2014 Independent Plant Breeders Conference

Save this date. 

October 30 - November 2, 2014
Amway Grand Plaza
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Overview and Agenda:

The Independent Plant Breeders Conference is a great opportunity to learn and network with other plant breeders, horticulture industry professionals involved in new product development and marketing, and intellectual property experts. Pre-registration and a reception will take place the evening of October 30. The next two days will be filled with educational sessions aimed at helping independent breeders be successful, from technical aspects of breeding through product development and marketing. On the final day, we will tour nurseries, gardens and other horticultural landmarks in western Michigan.

A formal agenda and list of sessions will be released at a later date. Expect sessions to cover topics such as:

        Basic and advanced plant breeding techniques
        Managing a breeding program
        Bringing selections to market
        Intellectual property management
        Market trends

Questions? Please contact Ryan Warner, Michigan State University

Registration and Overnight Accommodations:

Conference registration details will be announced in the Spring.

Independent Plant Breeders & Students of Plant Breeding - $99
Professional Breeders & Industry Professionals - $175 (before October 1st) / $225 (after October 1st)
Overnight accommodations are now available at a group rate of $139/night.


We are looking for sponsors at three levels: (All sponsor logos will be on the conference website as the agenda is posted and printed as handouts for attendees)

Platinum ‐ $5,000.00 - This sponsors the opening night reception in your company's name, and a chance to speak to the group about your role in the industry. Your logo will be visible throughout the reception. Your logo is noted as Platinum Sponsor and highest ranking on the conference website. Platinum sponsorship includes 2 gratis registrations for your company's representatives.

Gold ‐ $2,000.00 - This sponsors a coffee break in your company's name. Your logo will be on screen through the break. Gold sponsorship includes 2 gratis registrations for your company's representatives.

Silver ‐ $1,000.00 - These sponsors will be jointly thanked at the coffee breaks and your logo will be on screen. Silver sponsorship includes 1 gratis registration for your company representative.

Student Travel Scholarships - in an effort to bring new students in plant breeding to the conference we are putting together a $500 travel scholarship for promising student in the field of ornamental plant breeding. If you would like to be a sponsor one of these travel scholarships we ask that you do in it addition to a platinum, gold or silver sponsorship. We'd like to have a picture of your company representative and the student who received the scholarship at the conference.

Area Information:

Freaky Foliage A-Z (part 3)

Here is the last installment in my Freaky Foliage photographic series. Those of you that know me or follow me regularly know that i'm a plant geek and foliage freak.That's because flowers, while pretty, are fleeting, so think foliage and form first. Start with attractive foliage and your garden will look great all season long. 

I love hearing your comments, so let me know which foliage plants you like best.

Pinus parvaflora 'Ogon Janome'

Fine Line - Rhamnus frangula

Fine Line - Rhamnus frangula - close up

Bollywood Azalea (Rhododendron) 

Salix helvetica 'Ober Donau'

Glow Girl Spirea - Spiraea betulifolia

Thuja occidentalis 'Linesville' (AKA Bowling Ball)

Anna's Magic Ball Thuja

Ulmus x holladica 'Wredei'

All that Glows Viburnum 

Freaky Fun Foliage A-Z (part 2)

Good Vibrations Juniper

Dream Catcher Kolkwitzia (beauty bush)

Sicilian Sunshine Laurus (sweet bay)

Golden Lanterns Leycesteria formosa 

Liriope muscari 'Peedee Ingot'

Mahonia confusa 'Narihira'

Ozmanthus herophylla 'Ogon'

Photinia Pink Marble 

Tiny Wine Physocarpus (Ninebark)

Center Stage Pink Crape Myrtle

Freaky Fun Foliage A-Z (part 1)

When making your next tree, shrub or perennial plant purchase, think first about plants that have attractive foliage. It could be a plant with variegated foliage, but there are many other types of leaves that add interest to the landscape. Plants offer a wide array of foliage colors such as yellow, chartreuse, blue, orange, copper, bright reds, dark burgundy and even black. 

 Albizia  Summer Chocolate
Mini Salsa Berberis 
Green leafed plants can also have interesting leaves as well. First off there is an endless range of green hues. Leaf texture also adds interest. Leave texture varies greatly from finely cut leaf, to wavy, to crinkled, to big and bold, all of which provide variation and texture that can make a garden more interesting.  

