Discovering New Gardening Products at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show

As mentioned in my January 14th article, last week I attended the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS), an annual horticulture trade show at the Baltimore Convention Center.  MANTS is one of the largest shows with over 10,000 attendees and almost a thousand companies exhibiting at booths in the Convention Center. Almost all the companies are wholesale, they are not selling directly to customers or to press such as myself. However, I enjoy attending because it provides me a glimpse of new products and plants and trends in the gardening world.

There were a few products that caught my eye and although the companies attended MANTS for wholesale orders, these companies below said they sell directly to gardeners through their websites.

Through a fellow Garden Writers Association member Ruth Rogers Clausen, I met Dorian Winslow, president of Womanswork, a women-owned, family business in New York.  Womanswork specializes in gloves that fit well for women (although they also sell gloves for men), gardening aprons, raffia and cotton hats, gardening tools, and related items such as hand cream and poison ivy soap. This company sells to garden centers and online directly to gardeners. For over 30 years, they have been specializing in gloves designed to fit women’s hands. Ruth attested to that, she has been using the products for so many years, she is even featured in their catalog. Not only was Dorian a delightful person to talk with but I also found out that she was interviewed recently by one of my favorite podcasters, Jennifer Jewell of Cultivating Place.

I also had the pleasure of seeing Mark Highland again, owner of Organic Mechanics Soil Company, a manufacturer and distributor of premier organic and peat-free potting soils and soil amendments in Pennsylvania. Gardeners can buy products from the site or search the retailer locator for stores. Mark gave a presentation at the Garden Bloggers Fling in June and generously gave us samples of Fuhgeddaboudit! Root Zone Feeder Packs. These small packages of fertilizer, mycorrhizae, biochar, azomite, and micronized oyster shell are placed under or next to a plant’s root ball when planting to help the plant get established. At MANTS, he gave a presentation on Biochar Blend, a bag of biochar, compost, worm castings, bone char, azomite, zeolite, alfalfa meal, and kelp meal. Biochar is highly porous carbon that improves nutrition absorption and provides a permanent home for beneficial soil biology. Biochar can help boost yields and increase the effectiveness of plants’ growth — the best part is that it only has be applied once and will last a lifetime. Mark also published Practical Organic Gardening: The No-Nonsense Guide to Growing Naturally (Cool Springs Press, 2017).

One company that was new to me was City Farmer USA, based in Nevada. Bruce Lebish, president, explained that his company sells raised, plastic planters that gardeners could order directly from their website. They have to be assembled (the instructions on their website look simple) and the models they had at MANTS were black with a strong oriental/bamboo texture because of their woven sides. 

Apparently this woven side is a patented ventilation design that promotes healthy root systems and the patented base retain water. The basket (where you put the soil and plants) is either 16 inches high from the ground or 30 inches, eliminating the need to bend down (may also be wheelchair friendly). There are different sizes and if you buy a few configurations and line them up they would create a very beautiful container appearance on a deck or patio.

More new products and plants in future articles!

Peg’s Picks: January 2018 New Gardening Books

Many of you are familiar with my Peg’s Picks of monthly gardening events which I post on my site at the end of each month and on the tab “Classes, Events.” With the new year, I am starting Peg’s Picks of gardening books. This will be posted each month on my site and in the new tab “New Books: 2018.”

I deliberately use “Peg’s Picks” to imply that these are not all gardening books but rather a subset: for adults (i.e., not children’s books), about gardening, and likely about gardening in this area of the world. These books are a collection of what I have heard about from colleagues and read about on publishers’ sites with a link to the publisher’s description of the book. If you have a book that will be published soon, please contact me and I would be happy to list it.

The following books have been or will be published in January 2018. Stay tuned for February’s list which is quite a bit longer!

