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!”

Plant of the Week: Brass Buckle™ Ilex

Brass section
Are you looking for a new kind of Ilex crenata? Maybe you would like to try an evergreen that isn't quite Well, here's one to try: Brass Buckle™ Japanese Holly.

It has clear, bright yellow color that is more attractive than that of other gold varieties. Brass Buckle™ has a very nice compact habit, too. Japanese hollies can be a little touchy in colder climates, but this one has done very well for us here in West Michigan.
Hardy to USDA Zone 6, it will grow in full sun or partial shade. Brass Buckle™ Ilex crenata grows 12-18" tall and wide - a great size for edging walks and borders.

Plant of the Week: Sprinter® Buxus

Sprint to the end of the year!

You can do it! The winter solstice has passed, so the days will be getting longer. There's only a few days to go in 2016, and then we will have a fresh new year to enjoy.
Sprinter® Buxus gets its name from its fast growth. I realize that speed is relative (for plant growth, anyway); it's still a boxwood. But it will finish twice as fast as most other varieties. That's money in the bank.

Sprinter® boxwood is hardy to USDA Zone 5, and grows 2-4' tall and wide. It will grow in sun or shade, and like other boxwood, has excellent deer resistance.

Boxwood blight
Many of our customers are concerned about boxwood blight, and rightly so.
We're fortunate that boxwood blight has not been found in Michigan. Nevertheless, we are very aggressive about monitoring our nursery stock and maintaining good plant health hygiene. Keeping things clean helps keep things green.

Much of the country is not so lucky, and is dealing with the threat of boxwood blight. Here are some good references I have found:

1. Here is a good overview of boxwood blight.

2. Growing resistant cultivars is a good strategy. 

3. Decorating with boxwood is a holiday tradition in many regions. Use care in disposing of greenery used in this way.

4. Our friends at Saunders Nursery have posted some well-written and sensible updates on the subject.


Plant of the Week: Anna's Magic Ball

Have a ball!

Here's a cute little plant for brightening your winter garden:
Anna's Magic Ball™ Thuja occidentalis. It has bright golden evergreen foliage that holds its color well through the winter. It maintains its dense, globe-like habit without pruning, and is a great accent plant or low hedge.  

Anna's Magic Ball™ Thuja grows just 10-15" tall and wide (we can barely see it above our piles of lake effect snow). It is hardy to USDA Zone 3 and will grow in full sun or partial shade.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

Plant of the Week: Celtic Pride™ Microbiota decussata


Bring on the cold weather!

OK, so maybe we humans aren't super excited about cold weather and the ensuing heating bills, but some entities are. My dog, for one, loves winter. She's a Norwegian elkhound. Snow is her thing.

Some plants like it, too. Microbiota decussata is one of them. With a common name like Siberian cypress you'd expect it to like winter. And it does: it likes USDA Zone 2. Even my dog isn't that hardcore.

Celtic Pride™ Microbiota was selected for its superior disease resistance and excellent winter color. While the species will often develop unsightly tip die-back, this selection maintains nice healthy color.

With its soft, appealing texture and low-growing habit, this is a very nice plant for cold-climate landscapes. It's a good mass planting, and its tolerance of dry shade makes it a useful option. It's got good deer resistance, too! 

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles