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Tim Wood

Every Plant Tells a Story

They say that every picture tells a story, but it's also true that every new plant has a story. They have a birthday, one or two parents (depending if the plant is a sport mutation or a seedling). Every plant has a journey to market (or not) that is often filled with trials and tribulations. And some have happy endings and make it to a consumers yard. Here are a few happy stories.

Sunjoy® Mini Salsa Barberry

This barberry was born at Spring Meadow Nursery about 13 years ago. The goal was to create a replacement for 'Crimson Pygmy' barberry, which often reverts to a larger plant. It's common in the nursery business to blame a nursery for mixing up their 'Crimson Pygmy' with a larger form, but it's not a mix-up: it's a whole plant mutation that I have been told may result from a jumping gene. For some reason the switch gets flipped and you get a big 'Crimson Pygmy.'  After a long selection process, propagation, field testing, wheat rust testing and getting the results published in the congressional record as a wheat rust resistant variety, the first Sunjoy® Mini Salsa was sold in spring of 2012 and is now common in the garden trade.

Lo & Behold® Purple Haze butterfly bush

Lo & Behold®  'Purple Haze' is a different duck than all the other Lo & Behold Buddleia. Developed by Denny Werner of NCSU, this hybrid selection is a low, wide-spreading variety that makes it a great selection for use as a ground cover or in a decorative container. Like all of the Lo & Behold® series, we had to test it for sterility. It passed the test and can now be sold in Oregon where other Buddleia are banned. 

Clematis 'Sweet Summer Love'

When the world-renown clematis breeder Szczepan Marczynski told me he had what amounts to a sweet autumn clematis with red flowers that change to purple and that blooms months earlier, I was all in. The fragrance of sweet autumn clematis is as good as any plant in existence, and the same goes this beauty. Most Clematis can be tricky to grow, with brittle stems that break if you so much as look at them, but this plant is super sturdy and grows like a dream. Anyone can be successful growing this variety. It's as close to perfection as a plant can be.    

Clematis 'Sweet Summer Love'

The plant in this picture is a three year old plant in our test garden. The first year you plant it, it does not do much besides grow roots. The next year it takes off, however, it is much more restrained than sweet autumn clematis and does not litter the garden with unwanted seedlings. This plant has what it takes to be the best-selling clematis of all time, you can mark my words. It won a DGA Green Thumb award for the best new plant of 2014 and I expect it to earn many more awards and accolades as people get to know it.  

Dr. Roderick Woods

If you read my blog, then you already know Dr. Roderick Woods. The plant he is holding is Blue Chiffon™. This plant just blows me away. All his plants in the Chiffon™ series blow me away. Just look at the picture below, which I took at the nursery this summer: 

Blue Chiffon™ rose of Sharon

The Chiffon™ Hibiscus are the heaviest blooming rose of Sharon you will find, and Blue Chiffon is the clearest blue color ever. I was never a big rose of Sharon fan until I started growing the Chiffon series and now I'm a believer. This series comes in blue, white, lavender and pink. If you want to read the full story behind these plants and the fascinating man that created them follow this link.

Paraplu® Hydrangea macrophylla

I'm a bit biased when it comes to Paraplu® Hydrangea because it is a plant that I developed. It was a total accident that came out of a breeding project to develop variegated flowered hydrangeas. All of the plants in this particular cross had doubled florets and thick plastic-like leaves, but none of the seedlings had variegated flowers. This plant was the best of the lot so we introduced it. Paraplu is typically a bright pink but can be easily turned to a rich purple by treating it with aluminum sulfate. Sometimes, mistakes can make for great plants.

Tiny Tuff Stuff™ Hydrangea serrata

Tiny Tuff Stuff™ is another plant out of our breeding program here at Spring Meadow. I love Hydrangea serrata because they are so bud hardy and bloom reliably. Again, I got lucky when I discovered that this plant is a rebloomer. It has smaller, narrower leaves and an abundance of dainty flowers that cover the plant every summer. It has never failed to bloom here in our Michigan trial gardens. 

