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I Wanna B Famous (full)

Purple gnome, weeding gnome, plantsnouveauWelcome to The Weeding Gnome

This week’s Garden Notes: Where in the World was Angela all Summer: Part II

— October 3, 2014 —   

I Wanna B Famous

We pick up where we left off last time – headed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – home to my nemesis in football, the Steelers, for the Annual Garden Writer’s Symposium.  I was asked by the association to give a presentation to the garden writers. The idea was for me to partner with my buddy Lloyd Traven from Peace Tree Farm to talk about how our two little companies managed to stand out in a crowd and appear Awesome!

We decided I would talk about being awesome and how to be real and relevant and then Lloyd would take over and spend some time talking to the garden writers about making their writing relevant for their customers – the people reading their words, and that he would broach the uber- sensitive subject of being (or not being) a shill.  

What an interesting topic and one I think about daily, but have never put into words and certainly not a lecture, and I absolutely had not thought about it in terms of garden writing. Garden writers are where most of the public gets their gardening information, so they need to be credible, believable and real.

Putting on my deep thinking cap, I thought back to the beginning of Plants Nouveau and how I felt like a small fish in a huge ocean. How did I compete? How did I grow the business? How did I stay relevant ? Now, there’s a nice word. We’ll talk about that one a bit more below.  

When I started the business, I wanted to be real, I wanted to be genuine and I wanted to be transparent. I wanted everyone to trust me and trust that I would do a really good, honest job. As I searched for my place in the big world of horticulture, I turned outside of my industry to my favorite companies for guidance. Companies I trusted. Companies who cared. There was a common word in their core values – it was integrity.   

Let’s define Integrity:
Integrity is a personal choice, an uncompromising and predictably consistent commitment to honor moral, ethical, spiritual and artistic values and principles.

That being said, to be able to market plants in this big, stretched out world and keep your integrity while competing with some pretty untrustworthy folks isn’t easy. How would we do it? How would we stand out? 

We had to be Awesome!

Definition #2.
There are many ways to define awesome, here’s three:

  • Excellent – extremely good/outstanding
  • Exciting – causing great enthusiasm
  • Remarkable – worthy of attention

Those are some pretty strong words, right? Sadly, the Urban dictionary says Awesome is something Americans use to describe everything.  In this day and age, where just about anyone can be famous and even people who don’t deserve to be famous OR awesome are getting accolades, how can a little company like Plants Nouveau stand out?

Show people you are real.
Show people you are credible.
Show people you are an expert in your field.

Anyone can be famous in this technologically advanced, Google driven world. There’s even a new term for this generation. It’s Generation Like. Imagine that.  Like doesn’t just mean you think someone is cute or funny or even just okay. Like is the new indicator of how famous you are and how many people “like” you or your content dictates the space you occupy on the internet, and sadly, your fame. 

There is an entire generation chock full of young people who want to be famous and they get paid for their “Like” power. It all started with Honey Boo-Boo, the trailer park, trash-talking toddler who took middle America’s heart, but it has developed into careers and social trends that no one ever dreamed of.

There was a show on PBS about it and it was fascinating.  It talked about social media branding using kids to spread the word. The more power these kids have (in other words – the more “likes” they can get), the more brands want them to talk about their products, movies, etc.

I’m telling you now – it’s  a new paradigm for brand marketing.

For example – I present you with my new best friend Tyler Oakley. Tyler is a college grad with no “real” job. His job is to be funny, adorable and most importantly – believable on YouTube and Facebook. You can read about him oWikipediaor better yet, here he is in action:

Wise words about not devaluing your skills or your knowledge, but I digress. This kid is awesome. He’s believable. You want to be his friend and he has over 767,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, over 1,700,000 fans on his Facebook page and 3.2 million fans on his Twitter feed.

He is certainly “like-able”, right?

Frito-Lay, the maker of Doritos thinks so. They made a special taco for him – a Cool Ranch flavored shell. They heard him talking about it on his social media channels, begging them for this flavor. They listened.

That is the power of LIKE.

Does he deserve to be famous? Maybe. Maybe not. Do we need someone likable to talk to consumers about plants? Yes, absolutely yes.

Tyler only talks about things he really and truly uses in his life.  He’s honest and when he likes something, everyone knows. Conversely when he doesn’t like something – everyone knows. So you better hope he likes the thing you are giving him to try.

He’s no shill.

I would rather see someone like Tyler pushing products than some rich celebrity like Jennifer Anniston pushing Aveno wrinkle cream or Beyonce pushing full calorie Pepsi.  Do those brand’s reps really think we believe Jennifer Anniston would use off-the-shelf wrinkle cream or that Beyonce is drinking full calorie soda?  Shills.  They are all shills. In the newest Lincoln SUV commercial Matthew McConaughey tries to convince us that he’s driven Lincoln automobiles, by saying he has driven them “Long before someone paid me to”.

Do you believe him?

Many plant marketers are shills, and sadly there are garden writers who are shills. Many sales people are shills – well, maybe most sales people, LOL. Don’t be a shill. This was Lloyd’s message and surprisingly, it was well received.

I love to see good examples of growing the plants first, then talking about them, or even killing them, but being honest about the experience. Imagine that? We often see posts right after the samples are sent or soon there after. I swear, some garden writers talk about the plants the minute they take them out of the box. They say how great they are right then and there.

Really?  How great they are?  How do you know?