Pucker Up Cornus
Crème Fraîche Deutzia 
Goldy Euonymus 
Forsythia 'Kumson' 
Bangle Genista
Hydrangea a. petiolaris 'Firefly'
Castle Gold Ilex 
 More to come . . .

Lemony Lace™ Sambucus

As many of you know I have a fondness for Sambucus (elder or elderberry). Here is a new variety that should be a great garden companion to Black Lace Sambucus. This one is called Lemony Lace elder and is the result of a cross between Sambucus racemosa 'Sutherland Gold', a gold leaf selection from Les Kerr, and Sambucus racemosa 'Dropmore Fernleaf', a finely cut, green leaf plant that came from Canadian plant breeder Frank Skinner.  Lemon Lace elder combines the best characteristics of each parent giving us a compact plant, with extremely fine cut, lemon-lime foliage.  

This is one rugged plant. The seedlings that come out of the initial cross were planted out in full sun to cull out the weaker, more burn susceptible plants. After four years and a lot of dead and tattered seedlings, Lemony Lace elder emerged the survivor of the fittest.


Much like 'Sutherland Gold', the foliage emermges an attractive dark red, then changes to yellow as the foliage matures. Unlike Black Lace and Black Beauty  which are cultivars of the European species Sambucus nigra, Sambucus racemosa does not have showy flowers. And instead of edible, black fruit, this species has bright red fruit that should never be eaten. 

Hardy in zones 3-7, Lemony Lace elder is adaptable most climates and to most well drained soils. In northern regions it will do best in full sun and will require some dappled shade in warmer southern climates. It appears that this selection is lower and wider in stature compared 'Southerland Gold'. It is most certainly smaller in stature than Black Beauty and Black Lace elderberries. If you love yellow leafed plants or if you like fine textured plants Sambucus Black Lace then this may be a plant for you.  

Trial Garden Update

Every picture tells a story, so today's post is photographic journal of what is looking good in our trial garden. Our test garden is a fantastic resource for our nursery. It is a big investment to maintain such a large garden, but It allows us to test new plants and compare them to older cultivars.

It is here that we learn about a plants traits, both the good and bad, and determine if a plant is good enough to be introduced. Here is a sampling of plants that caught my eye over the last few weeks. What do you like and why?  

Calycanthus 'Aphrodite'

Festivus Gold a new compact ninebark from the Netherlands with bright gold foliage

Black Lace Elderberry is at its best when you let it grow big

Golden Glitter new variegated selection of Halward's Silver dwarf spirea. Every inch is covered with flowers.

Summer Wine Ninebark is wide, cascading shrub that flowers all along the stems.

Spilled Wine Weigela continues to impress visitors.  

Happy Face White Potentilla flowers earlier and heavier than other selections

Oso happy Smoothie is thornless shrub rose. It's a personal favorite. Very hardy. Very floriferous.   

Glow Girl Spirea is as neat as a pin without pruning. Great flowers, foliage, form and fall color.

Answers for Plant Breeders

As a plant breeder, I know how thrilling it is to have a new plant make it to market.  This picture was taken at a garden center in England and you can see how excited I was. It was the very first time I had seen my plant, Summer Wine® ninebark (Physocarpus), for sale in Europe. I had the same feeling of excitement when someone in my neighborhood planted one in their yard. It is one of the main reasons why we plant breeders breed plants.

Perhaps you are a plant breeder and you are looking for answers on how you can get your plant to market, how to protect your plant and how to make good decisions regarding your new plants. I just got out of a planning meeting to help organize the next Independent Plant Breeders Conference. It's going to be held in West Michigan (most likely Grand Rapids) in September of 2014. Breeders come to network, hone their breeding skills, see old friends and to get answers. In reviewing the feedback on the 2012 conference in Portland, the most requested speaker topics dealt with plant protection (plant patents, trademarks, and breeders rights) and how to get a plant to market. If you are a plant breeder, by all means make plans to attend this excellent conference. We would love to see you there, but if you want answers now I would suggest you check out the "Advice for Plant Breeders" page at the Breedersrights.com website. I just updated the entire site and most specifically tips and advice for new plant breeders as well as commonly asked questions with answers.

If you are a plant breeder, let me know what topics you want covered and what speakers your want to hear at the 2014 IPBC. This is your conference so let me know what you need. In addition, let me know if I need to answer any additional questions at breedersrights.com.