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 Farmto 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. Read More…
Welcome to The Weeding Gnome Brought to you by Angela Treadwell-Palmer & Plants Nouveau
This week’s Garden Notes:
My favorite hydrangea in the trial garden.
— September 19, 2014 —
The Snow Just Melted, Right?
The summer of 2014 has nearly come and gone and I missed most of it. My favorite seasons are pretty much any season that is not winter. I’m not a fan of winter, especially last winter, and the thought of the 41 degree F temps predicted for tonight makes me cringe. My garden looks so beautiful right now and I have so many plants to get into the ground still.
Even though I’ve been home for the last two weeks, I spent most of the summer traveling to trade shows, giving lectures on various topics and visiting many plant breeders. I calculate two weekends that were spent at home, in my garden from June to September. I did not empty my travel jewelry bag from late May to last week. Boy, was I tired of wearing the same earrings over and over.
And how many suitcases did United Airlines loose and re-route for me this summer? Let’s just say there were too many nights spent in hotels with the “Female Overnight Bag” – the standard issue of deodorant, shampoo and a white tee shirt to wear to bed.
I’m not complaining about the travel. It was all fun and well worth the time. I wish my trips were a little more spread out though. I also wish my children played winter sports. That would be so much easier for me than spring and fall sports. Imagine an entire Saturday to work in the garden in the spring or fall.
I can’t …
I call myself the kamikaze gardener. Between lacrosse and soccer games, hours before getting on a plane – whenever I can fit it in. It’s not Zen-like or relaxing in anyway, but it’s what I can do during these busy times.
My developing ¾ acre garden/trial site requires about four hours a week to keep the weeds at bay and tend to the many plants from around the world. That doesn’t include time to plant, water or mow the ever-shrinking grassy patches. Those four hours are just maintenance on what’s already in the ground.
Missing all that time really put me behind and I swear, I never even got to arrange my aloe/agave/dyckia/bromeliad collection on the back deck. I remember taking them outside in May and never going back to finish the job.
Finding time to write in the summer was really hard. I promise to do a better job next year, but I figure you’d rather read a good story than read a post that says, “No time to post, so please look at some pretty pictures while I’m out and about.”
So where did I go and what did I see?
It’s way too much for one post, so here’s Part I.
After Cultivate’14 in Columbus, OH (formerly known as OFA Short Course), I was off to Cincinnati for the Perennial Plant Association meeting and to give a lecture on how to sell more perennials. The lecture topic was difficult. They wanted me to speak on trends and to have some magic answer as to why more perennials are sold in Europe than in the US, especially since we have so many people in our country. As I contemplated the lecture, there was no magic answer, but I did a lot of thinking – deep thinking – about possible reasons. What did I come up with?
Exposure to lots of mass plantings in public spaces, commercial sites and even home gardens is the missing link. In Germany or The Netherlands or even in the UK, when you walk from neighborhood to neighborhood in larger cities, there are walk-thru gardens and parks where people pass through each and every day by foot or on their bikes, or even in cars, on their way to work. More times than not, these spaces are filled with masses of shrubs and or perennials. Not just some shade trees and mown grass, like you would see here in the US.
For example – look at this picture I took from my airport hotel window in Amsterdam. Yes, you are seeing that right, this is a mass planting of Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa) and Bugbane (Cimicifuga)
Another thing I noticed while traveling the countryside and along the highways of Europe this summer were the naturalistic plantings and non-mowed spaces along the roads and bike paths. There’s not mile after mile of mowed turf. Instead, you see wildflowers and naturalized perennials and annuals and colorful grasses that form mosaic carpets of color.
Driving up and down highway 95 and from Boston to Ohio for Cultivate’14 this simmer, I really started to notice how much time and energy we waste on mowing.
How many milkweed and goldenrods and little blue stems were mown to the ground, not only taking away precious pollinator habitat, but taking the color and beauty away as well.