I know it is exciting to get that lovely box of lush, healthy samples plants, but don’t you need to put them in the ground or in a pot and grow them first? Here’s my advice on how to be a trusted resource to your customers – your readers.

It’s quite simple actually. Grow the plants.

A Boston area garden writer named Rochelle Greayer, who blogs about plants and garden design and lots of cool other stuff over at Studio”G” Blog did the right thing when she posted this write upafter a summer of growing these annuals she received from Proven Winners. She actually grew them ALL summer!  In my opinion, there is nothing worse than a plant marketer who does NOT know plants or a garden writer who talks about how great their fountain is right after they installed it. That fountain hasn’t even weathered a storm.

The people want honesty.  Hopefully, the company who gave you the freebie does too.

At Plants Nouveau we send out trial plants all the time. We want to know the nitty-gritty, the good, the bad, the incredibly awesome AND the ugly. Maybe our plants do really well here in Boston and die a slow painful death in Washington, DC. I’d rather know the truth so we can warn people who buy them or change our website to state that very helpful information. Of course, I would rather you not tell the world all coneflowers are evil because they died in YOUR garden, but I would like to know that they died and see if we can figure out why.

We send trial plants to many people around the US. We do that so we can see how the plants do in different climates. We value the feedback and use it to write our copy.

It’s real. It’s tested. It’s true.

Look at the Garden Notes from Brunnera ‘Silver Heart‘, where I wrote:

“I planted this new selection side-by-side with ‘Looking Glass’ and noticed a huge difference in foliage toughness. The leaves are thicker and more pubescent (or hairier) and they seem to hold up much better in extreme heat and humidity. The blooms are still deep cobalt blue and the foliage is as silver as the skin of a barracuda. Try this plant in your shade garden. I have it planted along my driveway in the shade and on warm summer evenings, each leaf looks like a little moon, lighting up the pathway. The mature leaves are easily as big as my head! This is one of the toughest brunneras  I’ve ever seen. “

It’s Awesome information and that information makes Plants Nouveau awesome because people believe us and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

People think we are crazy with our wacky trade show booth designs, but you know what? They remember them, and they talk about them.

That’s the point isn’t it?

Take our Garden Writers New Products Expo booth, for example.  It was Black & White.  It stood out among all the other booths and everyone who visited asked why is was sans color. My answer – we wanted to stand out and we wanted the plants to be front and center – with no distractions.

Butcher paper and black markers it was! And…of course there was a costume. I was the Clematis Queen. I even convinced Linda to wear black & white too. Take a look.

We do crazy stuff. We have fun.We know plants and we are real. If that makes us AWESOME, I’m happy.

We also love these conferences because we get to spend time with our favorite plant geek friends. Check out these two plant whores collecting all the free samples they can for the University of Tennessee GardensAndy Pulte (right) and Jason Reeves (left) love plants and they will trial anything and give the best feedback.

My Clematis Crown was so fabulous, everyone wanted to wear it – take a look at Kelly Norris, Director of Horticulture at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens taking his turn, posing for the camera.

We love that. They make it all worth while.  

The conference was great. Pittsburgh was great – not the healthiest food there, but we enjoyed all it had to offer and the gardens we visited were very interesting as well. Great job GWA!




Have a great weekend, don’t forget to read this week’s Garden Notes below, and Happy Weeding!


Angela Treadwell-Palmer
Founder and Co-owner, Strategic plant finder, In Charge of Magic
Plants Nouveau, LLC.

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This week, from Angela’s Garden Notes; Clematis

During the Garden Writer’s Symposium, we gave away fabulously grown clematis from our new Sugar-Sweet™collection.  The plants were grown by our friends at www.gardenvines.comwho have the most amazing collection of climbing plants for sale anywhere on the internet.

Sugar-Sweet™Lilac and Sugar-Sweet™ Blue were well received by the attendees.  This new series is just the beginning of the amazing clematis selections we will have to offer in the future.

We are working with famed breeder Ton Hannink in the Netherlands and his plants are truly stunning.  Please be on the look out for more fragrant selections and many more wilt resistant varieties for your garden.

Back to the Sugar- Sweets.
They are just that, sugary sweet, both in appearance and scent. Lilac is a medium purple, highly fragrant, wilt resistant variety, emitting scents of gardenia blossoms. Blue is a highly fragrant, wilt resistant variety with soft periwinkle blooms that fade to a silvery blue with a scent reminiscent of lemon, sugar and vanilla.

Both selections produce lots of 2-3″ flowers and climb 6-9′ tall by 24″ wide.

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Cultivate’14-Road Trip (continued)

Welcome to The Weeding Gnome Brought to you by Angela Treadwell-Palmer & Plants Nouveau This week’s Garden Notes: New Plants for 2015, Part II – Woody Plants

— July 11, 2014 —   

Cultivate’14- The Road Trip

When I started writing this week’s post, I was literally on my way to the biggest US trade show for new plants. For 787 miles, I drove a 10′ cargo van full of goodies and interesting booth parts, heading westward, across 4 states to make it in time for today’s set up.  Cultivate’14 is the largest horticulturally themed, summer  trade show in the US.  It attracts vendors and buyers from all over the world in search of new products, new ideas and new technologies for the green industry.   

If you are attending Cultivate’14please stop by booth #2232, to see and or talk about our new plants in person.  

Like I said last week, we’ll have the pleasure of having two of our breeding companies from The Netherlands represented at the show. Of course, it would have been much more fun for them if the Dutch futbol team was playing in the finals of the World Cup – we are all mourning  the loss.

On the other hand, go Germany!

I’m glad my family routes for three teams; The US, of course, The Netherlands and Germany (we are part German after all). We are huge soccer (futbol) fans and had a great time watching the games.  It will be interesting to see if the show floor clears out at 4pm like it did during the World Cup finals four years ago.

Of course – the Dutch were playing then…

Now that my long drive to Columbus has ended and I’m now in town to start the set up of our booth, I’m quite thankful the trip was rather uneventful.  As often happens on a 15 hour drive alone, I learned some things about myself and my surroundings.

What did I learn?

I learned why Pennsylvania Blue stone is so expensive.  I wish I had taken a picture of the bluestone outcropping I passed outside of Scranton, PA, but I figured there’d be more.  There weren’t.  Being schooled and trained as a landscape designer in the Mid-Atlantic, I always wondered why it was so dang expensive to get blue stone in the bluest shades.

Now I get it.

You see, in these blue stone out croppings, there are layers of stone. There’s red, then gray, then red, then the bluest of blues and then some more (lots) of red. To get to the bluest of blue and to make a whole palette of that color, they must mine through many other layers of many other colors of stone.

That’s why you usually see a mix of blues, reds and grays, and that’s also why a palette of the bluest of blues is so much money. They have to work really hard to get those.

I had no idea.

I also learned that being a horticulturist and a plantweenie, I never stop thinking about plants.  As I drove the nearly 800 miles to get here, I watched many a landscape go by.  Not purposefully landscaped landscapes, but natural ones. 

From the picture, you might think I was in Vermont or New Hampshire, but look closely and there’s no white barked birches or white spruces – only maples, oaks and black locust.  

The rolling hills of Western New York and The entire state of Pennsylvania, which took 5 hours to drive across!, are lovely.  The mix of trees is basic eastern deciduous forest.  It’s nice driving.  

How many of you can identify where you are in the US by looking at the plants along the highways? I love seeing the plant palette along the highways change as the miles go by.  In my opinion, that’s the best part of any road trip. That and trying to find healthy food to eat on the road.

What else did I see/learn? I

also saw 6 (yes, I counted) dead foxes along the highways.  These were destroyed foxes.  It was so sad. I know I drove a long way, but I’ve never seen a dead fox on the side of the road, much less 6!  I wonder why?  Why were they crossing the road?  Why couldn’t it have been deer, or some creature that eats our garden plants – like ground hogs? Why foxes?  

It was disturbing…

The last thing I learned is Ohio has no respect for roadside pollinators.  

It made me so sick that I was actually nauseous. Next week…a rant on the destruction of roadside pollinator habitat.

Lest I digress any further, back to what we are all here for…new woody plants.

Sadly, many of these will not be in our booth, but they are brand new and we hope to see them in booths of our partners like Ball Ornamentals,  and HGTV.  We have some really cool, break-through plants this year.

A brilliantly colored new mop head hydrangea from Kolster:

Hydrangea ‘Kolmagics’ Magica® Sunfields a.k.a Butterfly Frolic™ is part of the HGTV Plant Collection. Unique in its color, Sunfields has hard-to-the-touch, rose-red blooms tinged with bright green. As the flowers mature, green becomes the prominent color, while rose-red appears more like a frame or picotee edge for each petal. An excellent cut flower, Sunfields has strong, upright stems and an abundance of colorful blooms that will last in a vase for months.

A new panicle hydrangea with super-full flowers:

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bokraflame’ Magical® Candle has Immense, porcelain-white flower heads that appear backlit,  creating a surreal glow of soft, yellow flowers above tall, erect stems. A robust grower, the dense, lacy panicles of this variety are among the most beautiful in its class. A lovely choice for the summer garden, when so many flowering shrubs have taken a rest, Candle will give you plenty of enjoyment from July-September as it ages to shades of deep rosy pink.

Rhododendrons that can take high pH and clay soils: Yes, you read that right.  If you have always wanted to grow lush, healthy, vigorous rhododendrons, but your soil pH is too high, too lime or full of clay, here’s your chance.  

The name INKARHO is short for INter-essengemeinschaft KAlktoleranter RHOdo-dendron (lime-tolerant rhododendron) What are INKARHO® rhododendron? INKARHO is a pH neutral rootstock, which is tolerant of acid and lime soils. After 25 years of testing over 1 million seedlings, we can reliably offer this rootstock to be grafted onto all your favorite rhododendrons, ensuring they will grow and have strong root systems. How are INKARHO® different? INKARHO are the newest generation in a long line of superior breeding. They are more robust, and suitable for a wide range of soil types. Even heavy clay and loamy soils will reap the rewards of our favorite garden sensations. What does this mean for you? For those of you with lime soils, it gives many areas of the country the 1st opportunity ever to grow rhododendrons well. Some have never imagined lush, healthy plants.  For those of you with acid soils, your plants will grow with more vigor, the flowers will be more vivid, and you’ll still be able to enjoy your favorite selections because the INKARHO rootstock can be grafted onto all of the well-known varieties that gardeners have been growing and even coveting for years!

Last, but not least…we have some repeat , did I say repeat? Yes, I said repeat blooming weigelas from Kolster.   

