July 22, 2014

Edibles Win at Cultivate 2014

At last week's Cultivate, what began as a normal trade show day quickly turned into something more exciting when Danny Summers, Managing Director of the Garden Center Group, stopped by the Proven Winners® ColorChoice® booth with great news: Sugar Mountain® Blue sweetberry honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea) won one of ten Retailer's Choice Awards. Danny and his retail cohorts had searched through thousands of items on display at Cultivate to select ten new products they deemed exceptional. In our booth alone, the competition was fierce. Lemony Lace® elderberry and Lo & Behold® 'Pink Micro Chip' butterfly bush were busy dazzling attendees while our honeysuckle sat demurely in the corner. So how did Sugar Mountain Blue sweetberry honeysuckle outshine them? The answer is hiding within the complete lineup of winners.

Edibles. Five of the winning products fell under this rising category. Judging by the number of ornamental varieties being introduced, edibles will soon be escaping their raised beds to mingle with their flowering counterparts in the landscape. Enter shrubs.

Proven Winners and Edibles

You'll notice that there aren't traditional fruit and vegetable varieties in our collection. Our goal is to fill a niche in the crowded edible marketplace with selections rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals; abundant fruit; good flavor; and trouble-free care. The hard working plants that make the cut are called Vitamin Berries®. This line kicked off with the introduction of Big Lifeberry® and Sweet Lifeberry® goji berries, super fruit that moved from a mainstay in Asia to popular health food in Europe. Sugar Mountain sweetberry honeysuckles are the newest Vitamin Berries.

The first thing you need to know about Sugar Mountain® Blue sweetberry honeysuckle is that it is delicious, pairing the flavors of blueberries and raspberries into one bite-sized, early summer fruit. After all, what is the point if an edible doesn't taste good? The second, third, and fourth things are that it is native to North America, super healthy, and cold hardy to USDA Zone 2. Oh, and the fifth thing: it debuts at retail in 2015, so you have to wait until next year to add it to your garden.

Sweetberry honeysuckle, also known as haskaps, are more common in Canada than the United States, and our friends to the north are certainly on to something. Compared to blueberries, this low-maintenance shrub is easier to grow without special soil requirements, and has higher levels of antioxidants and three times the amount of Vitamin C. They are one of the most cold tolerant edible plants on earth, standing up to winter temperatures as cold as -50°F (-45.6°C). If edibles aren't a trend you're interested in, what about plants that can take a polar vortex with ease?

Reaching five to six feet tall and wide, Sugar Mountain® Blue sweetberry honeysuckle makes an excellent hedge or stand-alone specimen in the edible landscape. Planting two different Sugar Mountain varieties will increase berry yield. There are three pollinators to choose from: Sugar Mountain® Balalaika™, Sugar Mountain® Eisbär™, and Sugar Mountain® Kalinka™.

For more details on this award-winning selection, visit our Sugar Mountain Blue information page.

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