Plant of the Week: Ground Hog™ Aronia

Hello and happy Thursday!

I don't know what it's like where you are, but today in Michigan it's grey and rainy. I'm not complaining though, it could be snowing. Yes, it's finally warmed up a bit. That is particularly important when you work for a place that ships live plants. So, although it seems like spring has been a long time coming, I'm feeling hopeful. I know it can, and has, snowed in April...but I'm confident  the polar vortex-type weather is behind us.

Despite the fact that this year Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow and winter ignored him and dug in its heels, I think it's safe to say we'll soon be seeing signs of spring. So enjoy this post from Jane about the super-durable plant with pretty white spring flowers...Aronia melanocarpa.

Enjoy! - Natalie


Signs of spring...

Ground Hog™ Aronia melanocarpa
Ah, the Groundhog Day prediction. So often wrong, and so often disappointing. This year it was particularly frustrating.

If only we could find a ground hog that gave us good news - and was reliable.

Here it is: Ground Hog™ Aronia.

This is a groundcover  - Aronia melanocarpa, with all of the adaptability and durability of the species but in a very useful low-growing package.

Ground Hog™ aronia comes to us from Dr. Mark Brand of UConn. His is the breeding program that developed Low Scape Mound™ and Low Scape Hedger™ aronia, too. This is fabulous work - taking a species with lots of great qualities and repackaging it to fit into more gardens.

Ground Hog™ grows 8-14" tall and up to 3' across. It will grow in full sun or partial shade.
Aronia melanocarpa has good deer-resistance, too. Not deer-proof of course (there's no such thing).

It's a native species, which is important to many people, and supports pollinators, which is another common request. Aronia melanocarpa is an adaptable plant with many potential uses in gardens and landscapes

It's hardy to USDA Zone 3 and has pretty flowers in the spring as well as bright red fall color. It's a durable plant that will tolerate many challenging conditions. We even had a planting submerged under water for a few weeks last spring, and it came through fine. A little slower to take off than the ones on higher ground, but OK.

Practical and ornamental, like the perfect winter coat. Yeah, that groundhog was really off the mark this year.

If you're looking for a more general purpose plant geek experience, here's a video from the National Science Foundation. One of the discoveries they highlight is researchers identifying the genes that give a plant deer-resistance. That could be really useful to anyone struggling with deer browsing, which is to say nearly everyone in North America.


Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

Plant of the Week: My Monet® weigela

Hello and Happy Friday!

For the last couple of weeks I've been reminding you about Shrub Madness, and that's still going on... You can still get in on the voting and you can still get the prizes that will be distributed at the end of each round! I hope you decide to give it a try.

Now let's get back to the Plant of the Week, this week Jane wrote about the three beautiful varieties of My Monet® Weigela. Named after my favorite painter!

After the plant of the week post, be sure to check out the information about the brand new Proven Winners® Garden Book. Written by Thomas Christopher and the fabulous Ruth Rogers Clausen, who was one of the very first people I met at my first GWA (now Garden Comm) mixer. I was in the lobby of the Lord Baltimore hotel, feeling quite out of my element and she motioned for me to come over to where she was sitting in a comfy sofa, welcomed me to sit down, introduced herself and said "tell me about you." She made me feel right at home.

Enjoy this week's plant, My Monet® Weigela.


The original My Monet® Weigela is an interesting plant. The variegated foliage will often acquire pink coloration as the season progresses.

My Monet® Sunset weigela
My Monet® 'Sunset' (right) goes in a different direction as its foliage is fiery sunset hues of orange and red.

This year we have a third My Monet® weigela to offer you: My Monet Purple Effect™. As the name implies, this weigela has a purple tone in both the foliage and the flowers.

I think that having the three plants with such different color palettes really suits the name My Monet. One of Claude Monet's most famous works is the series of paintings of Rouen cathedral. It's the same subject, painted multiple times, but in different lights.

My Monet Purple Effect™ weigela
All of the My Monet® Weigela are dwarf plants that can be used more as a low-growing mass planting than in the traditional border filler role that we expect of a weigela. While the original My Monet® and My Monet® 'Sunset' grow 1-1.5' tall and wide, My Monet Purple Effect™ weigela will get a little bigger: 1.5-2.5'.