Weigela ‘Bokracuwhi’ Magica® White is a medium sized variety that will make an excellent addition to the mixed border, or as a specimen in full sun to part shade. This is a fast growing shrub with a gracefully arching habit. Guaranteed to add season-long color, it’s one of the first plants hummingbirds come to in the spring. The profusion of repeat blooming white flowers make this new selection one that ranks far above those used by Grandma. 

What’s more?  It also comes in PINK!

Don’t forget -we have some special guests this year – Henk Holtmaat from AB-Cultivars will be at the show and in the booth talking about his wonderful breeding program in the Netherlands and for the first time ever in Ohio, we will also have Peter Kolster, owner and breeder of our amazingly wonderful Everlasting® hydrangea line and many other woody plants from our program.

Have hydrangea questions, ask Peter! Or just come meet the man behind these awesome, useful, easy to grow Gift-to-Garden™ plants.

There’s also Revolution Man – in case you missed him last year.  

We hope to see you there. Please stop by or look for live social media updates on on Facebook (PlantsNouveau page), Instagram(@plantweenieand Twitter @plantweeniethroughout the show.

Next week…Why does Ohio have no respect for roadside pollinators?

Until then…

Happy Weeding! 


Angela Treadwell Palmer
Founder and Co-owner, Strategic plant finder,
In Charge of Magic Plants Nouveau, LLC.

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Do You Cultivate?

orange gnome, plants nouveau

Welcome to The Weeding Gnome
Brought to you by Angela Treadwell-Palmer & Plants Nouveau

This week’s Garden Notes: New Plants for 2015

— July 4, 2014 —

Do You Cultivate?

What exactly does the word cultivate mean? defines it like this:
cultivate  (ˈkʌltɪˌveɪt) 
A verb
1. to till and prepare (land or soil) for the growth of crops
2. to plant, tend, harvest, or improve (plants) by labor and skill
3. to break up (land or soil) with a cultivator or hoe
4 .to improve or foster (the mind, body, etc) as by study, education, to labor
5. to give special attention to: to cultivate a friendship; to cultivate a hobby
6. to give or bring culture to (a person, society, etc); civilize

Next week, we head to the largest trade show in the US for people who grow, sell and market plants – especially new plants. The show has a new name. For as long as I can remember, this great show in Columbus, OH was called the OFA Short Course. OFA is short for Ohio Florist Association, which is how the show started – as a show for floral supplies and classes. This year, they changed the name to Cultivate’14.  Cultivate logo

Cultivate is a fantastic word and it should be used more, not just in my world of horticulture and new plants, but in general.

I cultivate everyday. Whether it’s making new friends, starting new business relationships, introducing my kids to old school hip-hop music or actually cultivating the soil and hundreds of plants in my garden.

It’s a really important word and it’s not used enough. We need more cultivating!

butterfly series of echinaceas, plants nouveauAt Plants Nouveau, we cultivate new relationships all the time. It’s what we do. It’s actually hard to explain what we do, but weeding and cultivating pretty much sum it up.

Many people have no idea that our little company is a force behind some of the large plant-marketing companies.

We give our new plants to Ball Ornamentals®. Many have and will continue to be placed in the HGTV® plant collection. We also work with the Southern Living® and Sunset® Magazine plant collections, as well as the First Editions® Collection and even Monrovia®, which has now become the upscale “house brand” in many Lowe’s stores throughout the US.

I do find myself torn about working with these large programs. Yes, we benefit from their size and potential distribution of our plants. Yes, they have more marketing dollars than we will ever have to promote the plants, and yes, the whole point is to sell the most plants and at the same time make our breeders more money, but we get very little credit for our work.

We do a lot of the legwork behind the scenes, working with the breeders and selecting and trialing the plants – sometimes even writing the plant patents too.

Plants Nouveau is a small, but one might say powerful force behind the scenes in the world of new plant introduction. We don’t always get fame, and we certainly haven’t yet received our fortune, but these large groups come to us because they know we have cultivated long lasting relationships with some of the most amazingly talented breeding companies in the world.

There’s that word again…Cultivate.

Cultivation isn’t easy work. First, we have to have a relationship with the breeders. They need to trust we will select the right plants, find reputable growers who will maximize the number of plants sold and be able to trust that both of us will get paid honest royalties, which are collected on the number of plants sold – just like royalties are collected by musicians on a hit song.

Echinacea Butterfly CleopatraThat’s where the weeding comes in and how this blog/e-newsletter got it’s name.That and the fact that I collect garden gnomes.  We weed. We weed a lot. Weeding through the hundreds of plants people bring us to find the good ones is a huge part of our job.

Are we fortunetellers? No.

But we are plant fashionistas and we try to keep up with all of the major trends and know what our consumers want (read weed out).  This is how we come up with the best plants for our markets. To sell large quantities of plants, we must build (read cultivate) relationships with growers and large new plant marketing groups like the ones I mentioned above to assure the plant is successful.

What else do we cultivate?

We cultivate relationships with trade and consumer publications, so the magazine editors will come to us as an authority on marketing and introducing new plants. We want them to think of us when they have stories or questions about the plants we are introducing.  We cultivate relationships with consumers through our many social media outlets.  Heucherella infinity, plants nouveau, purple leaved heucherella

Cultivation is key.

I know you are dying to know what’s on the new plant menu for Cultivate’14, the show in Columbus, Ohio where we unveil the latest and greatest new plants. As usual, we have quite a few and it’s hard to choose favorites, so I’ll break it down into two groups.

I’ll introduce you to a few of our new tropical and perennial plants this week and new shrubs and trees next week.

