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Environment Matters Audio Podcast

Environment Matters
EPA Region 3
Topic: Philadelphia International Flower Show 2012
Size: : 4,463k
Time: 04:47

Date: February 29, 2012

Todd Lutte: This year's exhibit is titled "Palekaiko Nalowale," roughly translated from Hawaiian into "Paradise Lost." It focuses on the importance of wetlands, native plants, and integrated pest management.  It also showcases the rich diversity of the flora of our native wetlands and woodlands, and how these areas can be incorporated into a sustainable home garden.

[Opening music]

Bonnie Lomax: Thank you, Todd Lutte, and hello. I'm Bonnie Lomax of EPA's Mid-Atlantic Region and welcome to Environment Matters, our series of environmental podcasts.  It's once again time for the Philadelphia International Flower Show, an annual event that provides a much anticipated "sneak peek" at spring. EPA has been a part of this wonderful venue since around 1993, educating thousands of garden enthusiasts on techniques that protect the environment and at the same time create beautiful, healthy gardens.  Our guests today are Marty Monell, Deputy Director of EPA's national pesticides office, and Todd Lutte, an EPA environmental scientist and key partner in creating EPA's exhibit at this year's Flower Show. Todd is a strong believer in the value of wetlands.

Todd Lutte: Wetlands are transitional areas between water and land, sometimes referred to as the earth's lungs or sponges.  These valuable resources contribute to the national and local economies, and our natural environment, by providing recreational activities and giving us environmental benefits such as water pollution control, flood protection and habitat for wildlife and plants. Our exhibit showcases how the preservation of these wet areas in the home landscape can provide ecological functions while maintaining beauty in the home garden.

Bonnie Lomax: We asked Todd why it's important to feature native plants in our Mid-Atlantic gardens.

Todd Lutte: Our Flower Show exhibit focuses on native plants, which have historically adapted to the climatic conditions of the mid-Atlantic region. Native plants are more resistant to many pests and pathogens, and are more tolerant of climatic shifts and droughts, or harsh winters. They are more successful in adapting to those conditions because they have evolved over time in this region. I hope many people will visit our exhibit and see that they're ornamentally attractive, hardy and they provide habitat for local species of birds and mammals. My personal favorites in this year's exhibit, because of their hardiness and their beauty in a wide range of conditions, are the sheep laurel—a close relative of the mountain laurel—the Atlantic azalea and the creeping phlox.  

Bonnie Lomax:  Marty sees a direct connection between gardening and pesticides.

Marty Monell: The pesticide program at the Environmental Protection Agency regulates pesticides, and that includes agricultural pesticides, household pesticides, insect repellents and some disinfectants. The Philadelphia Flower Show provides us an opportunity to get a message out to avid gardeners. It's mostly about things to think about when you're outside gardening—not only about the use of pesticides in the garden, but also the use of pesticides on your person, and things to think about with insects that may become attracted to you—I'm thinking about mosquitoes and ticks—and things that you can do to protect yourself from the potential for disease when you are bitten by these insects.

Bonnie Lomax: Marty explains an important public health and environmental protection idea known as integrated pest management.

Marty Monell: We promote an integrated pest management approach, both to taking care of personal exposure as well as exposure in the garden. One of the main themes is to prevent the pests from being introduced into the environment to the extent you can control things like sources of water or other attractants to pests. That's a threshold consideration for pest management in an integrated, holistic scheme.

We try to use things other than chemicals where appropriate and effective and then of course the last resort is to use chemicals—and when you do use chemicals, we want to be sure that these pesticides are registered by EPA, so the consumer should always look to make sure that's the case on the product label. And then we want to be sure they're applied properly, so reading the label and the application instructions is critical.

[Closing music]

Bonnie Lomax: Thanks, Todd and Marty, for speaking with us and our fellow gardeners. To learn more about environmentally beneficial gardening, visit the EPA website greenscapes page. Go to epa.gov, and search for greenscapes. And for additional information about integrated pest management, go to epa.gov/pesticides. And thank you for joining us on Environment Matters.


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