8 products gardeners will want this year
Only a gardening geek can get so excited about visiting the Mid Atlantic Nursery Trade Show in Baltimore. It's a place where all the new plants, seeds and garden items are introduced. I go every year to see what the trends are for nurseries and to discover interesting things gardeners should know about.
I stumbled onto Matt Freund, a dairy farmer from Connecticut who understands that cows make a lot of milk — but even more manure. That inspired him to find a use for all that bovine excrement, which he did with CowPots ( cowpots.com ). These biodegradable containers are sold in everything from 3- to 17-inch sizes. Freund spent eight years refining the process of turning manure into plant containers. Although he said one of his goals was to remove the odor, holding a CowPot close to your nose reveals its origin. "The real goal of this project," he says, "was environmental concerns. It helps the soil where they are planted; we do get faster maturities (too). It's just that little bit of a boost."
Seeds are Easy
Jeremy Gruszka from Avalon, the regional sales manager for 2Plant International ( 2plant.com ) in Ohio, had something at his booth that would be a perfect gift item for gardeners at his booth. Seeds are Easy is a burlap bag lined with plastic and filled with planting mix and seeds. All it needs is water. The two types of bags retail between $10 and $12 and each bag has different herbs. For tea, there's chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, thyme and mint. Kitchen herbs include chives, basil, sage, parsley and others. The company also sells Easy Bloom Pads, biodegradable paper discs that are filled with bulbs, which I've used and love.
Recycling and caring for the environment were definitely trends at the show. Root Pouches ( rootpouch.com ) are fabric containers made from recycled water bottles. Ashley Fromm is one of the owners of the company that produces the pots. "The main benefit of our product is that it air prunes the roots," she says. In a conventional plastic pot, the roots will circle the inside of the pot; that doesn't happen with the Root Pouch. For gardeners, the lightweight pots can be folded flat and easily stored. They come in a plethora of colors and are even pretty enough to be used indoors on a tray. "The idea is to keep the green industry green," Fromm says.
"At Last" roses
One of the most thrilling introductions from my point of view is the "At Last" rose. Tough landscape roses have dominated the market in the past 10 years, but this is the first with fragrance. I finally got a chance to see and smell the rose. It's got a wonderfully delicate, sweet scent and stunning double flowers. It's indestructible, disease-resistant, hardy to zone five and only gets about 3 feet tall and wide. "It's generally a light orange, but in the cold the rose will turn pinker," says Natalie Carmolli, marketing and PR specialist for Proven Winner ColorChoice Shrubs ( provenwinners.com ). It's a long bloomer too and will flower all summer long.
The Dümmen Orange ( dummenorange.com ) booth was filled with succulent Echeveria plants, which have become popular over the past several seasons. Hens and chicks have been favorites for generations, but now there are a plethora of cultivars being offered and some have amazing flowers. "It's one of the easiest of the succulents to root," says Jennifer Kuziw, regional sales manager. "It's one of the easiest for the consumer to take care of at their house." Most are grown as houseplants when it's cold and taken out to the garden in the summer. "The less water you give them, the happier they are," she says.
The battle against deer is one that's waged all over the country. Famed garden writer Dr. Allan Armitage is strategic advisor for the Deer-Leerious plant line ( deerleeriousplants.com ) available at independent garden centers. "We did a lot of research," Armitage says. The plants are divided into three categories with a No. 1 being least appetizing to the deer to No. 3, which might be nibbled by the pests. Hellebores are high on the list of plants that deer don't like. Armitage warns though that no plant can be labeled as deer-proof, but through careful study, these plants are the best at what they do. "Deer are not going to eat these in favor of other plants in your garden," he says. Ferns, carex, anemone, mikweed, asters and blanket flower are just some of the long list of plants the company offers.
Martha Meehan of Meehan's Miniatures ( meehansminiatures.com ) runs the Maryland-based company with her husband, Hugh. For years their small plants were used with Bonsai displays to give the plants scale. With the popularity of fairy gardens and the resurrection of terrariums, the plants have found new life. They still had lots of Bonsai at their exhibit, but the tiny plants are mostly sold for the other uses. Scutilaria indica is one of her favorites. "It's a little flowering plant that will grow outside and inside, I like that," she says. The couple visits Pittsburgh annually for the Greater Pittsburgh Bonsai Show where they display and sell their plants. "We love Pittsburgh," she says. "I love seeing Pittsburgh clean, because I remember Pittsburgh when it was gray, and now it's very green."
Doug Oster is editor of Everybody Gardens, a website operated by 535Media, LLC. Reach him at 412-965-3278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See other stories, videos, blogs, tips and more at everybodygardens.com.