We’re big fans of Jonathan Green Grass Seed, so we’re happy to pass along company president and seedsman Barry Green’s story about how they developed it.
by Barry Green
Our business was founded generations ago by Jonathan Green to supply professional grass seed customers, like sod-growers, with seed varieties and seeding results that met and exceeded their expectations. To accomplish this goal we knew that we would have to get into the turfgrass breeding business and in 1986 we did, when we established a turfgrass research farm near Salem, Oregon in the heart of the grass seed production region in the United States. Soon we were planting turfgrass evaluations plots at leading universities and on sod farms throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states in order to test our seed under all the stressful growing conditions we face in our marketing areas (including very hot and humid summers and icy- cold winters).
Big discovery – beneficial endophytes!
A few years later we learned of a new research breakthrough called “beneficial endophytes” which could be bred into turfgrasses to make them distasteful to surface feeding insects, such as chinch bugs and sod webworms, and soon after we introduced endophytes into our entire grass seed retail program. They also help the grass plant to be more drought-tolerant and disease-resistant. At this time, Jonathan Green, Inc. is the only grass seed company selling grass seed mixtures with beneficial endophytes to the general public.
More discoveries – heat- and drought-tolerant grass seeds
In 1993 we discovered another important breakthrough in turfgrass breeding – a cool-season grass was discovered surviving hot, desert conditions in Africa – because of an invisible waxy-cuticle coating on the outer leaf surface, which we discovered with a microscope. Then a few years later we discovered another grass seed with similar qualities closer to home – in Marquette, Michigan, where the winds are very harsh.
And Black Beauty was Born
After many years of evaluation and turfgrass breeding work, we were able to cross these two grasses to create what we now call the “Black Beauty Breakthrough in Turfgrass Breeding”. These tall fescues look very similar to Kentucky Bluegrass but are more deeply rooted, drought-tolerant and disease-resistant than any other grass seed variety which has previously been available. They grow in full sun and partial shade and in sandy or heavy clay soils. They will thrive under the adverse growing conditions of Eastern New England and will look great doing so! The Black Beauty grasses can be found in our original Black Beauty and Black Beauty Ultra Grass Seed Mixtures and as a key component in many of our other great grass seed mixtures.
Only at Independent Garden Centers
Our products are only available at fine independent garden centers such as Homestead – because this is where homeowners must go to get the advice and instructions that they need to achieve success on their lawns.
Photos: Barry Green with Dr. Xunzhong Zhang of Virginia Tech University inspecting grass samples that were being evaluated for disease resistance, and Barry holding a patch of Black Beauty.