If you are attending Cultivate’14, please stop by our three, yes that’s right I said three booths. We will be bigger and better than ever before- look for booth #2232.The booth design this year is different. Let’s call it modern, minimalist industrial meets butterfly.

You’ll have to see it to understand, but I promise it will be totes cool.

Back to the new stuff cause that’s what you are all here for, right?

We have some really cool, totally new-to-the-market perennials this year. A dwarf Japanese painted fern called ‘Silver Slippers’, a new heucherella – yes, we ARE going there, but this one is oh, so special because it blooms from May to October – hence the name Heucherella ‘Infinity’, and of course the focus will be on our ever-so-fabulous, retail ready Butterfly™ series of single petaled, amazingly colored coneflowers.

Japanese painted fern silver slippers, plants nouveauThis year, we will have‘Purple Emperor’, ‘Julia’ and ‘Cleopatra’ in the booth for your viewing pleasure. There are many more selections for the Butterfly series in the works and we will be talking about those as well.

As for new tropical plants, breeder Brian Williams will be bringing us some beautiful new selections like; Caladium ‘Poison Dart Frog’, Colocasia ‘Dragon Heart Gigante’, and the newest from the Gecko series, Painted Black Gecko’.

A new feature in the booth this year will also be a selection of leaves to compare from all of the tropical plants we offer.  A fancy tropical foliage wall, if you will.

We also have some special guests this year – Henk Holtmaat from AB-Cultivars will be at the show and in the booth talking about his wonderful breeding program in the Netherlands and for the first time ever in Ohio, we will also have Peter Kolster, owner and breeder of our amazingly wonderful Everlasting® hydrangea line and many other woody plants from our Caladium Poison Dart Frogprogram.

Have hydrangea questions, ask Peter! Or just come meet the man behind these awesome, useful, easy to grow Gift-to-Garden™ plants.

We hope to see you there. Please stop by or look for live social media updates on on Facebook (PlantsNouveau page), Instagram (@plantweenie) and Twitter @plantweenie throughout the show.

Next week…new trees and shrubs at Cultivate’14!

Until then…

Happy Weeding! 



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To The Moon and Back Again…

Gnome on Piggie, Weeding Gnome, Plants NouveauThis week’s Garden Notes: My Love Affair with Trees

— June 13, 2014 —   

To the Moon and Back Again

Hi there! Sorry to have missed two weeks of posting and chatting with you, my friends, but I 
feel like I have actually been to the moon and back these last two weeks. My business partner, Linda Guy and I went to The Netherlands to check in on our hydrangea, clematis and perennial breeders two weeks ago and boy, did we see some beautiful, novel things.

We also ran into a gnome forest where I managed to take nearly 50 new gnome pictures. It was so very exciting. The little piggy riding gnome above is one of my new images. I luv him!

I can’t really tell you about the plants, because I’d have to kill you. It’s all top secret. You know the drill.

What I can tell you is I didn’t sleep a wink. Between greenhouses full of technicolor hydrangeas in shades and shapes never imaginable, unusually relentless jet lag and Monty Don escaping from our dog run while I was gone, I slept very little the entire trip.

It was horrid.

To ease your suspense – Monty Don is fine and safely home, but what an ordeal that was from 3,000 miles away. The power of Facebook saved him. What is a doggie’s mama to do to rescue her baby, who is out looking for her, from across the ocean? Why, post to Facebook, text everyone you know in town and hope for the best. The entire town was out looking for my dog within minutes.  People love dogs, don’t they? They will stop everything they are doing to help a dog in need.  

Thank goodness.  

Strangers, the police, neighbors and friends were all out looking for Monty Don. It was amazing to watch the message spread all over Facebook and to neighboring town’s Facebook pages as well. He is safe and that’s all that matters. I owe some people large favors and I must admit – Social Media can be the bomb.  

How do I get people as excited about gardening on social media? Now, that’s the question.  

So, I came home from 8 days abroad, dreaming each time I caught a nap about rainbows of hydrangeas, clematis and coralbells to build a higher fence for the dog run. And that’s what we spent the weekend doing – between lacrosse games, that is.

Then I was off to the best native plants conference (If I do say so myself) in the country, The Native Plants in the Landscape Conference @ Millersville. Many of you know I have been the voluntary director for the past 13 years.  It’s a conference all about native plants and using them in the landscape. The conference attracts 350 +/- attendees each year and is held on the campus of Millersville University in Millersville, PA  (outside of Lancaster and really close to Hershey Park).

If you’d like to know more about this annual event, check out the website

I flew home from the conference late Saturday night and started working with our ITOH(Intersectional) peony breeder early this week to help him make selections from his work.

The fun never ends this time of year, right? And the weeds, they just keep a multiplying and growing. I really need a few days to work in the trial gardens, which should be in their full glory, perennial wise – come late June.  

So, I’m running and running and running around and all I want to do is sleep at night until BAM!  Last night around 11:30 pm, I heard the loudest explosion.

Wait, I know that sound. I asked my husband what it was and he said one of the neighbors lit a firework. Really? At 11:30? I didn’t believe him, so I went outside and thought he was probably right because I did smell smoke.  

I was still in shock that any of our neighbors would do that so late at night.  

About a ½ hour later, what sounded like a fire truck came down the street.  No lights, just sounded like one. I peered out the front window and it was a tree trimming truck. Hmmm, I thought. I knew it wasn’t fire works. I distinctly remembered that sound from one of the big snowstorms this winter.  

