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Every year a whole host of new plant varieties is offered to gardeners across the country. Let me introduce you to some of the companies that provide them and the new plants they are offering this year.
In a special edition of Horticulture magazine (December/January 2011), garden writer Grace Naugle has compiled an impressive list of major players in the horticulture market and has included some of the new varieties they offer. These lists deserve to be more widely known among gardeners, so I will repeat some of the entries here in alphabetical order and will comment on each.
Major Players in the World of Commercial Horticulture
Tesselaar is a global company with its head office in Australia and branch offices in the U.S., U.K., New Zealand, and South Africa. Anthony Tesselaar describes his business as being about "searching the world for brilliant plants that are environmentally friendly and easy to grow with a minimum of fuss. You'd think that alone would keep us busy, but we also put a massive amount of effort into making sure our plants are as good as we say they are. We've trial gardens around the globe, and we carry out research and development in areas such as plant diseases, managing water and identifying plants which grow well with less chemicals."
Anthony Tesselar introduction, Canna 'Tropicana' in author's garden
Some of the popular plants Tesselaar has introduced in the past include Flower Carpet® roses, Bonfire® Begonia Begonia boliviensis (see photo above), and Tropicanna® Cannas (photo at left). Among the more unusual plants is the Fairy Magnolia®, introduced in 2007. This year's introductions include two new B. boliviensis cultivars with dark leaves, 'Choc Pink' and 'Choc Red.'
Located in Newport, Minnesota, just southeast of the St. Paul metro area, Bailey Nurseries is a fourth-generation, family-owned company. The family describes the nursery as "widely recognized as one of the United States' largest wholesale nurseries, with products distributed by more than 4500 independent garden centers, landscapers, growers and re-wholesalers. ...Bailey Nurseries has earned a reputation as a leader in the nursery industry with inventive techniques, high-quality plants and active involvement in industry organizations. Integrity, innovation and quality were the hallmarks of our company when it began - and they continue to this day."
Founded in 1905 by George J. Ball, Ball Horticultural has introduced many award-winning varieties, including the Wave® Petunia Family, Dazzler® and Super Elfin® Impatiens, and FiestaTM Double Impatiens. According to its website, "Ball is committed to sustainable practices and has highlighted its green accomplishments in its "Sustainability Report." Focused exclusively on the ornamental business that first made its reputation, Ball's global family of breeders, seed and vegetative producers, distribution companies, and research and development teams has a strong presence in over 20 countries on six continents."
For almost a hundred years now, Blooms of Bressingham®, located in Bressingham, England, "has been recognized as a leader in identifying and selecting the finest of herbaceous perennials... During that time, the father and son team of Alan and Adrian Bloom have been responsible for introducing over 200 perennial cultivars...Remarkably, about 80 to 100 of these are still available worldwide." Among these are garden favorites such as:
o Achillea ‘Moonshine'
o Astilbe ‘Sprite' (1994 PPA Perennial Plant of the Year)
o Bergenia ‘Bressingham White' and ‘Bressingham Ruby'
o Crocosmia ‘Lucifer'
o Dianthus ‘Oakington'
o Geranium ‘Ann Folkard', ‘Ballerina' and ‘Rozanne'
o Lavandula ‘Blue Cushion'
o Leucanthemum ‘Snowcap'
o Phlox ‘Oakington Blue Eyes' and ‘Eva Cullum''
This year Blooms is introducing 31 new plants. Images of them are not available at the moment, as Blooms is redesigning its website. I've listed the names of the plants for you at the end of this article.
High Country Gardens introduction, Agastache 'Desert Sunrise'
In 1984, New Mexico native David Salman opened Santa Fe Greenhouses. Determined to "transform western gardening by cultivating and growing beautiful blooming perennials, native & ornamental grasses and unique cacti & succulents," his business attracted such a fan base that he founded a mail order company in 1993 called High Country Gardens. He single-handedly "changed the face of western gardening from rocks and cactus to lush, blooming eco-friendly garden habitats."
Harry E. Rosedale founded Monrovia in 1926. He was one of the early pioneers of growing plants in containers. A revolutionary idea at the time, he believed that plants would be less traumatized and transplant better if grown and sold in their containers. Today Monrovia grows more than 2,300 varieties and 22 million plants annually.
