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The Outstanding Building of the Year® (TOBY) Awards honor the best of the best in commercial buildings. Bruce Church and Gayle Kruckenberg attended the TOBY® Award Reception and Banquet at the 2014 Every Building Conference & Expo in Orlando, FL, where 87 regional winners were recognized and competed in 14 categories for the highest honor.  Congratulations to CBRE and their staff at the Atrium Corporate Center, Rolling Meadows on their 2013-2014 International TOBY award.  Balanced Environments, Inc. has been servicing the landscape needs of the Atrium Corporate Center for CBRE since 2011 and the previous management firm since 2008.

Almost as long as I have known him, David has trained hard to accomplish the goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  Against many odds of personal injury and a difficult schedule, he finally qualified in early 2013 (try running 26.1 consecutive 8 minute miles at age 55, it is a monumental task).  After the bombings, it appeared that the opportunity would be wiped from the table due to the number of runners automatically accepted from the bomb shortened race and the runners who would otherwise qualify the following year.  Dave survived the tighter qualification process and allowed Balanced Environments to sponsor his run as he proudly wore the BEI visor and shirt throughout the race.  I was there when he passed the 11 mile marker and could not have been prouder of the example he has set for me personally and for his friends, family, and the employees at Balanced Environments.   

---- Bruce A. Church,  President

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Balanced Environments, Inc. participated in the ‘BOMA-CAN’ Construction Project, during this year’s BOMA/Suburban Chicago Trade Show, which took place at Drury Lane in Oakbrook, on February 27th, and took home “top-honors” in votes and donations – all to benefit Northern Illinois Food Bank.

BOMA-CAN coordinates efforts from trade show sponsors to “construct” unique displays, utilizing actual food-stuffs to be donated - with trade-show attendees “voting with dollars” to pick a winning display.

Jim Wollney, BEI Senior Account Manager, spear headed the effort for BEI for the display design and construction. Jim was also active in soliciting multiple donations from clients, co-workers, and other sources, to add to the “in-house votes” at the trade show. Jim’s display capitalized on the recent interest in the Winter Olympics by “Going for the Gold”.

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Jim Wollney, Senior Account Manager, BEI - Old Mill Creek Branch – has taken a first place win in the recent Illinois Landscape Contractors (ILCA) – “iPix Photo Contest” 2014.

ILCA, in conjunction with its inaugural iLandscape Trade Show Event, held February 11-14, 2014 – sponsored a photo contest – to solicit the best of the season’s landscape photos - taken by members, during various association events and happenings.

Jim’s photo was taken at the ILCA ‘Field Day’ event, held in August 2013, at Ball Seed’s research and display garden facility in West Chicago, IL. His photo was selected as winner of “First Place – Best Garden Photograph from Field Day 2013”.

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With the coming of spring season, after a long, cold, and snowy winter – common signs of significant turf damage will become visible – and repair operations will be a priority in the early landscape season.

Problems of various types will be found: 1.) Pink Snow Mold – due to long-term, heavy snow cover; 2.) Salt Damage/Die-back – due to repeated snow removal activities; 3.) Vole Damage – burrows and tracks within the turf, under heavy snow cover.

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As the long, cold winter wanes into a new spring, damage to landscape plants will become evident, as the snow piles disappear.

With the heavy snow cover that this area received, combined with its longevity, landscape plants – especially shrubs – have been vulnerable to damage from animal browsing. Rabbits, voles (mice), and even squirrels have been active above, and below, the snow lines – chewing and feeding on shrub stems, bark, and bud tips.

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If your selection of seasonal color bedding plants, or container accents, has included Garden Impatiens – especially if you have shady locations – you may have experienced ‘die-back’ and plant failures within the last few seasons. This problem most likely comes from a fairly new pathogen, which has become a problem within our region – called ‘Impatiens Downy Mildew’.

This pathogen affects the Garden Impatiens – with leaf-yellowing, followed by curling, and eventual leaf-drop – within full-bed plantings of this flower. It will over-winter in planting bed soil, and will affect successive seasonal plantings of Garden Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana).

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The Perennial Plant Association has announced its pick for the 2014 ‘Perennial Plant of the Year’ as: Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ – Northwind Switchgrass.

Northwind Switchgrass is a great selection for mass plantings in full-sun areas, providing a full year – spring through winter - of interest and texture. ‘Northwind’ is a quality selection of a hardy, Midwest native grass; a vigorous grower, drought-tolerant, and insect pest and disease resistant.

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