Plant of the Week: Lemony Lace® Sambucus

Hello and Happy Monday!

This week I'm in Chicago for the GWA Annual Conference and Expo and the IGC Show, so I'm re-running one of Shannon's posts from a few years ago about a plant that I just love to see in landscapes, Lemony Lace® Sambucus. It has the same gorgeous finely cut foliage that is reminiscent of Black Lace®  Sambucus Nigra, but in a more compact form and with spectacular chartreuse foliage.

A few weeks ago I wrote an article for GardenSmart about identifying the different types of Sambucus, especially for those who wish to harvest the fruit or flowers for consumption. Since then I've been fascinated by this garden giant and have planted two Laced Up® elderberry plants along the back fence of my backyard. They just stand there happily like two sturdy little soldiers in my well-drained sandy soil, enjoying the heat of the summer. They are so easy to maintain, perhaps there's a Lemony Lace® Sambucus in my future as well!

Bring on the Hullabaloo!

Lemony Lace® elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) has developed a reputation as a bit of an attention hog. It's been known to beckon garden writers to come closer and ask, "What is that? Tiger Eyes Sumac?" No, no, friends, it is something much better. Same color, but more compact, non-suckering, and with flowers.

Already an award winner, it boasts honors at the Farwest show in Portland, OR, and won The Garden Center Group Retailers Choice Award. Danny Summers, Managing Director for The Garden Center Group, remarked, “This distinctive golden, thread-like foliage looks wonderful in mixed borders or as a high-impact specimen plant."

Why the hullabaloo? Lemony Lace® elderberry's golden yellow, finely-cut foliage is highlighted by red new growth to create eye-catching texture in the landscape. Better color retention and sun tolerance make it an option for both full sun and part shade gardens. At 3-5’ tall and wide, it is more compact than ‘Sutherland Gold’ and also features more deeply cut foliage. White spring flowers produce red fruit in fall when pollinated*. This North American native is deer resistant and hardy to USDA Zone 3.

No wonder it's showboating across the country. Lemony Lace® elderberry possesses a versatile set of characteristics: multi-season interest, native, deer resistance, cold hardy, fruit for the birds, compact for small gardens... all deserving story topics.

Lemony Lace elderberry in the landscape: add a pair of googly eyes, and you'd have the most adorable muppet.

The red new growth contrasts with the lemon-lime foliage.

*A note from Natalie: like Sambucus Nigra, this plants needs another variety of Sambucus Racemosa to produce fruit.

Plant of the Week: Incrediball® Hydrangea arborescens.

Jane's most current plant of the week is devoted to the concept of white space. And she has quite a lot to say about it! So this week I'm devoting the intro and the Plant of the Week to Jane's musings. Enjoy! - Natalie 

Graphic designers love their white space.

Incrediball®  hydrangea at BH&G Test Garden
If you've ever looked at a poster or flyer and liked it better than others without knowing why, white space could be the answer. Sometimes it's what isn't on the page that makes the whole thing better.

Gardens can be like that, too. Professional designers know what they're doing, but homeowners are often seduced by brilliant color and lots of it. They can forget that simple white flowers add elegance to spaces and can make an average yard into something special.

Some people go so far as to create a white garden, planting only varieties with white flowers or white variegation. That's fine, but even those who aren't ready for a monochromatic commitment can incorporate some white flowers into their landscape. In addition to being quite pretty in their own right, white flowers can be just what the eye needs to appreciate bright reds and hot pinks.

White flowers like this week's featured plant,  Incrediball® Hydrangea arborescens are perfect for inviting us to sit outside and enjoy a summer evening, something I think we all need more of.

People need their white space, too; an overly full schedule can lead to sleeplessness, caffeine-dependence, and general crankiness. Don't be that person. Plan (and plant) for some white space in your life.

Simply Beautiful.

Last week we looked at Hydrangea macrophylla. Pretty, but complicated.

