OK, I know this week’s rant sounds much more like an adult version of “What I did for my summer vacation”, but remember…it’s still May and we haven’t even made it to summer yet.
OMG! Has this ever been a week.
I took off Monday to spend some time with my Dad who was visiting from South Carolina. I planted 20 new echinacea and two new heuchera in the trial garden. Before I could plant, though, I had to transplant eight full-grown perennials to make room. I can’t wait for the echinacea to bloom next month.
I also planted more of the yet to be released ‘Strawberry Shortcake’, ‘Raspberry Truffle’, ‘Marmalade‘ and some more of this year’s release, ‘Hot Papaya’ so I can take lots of pretty pictures next month when they too are in bloom. I have been really surprised by Raspberry Truffle. It’s not just another double pink, it’s the color of wild sockeye salmon. It’s an orangy-pink and the stems are the color of bittersweet chocolate. The center of the cone is also chocolaty in color, so the name fits perfectly. It is also proving to be a bit shorter here than it was in The Netherlands my plants are blooming at 24″.
A true Cone-fection, if you will.
Marmalade is loaded with blooms and so is Strawberry Shortcake, so we should have quite the colorful coneflower collection this year. Not to mention the Hot Papaya. The garden will be a rainbow of color for sure. Don’t worry, I didn’t plant them all together.
That would be like coneflower vomit.
I am a landscape designer by training. I broke them up with pastel colored summer phlox (Phlox paniculata) and tickseed coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata).
I planted and then I packed for not one, but two plane rides to New England this week.
My husband and I spent Tuesday touring with my Twitter buddy, Andrew Keys a designer who owns Oakleaf Green.
Andy designs and installs really cool, small urban gardens. His specialty is native and organic plantings. In our travels we saw lots of red dyed mulching both commercial and home gardens. What’s up with that New England?
Don’t they know that’s just chopped up pallets dyed red? Don’t they know that kind of mulch provides no nutrients to the soil? Do they care?
Andy was showing us his town and the surrounding cities of Newburyport and Ipswich, Massachusetts, which are all really great places. I could live there. Smallish old towns with loads of character and lobster –what more could you want?
We found a really great live food/vegan place where we had the best celery juice. It was a great day. We spent the night in Salem in an old, historic hotel. No witches…
Wednesday, I headed to South Boston to have breakfast with Green Profit Magazine and Buzz! Online e-letter editor, Ellen Wells. What a cool section of town, not too far from Fenway Park and Copley Square.
Ellen and I had breakfast in the gazebo inside her community garden. It’s quite possibly the coolest, most beautiful community garden I’ve seen since traveling through northern England.
The garden is on an abandoned lot in the middle of a thriving community and it’s so pretty and well cared for, you could easily mistake it for a public garden.
We talked about veggies and how the plot renters have started to incorporate flowers into their plots. It was really very pretty.
We saw the coolest portable, plastic cold frame and Ellen introduced me to a really cool mulch alternative made from grain byproducts. It’s called buckwheat hulls. I have never seen this. I’ve seen cocoa hulls and rice hulls, but never buckwheat hulls.
Apparently, these breakdown quite nicely and provide lots of nutrients for the garden, unlike the red dyed mulch we saw up north. Buckwheat hulls are not poisonous like cocoa hulls and they last a bit longer than rice hulls, which are much finer. They look pretty too. She says they sell them at local garden centers for about $15 per bag. I love the way they look.
I left Ellen’s urban oasis to head to the airport and travel home. I had to be home in time for lacrosse practice, since my husband was out of town too.
Never a dull moment…
An evening at home was my respite before heading off to New Hampshire the next day ( I know it’s crazy, but when you have a husband who travels almost as much as you do, someone has to be home for the kids).
In New Hampshire I learned more about peony hybrids and immoral companies than I ever thought I could in a seven hour trip.
I suppose that’s better than a “three hour cruise”. Haha!
It really upset me to hear the story of how this very skilled breeder (and super nice man) had been shafted by a propagation facility. How they denied him the royalties for which he worked so hard.
He was sick over it. I was too.
I started Plants Nouveau to treat the breeders with the respect they truly deserve. They work so hard and put so much time and energy into a breeding project. Someone has to protect them. This is not the first time I’ve been contacted by a breeder who has been denied royalties. It happens more than I ever thought.