Bobo® Hydrangea paniculata

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes, and that's how I feel about Bobo hydrangea. I had no idea how good this plant was until it spent a few years in our trialing program. I knew it was a good container plant, but I soon discovered it was an even more remarkable garden plant that simply glows in the landscape. It is compact and dwarf in habit, and the flowers cover every inch of the plant right down to the ground. I have no doubt this will be a very popular landscape plant. This plant comes from Johan Van Huylenbroeck, the same breeder that developed Pinky Winky® hydrangea

Invincibelle® Spirit Hydrangea arborescens

I have already told the story of Invincibelle® Spirit Hydrangea, but the longer you grow a plant, the more you learn. What I've learned is that this plant is simply incredible once it has reached full maturity. This takes about 3 years, so be patient and you will be well rewarded. I've also learned that it needs to be grown in full sun to look its best. People think that hydrangeas are shade plants, and some are, but Hydrangea arborescens develops stronger stems and bigger, brighter flowers when grown in full sun.

Last year we introduced Invincibelle® Spirit II (Two) which will replace the original. This new improved "2.0" version has stronger stems, richer flower color and healthier foliage. We are all used to cell phones and computer software getting updates, but plants can get updated as well.  

Oso Easy® Double Red Rose

We work with about six different roses breeders, and we put all their roses through the gauntlet to find the very best varieties. In our trials, we spray no fungicides at all, and we overhead irrigate to actually encourage black spot and mildew. We test these roses in the greenhouse and in the garden and after three or four years, most of our test plants end up on the trash heap. Oso Easy® Double Red rose was one of the few varieties that passed the test and it came through with flying colors. Developed by noted rose breeder Alain Meilland of France, this rose is not only highly disease resistant, it is also prized for its perpetual blooming. Visitors to our test garden confirmed our opinions of this rose by picking it as one of their favorites. It has only been on the market for less than a year so be patient, it will be coming to a garden center near you very soon.    

Oso Easy® Double red is the perfect flowering shrub for landscapes. Here a mass planting is providing a big splash of color in a park in Switzerland. 

Oso Happy® Candy Oh! Rose

Year after year Oso Happy® Candy Oh! continues to amaze me. No diseases, an abundance of blooms and it always looks happy. No, it does not have massive, highly doubled flowers, but that should not matter. It is a great shrub that offers lots of color with little to no effort. You can read the back story on this rose here.

Blue Diddley® dwarf Vitex

Commonly known as the chastetree, Vitex agnus-castus was in ancient times thought to be an anaphrodisiac. According to Wikipedia, the leaves and stems were once used in ladies' bedding to "cool the heat of lust" when the men were off to war, thus the name chastetree. I'm not so sure if this works or not, but I do know that it makes a wonderful landscape plant that is highly deer and drought resistant. Blue Diddley® Vitex makes the plant even better with its dwarf stature that is about half the size of typical vitex. In the north, zones 5-6, this plant acts like a perennial and dies back to the ground, but regrows and flowers much like a butterfly bush. It is slow to break bud in the spring, so do not panic if the plant looks dead, it will sprout new shoots and make a fine specimen in due time.   

Edible Honeysuckle

When we think of honeysuckle, we tend to think about richly colored, fragrant flowers on beautiful vines like 'Scentsation' (Lonicera periclymenum), which blooms all summer long and perfumes the air with a fragrance better than anything found in a bottle.  

If you live in the Eastern United States, you most likely think of Lonicera japonica, the weedy, tenacious Japanese honeysuckle vine that can be found in just about every fence row. 

But who would have ever thought of honeysuckle as an edible fruit crop? Not me, that is, until I discovered sweetberry honeysuckle, Lonicera caerulea, when visiting nurseries in Eastern Europe. Also known as the blue or edible honeysuckle, this little-known deciduous shrub is native to the colder, northern regions of Europe, Asia and even North America. Finding cultivated varieties in the former Eastern Bloc was not a total surprise: these countries had limited access to citrus and vitamin C during the Cold War, and as a result, they selected, bred, and developed a range of hardy fruit with high vitamin content. Mostly unfamiliar to Westerners, they grew and consumed berries such as Aronia (choke berry), Hippophae, (sea berry) and our newest discovery Lonicera caerulea, all of which are "superfruits" because of their extremely high vitamin and antioxidant content.

Lonicera caerulea produces edible fruit that looks like an elongated blueberry. 