How about something simple? That's Incrediball® Hydrangea arborescens. You plant it, and it produces white flowers. That's it. No fussing with the soil, no worries about flowers making it through the winter.

H. arborescens flowers on new wood, so cutting it back in late winter or early spring is good. By this time of the year, the new growth has produced plenty of flowers.

Incrediball® was selected for its large flowers and sturdy stems. The really super-sized blooms come from mature plants; regular watering will help them reach their maximum size.

This plant gets 4-5' tall and wide. Don't cramp its style by forcing it into a small space (check out a dwarf variety like Invincibelle® Wee White if you don't have room).

Full sun to part shade works, and the plant is hardy to USDA Zone 3. Finally, check out this garden tour from Garden Answer. At about the 23-minute mark she shows where she will plant her Incrediball® hydrangeas. I think she must have hedgerow envy of the scene above.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles. 

Plant of the Week: Let's Dance® Blue Jangles® Hydrangea macrophylla.

Hello garden lovers!

Yesterday we moved into our new offices at Spring Meadow Nursery. For those of you who don't know, the offices at Spring Meadow burned to the ground in January 2017. But I'm happy to say, that after working in very close quarters for about nine months (a year and a half for those who were here pre-fire), this has been a very exciting week! 
Marketing department - old office
Marketing department - new office
Here are some before and after photos of the marketing dept. just to give you an idea of what a big change we're experiencing.

We're still unpacking and there are finishing touches yet to be done, (like the glass toppers between the partitions) but I feel more productive already!

So, even though we are anything but blue this week, I have a blue post to pass on to you from Jane. 

When I was linking to this plant, I wondered "what's the difference between Let's Dance
® Rhythmic Blue and Let's Dance® Blue Jangles hydrangea? Ah-ha! This is where the Spring Meadow Nursery website plant comparison tool comes in handy!

At any rate, both of these blue hydrangeas are superstars. Enjoy the plant of the week and this beautiful week in general, and I'll do the same!

Meet Let's Dance® Blue Jangles® Hydrangea macrophylla. Like the other Let's Dance® hydrangeas, this is a reblooming variety that will flower on both old and new wood. Blue Jangles® is an exceptionally strong rebloomer and has brilliant, vibrant flower color.

Here's a video that shows it in both pink and blue...

This is a compact plant, kind of like the Cityline® varieties only it is a rebloomer. It will grow 1-2' tall and wide and is hardy to USDA Zone 5. Plant it in full sun or partial shade, but remember that H. macrophylla like moist soil. 

So many questions...Hydrangeas are a leading topic of questions on the Proven Winners feedback site.
The most common questions are:
1. Why they don't bloom, and 
2. How to get the desired color.

Our Hydrangeas Demystified flyer addresses these questions and guides people to the right hydrangea for their situation. If you haven't shared this piece with your readers, please do. It will make you a hero.

Another common question concerns wilting. Hydrangeas, especially H. macrophylla, do have a tendency to wilt. Unsurprisingly, most people don't like it when your response is, "Yep. They do that." They want to know why, and how to keep it from happening.

Even hydrangeas in moist soil can wilt if they are in full sun and it's hot. This is because the roots just can't take up enough moisture to compensate for what is being lost through the foliage. The fancy impress-the-rocket-scientist-next-door word for this is transpiration. 

The good news is that this sort of wilting won't hurt the plant as long as the roots are getting enough moisture to catch up when the temperature cools down at night. But if it's happening regularly it's a sign that the plant would be happier in more shade.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles. 

Plant of the Week: Lo & Behold® 'Pink Micro Chip' Buddleia

Hello and happy Monday!

Here in Michigan we finally got some much-needed rain over the weekend! I spent a good deal of time in the garden just the same. I don't know about you, but I like gardening in the rain, the soil isn't dusty and if the skies are anything like it was this weekend, you can get a plant in the ground and it gets a good soaking afterward without ever having to turn on the hose. Plus, when it rained really hard it forced me to go inside and rest, which isn't always the case once I put on my gardening gloves, even if I only intended to do one or two things...