My Monet Purple Effect™ weigela is also faster growing than the original, and more heat tolerant. It produces purple-pink flowers in spring, and then the variegated foliage stays nice and bright up to frost so you have quite a long season of color.

Hardy into USDA Zone 4, My Monet Purple Effect™ will grow in full sun or partial shade. The original My Monet® is also hardy to USDA Zone 4, but My Monet® 'Sunset' goes into USDA Zone 5.

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

Looking for a good book?

The gardening season is still weeks away for many people, so they must content themselves with planning for the upcoming spring.

While websites are great for learning about new plants, many people still like the feel of a book. There's something relaxing about turning real pages rather than clicking through screens.

Proven Winners® Garden Book is a nice addition to any gardener's library. If you'd like an autographed copy to give to a special gardener in your life, or maybe offer as a door prize at an upcoming event, you can order one here.

Soon enough we'll be able to garden in real life!

Last Call for Shrub Madness brackets!


Voting starts Friday! Get in before it's too late! 


The 2018 champ
Zinfin Doll® panicle hydrangea
It's back! For the 6th year, we're celebrating the start of spring with Shrub Madness, the only bracket competition that pits shrub vs. shrub in a no-holds-barred battle for the title of National Champion!

Garden Writers Contest - did you miss this last week?
Of course, there is a Shrub Madness side-contest just for garden writers! Whoever sends me the closest, most accurate bracket will win a landscape-ready plant of their choice from the final four shrubs in the competition. 

To enter, fill out your entire bracket and send me the names of your final four by mail (12601 120th Ave. Grand Haven, MI 49417) or e-mail (natalie at springmeadownursery dot com) by February 28. 

Need a better reason that that? I'll give you three:

  1. It's the only way to win the Shrub Madness Grand Prize.
    Whoever most accurately predicts the competition's outcome will be adding beautiful Floral Four plants (the last four competing shrubs) to their garden this spring. It should be you.
  2. You're better prepared to vote.
    Foliage or flowers? Fragrance or fruit? Classic single blooms or bodacious double? Make the hard decisions now so you're not unprepared when it's time to vote, starting March 1.
  3. It's more fun.
    A little good-natured competition helps get you through the last days of winter. Get your friends involved and compete. Talk plants. Talk trash. Make a wager that involves weeding. 
How to Play:
Visit the website, www.shrubmadness.com; and complete your bracket by TOMORROW, February 28. Every day from March 1 through March 31, 2019, visit ShrubMadness.com to vote your favorite plants through to the next round of the competition. Registration is not necessary just to vote, but you can only win plants if you register.

Even if you have registered for Shrub Madness in the past, you will need to create a new registration this year. We don’t store your information from year to year. Want more info about how to get started? 

What are you waiting for? Register today!


Shrub Madness is here!


Move over, basketball. March belongs to gardeners.
The 2018 champ
Zinfin Doll® panicle hydrangea

It's back! For the 6th year, we're celebrating the start of spring with Shrub Madness, the only bracket competition that pits shrub vs. shrub in a no-holds-barred battle for horticultural glory and the title of National Champion! Zinfin Doll® hydrangea took it last year. Who will win this year? You decide.

How to Play:
Visit the website, www.shrubmadness.com; and complete your bracket by February 28. Every day from March 1 through March 31, 2019, visit ShrubMadness.com to vote your favorite plants through to the next round of the competition. Registration is not necessary just to vote, but you can only win plants if you register.

Even if you have registered for Shrub Madness in the past, you will need to create a new registration this year. We don’t store your information from year to year. Want more info about how to get started? 

Watch this nifty video:




What are you waiting for? Oh, I know, your chance to win...good for you for reading to the end!

Garden Writers Contest
Of course, there is a Shrub Madness side-contest just for garden writers! Whoever sends me the closest, most accurate bracket will win a landscape-ready plant of their choice from the final four shrubs in the competition. 

To enter, fill out your entire bracket and send me the names of your final four by mail (12601 120th Ave. Grand Haven, MI 49417) or e-mail (natalie at springmeadownursery dot com) by February 27.

Good luck, garden writers!

Natalie's Top 3 Roses for Valentine's Day AND Peppy Le Pom™ Punica


Happy Valentine's Day!

