic. He gets it from his Italian immigrant parents, Mary and Corrado Vignocchi. Their home was a modest farming town in Northern Italy. They fled Italy before the war, both to escape the terror and find much needed work. What they found here was hope, but it wasn’t easy.
I remember those afternoons with my grandparents, when it was just the three of us, I would say, “tell me.” “Oh silly girl. Tell you what?” “Tell me what it was really like.”
They would tell me stories about a time before they could communicate in English, how people would treat them, with harshness and disrespect. It still makes me heavy of heart when I think of it, and I think of it often, to remind myself.
They would tell me although it was hurtful they didn’t care. They were here and wanted to provide a better life for their children. A life of possibility, which proudly, they did…look at my dad.
This brings me to the ultimate reason I stay, through a recession, through climate change and even through our current labor shortage.
You see, dad and I, like many in our industry, are a product of immigrants. My dad has always been conscientious of that. In our 49 years in business my father has made helping the people that work for us as important as helping our customers.
That’s something I want to carry forward, a higher purpose for working as hard as you can for something bigger than yourself. Hopefully in honoring my heritage I will hear of yet another college graduation that fills yet another family with pride.