After leaning about Lonicera caerulea and its potential, we set out to acquire as many cultivars as possible. We discovered One Green World, a small mail order nursery that offered an array of unusual fruit plants including Lonicera, which they marketed under the name "honey berries." I also met Dr. Bob Bors from the University of Saskatchewan who had an edible Lonicera breeding program, and we acquired his selections too. We purchased dried fruit, juice and jam, all of which were incredibly delicious, with a flavor best described as a tangy combination of raspberry, blueberry and raisins. Still later on a trip to Hokkaido, Japan, we were served ice cream with a haskap sauce (a type of Lonicera caerulea) that was pretty much the best food that has ever hit my taste buds. 

Haskap sauce on ice cream
It was clear that this little known honeysuckle shrub had incredible potential. First off, honeysuckles are very easy to grow. Anyone can grow this shrub. Unlike blueberry plants, it does not require any special soil or pH to grow successfully. Unlike grapes, the fruit skin dissolves in your mouth unnoticed. The fruit ripens in early summer, about the same time as strawberries, but is easy to pick without bending over. Unlike blackberries and raspberries, the plants have no thorns, and the seeds are so small you don't even notice them. On the downside, honeysuckle fruit is typically too soft to ship fresh to supermarkets, and the yields are not as high as you get with commercial blueberry crops. Until recently, the fruit also had a high degree of tartness, making it best reserved for sauces, jams, juices and drying, as opposed to eating fresh. The tartness can be largely eliminated if you understand how to identify ripe fruit: just because the fruit turns blue does not mean it's time to pick it. The fruit is ripe if you can easily remove it from the stem without tugging. If there is resistance, wait until it falls easily into your hand, otherwise you will be very disappointed with the taste.  

There is also a wide range of bitterness and sweetness depending upon the cultivar you grow. The vast majority of the Eastern European cultivars we have tasted tend to be on bitter side and are best suited for processing. Most of these cultivars are derived from Lonicera caerulea var. edulis, Lonicera caerulea var. villosa,  Lonicera caerulea var. pallasii, and Lonicera caerulea var. kamschatica. People in Eastern Europe typically call all these plants and their fruit kamschatica, zhimolost or zimolez. The vast majority of plants we initially acquired were of Eastern European origin.

Framtosel Krekci standing next to his new edible honeysuckle plant.  

What got us really excited about edible honeysuckle was a trip we made to the Czech Republic where we met Framtosel Krekci, a nurseryman and plant breeder who developed a new selection called Sugar Mountain® Blue. Skeptical, yet eager try a new selection, we sampled his fruit and discovered it was the sweetest we had ever tasted. We were so delighted, we worked over his hedge until every single berry was gone. Not only was the fruit sweet, it was also very large. While the typical fruit size ranges from 12 to 15mm in length, his variety had fruit in the 18 to 20mm range.    

Sugar Mountain Blue

My excitement and appreciation for edible honeysuckle reached new levels when I got a phone call from Dr. Maxine Thompson, a retired fruit breeder from Oregon State University. Maxine had been breeding edible honeysuckle for years, but had been working strictly with Japanese haskap, Lonicera caerulea var. emphyllocalyx, which is native to 
Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island. The advantage of pure Japanese haskap is that the fruit is larger and the plants bloom later. The flowers appear as much as four to six weeks later than Eastern European varieties, making them less susceptible to frost damage, more attractive to pollinators, and better suited to warmer climates. Maxine's extensive fruit breeding experience had paid dividends when it came to haskap: her breeding lines boasted substantial improvements in both fruit size and yields. She takes detailed data, such as brix counts, so that she can maximize sweetness and other desirable attributes. Her haskap breeding program was clearly light years ahead of all others.    
Dr. Maxine Thompson 

Yezberry™ Maxie haskaps are nearly the size and shape of olives

After multiple visits to Maxine's breeding plot and sampling dozens of selections, we chose four of the sweetest and largest fruited plants and named them Yezberry™ haskaps. Yezberry refers to the island of Hokkaido, which was once called Yez or Yezo Island. It was very important to Maxine that we distinguish her breeding lines as pure haskap (Lonicera caerulea var. emphyllocalyx) originating from Hokkaido because of their unique qualities, and because, according to Maxine, growers were misleadingly selling Eastern European varieties as haskaps, which they are not.  