If you look at a very well thought out Piet Oudolf planting you’ll see exaggerated mosaic carpets, overflowing with powerful colors and textures that keep your eye busy, yet balanced as you pass through. Un-mown highways can have the same texture and color – albeit subdued, but it’s so very pretty to look at and soothing to the eye. This kind of no mow situation also exposes the millions driving these roads to an organized chaos that makes for wonderful garden design.
We have American Landscape Designers introducing this style as well. Designers like Roy Diblik at Northwind Perennial Farm and Adam Woodruff are stepping it up with masses of perennials and grasses, creating textural masterpieces for home and commercial landscapes.
If passers-by saw thousands of golden rods, milkweeds and little bluestems weaving a carpet along the highway each day, all summer long, as they drove into work – would they be more prone to wanting masses of perennials in their own gardens? Would they be calmer and more balanced when they got to their destination?
Even if they weren’t all natives, masses of Russian sage, perennial salvias and ornamental grasses like you see here in this perennial display garden at Appeltern, in The Netherlands, would sell a heck of a lot of perennials.
I would love to see some research on this and to know why the heck we mow so much along the highways. Gosh, I’d rather see a field of naturalized chicory and Queen Anne’s lace – neither of which are native – than mown grass. It’s pretty and soothing to me.
We can only hope, otherwise, we may have hit the limit on the number of perennials sold in the US, which pales in comparison to the number of annuals. I calculated some rough numbers by taking the total number of perennials sold in 2012 – according to the USDA survey and dividing it by the total population of the US and got that 1 in 3 people has a perennial in their garden. Now, this is unreliable because a lot of the people counted in the total population are children and many live in the same household, but still…that’s a ridiculous figure. Even if every house in the US planted one perennial – that would still be sad.
So, how do we sell more perennials – and plants for that matter? What’s your take on how to increase those numbers?
People in Europe garden more and they are exposed to more gardens on a daily basis. People in the US are exposed to mown grass along the highways and silly evergreen foundations outside most homes with one token perennial or annual planting, if they are lucky.
If trends in home decorating and fashion are mimicked, how can we translate that into mimicking of garden styles?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Drop me a line and let’s chat.
For now, I’ll be in the garden-because sadly I have very little time left before the snow comes again in Massachusetts.
Next week -What I learned and lectured on at the Garden Writer’s Symposium in Pittsburgh.
Enjoy the last warm days of summer and Happy Weeding!
Angela Treadwell Palmer
Founder and Co-owner, Strategic plant finder, In Charge of Magic
Plants Nouveau, LLC.
Angela’s Garden Notes:
You might be wondering – what looked really good this summer in my garden?
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Haas Halo’ has had an amazing summer.
It’s a selection of the native smooth hydrangea with pure white lace cap blooms that are often 14” wide. I love this plant for many reasons:
#1 – it’s a nativar (an improved selection of a native)
#2 – the pollinators that visit my garden LOVE it
#3 – it never flops
#4 – it’s pure white – not creamy white or greenish white – like many other selections
Last, but certainly not least:
#5 – when dry, it takes well to spray painting for holiday decorating. A few of these ginormous dried flowers on your Christmas tree make for one snazzy statement.
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New Plants. New Markets. New Solutions.
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’14is 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 attendingCultivate’14, please 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.
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? Dictionary.com defines it like this: cultivate (ˈkʌltɪˌveɪt)
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 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!
At 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. Read the rest of the story here…
No rant today, but I would like to tell you about a very special camellia who’s royalties benefit Cystic Fibrosis. Susy Dirr was bred by famed camellia breeder Bobby Green and named after the daughter of one of Horticulture’s great teachers. Cystic Fibrosis is a debilitating, life-shortening disease that affects your ability to breath. One of the largest expenses someone with Cystic Fibrosis can encounter is a lung transplant.
The Sweet Melissa Fund collects donations to help CF patients defer some of the cost. Susy Dirr, daughter of Dr. Michael and Bonnie Dirr, was born with Cystic Fibrosis, which makes the act of breathing a life and death struggle.