This week Jane writes about an alternative to roses for Valentine's Day, a peppy little pomegranate plant! (Scroll down for the post.) However, consumers will have to wait on this one, it won't be available to retail until 2020.

Until then, a rose never is a bad idea, right? So, just for Valentine's Day, here are my favorite three Proven Winners® ColorChoice® roses:

Oso Easy® Double Pink rose
Oso Easy® Double Pink Rosa 
I fell in love with this one at CAST last year. It is an amazingly prolific bloomer and I love the bright yellow centers on the full, little bubblegum pink flowers. This rose can have up to 10 blooms per stem, so it's always bright and colorful.

I planted quart-sized plants of this rose in my garden last spring and they doubled in size by fall. Plus, it just kept blooming and blooming well past summer. I can't wait to see what they do this year!

It's brand-new at garden centers this year...if you can't find it ask if they can order one for you! When local options fail, you can also get it online on the Proven Winners website.

Ringo™ Rosa
Ringo™ Rosa
I know, we talked about this one just last week, but look at it! It's ridiculous how gorgeous it is. Okay, you can't get it until 2020 but plan a spot for it in your garden because this one will stop passersby dead in their tracks.

At Last® rose
Finally, you can't ignore the 2019 Proven Winners Rose of the Year, At Last®.  

This rose has a beautiful upright habit and the soft, apricot-colored blooms are super-full and heavenly scented. Yes, this is unique for a shrub rose. Most are lovely, and the pollinators still flock to them, but the blooms have no scent at all. If you grow tea roses you'll get fragrance, but they susceptible to diseases like black spot and powdery mildew. But because At Last is shrub rose, (and a PWCC rose) it resistant to the typical diseases that befall hybrid tea roses. Plus, it's self-cleaning! When the bloom is spent, the petals simply drop to the ground so more flowers can take their place. So, if I can get a sweet-scented, fully petaled rose that is less work, I'm all in.

 So that's it...my Valentine's Day rose roundup!  See you next week - Natalie 


Not your typical Valentine's Day gift

Peppy Le Pom™ ornamental pomegranate
It's Valentine's Day, and you shouldn't be thinking about roses. The perfect gifty plant is Punica, a.k.a. the pomegranate.

Yes, the same plant that your health nut cousin is always talking about has some serious ornamental appeal, too.

Peppy Le Pom™ Punica is a very cute little dwarf plant that's ideal for gifting. It has fun orange flowers that will produce tiny pomegranate fruits. They are edible, but the primary appeal of the plant is the flowers and the compact habit.

Why pomegranates?

The pomegranate is already a traditional gift in many cultures. It's presented at Rosh Hashanah, they are used to celebrate the Greek Orthodox New Year, and they make a great Thanksgiving centerpiece, too.

Don't just take our word for it: Peppy Le Pom™ was recently awarded the Direct Gardening Association's Green Thumb award.

Peppy Le Pom™ Punica is hardy to about 40F, so for most of us, it's strictly an indoor plant. But if you're in a mild climate you can expect it to get 3-4' tall and wide. It will want full sun.

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

Plant of the Week: Ringo™ Rosa

Ringo™ rose
This week Jane writes about a "new" rose we're introducing called Ringo™. I say "new" because even though we are just introducing it to growers this year, and you won't see it at garden centers until 2020, it has been winning awards overseas since 2014.

Ringo™ Rosa has been honored with the Public Award and a Second Class Certificate at the Hague Rose trials in the Netherlands, it earned a Novelty Award at the New Zealand Rose Trials, 1st prize at the Lyon Rose Trials in France, and in the UK, a Gold Standard certification at the Gold Standard Rose Trials, and a Certificate of Merit at the Royal National Rose Society Show. Whew! I'm excited to see how it performs in the US...time will tell!

Hulthemia Persica (Rosa persica). Baikonur, Kazakhstan 
One thing I've learned from Ringo™ rose is (and this probably won't come as a surprise to my garden writer friends) that this particular rose is a hybrid of the species Rosa persica - a species in subgenus Hulthemia. (Pictured, right.) This is a tough little thorny plant that is native to eastern Persia, Afghanistan, and Turkestan. It is really thought of as a low-spreading weed, that only blooms once a season. But that bloom is what gives this rose its distinctive red center or "blotch" as it's characteristically described. In simple terms, the breeding of Chris Warner has taken that tough, drought-tolerant plant with a beautiful bloom and crossed it with a shrub rose, turning Ringo™ Rosa into a repeat bloomer with glossy, compound foliage on a bushy, compact, habit. The best of both worlds.