How could they take his plants, sell them and then not give him the monies he deserved? The monies they contracted to pay?
It’s a sad story, but I hope to have the opportunity to show this brilliant breeder that people in the horticulture industry are honest and they do care. I hope to get the chance to make it all right, make him famous for the talented breeder he is and to make him some money for all his hard work.
For breeders, it is often a labor of love. They are not in it for the money. Well, some are, but it’s not common.
Imagine working 20 years to develop a product only to have it all go wrong- when it didn’t have to.
I learned so much about his work and I’m hoping he learned that there are people he can trust and a company that will do everything in it’s power to make sure nothing goes wrong in the future.
So, on Thursday evening, once again, I was on the plane headed back to good ole Baltimore. We had to fly over the Atlantic Ocean the entire way to avoid the wicked thunderstorms, but we finally made it. (Haha, I said wicked…must have been the two days in Boston)
I have so much work to do for the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference next week, I’ll be lucky if I get any time to plant or rest this holiday weekend.
If you haven’t signed up and you’d like to please go to our conference sign up page. It looks like we’re on track to have record numbers this year. It’s such a great conference. And it’s the twentieth anniversary, so we’ll have a really big cake – enough for 350 people.
Cake is reason enough to come.
Our trip to Mt. Cuba Center is almost full and the other sessions are filling up quickly. So, if you want to go, but have been putting off registration, hurry and sign up now, before it’s to late. We are offering a lot of Pesticide Applicator Credits this year, so if you need those, it’s one stop shopping for nine credits.
I had one last plantweenie adventure. Saturday morning I went to check out a foliage plant nursery close to home. You’ll never guess what I found…
Walking the nursery was a man with the most amazing tropical hibiscus blooms I’ve ever seen. I said, “Look at those hibiscus”.
I was with my three year old daughter who paid no mind to them because they were not pink. It’s a phase.
The man surprisingly said, “How do you know what these are?” I exclaimed, “I’m a horticulturist, and a total plantweenie, that’s how”. He said, “I made these.”
“As in bred them?” I said.
“Why yes, you know about plant breeding?” he retorted. I said, “I know a little, I work with breeders from all over the World”. He said, “You wanna see my breeding house? “ I excitedly stated, “Heck yeah!”
So we took a walk…
This cool, local guy has been breeding the most unusual colors and blowing the tropical hibiscus World away for years. He’s won awards. His plants are on display in the Longwood Gardens conservatory cut flower house. (I actually recognized some of them…I’m such a geek).
And he’s right in my backyard. Can you believe that?
I gave him my business card and told him I would love to help. He was excited. The plant world is so small and friendly.
That’s it for this week. As if I could have fit in anymore, right?
Next week I’ll be heading out to the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference to be the official Master of Ceremonies and all around master director of this big, glorious event that I work so hard for every year (for free mind you, so it truly is my labor of love).
I’ll be spending the week with horticultural gods and goddesses like Bill Cullina, Stephanie Cohen, Tim Boland, Dan Benarcik, Dick Bir, Neil Diboll, Roy Diblik and many of the other native plant gurus. I’m so lucky to be spending the week with these knowledgeable, fun friends.
Happy weeding and happy Memorial Day!
President, Plants Nouveau
PS. At the silent Auction during the Native Plants Conference, we will be auctioning off two of the new pink berried blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Pink Lemonade’) from Briggs Nurseries. That’s not all. I’ll be donating a one gallon Echinacea ‘Marmalade’ from my collection. These plants will not hit retail shelves until spring 2011, so these are truly cutting edge.
Another reason to attend the conference!
Speaking of Marmalade…
Although this selection is a bit more golden than orange in color here in the US than when I saw it in The Netherlands, it is a fine specimen indeed.
The blooms are a light, yellowish-orange with many perfectly formed ray petals and a tufted bonnet of even deeper golden orange on top on the double cone. The plants are vigorous and healthy and have multiple buds per stem. The foliage is narrow like the yellow coneflower (Echinacea paradoxa), one of it’s parents, but it is so deep green and glossy, it does not detract from the overall look of the plant.
The plants in my garden are just starting to open, so it is one of the earlier selections to bloom.