Dr. Michael Dirr is one of the most famous woody plantsmen in the US. He wrote and published many versions of his Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, a textbook that has been used by horticulture students, master gardeners and plant lovers all over the world.
The original is still sitting on my shelf. It was my one and only college textbook for the Woody Plants 101 course I took while earning my degree in Plant Science at the University of Delaware. I still use it and I believe it’s one of the only text books I still reference from college. If you still use or learned from your copy, you owe it to Dr. Dirr to grow this fabulous plant.
Undaunted by her disease, Susy was valedictorian of her high school class and an honor student at the University of GA, graduating with a degree in advertising a year ahead of her class. Cystic fibrosis did not define Susy as a person. She embraced life with a joyful spirit that was uplifting to everyone around her. She made the world a better place with her compassion for others, her biting wit and brilliant mind. When a soul shines so bright, we see it in all things beautiful.
So, as summer fades and hints of autumn are in the air, reflections of these lovely flowers, graceful in form and with the sweet fragrance of newly opened tea, begin to fill our senses. We reflect on Susy’s life and know that a part of her spirit remains with us in the garden.
Bobby Green, the breeder of this Camellia has generously gifted his portion of the royalties from each plant to the Sweet Melissa Fund, which helps families with cystic fibrosis.Visit http://sweetmelissafund.org for more information.
This new hardy, fall blooming camellia is a robust grower in containers in the nursery and in the garden. It’s a full, bushy plant with a dense habit, and elegant, formal double carmine pink flowers.
No other species has contributed more to the garden than C. sasanqua, the winter blooming camellia. Attractive all year, and hardier than most of its cousins, these shrubs blend harmoniously with other textures and offer a plethora of flowers in Sept-Oct. Susy Dirr does that and more. The voluptuous, bubble-gum pink blooms put on a show stopping tribute, honoring an exquisite young woman who was the essence of all things beautiful.
C.sasanqua is fall blooming as well, but more cold hardy than it’s cousin. Some of these new selections have proven hardy in USDA Zone 6, but we are saying zone 7 to be safe. Liners are available to Licensed Growers.
The drawing above of the Camellia ‘Susy Dirr’ flower will appear on all of our promotional pieces for this plant. Our friend and amazing illustrator, Steve Asbell in Florida drew this for us. If you ever need anything drawn, we would highly recommend Steve’s work. Not only is he humble and an incredible artist, he’s easy to work with and a really nice guy.
You can subscribe to the Weeding Gnome right here, and it will be delivered to your inbox each week. It’s as simple as that.
Have You Recently Discovered a New Plant? We introduce novel, NEW plants; Can give you and your plant Worldwide recognition; Pay for all introduction costs, so there is NO cost to you; Evaluate all new plants in sites around the world to ensure success; and have the premier horticulture e-letter. We can best sum our company up in three phrases: New Plants. New Markets. New Solutions. To learn more, go to: http://www.plantsnouveau.com/new-plant
The trial gardens in Massachusetts (cold zone 6 – about 15 mins from the Atlantic ocean) are coming alive after the never ending Polar Vortex winter we had.
A few woody plants were crushed by the weight of the plowed snow that sat on top of them for weeks on end, but surprisingly, things fared quite well and they are eager to grow.
Friends in Minnesota are STILL getting snow, so we shouldn’t complain…
Things are really starting to pop.
We took the iPad outside this morning to capture some of the growth.
It’s as if they have been waiting and waiting and now they are growing before our eyes.
The Brunnera ‘Silver Heart’ and ‘Sea Heart’ are growing at least a 1/2″ each day. Their silver – almost white foliage emerges so soft and fuzzy and the cobalt blue blooms are a welcome sight after the long winter.
Silver Heart is always about a 3-5 days of Sea Heart in it’s blooming. If you plant both you can extend that amazing deep blue color even longer.