The Bonsai Beginner’s Bible: The Definitive Guide to Choosing and Growing Bonsai by Peter Chan, publisher is Mitchell Beazley

The New Seed-Starters Handbook by Nancy Bubel and Jean Nick, revised, publisher is Rodale Books

Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening: the Indispensable Green Source for Every Gardener edited by Fern Marshall Brady, Barbara W. Ellis, and Ellen Phillips with Deborah L. Martin, publisher is Rodale Books

An Abundance of Flowers: More Great Flower Breeders of the Past by Judith M. Taylor, publisher is Swallow Press

The Colorful Dry Garden: Over 100 Flowers and Vibrant Plants for Drought, Desert and Dry Times by Maureen Gilmer, publisher is Sasquatch Books

New Cultivars of Wintergreen for Bright Red Berries

This week I attended the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS), an annual horticulture trade show at the Baltimore Convention Center.  MANTS is one of the largest shows with over 10,000 attendees and almost a thousand companies exhibiting at booths in the Convention Center. The companies are wholesale, they are not selling directly to customers or the press like me. However, I enjoy attending because it provides me a glimpse of new products and plants and trends in the gardening world. This year, I discovered several new plants and gardening products which I will describe in future articles.

One plant in particular stood out for me.  I was struck by how many times I saw Gaultheria procumbens in containers either as a decoration or as a new cultivar. I have seen the species for sale in local nurseries before but they were always so small and scrawny I never bought them. The plants at MANTS were large with exceptionally large berries.

Briggs Nursery had a display of Berry Cascade and Cherry Berries. Cherry Berries has very large red berries, almost like cranberries, while Berry Cascade had berries appearing the entire length of the stem, forming a cascading effect. Because Briggs is a wholesale nursery, you would have to ask your garden center to order these if they don’t already have them in stock.

Cherry Berries

Berry Cascade

Monrovia, a plant company that sells directly to consumers via their website and through garden centers, had beautiful, healthy plants in their signature containers. Their website features two types: Very Berry and Red Baron. Red Baron has more and larger bright red berries.

Monrovia’s Gaultheria plants

I was lucky to find Peppermint Pearl at MANTS. Peppermint Pearl is unusual in that the berries first appear white in the fall and change to pink by early spring.

Peppermint Pearl, already turning from white to pink

Botanical Collections, a wholesaler of Kew pottery from London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, used the red berries of Gaultheria to show off their products.

Red berries add color to Botanical Collections’ pottery

And here is another photo of Gaultheria modeling this container.

Gaultheria procumbens, also known as teaberry or wintergreen, is a groundcover that prefers shade and moist, acidic soil (think “woodsy environment”). Hardy to zone 3, Gaultheria is an eastern North American native plant. It blooms small, white flowers in the summer followed by the berries in the fall. The berries can last until spring and are edible but it is the leaves that produce that aromatic wintergreen scent. Native Americans used the leaves to make a medicinal tea, hence teaberry, to alleviate pain (much like aspirin).  The name wintergreen comes from the fact that the plant is an evergreen. Its green leaves turn bronzy red or purple with the cold weather and remain above ground throughout the winter. Although the plant should be grown outdoors, its red berries make it a great holiday gift plant. Now that there are new cultivars with even larger berries, I will have to add Gaultheria to my Virginia garden as a native herb evergreen groundcover with winter interest!

Seed Catalogs, Seed Catalogs, Get Your Seed Catalog!!

In anticipation of a great 2018 gardening season,  I have updated my list of seed catalogs on my website under the tab “seed catalogs” to include 38 companies. Note that many catalogs are free, just contact the company. I am starting to get seed catalogs in the mail but I usually wait until I have a quorum and then we sit down to chat. They say “buy me, buy me, I am new and better!” and I say “Yes, I want, I want, I want BUT do I have enough space? Do I have enough time?” And so it goes for weeks….

Updated List of Local Garden Centers and Nurseries in Washington DC Metro Area

Johnson’s Florists and Garden Centers have announced that they will close their Washington DC location, effective on or before January 14, 2018. They have a letter about this on their website. Their other stores in Olney and Kensington will remain open. Of course they are putting the DC inventory on sale, so you may get good deals. The interesting piece of news is that they are offering a 20 percent discount on items in the Olney and Kensington stores from January 15 through December 31, 2018. You are eligible for the discount if you live in DC and in particular zip codes in Maryland and Virginia (you have to bring identification to prove this). For a list of the zip codes, see their letter on their website but basically they are the zip codes that are located in the Washington DC metro area.