Thus far we have introduced two of her haskaps, Yezberry™ Solo™ and Maxie.  Yezberry Maxie has the largest fruit yet: its berries are olive shaped, with very good sweetness and flavor. Yezberry Solo has large, plump fruit with very good sweetness and flavor, superior yields, and it is apomictic, meaning it will make fruit without cross pollination from another variety. Though Yezberry Solo does not require a pollinator to get fruit, you will get larger fruit and higher yields if you grow another Yezberry haskap in close proximity.        

Yezberry™ Maxie and Yezberry Solo Japanese haskaps

The future for edible honeysuckle is bright. It is very cold hardy and easy to grow. The fruit has higher levels of vitamins C, A, and E than an orange, and three times the antioxidant level of blackberries. New breeding and the introduction of new haskap cultivars have brought us better tasting, sweeter and larger berries and plants with wider adaptability and higher yields. It is the perfect berry plant for growers selling u-pick or at local farmers markets. Best of all, it's just good fun to grow fresh, tasty fruit at home that does not require special care, soil amendments or pesticides. So hopefully, in the near future, when you think about honeysuckle, you'll think about how great it would be to mix some in your yogurt or put them on top of your vanilla ice cream. That's what I'm thinking. Yum.   


De Boomkwekerij

It has been a busy year of plant hunting. So busy, I've hardly had the time to write any blog posts. This year I have traveled to Russia, Germany, the Netherlands (twice), Iowa, Cape Cod & Martha's Vinyard, Maryland (DC), Kentucky, Tennessee, Oregon, North Carolina and I'm off to Japan in less than a week. I hope that things will slow down a bit so that I can share some of the new plants I've encountered. Until then, I am going to share with you copy of an interview that appeared in the lastest edition of De Boomkwekerij, the Dutch equivalent of American Nurseryman or Nursery Management. The interview was done by Arno Engels while I was attending the Plantarium nursery show in Boskoop last August. If you can't read Dutch, Arno's translation can be found at the bottom of the page.  



Tim Wood, American expert in new varieties: 'Thanks to breeding the assortment can always be better' 

Text and Translation by Arno Engels

In recent years many new shrubs from Spring Meadow Nursery showed up at Plantarium [nursery show in the Netherlands]. Almost every introduction wins at the show. For example Buddleja Blue Chip won gold in 2009, and Buddleja Lilac Chip was the best novelty of 2011. In future more winners are to be expected. Tim Wood, product development manager at Spring Meadow and Proven Winners: "In America breeding is done more than ever."

ARNO: What is your main goal with new varieties?

TIM: "To make breeding successfull for everyone in the market. Because everyone needs to be successful on new varieties: the breeder, grower, retailer and consumer. When a new variety has proven in the market with higher sales, this helps the breeder to continue breeding and to come up with another variety."

ARNO: Is breeding endlessly?

TIM: "Yes, because there is no such thing as a perfect plant. You can always improve. Sometimes you hear people complain that there are so many varieties; they wonder whether we still need another Hydrangea, Buddleja or Weigela. Yes, we need it, if it is better. There is no shortage of new plants, but a shortage of great new plants."

ARNO: How starts breeding in your opinion?

TIM: "With the finding of an idea. One of the advantages of traveling over the world is, as you get ideas. For example, you see a plant at a trade show, in a nursery or in an arboretum, and you think about possible improvements and several chances. For example, the idea for our Lo & Behold Buddleja is originated from the dwarf Buddleja 'White Ball' [a plant that originaites] from Boskoop. We wanted to have some [dwarf] Buddleja also in several other colors. About fifteen years ago, Dr. Werner started breeding them."

ARNO: How do you know if something new is all right?

TIM: "At Spring Meadow, we use a list of criteria that a new variety must meet, according to us. The basis of that list is set up by JC Raulston, a botanist at North Carolina State University. He traveled the world to find new plants and bring them to nurseries. A new plant is only good when you can grow it well, he thought. But you need also to sell it well.

First criterion for us is: a new variety should be good for making cuttings. If we have to graft, we don't grow the plant, because it takes too much time. And people think that you can multiply rapidly in tissue culture, but that is not [always] so. For each variety you first need to figure out a separate tissue culture formula. This can take time.
It is also important if we can make a good container product. Most plants are now being sold in container, and for a successful sale the plant also has to look good. There are now different criteria for new plants, than they used to be for plants with [when plants were sold as] bare-root."

