Plant of the Week: Sugar Tip® Gold Hibiscus


Last week was a whirlwind at MANTS in Baltimore! I met so many great people, from the GWA reception on Wednesday evening, to the MANTS media reception Thursday morning, and throughout the week at the booth.

I'll need some time to gather my thoughts, but I have lots of inspiration to share in the weeks to come. In the meantime, check out my newest article in the GardenSmart e-news about deer-resistant evergreens and of course, Jane's Plant of the Week, below.

Have a wonderful week!


Zero calorie sweetness

That's Sugar Tip® Gold Hibiscus. Like the original Sugar Tip®, Sugar Tip® Gold Hibiscus is a handsome variegated rose of Sharon with showy sterile flowers. If you've ever dug up unwanted seedlings from your yard, you know how important this is.

Sugar Tip® Gold has bright golden variegation rather than the white coloration of the original, and has lavender-purple flowers instead of pink. It's a nice new color option for anyone wanting an easy to grow plant with season-long interest.

Sugar Tip® Hibiscus is one of those plants that challenges a lot of preconceived notions. First, it blooms.

Sugar Tip® Gold
This may not seem like a big deal for, you know, a flowering shrub, but if you've ever grown the older Hibiscus syriacus 'Variegata' you know how frustrating a non-blooming plant can be. That selection would tease gardeners with plenty of buds, but they would all abcise before opening. Imagine your favorite football team making it to the red zone on every possession but never scoring. Yes, that's what that plant did for gardeners - it made them sympathize with Detroit Lions fans.

Not only does Sugar Tip® bloom, but it does it without causing any problems, i.e. unwanted
seedlings. We're quite proud of the array of non-invasive plants in the Proven Winners® brand, and Sugar Tip® was one of the first sterile varieties that we introduced. Since then we've introduced Sugar Tip® Gold, Azurri Blue Satin®, Orchid Satin®, and Purple Satin® Hibiscus, all of which are seedless.

Sugar Tip® Gold Hibiscus grows 4-5' tall and is hardy to USDA Zone 5. You will want to grow it in full sun. As with many variegated plants, you may find that it's a little slower growing than non-variegated selections. That's OK: both of the Sugar Tip® Hibiscus have nice, consistent habits that make for a very attractive container plant.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

Plant trial opportunity and Plant of the Week: Funshine Abelia

Happy Monday! Today I'm making final preparations to attend my very first MANTS conference in Baltimore. I'm so excited to learn more about the industry and meet lots and lots of new people. If you'll be at MANTS, stop by the Spring Meadow/Proven Winners® ColorChoice® booth and introduce yourself!

I'm also preparing to send complimentary spring shipments of two very special new varieties of dwarf hydrangea to garden writers. If you have space in your garden and would like to trial samples of Invincibelle Wee White® hydrangea and Invincibelle Mini Mauvette® hydrangea, shoot an email to natalie@springmeadownursery <dot> com, with your contact and shipping information - and send me a link to your blog so I can follow you! 

Now on to Jane's Plant of the Week:

Good morning, Funshine™!

The earth says "hello"! This little gem from the musical "Hair" is wonderful for waking up sulky teenagers headed back to school after the lazy Christmas break.

FunshineAbelia isn't great at levering kids out of bed in the morning, but it does brighten up the landscape. The orange and bronze foliage is really appealing, and good enough to replace Bronze Anniversary® abelia in our product line.

We think you'll find it's a worthy alternative to 'Kaleidescope', too. There are no worries about variegation reverting, and it has a nice dwarf habit that fits well into landscapes. Check out the image below comparing the two varieties:

Funshine™ Abelia is hardy to USDA Zone 6 and grows 2-3' tall and wide. It will grow in full sun or partial shade, and produces fragrant pinkish-white flowers in summer.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

Looking forward... Plant of the Week: Sprinter® Buxus

I'm pretty new here at Spring Meadow Nursery, so the fire that destroyed the office building about year ago is something that, before now, I had only heard about in the news. When you go through a traumatic experience, like a devastating fire, it changes you. But I have to say, the people here at Spring Meadow remain positive and resilient, despite working elbow-to-elbow for the past year in a large lunch room that has been retrofitted with rows of office cubicles. Maybe it's because plant lovers are the type of people who have a mindset that is forward-looking and focused on growth and renewal...