Some other innovations at Monrovia include automating the task of putting soil in containers, adding time-release fertilizers to the soil, establishing a dedicated research department, and affixing gardener-friendly color picture labels to plants.
Monrovia's mission is enhancement of "the beauty and value of the North American landscape - one garden at a time. By producing the strongest plants in the industry, we offer you peace of mind and quality assurance that stands behind each and every Monrovia plant."
New at Monrovia this year are:
Pink Yuletide Camellia Camellia sasanqua 'MonDel'
Bluebeard Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Korball' Blue Balloon®
Proven Winners introduction, Angelonia 'Angelface Blue
Proven winners is a bit different in that it is not a single company. According to their website, "the Proven Winners brand is owned by three leading U.S. plant propagators - Euro American in Bonsall, CA; Four Star Greenhouse in Carleton, MI; and Pleasant View Gardens in Loudon, NH. These companies "founded" Proven Winners in 1992, and, together with 3 licensees in Canada, produce superior liners under the Proven Winners name. Liners are then sold to wholesale growers to 'finish' and sell to retailer garden centers across North America...On a retail sales level, Proven Winners...sales are greater than a half-billion dollars annually. The plants are available from just about every garden center in North America.
The goals of Proven Winners are to introduce the best, most unique, high performing plants, to produce them under the highest quality standards, and to market the plants innovatively. Proven Winners plants are unsurpassed in terms of flowering, growth habit, disease resistance, and garden performance."
This year Proven Winners is introducing a whopping 105 new varieties. To view them all, click here.
In 1992, Dan Heims, Ken Brown, Lynne Bartenstein, and Kerry Jody Brown formed a partnership which was the official onset of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc. They are the original and current owners of the business known as Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc. Since that time, they have built a large breeding, tissue culture and growing operation, specializing in Coreopsis, Echinacea, Heuchera, Heucherella, Pulmonaria, Tiarella, and others. Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc. has a growing and propagating license for Brunnera 'Jack Frost'.
Since 1991, Terra Nova has introduced a staggering 725 new plants. New for this year are 64 different varieties. You can see them here.
Perhaps you are as surprised as I was at the incredible number of plants these industry leaders have brought to the home garden. I know that from now on, I'll be keeping a closer eye on these companies to see what new plants they have to offer each year. I'm sure the looks of my garden beds will profit from at least some of the new varieties released this year and in the future. That's more than I can say for the looks of that billfold in my back pocket, which will most certainly be much thinner! Perhaps a slimmer billfold won't wear a hole in that back pocket as quickly as it does now, and I can justify new plant purchases because I won't have to buy jeans as often. Gardeners are eternal optimists.
Thanks to Dave's Garden members mslehv, Joy, DaylilySLP, jnana, and Kell for the use of their PlantFiles photos and to Ball Horticultural Company for the petunia photo. The initial photo (Begonia boliviensis ) was taken by the author in his garden.
Terra Nova has supplied the following update: In 1992, Dan Heims, Ken Brown, Lynne Bartenstein, and Kerry Jody Brown formed a partnership which was the official onset of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc. They are the original and current owners of the business known as Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc. Since that time, they have built a large breeding, tissue culture and growing operation, specializing in Coreopsis, Echinacea, Heuchera, Heucherella, Pulmonaria, Tiarella, and others. - Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc. has a growing and propagating license for Brunnera 'Jack Frost'. 5/3/11
I have incorporated the update into the body of the article. 5/23/11
About Larry Rettig
An enthusiastic gardener for over 50 years, my first plant was a potted Ponderosa Lemon tree ordered from a comic book ad at age 15. I still have it, and it’s still bearing lemons! My wife and I garden on 3/4 of an acre, both flowers and vegetables. Although our garden is private, it's listed with the Smithsonian Institution in its Archives of American Gardens and is on the National Register of Historic Places. We garden organically and no-till. Our vegetable garden contains a seed bank of vegetables brought to this country from Germany in the mid-1800s. For more info: http://davesgarden.com/community/blogs/m/LarryR/. Photos that appear in my articles without credit are my own.