ARNO:Do you take effects of climate change in a judgement of new plants?

TIM: "I do not think you can anticipate through breeding on climate change. That just happens and plants [and our mix] will adapt. In California, for example, it will be drier, so the demand for more drought tolerant plants certainly will increase. We all want to grow what we cannot grow. At Spring Meadow everything we grow in greenhouses, because we ship our young plants to every state of America, which can be warm and cold conditions. For example, we also grow Lagerstroemia and Loropetalum. Here in Michigan, it would be too cold outside for these shrubs, but they grow out very well in a state like Florida."

ARNO: Are phytosanitary issues making developing of new varieties difficult?

TIM: "Of course. You can breed for disease resistance, but there is always the risk of organisms that can damage the plant. But I do think: people lining up phytosanitary rules, do not always understand our business. For example, I can not import Hibiscus syriacus as a result of the Asian longhorn beetle, not even small cuttings, while that beetle can enter our country with wood packaging. And a disease such as Xylella has never be found in Michigan, because it is much too cold for it. What is an issue in America that we can respond effectively, are invasive plants. In Oregon, it is illegal to plant Buddleja davidii, since this species is invasive. But our Buddleja is allowed to plant, because it has sterile flowers, so it cannot spread. We needed an independent party to validate that.

So breeders can solve problems with invasive plants. But also problems with diseases. Cornus florida is for instance prone to mildew, but not if it is crossed with Cornus kousa."

ARNO: Many companies hold novelties exclusive, by limit the licenses. And Spring Meadow?

TIM: "We are holding new plants not exclusive, there are only in the United States and Canada eighty licensed growers of our plants. I hunt for new plants, but I hunt also people who those plants breed and who are able to grow them under license. In Europe it goes through our agent Valkplant from Boskoop. They do a great job. Spring Meadow is not interested in selling plants in Europe; that's what our licensed growers do.
Several licensed growers, especially in North America, are also our competitors. That's okay, because to us it's important that we create demand for our plants, through marketing. And then, the supply should not be limited. Many people think they can negotiate a higher price for a novelty, by keeping supply limited. We do the exact opposite. So everyone will [have access to new plants and can benefit financially]."

ARNO:America has more consumer brands of garden plants than Europe. Is marketing in America easier?

TIM: "The advantage of America is that we have [essentially] one language, English. That makes communication easier. In Europe there are many languages, but despite that succesfully branding of garden plants is possible. You have to do more work for it. In that respect, David Austin Roses for example did a good job; everyone knows this brand."

ARNO: Spring Meadow partners for the marketing with Proven Winners. Why?

TIM: "Because Proven Winners is a wonderful brand that many Americans recognize. A few years ago Monrovia and Jackson & Perkins were the best known plant brands in America, but now Proven Winners has a very large consumer following. The brand was created for bedding plants. Each year about 120 million annuals from Proven Winners are being sold, that means also 120 million impressions of the brand on the market!

Annuals are sold in the spring, our shrubs all year round. We have therefore entered into a partnership with Proven Winners [annual growers], so that we can benefit from each other. Spring Meadow sold plants at first under our brand ColorChoice, now it is under Proven Winners ColorChoice. Three years ago, Walters Gardens, one of the largest growers of perennials in America also joined us [Proven Winners], so that we can further expand Proven Winners. Everyone with its own expertise."

ARNO: Are Proven Winners 'proven winners' in the market, or have they been proven previously in independent research?

TIM: "Proven Winners are plants that must be successful for the customer. This value for the US market has already been extensively tested in many locations: at Spring Meadow, other nurseries and universities in different climates - because everywhere the plants should perform well in a garden. Via Valkplant our plants are also being tested in Europe, in the Netherlands, and also for example in England and France.

Independent research in America it is slower than in Europe. If American trials are completed, the tested varieties are already old, whilst new improved plants are already available. It takes on average ten years before a new shrub is bred, selected, tested and marketed. But in America breeding is more than ever going on. On woody shrubs breeding is almost looking like breeding Petunia. So much is going on in the assortment.

How long research takes, it depends on what you are testing. For example if you test for disease free, the research can be long. But when you test on leaf color, then it does not last long. You see, for example, quickly if you get leaf burn by the sun."

ARNO: You are looking for new plants and winners, but is it true that you also breed yourself?