At any rate. I'm reminded of the amazing spirit of the Spring Meadow team when I read things like Jane's blog from last week:
"We're in the midst of some really cold temperatures here in West Michigan, and enjoying a steady dose of lake effect snow...
Cold weather also gives us a chance to slow down and reflect on what the year has brought. Some challenges, to be sure: having our office burn down was not a great way to start 2017. But opportunities as well. Our new office is framed in and roofed, and contractors are working right now to finish the interior. We always look forward to spring, but this year it will be extra special.
Year-end reflection also has us appreciating how lovely our customers and other horticulture industry friends are. We are truly lucky to work with you all.
We hope that all of you have had a great year, and look forward to seeing you in 2018!"
I couldn't have said it better myself... on to the Plant of the Week:

Sprint to the New Year!

Sprinter® Buxus has attractive glossy evergreen foliage and excellent hardiness, something we care about here in West Michigan. Did I mention yesterday's high of 10°F?

But the reason we selected Sprinter® is its fast growth. It will finish about twice as fast as conventional varieties. An excellent production plant like this is good for growers, obviously. But it's good for retailers and landscapers, too, since they can count on good supplies for future projects. Because boxwood is kind of like wearing all black - you don't want your black pants to clash with your black shirt. You don't want last year's boxwood to clash with this year's replacement from where you lost control of the snow blower.
Sprinter® Boxwood landscape hedge

Sprinter® Buxus is hardy to USDA Zone 5 and will grow 2-4' tall and wide. Like other boxwood it will grow in sun or shade and takes pruning very well. This is the plant for folks who got some new hedge clippers for Christmas!

Here's a nice video of Sprinter® that you can share with your team so they're familiar with the plant - it will help them to sell this newer variety next spring.
Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

One last note from Natalie - Click here to see a cool time-lapsed video of the progression of the office building construction. The video is hosted on the Spring Meadow Nursery Facebook Page.

Season's Greetings! Plant of the Week: North Pole Thuja

Tis the season for decking the halls...and as the popularity of container gardening continues to grow,
'Filip's Magic Moment' Thuja
evergreens that can be decorated and used indoors, and then taken back outdoors after the season is over, seems like a natural fit, right?

Not so fast... bringing an evergreen or conifer inside, then taking it outdoors again and successfully re-acclimating it to the winter environment can be tricky business. As you probably know, sudden temperature changes and dry indoor conditions can doom a once-healthy little outdoor plant.

Some shrubs, like 'Filip's Magic Moment', will withstand this treatment better than others...and imagine having this sweet little guy ready and waiting on your patio to bring inside and brighten your indoor d├ęcor each Christmas?

Do you have tips about reintroducing live 'trees' to the outdoors after Christmas? How about other ideas for holiday container gardening? I'd love to hear them!

On to the plant of the week...

This week Jane celebrates the season with a clever take on a popular holiday place, the North Pole. Her plant of the week blog post is below...thanks for reading and we'll see you in the New Year.


All eyes are on the North Pole!

The little ones are looking for Santa Claus, of course. Have you heard the story of how NORAD started to track his progress on Christmas Eve? It's delightful.

Those of us who have aged out of the jolly old elf's system can content ourselves with North Pole Thuja. It, too, is delightful. And unlike many of the presents under Christmas trees, it will last for many years.

Thuja is a fast-growing, very narrow selection of our native arborvitae. Developed in Minnesota, this is a plant that was literally made for cold weather. It's quite hardy (USDA Zone 3) and has good resistance to winter burn. I think you'll find that this is a very appealing plant both in the landscape and at retail. The tight, narrow form is really attractive and quite useful for smaller sites. Check out this cool video about the plant.

Finally, a very Merry Christmas from everyone at Spring Meadow Nursery. 

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

Winter Interest - Plant of the Week: Berry Heavy® Gold Ilex verticillata

Hello and happy Monday!

This week Jane writes about the winter interest plant, Berry Heavy® Gold Ilex verticillata. As you know, most people don't produce gardens and landscapes that have year-round interest by sheer's something that takes planning and nurturing.

When my family moved into our house about 12 years ago, we took all the grass out of the sloped front yard and replaced it with a huge perennial and flowering shrub garden. It's quite a beautiful sight all summer if I do say so myself...but I have always bemoaned the lack of winter interest in my yard.

But now I've seen the light! I've been wanting to remove some tall ornamental grasses that have gotten a little invasive over the past few years, and my plan for next summer is to replace them with a Berry Heavy® Gold and a Berry Poppins® Ilex (with a Mr. Poppins® close by!) and probably a couple Arctic Fire® Red Twig Dogwood as well. Yes, I know summer is a long way off, but you have to think warm thoughts, right?

What are your favorite winter-interest plants? What do you write about this time of year that seems to get gardeners the most excited about celebrating the season, or preparing for the next one?