You see, the road across from us that faces the lovely, curvaceous Merrimack River has houses along it – very expensive houses.  Some of them are alone and others are on private cul-de-sacs that don’t even allow walkers from the surrounding hood.  

This winter I heard that explosion while cooking Sunday breakfast one weekend. A huge white pine fell down,  dragged the power lines to the ground, blew up the transformer and yanked so hard – from about 1/8 mile away – that it cracked a piece of our house off – the piece where the cable line was attached. Of course, there was no recourse and we had to pay to have the wood replaced and the cable reattached.  

They did it when they painted a few weeks ago, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. 

But to have it happen again is unacceptable. This time, no damage was done to our house, but the tree guys and the power company were in front of our house with bucket ladders and chain saws until 4:30 am – fixing everything.  

The noise kept me and the kids up all night. Hub slept through it and so did the dogs.

I drove down the private cul-de-sac this morning to see what happened and low and behold – yet another uncared for tree had split in ½.  There wasn’t even a storm or wind last night – it was just rotten. Same thing happened with the white pine, but rotten insides mixed with a heavy snow load caused that tree’s demise.

Why am I so angry, you ask? Well, they did keep me up all night. But more than that, I’m angry because I bet those richy-riches with their million dollar river front homes think they did no wrong.  

They pay lots to have their private road plowed and the edges kept “weed-free”, but have they ever once consulted an arborist about all of the large, older trees along their private road? I bet not.

When we moved – and this is our 5th house in 12 years – the first thing I did was look up. I look at the trees. I look to see if anyone has ever loved them. The answer is usually no. I estimated we had about $10,000 worth of tree work we would need to do when we moved into our current house. I wasn’t far off – I think we have spent more. 

Trees are glorious. Trees are grand. They house wildlife and shade your home, they clean the air, they add nutrients to the soil and they clean the water. I love trees and would never buy a property with out some old trees. It would feel naked to me.  

But, for the love of gnomes people, you must take care of them. You must respect their powerful wood that can turn on you and crush your house, your cars, your children.  

Properly cared for, most trees will outlast all of us, but take them for granted and ignore their needs of pruning and removal from disease or old age, and you could be in danger. I will never forget the couple in Baltimore who parked their cars on top of a silver maple’s roots in their driveway –which was close to their house. They did this for years and I bet they never once looked up to see if it was hurting the tree. It was hurting the tree and a huge branch fell on and killed their little boy.  

A completely heart-wrenching story, right? 

Everyone blamed the tree. I was so mad. It could most likely have been avoided if they had any knowledge of tree health and tree care.  

If they would have just looked up…their little boy might be alive today. 

I bet the richy-riches across the street think it was the tree’s fault that they had no power all night.  In fact, I’m sure they do. I blame them. And because it fell when and where it did – they got free, yes, that’s right – free tree service from the power company.  

That’s not fair.

I pay a lot to my friends at Bartlett Tree Experts to make sure my kids, my house AND my trees are safe from harm. Why should the people across the street ever care if the power company will come behind them  – in the middle of the night, mind you – and clean up their careless, selfish mess?  Why should they care if the last tree that went down tore a piece of my house off – that I had to pay for?

There is no punishment to them for their ignorance, so why should they be proactive? I think the power company should charge them for the overtime and all of the clean up their tree negligence has caused.  

I also think they should apologize to their neighbors for keeping us up all night, but maybe that’s because I’ve been sleep deprived for the last few weeks and I’m cranky.

For the love of trees…please take care of them and have them evaluated one a year or at least every other year by a tree care professional. I highly recommend Bartlett because they are a team of tree care scientists who really do care about trees. I’ve been a good customer for 10 years and I wouldn’t have it any other way.They know I am the crazy lady who doesn’t ever want to spray, but they work with me to find alternative ways to keep my trees healthy. Who does that?

All right – that’s the end of my rant this week. I will leave you with some scenes from our trip to The Netherlands.  Soon you’ll have Technicolor dreams (and hopefully gardens) too.  

Happy Weeding! 


Angela Treadwell Palmer
Founder and Co-owner, Strategic plant finder, In Charge of Magic
Plants Nouveau, LLC.

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Crawfish and My Gulf Coast Friends

Welcome to The Weeding Gnome
Brought to you by 
Plants Nouveau

In Today’s Issue: A Guest Post by Linda Guy

— May 22, 2014 —   

Crawfish and My Gulf Coast Neighbors

Last week, an invitation was dropped in our mail slot. On it read, “Helpful guidelines for the Perkins crawfish boil: Guests referring to crustaceans of the family Procambarus as “crayfish” will not be served. Anyone who calls them crawdads will be chased from the property by dogs and children armed with garden implements. STAY INFORMED – STAY SAFE – HAVE FUN”

Not much to ask from a horticulturist, right?

We have no problem with Latin, and we generally keep up with “common “ names as well. There would be old friends to see, who could catch me up on local politics and new ones to make as the fun rolled in. So, when the date came, I poured a glass of wine into a plastic Mardi Gras cup, my husband J. grabbed a 6 pack of Blue Moons, and we walked to the party.

There, in the middle of the lawn were 2 8’ tables covered in newspaper, (no fancy tablecloths at a crawfish boil) where a mound of crawfish, boiled corn on the cob and new potatoes was piled high. The pile never seemed to go down – as soon as any hint of it diminishing was spotted, another mound was heaped on top. Beer was the drink of choice…better to wash your crawfish down with, I suppose… and local famed nursery man, Maarten Van der Guissen’s band, the Butts (Van der Guissen Nursery, Semmes, AL) were playing everything from 70’s music to Indie Rock. Good stuff!