I updated my list of local garden centers to reflect this. I also added two new plant shops in DC and deleted Cravens Nursery in Virginia and Garden World of Virginia, which are not in business anymore.

Peg’s Picks: January 2018 Gardening Events in the Washington DC Metro Area

It’s cold outside but there are still more than 40 gardening events, lectures, workshops in January in the Washington DC Metro Area.

4, Thursday, Webinar: Nonstop Plants — Making a 365-day Garden, 6:30 to 8:00 pm EST. Fee and must register. Presented by Margaret Roach. http://www.awaytogarden.com

4, Thursday, Lecture: Beginning Bonsai by Tim Ohlwiler, Fauquier County Horticulture Extension Agent, free and open to the public, 7:00 pm, Rust Library, 380 Old Waterford Road, NW Leesburg, VA. Sponsored by the Loudoun County Master Gardeners. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

6, Saturday, first Saturday guided walk 10 to 11:00 am. Free. Adkins Arboretum, 12610 Eveland Road, Ridgely, MD. http://www.adkinsarboretum.org

6, Saturday, Workshop: Beginners Hands on Bonsai Class, 2 to 4 pm, fee and registration required. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

6, Saturday through Thursday January 18, Exhibit: Bonsai Winter Silhouettes, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and free. National Bonsai and Penjing Museum Exhibit Gallery at the U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue, NE Washington DC. Also, the current exhibit of bonsai entitled “Viewing Stones: Falling Into Winter” will end on February 3.  http://www.usna.usda.gov

8, Monday, Lecture: Microgreens: what are they, why they are so fabulous, and how to grow them, 7-8 pm, free, advance registration requested at mgnv.org. Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen Street, Alexandria, VA. Presented by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia, also offered on Saturday, January 13, 10:30 to noon at Westover Branch Library. http://www.mgnv.org

10, Wednesday, registration opens for RootingDC which will be on March 3 in Washington DC. http://www.rootingdc.org

12, Friday, Garden Talk: Fixes for a Tired Garden, 2 to 3 pm. Fee and must register. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

13, Saturday, Lecture: The Very Best Tried and True Houseplants and Their Care, 11:00 am. Free and registration requested, Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

13, Saturday, Lecture: Lessons from Martha’s Farm by head gardener, Ryan McCallister, 10 to 11 am. Free and must register. Homestead Gardens, 743 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville, MD. http://www.homesteadgardens.com

13, Saturday, Lecture: Microgreens: what are they, why they are so fabulous, and how to grow them, 10:30 to noon, free, advance registration requested at mgnv.org. Westover Branch Library, 1644 N. McKinley Road, Arlington, VA. Also offered on Monday, January 8, at Barrett Branch Library.  Presented by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

16, Tuesday, outdoor winter walking tour of Brookside Gardens by staff Phil Normandy, 1-2:30 pm, fee and registration required. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. http://www.brooksidegardens.org

17, Wednesday, Landscape Design Basics: DIY Sustainable Yard Series, 7:00 to 8:30 pm, free, advance registration requested at mgnv.org. Beatley Central library, 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA. Also offered on January 30 at the Westover Branch Library. http://www.mgnv.org

17, Wednesday, Webinar: For the Birds, 6:30 to 8:00 pm EST, fee and must register. Presented by Margaret Roach. http://www.awaytogarden.com

19, Friday, Lecture: The Governance and Stewardship of Urban Nature: Forests, Farms and Streetcorners, noon to 1:00 pm, free and must register. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

20, Saturday, Class: Trees 101, 10 am to 3 pm, free and must register. Provides a foundation in tree anatomy, basic tree identification, and an overview of how trees function to provide the benefit we enjoy in the urban forest. Casey Trees, 3030 12th Street NE Washington DC. http://www.caseytrees.org

20, Saturday, Workshop: Kokodama – the art of crafting living mossballs, 10:00 – 11:30 am, fee and registration required. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. http://www.brooksidegardens.org