While this week's plant isn't one I put in the ground over the weekend, it's still an amazing pollinator which I may need to carve out some space for. But not too much! It's a fun dwarf butterfly bush that is also non-invasive (even though Buddleia isn't really a pest in Michigan) and I just love the bright pink color.

Read on for more info about Jane's plant of the week, Lo&Behold® 'Pink Micro Chip' Buddleia - maybe it will be your next garden addition!

- Natalie 

Flowers, but no seedlings. 

Like the other Lo & Behold® Buddleia, Lo & Behold® 'Pink Micro Chip' is a non-invasive selection that will not produce unwanted seedlings in landscapes. If you are in a state (like Oregon) or region that restricts Buddleia because of concerns about it being invasive, this is a great option. It's featured in a recent Garden Answer showing a new planting in one of Laura's gardens. As she is in Oregon, she makes a point to explain how Lo & Behold® 'Pink Micro Chip' is permitted for sale in Oregon.

Like all Buddleia, Lo & Behold® 'Pink Micro Chip' will do best in full sun and well-drained soil. These two elements are especially important in colder climates, where I recommend planting them early in the season to give them plenty of time to establish before winter. They are hardy to USDA Zone 5.

The Lo & Behold® varieties are all dwarf, and so will not grow as tall or as vigorously as traditional buddleia. Lo & Behold® 'Pink Micro Chip' grows to just 2' tall and wide!

The deal with dwarf plants.
Dwarf plants are nice additions to a nursery inventory and landscapes. But they can have slightly different cultural requirements than traditional varieties.

The first thing to consider is growth rate. Dwarf plants will typically not grow quite as fast as full-sized varieties; there's often a trade-off between vigor and mature size. This doesn't mean that they aren't good growers, but they may need more time to reach maturity than older varieties do.

This applies in the landscape, too. Typically with a dwarf variety, what you see is what you will get, at least for the first season.

When planting a dwarf variety in the more extreme parts of the genera's range, it's a good idea to plant as early in the season as possible. For example, a dwarf Buddleia like Lo & Behold® 'Pink Micro Chip' will come through a cold Zone 5 winter better if it's planted in spring and has all summer and fall to establish. Butterfly bushes are often killed to the ground in cold climates; an established plant will have an easier time coming back from its roots than one that was planted in the fall.

Finally, remember that dwarf is a relative term. It doesn't necessarily mean petite; it implies that the plant is significantly smaller than the species. So if Buddleia in your area grow to 10'+, even the dwarf selections will get taller than they would in colder climates.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles. 

Plant of the Week: Invincibelle® Spirit II Hydrangea arborescens

Hello and Happy Monday...Friday?
Invincibelle Campaign section of PWCC booth

Okay, it's been a busy week....but as promised, this week my post was written (partially) from Cultivate18 in Columbus, OH. It was a great show where I got to catch up with many of the friends I have met over the past few months, but the most exciting part for me was being part of making the "official" announcement that, through the cooperation of growers and garden centers across North America, we have raised over a million dollars for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation®!

Hydrangeas from the Invincibelle® Series
Dale Deppe and I making the announcement onstage
(They made it plenty pink for us!)
Over the past 9 years, one dollar has been donated for every Invincibelle® Spirit II hydrangea sold in garden centers, plus additional funds have been raised through Pink Day events in local garden centers across the US and Canada. On Monday morning (the 16th) I took the stage with Spring Meadow owner Dale Deppe and we made the announcement just prior to the State of the Industry keynote address. The stage was decorated with selections from the Invincibelle® line of hydrangeas, and we had Invincibelle® Spirit II hydrangeas in the campaign sections of the Proven Winners® and Proven Winners® ColorChoice® (PWCC) trade show booths.

