California Spring Trials (CAST)

It’s been a whirlwind since I started back in March.  Shannon and the rest of the team have been wonderful as we transition job duties and I get up to speed on projects. 

I was lucky enough to make it to CAST this year and am so glad for the experience.  It was a stellar event, the weather was beautiful (except for the sunburn…ouch), and the Proven Winners team was incredibly welcoming.  It was great meeting some of you during the week!

We had an excellent display of shrubs throughout the week but here are a few of the crowd favorites.

Tiny Tuff Stuff™ hydrangea – This one really stole the show.  It came as no surprise to me, because it instantly caught my eye.  It’s a real beauty, with flowers so delicate and refined that it seems strange to call them tough - but they are.  I just picked up a couple of these for my yard…very excited to see them grow and bloom this summer. 

Kodiak® Black bush honeysuckle (Diervilla) – I’ll be honest, at first, I wasn’t a fan of this guy until I realized it had all of these traits – native, drought-tolerant, deer-resistant, and thrives in sun or shade.  Pretty impressive, if you ask me.  It’s a real stand-out with is dark-burgundy-black foliage in spring and autumn with bright yellow flowers in summer.    

Jazz Hands® series – This was very popular among our southern folks.  We had all five varieties of this Loropetalum (Chinese fringe flower) series at CAST.  Ranging from Jazz Hands® Mini, a ground cover with pink flowers, to Jazz Hands® Bold, the largest of the series topping out at five feet high, with flowers three times larger than the other varieties.  I can’t forget to mention the other varieties…Jazz Hands® Variegated, Jazz Hands® Dwarf Pink and Jazz Hands® Dwarf White.  It’s a neat plant…I wish I could grow it here in Michigan. 

With the weather finally warming up, I’ve been bagging leaves, expanding beds, spreading mulch, and most importantly…beginning to plant.  I hope everyone has had a chance to get outside and work in the garden. 

Best, Mark                                       

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