20, Saturday, Lecture: Thoreau and the language of trees, 10:30 to noon, free but must register. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

20, Saturday, and 21, Sunday, Garden Tool Sharpening, 1:00 to 3:00 pm, bring in up to two garden hand tools per person and have them sharpened. Fee and cash only. Proceeds will be donated to Emmanuel United Methodist Church Foodbank. Also offered on January 27 and 28. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

20, Saturday and 21, Sunday, Orchid Diagnostic and Repotting Clinic, 9:30 to 4:30 pm. Free but if want orchid to be repotted will be done for a fee. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

21, Sunday, Winter Lecture Series: Trees Find Their Voice, 1:30 to 2:30 pm, Green Spring Historian Debbie Waugh reveals what trees can tell us through the science of dendrochronology. Fee and must register. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

25, Thursday, Webinar: A Striking Sustainable Flower Garden, 2:00 pm EST. Fee and must register. Presented by Kerry Ann Mendez, owner of Perennially Yours. http://www.pyours.com

25, Thursday, Vegetable Gardening Part 1: Seed Selection, Starting and Saving, 7:00 to 8:30 pm, free and advance registration requested at mgnv.org. Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA. Also offered on January 27 at the Westover Branch Library. http://www.mgnv.org

25, Thursday, Webinar: Garden Writing for Everyone, 6:30 to 8:00 pm EST, fee and must register, Presented by Margaret Roach, http://www.awaytogarden.com

27, Saturday, Class: Pruning 101 Workshop, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, free and must register. Learn how to prune trees with manual tools such as hand pruners and pole saws. Hosted by Casey Trees. Workshop will be held at the American Elm Nursery, 50 Marina Drive, Alexandria. http://www.caseytrees.org

27, Saturday, Vegetable Gardening Part 1: Seed Selection, Starting and Saving, 10:30 am to noon, free advance registration requested at mgnv.org. Westover Branch Library, 1644 N. McKinley Road, Arlington VA. Also offered on January 25 at the Burke Branch Library. http://www.mgnv.org

27, Saturday, Gardener’s Focus: Holly and False Holly, 10:00 am to noon, fee and registration required. Is an inside lecture and will do outside walking tour if weather permits. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. http://www.brooksidegardens.org

27, Saturday, Washington Gardener Magazine seed exchange, 12:30 to 4:00 pm. Fee and must register. Event will be at Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD, but must register via brownpapertickets.com. Also offered at Green Spring Garden on February 10. WGSeedExchange-brookside.brownpapertickets.com   http://www.brooksidegardens.org

27, Saturday, Lecture: Rock Gardens: Natural and Designed, 10:30 to noon, free and must register. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

27, Saturday, Lecture: Snake Oil Revisited: Plant Medicine in American History, 2-3:30 pm, free and must register. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

27, Saturday, 8th Annual Seed Exchange, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, free. Hosted by the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners at the Blandy Experimental Farm Library, Blandy Farm, 400 Blandy Lane, Boyce, VA. http://www.nsvmga.org/projects/blandy-seed-exchange/

27, Saturday, Seed Swap, 10 to 3, free. Hosted by Central Rappahannock Extension Master Gardeners. Central Rappahannock Regional Library, 1201 Caroline Street (theater), Fredericksburg, VA http://www.mgacra.org/seed-swap-event.html

27, Saturday, Lecture: Squirrels, Groundhogs and Rabbits — Oh My! 11:00 am, free and registration requested. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

27, Saturday, and 28, Sunday, Garden Tool Sharpening, 1:00 to 3:00 pm, bring in up to two garden hand tools per person and have them sharpened. Fee and cash only. Proceeds will be donated to Emmanuel United Methodist Church Foodbank. Also offered on January 20 and 21. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

28, Saturday, Lecture: The art of planting Terrariums and Dish Gardens, noon, free and registration requested. Then, from 2 to 4 pm, there will be a workshop, a potting party with terrariums and dish gardens for a fee plus cost of materials. Registration required. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