So, enjoy this post about one of my favorite new introductions, Ringo™ Rosa. 

- Natalie 

It's Ringo™!

The human Ringo, part of pop music's British Invasion, appeared with the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show over 50 years ago this week.

We don't have an Ed Sullivan show for plants, but Ringo™ the rose has won a number of awards. It's just as fun and flashy as its namesake - the bright yellow flowers have brilliant red centers.

Ringo™ rose has good disease resistance and also reblooms through the season. The bright yellow flowers will mellow to cream with a hot pink eye; you'll often see several different shades of bloom on the plant at the same time. This is a fun little plant with lots of garden appeal.

Ringo™ Rosa, it's just fun to say...
It is hardy to USDA Zone 4 and grows 3-4' tall and wide. Like other roses, it will do best in full sun.

The British (rose) invasion.
Many of our beautiful roses come from the efforts of British rose breeders.

Ringo™ is the work of Chris Warner, who also developed Suñorita™ and many of our Oso Easy® roses:

Oso Easy® Paprika
Oso Easy® Peachy Cream
Oso Easy® Urban Legend®
Oso Easy® Pink Cupcake
Oso Easy® Mango Salsa
Oso Easy Lemon Zest™
Oso Easy® Italian Ice®

I had the pleasure of meeting Chris several years ago, and he is a delightful man - and very, very British.

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

Note from Natalie: Want to know a little more about Chris Warner? Read Tim Wood's post "Breeding a Better Rose - UK Travels continued" on The Plant Hunter. It's a little older, but there are a couple nice pics of Chris and his rose beds on there. See you next week!

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


Hello from blizzardy-cold Michigan!

This week Jane brings you a beautiful white butterfly bush appropriately named 'Ice Chip' and she makes a case for white gardens.

Entrance to the Moon Garden
This took me back to the 2018 Austin Garden Bloggers Fling and the beautiful Moon Garden at Skottie O'Mahony & Jeff Breitenstein's Tanglewild Gardens. The image on the right is of three Balinese goddesses that beckon you inside. They designed the space using plants and flowers that are white or otherwise pale-colored, and that are at their most glorious in the moonlight. It was daytime when we visited so we couldn't get the full effect, but I thought how wonderful to be able to design garden spaces that wake up at night!

Tamara Paulat also wrote a nice post about this garden with more photos on her blog site Chickadee Gardens.

Enjoy this plant of the week, and if you're in the same boat as we are...stay warm!

- Natalie 


Icy Patch... 

So, we've had a bit of ice around here. Also some snow. Many of you have had the same - probably more than us. By the end of February, even the hardiest winter sports fans are dreaming of summer's warmth.
Lo & Behold® 'Ice Chip' Buddleia

What if I told you that come August you'll be wanting a frosty little plant? It's Lo & Behold® 'Ice Chip' Buddleia.

Petite, long-blooming Lo & Behold® 'Ice Chip' is one of the non-invasive Buddleia varieties developed by Dr. Dennis Werner of NC State University.

Like the other Lo & Behold® plants, it will flower all summer without deadheading and stays quite small: about 2' x 2.5'. It will want full sun and well-drained soil. If you're in the northern part of its range you should try to plant it earlier in the season rather than later.

The case for white plants.
We know that white flowers typically don't sell as well as brightly colored ones in most places. That's too bad because white blooms can add a lot to gardens, particularly if they're planted en masse.

The nice thing about a little shrub-like Lo & Behold® 'Ice Chip' is that it looks just great in a patio container. It can be used to create a small space for evening contemplation, maybe with some Bobo® Hydrangea and White Album® Euonymus nearby?

An all-white garden is at once a bold statement and a calming retreat. After all, many of us don't actually get to enjoy our gardens until the daylight is fading. By then reds and pinks lose their punch, but white glows. Add the fragrance of a butterfly bush like Lo & Behold® 'Ice Chip' and you've got the perfect place to sit down and talk about your day with the family.

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