There's plenty to love about the Invincibelle® Spirit II Hydrangea arborescens, but what's really cool is that it does something no other hydrangea can do, help to find a cure for breast cancer. You can go to the Spring Meadow website to find out more about the campaign and $1 million milestone.

Laura from Garden Answer even created a video about it! You can watch it here.

Because this was such a celebration of the Invincibelle® Spirit II hydrangea, I wanted to feature it in this week's Plant of the Week. Enjoy!  -Natalie

Meet Invincibelle® Spirit II hydrangea - the powerful, pink 'Annabelle' hydrangea. It delivers dark green foliage and large, deep pink flowers that age to an attractive green, held up on strong, stiff stems.

Invincibelle® Spirit II is an improved version of the orignal Invincibelle® Spirit pink Hydrangea arborescensbred by Dr. Tom Ranney in North Carolina.

An easy-to-grow North American native shrub, Invincibelle® Spirit II begins to flower in early summer. The flowers start out dark burgundy in color, open to a rich pink, and gradually age to an attractive green. This hydrangea has the unique ability to continue blooming up until frost, providing months of beautiful, pink flowers! While deadheading is not strictly necessary for the plant to re-bloom, it does encourage it to happen faster. Simply remove the faded flower just above a set of leaves.

It's worth noting, like other shrubs, hydrangeas require three seasons in the ground to perform their best. The flower size, color, and quantity will increase dramatically on your Invincibelle® Spirit II hydrangea as it grows into its site.

Fall Blooms on Invincibelle Spirit II
Invincibelle® Spirit II tolerates a wide range of soils but does best in moist, well-drained areas and can even be grown in potting soil in a large container if you’d like.

Hydrangeas like plenty of water, especially their first year or two after planting. Try to not let the soil to dry out completely while the plant is getting established. A 2-3″ thick layer of shredded bark mulch applied over the root zone conserves water, keeps the roots cool, and insulates the roots during winter.

This hydrangea will do best with a minimum of four hours of sun each day, ideally in the morning. Some direct sun each day ensures vibrant color, abundant blooms, and strong stems. In cool climates, it can tolerate more sun; in hot climates, it will require more shade, particularly in the afternoon.

The best time to prune a smooth hydrangea is in early spring, just as the buds emerge but before they
start to open. Remove any dead flowers still on the plant, along with any thin, spindly growth and any very old and woody growth. Pruning is not imperative but it can encourage stronger stems and a more attractive overall form. You can remove up to one-third of the plant’s total height if you’d like.

If you'd like to give your hydrangea a boost in early spring, apply a granular fertilizer formulated for flowering shrubs (rose fertilizers are ideal) according to package directions. The application may be repeated as the initial wave of flowers winds down if desired.

Invincibelle® Spirit II hydrangea is hardy to USDA zone 3 (-35°F, -40°C) and heat tolerant to AHS zone 9 (120-150 days above 86°F/30°C). Don’t know your zone? Find your hardiness zone here and your heat zone here.

Thanks for reading! Next week I have Jane's post about Lo & Behold® 'Pink Micro Chip' Buddleia ready to check back Monday for another new post.

Plant of the Week: Sonic Bloom® Red Weigela

Hello and happy Monday!

I'm up to my eyeballs getting ready to travel to the Cultivate conference in Ohio this week - if you're heading there as well, please be sure to look me up! The Proven Winners® ColorChoice® booth is #0915, in the Solutions Marketplace, near the New Varieties Zone. If you'd like to meet up, shoot me an email at and we can exchange telephone numbers.

We'll be making a special announcement at the Monday morning keynote, but just as a teaser, you'll see the Proven Winners® staff wearing pink shirts at the conference this year...hmm, what could that mean?

So for this week, enjoy Jane's plant of the week, and I'll post that latest and greatest about Cultivate next week!

- Natalie


All of the fireworks going off last week make me think of Sonic Bloom® weigela. Bloom or boom, it's exciting.