TIM: "Yes, at Spring Meadow we began to realize that we can also breed some ourselves. For example, we saw what Terra Nova Nurseries did with Heuchera: thru breeding add many new varieties in the range. We have built up collections of almost all species that are commercially, mainly deciduous shrubs. We have all the plants already. That is including some 100 Hibiscus syriacus.  If we breed with a plant that was brought to us by an outside breeder and introduce it, we make a point to pay that breeder royalties on the new plant, eventhough we did the breeding. That is the case with Little Lime Hydrangea. We used ‘Limelight’ as a parent to breed it so we feel the breeder should share in the royalty. Legally we don’t have to do this, but it is the right thing to do. 

ARNO: Will there be more new varieties of Buddleja?

TIM: "I do not know yet. This year we had [introduced], for example, Blue Chip Jr. new at Plantarium, a smaller version of Blue Chip. Growers told us sometimes branches from Blue Chip break during shipment. Blue Chip Jr. is better for shipping, and this Buddleia also blooms earlier in the season, so that's good for sales."

ARNO: Why do you launch new varieties at Plantarium, and not elsewhere in Europe?

TIM: "I think Plantarium is the best show in the world to introduce woody species. IPM [Essen, Germany]? That show is in the winter when deciduous shrubs do not look good. We visit Plantarium since fifteen years. Our first contact with Europe was also in Boskoop: Herman Geers had bred Weigela 'Alexandra', we first marketed this one in America, and about the same time we [introduced] Hydrangea 'Limelight' by Pieter Zwijnenburg jr. Therefore we say in America: Boskoop [Netherlands] is the center of the nursery world."

If You Love Hydrangeas

Michael Dirr
If you love hydrangeas, what could be better than a world-class hydrangea conference in of all places, Cap Cod, Massachusetts  So when Mal Condon, noted hydrangea expert and founder of the Hydrangea Farm Nursery on Nantucket Island, asked me to come to Cap Cod and speak on my favorite subject the answer was easy.

How about you? Has anyone invited you yet? Well consider it done. I'd love to see you on Cap Cod July, 14, 15, & 16. Bring your spouse, bring the kids, it's going to be a great place to be. Just look at the speakers.

Dr. Michael Dirr   -  Noted plantsman, author and breeder Mike Dirr will bring his enthusiasm and love for hydrangeas as he delivers the key note address at this years conference. Always educational and always entertaining!   

Mal Condon - A lifelong gardener, Mal has been collecting, propagating, and growing hydrangeas for more than 40 years. He and his wife Mary Kay owned and operated Hydrangea Farm Nursery on Nantucket Island but early in 2014 they relocated to Yarmouth Port on Cape Cod and are busy re-establishing the nursery in their new location.

Tim Wood with Fire Light Hydrangea
Tim Wood - You know who I am, so I'll skip the bio and just say that it will be great to see you on Cap Cod. 

Dr. David Creech - Dr. David Creech, Regent’s Professor Emeritus, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas, is the Director of SFA Gardens. SFA Gardens has grown from an unfunded classroom project on 1/2 acre in 1985 to over 128 acres and seven staff. Dr. Creech received his PhD in Horticulture from Texas A&M University in 1978.

Natalia Hammil - As Brand and Business Development Manager for Bailey Nurseries, Natalia is responsible for managing the well-known Endless Summer® hydrangea brand, First Editions® shrubs and trees, and Easy Elegance® roses.

Dr. Henry D. Schreiber -  Dr. Henry D. Schreiber is an emeritus professor of Chemistry at the Virginia Military Institute, from which he retired in 2014 after 38 years of teaching and research. He received his PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dr. Mark Windham Dr. Mark Windham is a professor and distinguished chair in ornamental pathology at the University of Tennessee. He has active research projects with diseases of hydrangeas, roses, dogwood, black walnut, and ornamental switchgrass.

Vince Dooley - Yes - Coach Vince Dooley. A heck of a coach and a heck of a gardener and the man behind the Dooley Hydrangea. 

Elizabeth Dean
Elizabeth Dean - In 1990, Elizabeth Dean and her husband, Gene Griffith, established Wilkerson Mill Gardens, a specialty plant nursery in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. Their extensive hydrangea collection is the foundation for selecting and propagating appealing and reliable hydrangeas for the garden

Kristin VanHoose - Kristin and her husband David own and operate mail-order nursery Hydrangeas Plus® and wholesale producer Amethyst Hill Nursery in Aurora, Oregon. In 1999, They purchased this total operation which specializes in hydrangeas and other woody ornamental shrubs. Initially they offered 70 hydrangea varieties but the collection has expanded to 8 species and more than 300 cultivars.

Joan Harrison- Joan's passion for hydrangeas began more than 25 years ago. She is the author of Hydrangeas: Cape Cod and the Islands and Heavenly Hydrangeas: A Practical Guide for the Home Gardener. Her writing and photography have been featured in publications including Cape Cod Magazine, Cape Cod Life, Nantucket Today, and Primetime Cape Cod.

C.L. Fornari - C.L. is the author of six books, including her latest, Coffee for Roses. She
C. L. Fornari 
hosts GardenLine, a live two-hour call-in radio show on Saturday mornings on 95 WXTK and speaks to a variety of audiences ranging from green industry trade shows to garden clubs.

Les Lutz -  Les has worked as Horticulture Director at Heritage since January 2012. His duties include managing all aspects of Heritage’s 100 acres and directing the Heritage Horticulture Internship. Mr. Lutz is responsible for the design, care and maintenance of display gardens, trails and natural woodlands, and is the creative force behind the popular Gardens Aglow holiday event at Heritage.

In addition to a great line up of speakers this conference is going to draw hydrangea experts and nursery leaders from around the world. It is going to be a great time learning and networking with fellow attendees.  

Lectures will be all-day Tuesday and Wednesday morning at Heritage Museums & Gardens. Wednesday afternoon will feature VIP tours of Heritage’s gardens, including the Hydrangea Collection, and exhibits. Wednesday evening will feature the Conference banquet followed by an Ice Cream Social and a Question & Answer Forum. Thursday will feature exclusive tours of three gardens on Cape Cod.

Cape Cod is a historical treasure trove, a place of incomparable natural beauty, with a maritime climate befitting Hydrangea macrophylla – the crown jewel of the genus – at their blooming peak in July.

Please join us for the Best of the Best in Hydrangeas, Horticulture, and Hospitality!

Learn more


Shrub Madness is Back!


Shrub Madness is the most exciting competition in horticulture and the 2015 bracket is bigger and better than ever. 
The Plant Selection Committee has hand-picked and seeded 64 outstanding varieties from the line of Proven Winners ColorChoice flowering shrubs and pitted them against each other in a tournament-style bracket. Your votes decide which shrubs advance through each round of voting. At the end of the competition, only one shrub will be named Shrub Madness National Champion. 

Who will be in the Floral Four?  Can you pick the 2015 Champion?

This year brings more prizes, a new website, and new competitors in the mix. It's a great opportunity for you (and your cohorts & customers) to celebrate the start of spring while learning about plants. 

Here's what you need to know:

Watch the trailer.

The contest will be held on the brand new, and this allows you to fill out a bracket online to compete for the grand prize: the Floral Four plants and a Plant Geek swag bag. You must fill out the bracket before March 2nd, so go do it now!

Visit Shrub often from March 2-30 to vote in each round of the competition. Popular vote determines the winner in each match. Every time you vote, you're entered to win a selection of competing plants. The more you vote, the better your chances.

So get your friends together and start your own pool. It's crazy fun. It's Shrub Madness.  

A Peak Into the Future

One of the fun things about working at a wholesale, liner (starter plant) nursery is that you get to see into the future. That's because the new plant varieties we sell today don't hit retail stores until after our customer's grow them a year or two into larger retail-sized plants. So when I analyse our current orders, I get a glimpse of what will be in garden centers in a year or two. 

Would you like to see into the future? Here is a top ten countdown of our top selling new plants. Click on the picture if you want to learn more about the plant.

Kodiak Orange Diervilla

Infinitini Brite Pink Crape Myrtle

Double Play® Red Spirea

Let's Dance® Rave Hydrangea 

Brass Buckle Japanese Holly

Invincibelle® Spirit II

Zinfin Doll™ Hydrangea paniculata

Lo & Behold® 'Blue Chip Jr' Buddleia

Little Quick Fire® Hydrangea paniculata

Bloomerang® Dark Purple Lilac