Plant of the Week: Old School varieties

Old School.

New plants get a lot of attention, which is fine. New plants are exciting and fun. But here's a look at a couple of old school favorites.
The first is 'Limelight' Hydrangea paniculata (see above). 'Limelight' sets a new standard for hardy hydrangea. Its full green blooms turn pink and burgundy in the fall. Hardy to USDA Zone 3, it's a favorite across North America.

Little Henry® Itea virginica is a dwarf form of  native sweetspire. It has fragrant white flowers in summer and brilliant orange foliage in fall. Hardy to USDA Zone 5, it will grow in sun or shade although flowering and fall color will be more pronounced in sun. While the species is typically around 4' tall, Little Henry® is just 2-3' tall and wide.

But what about the new varieties?

There are plenty of new varieties of hydrangeas. Even limiting the question to H. paniculata gives us plenty of options for new cultivars.

We are often asked how 'Limelight' compares with Little Lime®, and how Little Lime® compares to Bobo®, and do we really need quite so many choices?

The simple answer is yes, we do need these choices. Little Lime® is a dwarf form of 'Limelight'. Some sites call for a large plant, some call for a smaller one, but now we have the right sized plant for most any situation.
Bobo® is the smallest H. paniculata on the market, so it's a good fit for the smallest of sites or even as a patio container plant. It's cold hardy enough to winter above ground in much of North America.
Quick Fire® and Little Quick Fire® bloom earlier than other varieties. Bloom time and bloom color can vary quite a bit in H. paniculata, and plant breeders are pushing the envelope on both qualities to give cold-climate gardeners a longer flower season and bolder color.
Here's a nice chart showing the range of colors and bloom times for H. paniculata. Use it to create a long-lasting display in landscapes!

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

Plant of the Week: Deutzia Duet

Deutzia Duet
Yuki Cherry Blossom® Deutzia is the Proven Winnners® ColorChoice® Landscape Plant of the Year, and with good reason. Simply put, it's a pink Deutzia 'Nikko'. Yes, the same low growing habit and abundant spring flowers, only this time in pink. 
Hardy to USDA Zone 5, it grows 1-2' tall and wide and has a tidy, mounded habit. It will grow in full sun or partial shade.

Perhaps pink isn't your thing. I certainly can't argue with someone who embraces a Green and White aesthetic.
So we've got you covered. This is Yuki Snowflake® Deutzia. It's like 'Nikko' only with way more flowers. Seriously, put them side by side and you'll see why we introduced this selection. This little plant is covered with white blooms in spring and has nice fall color, too. Hardy to USDA Zone 5, it grows 1-2' tall and wide and takes full sun or partial shade.

Take a look at Deutzia.

I know, Deutzia is one of those plants that's been around forever. People who know and use the plant love Deutzia, but not everyone is aware of it.
You will find lots of places to use Deutzia. These low growing plants are perfect for edging walks or planting at the front of beds and borders. They will enjoy the spring flowers, and then have rich foliage color to look at in fall. This is sounding better and better.
Here's the real showstopper: Deutzia are quite deer resistant. Not deer proof, of course, but they are pretty low on the list for deer. Kind of like anchovies on a salad bar; when everything else is gone they might eat them but they'd really prefer that the vine-ripened tomatoes were restocked. (Actually I like anchovies, but only in moderation.) The point is that Deutzia is a plant that will make you happy. 

Plant of the Week: 'Viva Polonia' Clematis

'Viva Polonia' Clematis
Clematis for everyone!

Clematis are intimidating. They're kind of like Baked Alaska in that I really like them but figure that they are best left to people who know what they're doing. Until now.

Szczepan Marczynski has produced a fine array of easy to grow Clematis that even I am not afraid to grow. There's no complicated pruning regime with these plants. Just prune them back to 2-3' in spring and let them do their thing.
'Viva Polonia' gets its name for its resemblance to the Polish flag. It will grow in full sun or part shade and is hardy to USDA Zone 4. It gets 4-6' tall and wide.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

Plant of the Week: Fire Light® Hydrangea

Fired up for spring!

Fire Light® is the standard to measure all panicle hydrangeas! This easy-to-grow, reliable panicle hydrangea was developed in Michigan, selected for its huge, full flower heads and sturdy, strong stems. Blooms emerge creamy-white and age to a vivid red for lots of summer color. It makes a great cut flower, fresh or dried, and can be used as a hedge, specimen, or incorporated into flower gardens and foundation plantings.

Hardy to USDA Zone 3, they bloom every year - even after bad winters. The flowers open white and then turn pink-red. Need a smaller variety? Try a dwarf variety such as Little Quick Fire®.

But what about blue?

Sorry, these hydrangea aren't going to turn blue. White, then pink-red. That's what they do.

If you want a blue hydrangea you need to grow a H. macrophylla or H. serrata. And you need to grow it with attention to flower color.

This isn't an overnight process. You can't go out to a crop of beautiful pink mophead hydrangeas and change them to blue instantly. But with proper planning and execution you can have that sea of blue flowers.

Here is a very good article about shifting hydrangea color. It has more detail than most such articles, and really helpful! 