While regular weigela flower in spring and then just sit around the rest of the season, Sonic Bloom® Weigela will rebloom for a respectable summer flower display, too.

This is Sonic Bloom® Red weigela; there are also hot pink, pinkish-white and pure pink colors available.

All of the Sonic Bloom® weigela will grow best in full sun and get about 4-5' tall. There are a couple of good videos about Sonic Bloom® Red, including a recent update from Garden Answer.

Pruning reblooming plants.

Reblooming versions of old favorites can be a little confusing, especially with regard to pruning.

Many of us go with the traditional advice to prune spring flowering shrubs immediately after flowering, and to cut back summer bloomers in late winter and early spring. But what do you do with a plant that flowers in spring and again in summer and fall?

First off, don't prune the plant back in late winter. Reblooming plants carry the spring flowers over from the previous season, so if you prune them back or they are damaged by harsh weather the spring flowers will be gone.

It's best to trim these plants immediately after their spring bloom. As with traditional varieties, pruning at this time means the plant has plenty of time to set flower buds for the following season.

Trimming reblooming plants back after the spring bloom also encourages the new growth, which is where the repeat summer flower buds are created. The plant may go through a rest period before reblooming, but it will rebloom if you don't cut it back again and again.

Many rebloomers will flower again without trimming in spring, but if you do want to shape a plant, after the spring bloom is the time to do it.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles. 

Plant of the Week: Touring a test garden in Des Moines

Hello and happy Monday!

Yoshitomo Nara 'White Ghost'
Pappajohn Sculpture Park
Last week was action-packed! On Tuesday and Wednesday we had some special events here at Spring Meadow Nursery, and then I was off like a shot to spend a couple of days in Des Moines, IA, to meet with my new friends at Better Homes and Gardens and Garden Gate magazines.

Deborah Butterfield 'Ancient Forest'
Pappajohn Sculpture Park
First of all let me say, Des Moines is really beautiful! I love the bridges that span the Des Moines river, the beautiful architecture, the Pappajohn Sculpture Park and of course the spectacular test gardens at Meredith, publisher of Better Homes and Gardens.

When we visited Sandra at the test garden, we heard so much about how they are trying to cope with the record amounts of rainfall they've been having, so I was particularly saddened to hear that the day after we left, Des Moines had another record rainfall event and experienced some major flash flooding. So we are all hoping for the best in the days to come, and that the residents and visitors of Des Moines can stay safe.
Gorgeous garden entry

Shade garden at BH&G in Des Moines
(See the Incrediball hydrangea in the back?)
Delightful daisies!
One of the things that are so spectacular about the Better Homes and Gardens test gardens is the fact that that, like a test kitchen, they test every plant they write about in the magazine for a couple of years before they present it in print or on screen, so they know first hand how they'll perform in a garden setting.

They also provide ideas that help readers imagine using the plants in their own gardens and landscapes and present unique ways readers can make use of the space they have to create a fabulous retreat - whether it's a back patio, or the back forty...

The garden and its various patio areas also provide a splendid outdoor video and photography studio for the company's publications, social media channels, and websites. 

This half of a city block is a gardener's dream with everything from a shrub walk and a shade garden to a perennial garden, a meadow, a vegetable and herb garden, and a few serene patio spaces to sit and relax. All in all, we spent about 2 hours touring the gardens and would have spent longer, but the weather was threatening so we moved inside.

If you're ever in downtown Des Moines, stop by...public visitors are welcome on Fridays from noon to 2 p.m., from the first Friday in May through the first Friday in October.

Tiny Tuff Stuff  mountain hydrangea
looking good in the test garden!
'Hayes Starburst' hydrangea
Want to see more of the test gardens but can't make it to Des Moines? Take a look at their website, it has interactive tours, slideshows, and videos including this one "The 6 Best Hydrangeas from the BH&G Test Garden." 

That's it for today...until next week, never stop growing.

- Natalie