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CALS Alum and Professor Recognized for Nursery Industry Impacts

flowers near the NC State Memorial Belltower
Memorial Belltower and spring flowers.

Two accomplished horticulturists with ties to NC State University were honored during the recent 2019 Southern Nursery Association Conference in Baltimore.

At the association’s award ceremony on Jan. 8, Ted Bilderback, an emeritus professor with NC State’s Department of Horticultural Science, received the association’s lifetime achievement award, and alumnus Tony Avent was recognized for his success developing, promoting and using new and improved landscape plants.

Bilderback, who won the 2019 Slater Wight Memorial Award, worked at NC State for 37 years. An expert in irrigation, horticultural container substrates and plant nutrition, Bilderback focused on environmentally conscious practices. He conducted research and shared science-based knowledge with horticulture students, members of the nursery and landscape industry, and scientists. Over his 37-year career, he contributed 500 research, extension and popular articles. He also served as director of NC State’s acclaimed JC Raulston Arboretum.

Avent — who owns Raleigh’s Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden with his wife, Anita – won the Don Shadow Award of Excellence for the contributions he’s made over more than 40 years in the area of new and rare plants. His mail-order nursery sells perennials to people around the world, and he has hybridized hostas, rare bulbs and hardy aroids. Avent also is recognized internationally for his educational lectures and for writing books, magazine and newspaper articles and other publications about plants.

The Avents’ award-winning 28-acre Juniper Level Botanic Garden serves as a spiritual retreat and plant research facility focusing on plant conservation, plant exploration, breeding and propagation. The garden consists of more than 25,000 different kinds of plants and could become part of the JC Raulston Arboretum.

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