If you need something a little less technical, we have a really nice pdf that you are welcome to link to and share.

Plant of the Week: Red Rover® Cornus

Send Red Rover Right Over!

Cornus obliqua, or silky dogwood, is a native species of Cornus that thrives in damp sites. Another common name for it is swamp dogwood, but that makes me think of mosquitoes and snakes so I'm sticking with silky dogwood.

While the species may reach 12' in height, Red Rover® Cornus is a compact selection that stays around 5' tall. That makes it a better fit for most landscapes. It has clean green foliage that turns wine red in fall. Blue fall fruit adds to its autumn appeal.

Hardy to USDA Zone 4, it will grow in full sun or partial shade. Give this plant a try in rain gardens or near streams and ponds.

Going to the dogs.

There was a sporting event last weekend. You may have heard something about a big comeback (or epic meltdown, depending on your point of view.) Maybe the end of the football season has you feeling a little...deflated. Fear not, there's another big showdown coming this weekend: the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show! With all due respect to NFL players, these athletes are cuter.

As a cat person, I would argue with the dog's claim to be man's best friend. But I do think that dogwoods have a strong case to be the gardener's loyal ally. Various species give us stunning flowers, dramatic fruit, and much needed color in the winter landscape.  
Our native silky dogwood is a workhorse breed that thrives in soggy sites that may challenge other plants. Think of it like a water spaniel, or a fishing cat. The flowers support our pollinator populations, and songbirds love the fruit. This is a great plant for the gardener who wants to incorporate a little bit of wilderness into the landscape.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

Plant of the Week: Behold the Tundra Rose

Yes, Tundra Rose. I think it's a much better common name than Bush Cinquefoil. Actually, this is one of the few plants where the botanical name is more popular than the common name. But Tundra Rose does have a certain flair.

It's fairly accurate, too. After all, Potentilla are hardy to USDA Zone 2. I saw them growing in Alaska, which seems like legit tundra to me. And they are a member of the rose family. So there you go

We selected Happy Face® Potentilla for their full, compact habits and exceptional flowering. Older varieties have a tendency to look kind of weedy and ratty; these stay nice and full. The color of the Happy Face® varieties is outstanding; Happy Face® Pink Paradise is the best pink variety we've seen. The pink flowers hold their color longer than any other pink variety.

These plants grow 2-3' tall and wide and are a durable, easy to grow choice with good deer resistance. If you think of Potentilla as being an old-fashioned plant, check out these new varieties. They're kind of retro-cool. And pretty useful in the landscape, too.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

MANTS 2017 Recap

Another year, another great show!  It’s one of my favorite trade shows to attend and for good reason!  There’s so much to see and countless people who share such passion for the industry.  The Association for Garden Communicators (GWA) was there in full force for the media breakfast and CONNECT meeting…what a great group of people!  I love MANTS because it’s a great way to see what trends are emerging for the coming season.  Here's a few trends I noticed: 


The Pantone Color of the Year for 2017 is “Greenery”.  It looks lime green in color to me and was featured prominently throughout the show in a wide variety of plants.  This trend has been growing for a while as more gardeners are looking for that extra ‘pop’ in the landscape.   Two newer introductions ‘Golden Treasure’ Dwarf Birch Betula (pictured right) and Chardonnay Pearls® Deutzia are prime examples of this bright cheery green color. 

Cold hardy shrubs
Everyone has winter on the brain and for good reason.  It’s cold out there, well... aside from the 70 degree weather we had at MANTS.  Several people asked me about shrubs that survive freezing temperatures.  Just to name a few, Pucker Up! Red Twig Dogwood and Tiny Wine® Ninebark are great options.  Here’s a list of  others.

Proven Winners® ColorChoice® Flowering Shrubs
I hope you were able to stop by the Spring Meadow Nursery booth and got a chance to talk about all of the new Proven Winners® ColorChoice® Flowering Shrubs introductions for 2017.  A major focal point was the Oso Easy® Rose series.  These roses are nothing short of amazing because they are disease-resistant, long-blooming, and very easy to grow.  My personal favorites are Oso Easy® Double Red, Oso Easy® Lemon Zest, and Oso Easy® Italian Ice.  Another popular plant that had people talking at MANTS was Purple Pillar Rose of Sharon Hibiscus.  It’s very unique because it grows naturally as a narrow column instead of a wide, spreading plant. 


The Grow Must Go On

In the early morning hours of Sunday, January 15, 2017, the Spring Meadow Nursery office building burned to the ground in a fire. It took six fire departments to extinguish the blaze, but thanks to their efforts, no one was hurt and we had no loss of greenhouses, crops, or growing space. Offices have been moved into another building and we are fully operational. 
On behalf of Spring Meadow Nursery, I want to thank everyone for their kind words of support and their patience through the last few weeks. This experience serves as a powerful reminder of what’s important in life, and what a fantastic industry we are a part of. Though the recovery efforts have been and will continue to be substantial, we feel so fortunate that it wasn’t worse that none of us are spending much energy looking back. Our focus is on the future and getting back to business. Spring Meadow Nursery owner, Dale Deppe, said the day of the fire, “We’re just fired up for spring!”