I found one of my old friends, Bill Finch hunkered up to the tables, twisting those tiny crustaceans, sucking their heads, (yes, it’s true) and peeling their shells to expose the succulent meat inside. This would be my much-needed lesson in eating crawfish – after being away 15 years one needs a refresher!

Now, if the idea of “sucking brains” is revolting to you, keep in mind, it’s mainly the body you’re sucking, not really the head, and besides, the brains are only the size of a pin-head, so you’d never really know if you were or not.

TMI? All in the spirit of the event!

The company couldn’t have been better: We walked about the yard admiring the Koi pond and the soft texture that planted ferns contributed. Sweetly scented Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica) with its gently arching branches and drooping white racemes lured us over for a closer whiff.

We made new friends, talked about the produce at our farmers market, which had just opened a week prior for the season, local restaurants, music and the potential for a co-op/garden center in the downtown area.  The dogs tugged on a rope swing while twin boys jumped on stage with blow-up guitars imagining themselves as rock stars.

No hurling garden implements in sight.

It was a fabulous party. We’re getting to know our Gulf Coast neighbors, their rich culture and southern hospitality.  It’s something I’ve missed.

Angela and I will be traveling to The Netherlands this week, and I’m going to do my best to bring some of that hospitality with me. One of the main reasons for our trip is to visit the folks at Kolster, BV where our Everlasting® hydrangeas are bred.

Kolster has quite an interesting company background: Back in the early 90’s mixed bouquets became popular all over the world so Peter Kolster began breeding ornamentals for the cut flower trade, focusing on hypericum and snow berries, winter berry holly and rose hips to add to the bouquets. With huge advances in breeding, the company soon became one of the world leaders for ornamental cut stems.

Many of these plants are offered here in the states through Plants Nouveau.

All of this led to their biggest breeding effort to date – Hydrangeas. They first bred for cuts, but in the year 2000, Kolster started a line for pot or gift plant crops. They are offered as Magical® hydrangeas in Europe, but for reasons we love to share, these Hydrangeas are called Everlasting® in the U.S.

Why the name change?

They have incredibly strong stems that support hard, latex-like flowers, and the colors on these varieties are unlike any others. As an example, the young flowers of Everlasting
 Amethyst open in soft pinks or blues depending on the pH of your soil with hints of green, and Everlasting Noblesse is white with green highlights. As the flowers begin to age, they take on new color blends, like fiery red and green on Jade and violet-purple on Amethyst and Coral. But that’s not all…the color holds on the drying blooms for months!

Hence the name, Everlasting.

Revolution is the leader of the Everlasting pack! There are no fertile flowers on this selection, only sepals, so the plant never stops blooming! Mature plants only reach 24-30” and the blooms are proportionate to its size. Revolution not only flowers on old and new wood, but the flowers fade to magical color combinations of deep pink, mauve and violet-blue over time. It makes an excellent container plant, a great cut for bridal bouquets and baby showers, and commands attention in the front of the garden bed with its non-stop performance! I have literally seen plants in the Kolster greenhouses in December with their classic colors, looking as fresh as if it were August!

Speaking of Revolution, are yours blooming yet? Take a look at these in our Mobile garden mid-May!

Angela and I usually fly to The Netherlands in August to participate in their large horticultural trade show called Plantarium, but with so many new hydrangeas to see, we decided to make two trips this year.

We ask ourselves the proverbial question: how many hydrangeas does the world need? I think as long as we can truly see improvement on the newer introductions, we’ll continue to support the breeding. After all, breeders and plant lovers are dreamers. We have to dream BIG. Who knows…maybe the next hydrangeas will bring fragrance to our gardens!

Time to pack.

Until next month,


Want to email Linda Guy?

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Not fit for the Outside World


watering can gnome Welcome to The Weeding Gnome
Brought to you by Angela Treadwell-Palmer & Plants Nouveau

This week’s Garden Notes: Garden Candy…It’s OK to Drool!

— May 16, 2014 —

Not Meant for the Outside World…

That’s what my 7 year-old daughter told me on Sunday as we were planting some plants in the garden. She always likes to help for a little while. This time, she was helping me plant some small ornamental grasses, when she screamed, “ It’s a scorpion!”

I said, “ We don’t have scorpions here, where is the bug you saw?”

She started to get up and run away. I asked her why and this was her reply, “ Mama, I’m just not meant for the outside world.”


Just what a plant-loving mama wants to hear from her daughter, right? This, from the daughter who grew 12 foot tall sunflowers last year and planted and labeled each and every veg in our veg patch.12-foot sunflowers

What was it? Well, we know it was not a scorpion. We don’t live in the desert. It was probably a large earwig that came out of the soil when I tipped the pot over, but it was gone so fast, I never really saw it.

She was so scared she stopped gardening. I was disturbed, to say the least.

I hate to say this, but I blame her teachers. From day one, in pre-K she was taught to run away from bees. I understand kids can be allergic, and it can be really dangerous if they are, but how many kids are really allergic? My mom is allergic – so bad that she carries and epi- pen with her at all times, but I think she’s rare, right?

