Another fake plant picture
New US hardiness zone map launches soon!!

Sunny weekend of plants in Maryland

Color themed display at Homestead Gardens I’m just back from lecturing at one of the best known garden centers in the east, Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, Maryland… about 25 miles from Washington, DC. It was the second weekend of their Kaleidoscope of Color spring show and their landscape department had designed some colorful show gardens – featuring marigolds in full flower… in March! They also had an exceptional bargain – large pots of pretty yellow kalanchoe in full flower – for only $1.99.

After a soggy session the previous weekend the sun blazed, the place was packed and carts were filling up quickly as people shopped for plants then dashed home to get everything planted before yesterday’s downpour.

I talked about the many varieties of New Perennials coming on to the market from around the world and, judging by the underlining and scribbled notes on people’s handouts, the staff at Homestead are going to be asked for lots of new plants this season. Especially the many new hellebores, Double hellebores,Terra Nova Nurseries. Image ©Terra Nova Nurseries judging by the number of dropping jaws  when the pictures came on the screen.

Then as I wandered amongst the benches packed with lush perennials after Saturday’s presentation a couple of people stopped to ask me about the new hybrid coneflowers I’d shown – they said they’d been great the first year in the flower gardens, but never came up the following spring.

Drainage is the answer – these new echinaceas hate soggy soil in winter. Consistently moist soil in summer helps them flower for longer and helps prevent the lower leaves from drying up but wet soil in winter is a killer. So choose a sunny, well-drained site. Often the soil in borders becomes raised up over the years with Echinaceas,Terra Nova Nurseries. Image ©Terra Nova Nurseries regular mulching and often that extra depth of soil is enough to allows surplus moisture to drain away from the crowns of the coneflowers. Or choose a site where the soil is naturally well-drained, or amend the soil to improve the drainage.

Also speaking this weekend at Homestead Gardens was Katy Moss Warner – President Emeritus of the American Horticultural Society, no less. You can read about her presentation on the Homestead Gardens blog.

Now, it’s catching up time. When the internet connection in the hotel - the Marriott Courtyard, Annapolis, Maryland… take note - is so slow that it’s almost impossible even to get a Tweet out, I now find I have quite a backlog. OK... on to the next thing – which would be another mug of coffee. After yesterday’s six and half hour drive back through torrential downpours I still need waking up.


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That bundle of Echinacea flowers looks like one of those fake photos you post from time to time. It really looks like a plant growing with all those blooms. It's pretty though!

Echinacea 'Hot Summer' almost gives that effect. I really like that one. Have you grown it?

susan harris

I'll be writing up my best summary of your excellent talk at Homestead and putting it on our blog next week. Between you and Katy, I got really charged up to try some new plants - credit card beware.

Graham Rice

Clint, I think the echinacea picture on this page is so obviously what in Britain we'd just call "a bunch of flowers" - some cut stems arranged together - that I have no problem with it... They're simply showing off the range of colours.

Graham Rice

Glad you enjoyed the day, I'll look forward to your post Susan - Susan Harris blogs for Homestead Gardens at and also at Garden Rant (

Skip Rippingale

I just took a look at the blog about Katy Moss Wrner, the President of the Am Horticultural Society. She is reported as saying that two colors always go together. So all you have to do in the nursery is close your eyes, pick any two plants and they will automatically look great? If thgis is the sort of crazy advice the American Horticultural Society hands out whywould anyone join? Not me.

Graham Rice

Yes, Skip. Katy did a very lively and encouraging, de-mystifying presentation but I was surprised to hear her say that. And I don't agree, partly because it doesn't take into account personal taste.

I think most colors and pure white usually go together well, but even then some of the antique shades don't seem to and if the white veers towards cream it all goes wrong.

My approach is this: Start with an open mind, try anything. Then if you like it, it works - if you don't like it, it doesn't work. Whatever it is.

Small Garden Ideas

I have been to a lot flower festivals and the flowers there are simply magnificent to look at. Gardens that have those kinds of flowers sure are beautiful.


I am not so sure about some of the new Echinacea cultivars. I have tried different locations and improved drainage and still have trouble with Echinacea 'Tiki Torch' not returning after winter. They just don't grow as well here as the non-hybrid varieties.

small garden ideas

I really like waking up to the smell of fragrant flowers in the morning lucky for me though I have a flower garden out back which is near my bedroom window.

Graham Rice

That's ideal... And why not plant some evening- and night-fragrant flowers too so that you can drift off to sleep to their scent...

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