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.