I feel bad blaming her teachers, but someone taught her to be afraid of bugs of all kinds. Obviously, it wasn’t me. She loves worms, but somehow they are not “bugs” to her. At recess and on playgrounds or whenever they are outside, the girls (and boys) run and scream if they see a bee.  They swat at them to get them away from other kids – which, if they knew anything about bees, they would realize that’s exactly how you get stung – by annoying them.  They run away from just about anything and I’ve heard them scream,  “Fire ants!” whenever they see ants.

cosmos with beeWhat are we doing to them?  Why are they afraid of all insects?  Why are they squishing spiders and millipedes?

My daughter’s school is having a bug assembly next month.  I give them credit for teaching an entire science unit on insects.  Each child was given an insect to write a report and do a project on.  But, and I say this is a strong but…

They are teaching them songs about bugs and in most of those songs, which are sung to tunes like We will

rock you!, as cute and clever as they are, contain at least one line that talks about staying away from the bugs or humans screaming and running from the bugs.

I could go on, but I won’t.  I do appreciate the unit on insects – don’t get me wrong.  What I don’t appreciate is the fact that my daughter, who used to love to garden, is now afraid of insects because of what she is learning.  I realize she should be afraid of a scorpion, but the teacher should have told them we don’t have scorpions here.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the leader of the painting crew working at my house, told me he has to keep a can of bug spray (pesticide…not mosquito repellant) with him at all times when he and his wife are gardening to spray any insects that bother them while they are planting or weeding.

Holy sweet mother of craziness.  Are you kidding me?

He said his wife is scared of bees and other bugs so he sprays them while she gardens – right beside her, I might add. This is what’s wrong with our society.  Those poor bees were so excited to see flowers going into their stale garden and then he killed them.

How sad is that?

I did my best and had a long talk with him about why we need those insects.  He understood, but said his wife would never go for it and she sounds scary and bossy, so you know he will continue to make her gardening space free of bothersome insects, so she can plant in peace.

I give up.

On a positive note, I love, love, love this video about having a healthy lawn.  It gets right to the heart of things and tries to scare people by telling them they are poisoning not just the Earth, but their kids and their pets too.  Maybe people will listen to this?

If only it was a commercial on primetime TV.  Check it out here and pass it on to everyone you know who fertilizes his or her lawn.

Speaking of insects – I remember last fall being so excited to report that I counted 6 different species of wasps one of our new goldenrodSolidago magical sunbeams (Solidago sp.) selections.  I posted it on our Plants Nouveau Facebook page.

Well, color me stupid…

More people commented on how that was a good reason not to plant any goldenrods.  I was shocked.  The wasps stayed on the plant.  They had no interest in me.  I got close taking images and still – nothing.  They never moved.  They were there for that plant, and to pollinate those flowers. They had no desire to hurt me.

Then, of course some people commented on how they were allergic to goldenrod and wrote comments likeragweed “A-choo”.  Good grief people.  You’re allergic to ragweed, not goldenrod.  Yes, they flower at the same time, but they look NOTHING alike.

Sadly, though, when you Google ragweed, there are pictures of goldenrod, because everyone who posts things on the Internet is an expert, right?


Ragweed has ugly, yellowish-green flowers and leaves that kind of look like marigolds.  Goldenrods have bright yellow flowers and thinner leaves.  Goldenrods support many beneficial insects.   Ragweed doesn’t really show up on many lists, except those that count pollen and allergens.

So there you have it.  Misinformation is killing us, our beneficial insets, as well as important native plants and people hate them because they believe everything they are told.

Ignorance isn’t always bliss…

Garden CandyTo try and force some pollinator education on consumers, we are developing a new line of plants called Garden Candy®, with a tag line of  “It’s OK to drool”.  These plants are all mostly selections of native plants

with a few harmless exotics thrown into the mix.  The plants all attract pollinators, and have amazing habits, exceptional leaf and flower colors that will amaze gardeners and improve gardens all over the U.S., all the while promoting the planting of plants that are crucial for pollinator survival.

This week, I would like to highlight a perennial sunflower namedHelianthus x multiflorus ‘Sunshine Daydream’.

North Creek Nursery’s General Manager Tim McGinty discovered Sunshine Daydream in 2006, but it caught my eye while visiting their trial gardens on a trip during the Perennial Plant Association

Symposium in 2008. The weather was phenomenal for July in Philadelphia and the trial gardens had been manicured to perfection. ThisHelianthus_sunshine_daydream_2 plant really stood out in the trials, so I began asking about its origin. It was covered in blooms and standing there – a group of three plants – straight and strong and five feet tall – in perfect form.

The foliage was perfectly clean and there were leaves covering every inch of the stems – even after the wretchedly hot, dry summer it had already endured. This selection really stood out as a gem for the mid-summer garden. It’s a winner. I think it could soon replace all other double-flowered helianthus. Butterflies love it too!  In full bloom, you might mistake it for a small Christmas tree covered in yellow ornaments.

Helianthus sunshine daydreamI know there are a lot of yellow, summer-blooming perennials, but most of them can’t withstand the torture of an East Coast summer and still stand tall with such clean foliage, can they?

If you are looking to buy liners of Sunshine Daydream try these growers:

North Creek Nurseries

Emerald Coast Growers

Finished plants – wholesale can be found at:

Pleasant Run Nursery

And if you are looking for a retail mail order source, try these:

Santa Rosa Gardens

Lazy S Farms

Until next week…do me a favor and be really nice to the bees.  It’ll make me happy : )

Happy Weeding!