Jane's plant of the week blog post is below, and I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading and we'll see you next week,


May your days be merry and bright...

I'm pretty sure our Christmas will be white.

Berry Heavy® Gold
The lake effect snow machine kicked in last week, and we've had another several inches since Monday. So I'd say we're on track here for a Currier and Ives-like Christmas here in West Michigan.

That's why we need these bright berries in winter. Truthfully, if you've got good snow cover the red berries stand out a little more. But on gloomy, cold-winter-rain days a golden winterberry is, well, golden.

We selected Berry Heavy® Gold Ilex verticillata for its big, bright golden fruit. It's a stunning choice for landscapes and cutting gardens. Berry Heavy® Gold grows 6-8' tall and wide and is hardy to USDA Zone 3. It will grow in full sun or partial shade.

Like other Ilex, it will need a male pollinator to produce fruit; we recommend Mr. Poppins®.

This cold-hardy native plant will grow fairly far south (USDA Zone 9) so even folks who have sleet instead of pretty snow can grow it.

It will grow in most situations as long as the soil isn't alkaline. Wet soils? It loves them. Clay soils? Those are OK, too. Winterberry will tolerate the air pollution of urban locations, and can shore up the stream banks in more rural settings. How wonderful is that?

The only limitation of winterberry is that it doesn't look like much until fall and winter, which makes it a tough sell to the spring impulse shopper. So let's do the world a favor and get the word out about this awesome species.

Here's a 30 second video that you can share with your fans if you want to share a little more inspiration.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

Magic Moments and Plant of the Week

Happy Monday! 

I'm Natalie, Spring Meadow's new marketing and promotions specialist and your new "Through the      Greenhouse Glass" blogger. I'm looking forward to connecting with you, sharing ideas and inspiration, and also of course, sharing Jane's fabulous "Plant of the Week" posts. 

This week Jane posted about the Filips Magic Moment® Thuja, a sunny spot in what can sometimes be a drab winter landscape. But before we get to the Plant of the Week post, I wanted to share another magic moment. Last week our videographer Adriana captured the first snow at the Deppe garden here in Grand Haven. It's simply breathtaking...enjoy:

'Filips Magic Moment'
Hello gloom,

Winter finally decided to show up. In West Michigan, that means clouds and lake effect snow. It's fifty shades of gray but slushy, not smutty.

So we need some bright evergreen color to cheer us up. 'Filips Magic Moment' Thuja does the trick. It's a compact evergreen with golden foliage that is a welcome sight in these dreary days.

I planted a couple of these in my mom's yard and saw them this weekend. I commented to her that I always forget how much I like this plant until the cold weather comes. They were beautiful!

'Filip's Magic Moment' grows 6-8' tall and is hardy to USDA Zone 3. It will grow in full sun or partial shade. Use it as you would a Dwarf Alberta Spruce - it's a better choice in warmer areas where the Picea can struggle.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

Plant of the Week: Winecraft Black Smokebush

Holy smokes!

Smokebush is a fun plant. The clouds of pink flowers are unlike other garden plants and have the exotic appeal of something seen only in botanic gardens. (It's actually not the flowers that you notice, but the hairs around them.) In addition to the attention-grabbing summer flowers, Cotinus has excellent fall color. It will add months of interest to landscapes. It's an adaptable plant, too. Drought, clay soil, deer - none of these things will trouble Cotinus. The only thing you really need to watch is that the soil is well-drained.

Winecraft Black Cotinus from Proven Winners ColorChoice

As an easy-to-grow, adaptable plant with tons of ornamental appeal, why aren't there more smokebushes in gardens? One reason is that they are at their peak in summer rather than spring, so there isn't a ton of impulse appeal at retail. Another is that older varieties are kind of irregular growers. Their habit could be a bit ungainly, especially as young plants.

Winecraft Black Cotinus from Proven Winners ColorChoice

Meet Winecraft Black

That's why we're so pleased to introduce Winecraft Black®, a new compact Cotinus with an excellent uniform habit. It's a semi-dwarf plant that grows 4-6' tall and wide, so it fits nicely into most landscapes. Really, now there's no excuse not to have smokebush in your garden.

Winecraft Black Cotinus from Proven Winners ColorChoice

As the name would suggest, Winecraft Black® has dark purple-black foliage that is quite showy all summer long. In summer pink-red panicles cover the plant in the signature 'smoke' of smoketrees. Hardy to USDA Zone 4, this plant will do best in full sun.

Garden Answer & Winecraft Black

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles