New in Flowering Shrubs

It's that time of year. The Spring Meadow (wholesale) catalog is hot off the press and in the mail.  For those of you not in the nursery business, growers across the U.S. and Canada look to Spring Meadow Nursery for small starter plants (liners) which they grow on to larger sizes. 

A tray or flat of shrub liners. We sell these starter plants to growers

Spring Meadow also specializes in new and improved shrub varieties. We breed new shrubs and we work with plant breeders from around the world. The very best of these plants are introduced under the Proven Winners brand which can be found at better garden centers. 

Look for the distinctive white container

To help you get a jump on what's new, I've included a presentation of the new Proven Winners flowering shrubs that will be available to wholesale growers next spring. Because we sell small, starter plants, it will take a year or two before they get to local retail garden centers.  How soon  it takes to get there depends upon how fast a variety grows and how it is received by growers, retailers and you.    

For a plant to become a Proven Winner selection, we spend a lot of time testing and trialing to identify the very best plants. From breeder to garden center, it typically takes 8-10 years for a new plant to get to market. It's a long process and very few plants make the cut. 

These are trialing fields where we test and evaluate potential new shrubs

First and foremost, we look for plants that perform in the garden. It is important to us that gardeners have success with our plants.  In addition to garden performance, there are other other qualities we look for in a shrub. We look for plants that provide more seasons of color. You'll notice that many of these shrubs have colorful or attractive foliage, as well as pretty flowers. Others offer more color with extended or repeat blooming. You see, shrubs can be as colorful as perennials. Actually shrubs are perennials, they just happen to have woody stems.  

Gardeners want plants that are easy to care for or that require less maintenance. That's why we look for and select dwarf or compact varieties. Compact shrubs require less pruning and care, which in turn makes your life easier. More color with less work is a great combination in a plant!

This dwarf butterfly bush requires less care than the larger ones

We also feel that of all products, plants should be ecologically friendly. For example, when testing new roses we never spray them. This helps us to identify those varieties that are resistant to blackspot and other diseases. We believe that landscape roses should be healthy and happy. The days of spraying roses is long gone. 

We've also developed seedless selections of species that might otherwise be invasive. This year we'll introduce three new butterfly bush hybrids that are seedless and noninvasive.  We believe that gardening is the best way to be green. 

Lo & Behold Butterfly Bushes are Non-Invasive

Enjoy the presentation. Please feel free to give me your comments and opinions. Your feedback is real important to me and to the whole process.  If you're a gardener, let your local garden center know what you like or want.  If you are a retailer, let your grower know what you like to buy. And if you're a grower, let me know what you think. We all have opinions and social media has given us all a voice. 

Note: After starting the presentation, you can make it larger by clicking on the bottom right hand corner of the video box.


The Czech Republic: A Plant Hunter Pictorial

Traveling to the Czech Republic to look for plants has been on my radar for a number of years.  It has a temperate continental climate not all that different from that of the Mid-West United States. In addition they have a long history and appreciation for ornamental gardening.  Yet every time I had planned a trip in the past, I had to cancel it. This summer it finally happened, and here is a visual summary of our trip.

Our first stop was Prague, the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic.  Prague is a beautiful mid-evil town and as it turns out the home of an old college friend. So after a tour of the famous Charles Bridge we met my friend in the town center for a cold Pils beer. 

Beer is another reason to get to the Czech Republic. As many of you well know I appreciate a good brew, so traveling to Bohemia, the home of the Pilsner, is like traveling to Mecca only better.      

It took me a bit of time and effort, but I did it. I found the best beer in Bohemia. This unfiltered, unpasteurized Gambrinus was mighty tasty. I highly recommend it to anyone that does not appreciate the high fructose corn syrup beverages so cleverly marketed as beer State-side.

As far as finding new plants, we found a few. The Czech Republic is well known for it's conifer collectors and conifer nurseries and we visited quite a few. 

This particular grower was well known for sowing and growing witches broom seed, so just about every plant in his garden was a unique individual.    

The Czech Republic is a beautiful and picturesque country and the people are very friendly. After one of our nursery visits our host took us to a scared monastery a top this small mountain. My understanding is that Pilgrims climb the mountain to better appreciate the suffering of Christ. We took a van.

It's also my upstanding that the Czech people are allowed to ferment and distill a certain amount of plum brandy. And while I can attest that it's very strong, I was told it keeps you very healthy. The man that shared this bottle with us told us his mom drank it every day and lived to the ripe old age of 52. (Just kidding) She lived a very happy life to 100. 

As I said before everyone was so friendly. Everyone we met shared their plum wine and wished us a long and healthy life. 

There also appears to be a strong interest in rock gardening in the Czech Republic. We were fortunate enough to visit several beautiful, hillside rock gardens. One of the nurseries we visited  hybridizes and selects new rock garden plants like this beautiful Lewisia seen here.

Believe it or not we drank more than beer and plum brandy in the Czech Republic. One of our hosts made this delicious elder flower lime water. It was wonderfully refreshing.   

The food was also delicious. One of my favorites was the garlic soup. Yum!  

One thing that caught my eye while traveling was common use of Parthenocissus quinquefolia, our native American Virginia-creeper. It is a real easy way to create a green wall (or a red wall)  without any complicated infrastructure.   

The invention of the GPS has made our trips so much easier than they were just a few years ago. I highly recommend one that pronounces the street names. Notice the name of the street we're on and note that Dale seems to be veering off the road a bit. He must be passing someone.  

As for my trip (and for this blog post), all good things must come to an end. We had a wonderful trip to the Czech Republic. I am sorry (not really) if you were expecting me to write more about plants. But if you had taken the time to read my bio you would have learned that this blog is about plants, people, the places I visit and the food and drink I discover along the way. Thanks for coming along.