28, Saturday, Workshop: Potting Party with Terrariums and Dish Gardens, 2:00 to 4:00 pm, fee plus cost of materials, registration required. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

28, Sunday, Winter Lecture Series: The Humane Gardener, 1:30 to 2:30 pm. Fee and must register. Author Nancy Lawson describes how and why you should welcome wildlife to your backyard. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

29, Monday, Lecture: Starting Seeds Indoors … Getting a head start on your garden, 1-3 pm. Free. Walter Reed Community and Senior Center, 2909 S. 16th Street, Arlington. For more information and for registration go to http://bit.ly/VCESenior or contact LeeAnne Kaniut (703) 228-0955.

30, Tuesday, Landscape Design Basics: DIY Sustainable Yard Series, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, free and advance registration requested at mgnv.org. Westover Branch Library, 1644 N. McKinley Road, Arlington, VA. Also offered on January 17 at the Beatley Central Library, 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA. http://www.mgnv.org

February 1, Webinar: Foodscaping Gardening, 7-8:30 pm EST. Fee and must register. Presented by Charlie Nardozzi. http://www.gardeningwithcharlie.com

The Fairfax County Soil and Water Conservation District’s annual native seedling sale selections are available for viewing at their website. Orders can be placed in the beginning of February and seedlings are picked up in April. This is your chance to plant native shrubs and trees for a nominal fee. https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/soil-water-conservation/native-seedling-sale

The Neighborhood Farm Initiative (NFI) has a kitchen garden education program that is a comprehensive, hands-on growing program at Fort Totten, one block from the Fort Totten Metro Station, Washington DC, NE. The program is intended for new and aspiring urban gardeners, whether you are an absolute beginner, or someone who is ready to take to it to the next level with cool weather crops. You will receive your own garden plot, along with a year of instruction & guidance, and enough help & support to get you growing. We provide all the necessary supplies and materials, and access to the community tool shed, you just bring your commitment to grow! Program cost is $600. The NFI offers tuition assistance, on a sliding scale, for qualified applicants. For more information, check their website at http://www.neighborhoodfarminitiative.org

Merrifield Garden Center’s 2018 classes and workshops will begin again on January 20. Check out their website for the list or even better get on their mailing list so you receive the flyer in the mail because it always has coupons. http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas for Gardeners

I read an old version of A Gardener’s Christmas in a Journal of the Garden Club of Virginia. The author is unknown so I took a few liberties to bring it up to date. Merry Christmas!

 

A Gardener’s Christmas

´Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the yard
The branches were bare
And the ground frozen hard;

The roses were dormant
And mulched all around
To protect them from damage
If frost heaves the ground;

The perennials were nestled
All snug in their beds,
While visions of fertilizer
Danced in their heads;

The newly planted shrubs
Had been soaked by a hose
To settle their roots
For a long winter’s doze;

And out on the lawn
The new fallen snow
Protected the roots
Of the grasses below;

When, what to my wondering
Eyes should appear,
But a Prius full of gifts
Of gardening gear;

St. Nick was the driver
A jolly old elf,
And he winked as he said,
“I’m a gardener myself.

I’ve brought new seeds
And light systems, too,
Give them a try
And see how they do.

To eliminate weeding,
I brought bags of mulch
To attract the pollinators,
I have flowers for best results.

To add to your joy,
I’ve plenty of herbs
And ornamental grasses
For your hell strip curb.

For seed planting days,
I’ve a trowel and dibble.
And a roll of wire mesh,
If the rabbits should nibble.

I have the latest books
Plus some gadgets you’ll love;
Plant stakes and frames,
And waterproof gloves.

Here are sharp shears
And a new compost pit
And, for pH detecting,
A soil testing kit.

With these colorful flagstones,
Lay a new garden path.
For the view from your window,
A bird feeder and bath.

And last but not least,
Some well-rotted manure.
A green garden year-round,
These gifts will ensure.

Then, jolly St. Nick
Having emptied his load,
Started his Prius
And took on the road.

And I heard him exclaim
Through the motor’s quiet hum,
“Merry Christmas to all,
And to all a green thumb!”