Peggy Hill is a garden consultant, writer, speaker and plant ho. She blogs about her garden shenanigans at hiddenhillsgarden.com. Peggy is also working to preserve 435 acres and 25,000 feet of magnificent shoreline on Smith Lake in North Alabama as part of the Forever Wild Land Trust. For more information and to register your support, visit savesmithlake.com.
 

 

A Gardening Showcase
by Peggy Hill - posted 09/25/13

In my last post I talked about what it means to be a plant ho, and how I’m really good at it. Well a couple of weeks ago I was in Chicago at the Independent Garden Center Show with my best friend since grade school, Lorie, and we decided that this new blog, with it’s catchy name, may have substantially increased my plant ho abilities, and we should take them out for a little test drive.

Lorie is a most excellent wingwoman. I came home with a bulging suitcase and saw the UPS man more than ever. As I show you these items, realize that everything I got was something I really wanted, and the fact that they were free just makes them even more precious. I thought it might be fun to present them to you as a big Price-is-Right type showcase, but the first draft fell short. I think it’s better now that I added the word CLAPPING to indicate where you should pause and clap in your head. It works best if you read it with a lot of inflection and imagine little curtains being drawn open and manicured hands doing the Vanna White thing.

Thaaaaat’s right Peggy, it’s a gardening showcase. CLAPPING

Seeds from bbbseedOur first item is this wonderful selection of seeds enthusiastically selected just for you by Michael, the Head Honcho at bbbseed. CLAPPING You’ll experience beauty beyond belief when you see the flowers grown from these bee rescue and honey source seed mixes. And you’ll have bounty beyond belief from this mix of organic and heirloom vegetable seeds. These high quality seeds are brought to you by bbbseed.com.

Easy SeederPlanting all those seeds can be a lot of work. But not when you use the easy seeder! CLAPPING The easy seeder allows you to quickly plant seeds with perfect spacing every time. You’ll reduce waste and have virtually no thinning. The easy seeder makes planting so easy anyone can do it! From easyseeder.com.

Are you worried about using chemical fertilizers? Use Chick Magic, nature’s all-purpose, organic fertilizer. CLAPPING

This long-lasting, premium plant food is non-burning, adds calcium and improves soil structure. Follow the instructions on the package to help your new plants thrive.

And for small pots, try these trial-sized products from Natural-Alternative.com and purplecoworganics.com. TRIAL-SIZED CLAPPING

Wondering what to plant in the shady areas? How about moss? CLAPPING

Live Moss from Moss AcresMoss Milkshake from Moss AcresThis mix of three different mosses will create a lush, tranquil, eco-friendly garden. It's not available on-line, so look for it at your local garden center. Eliminate time consuming mowing with a low maintenance moss landscape that requires no fertilizer, herbicide or pesticide. Each package covers 2 square feet. Want to turn a larger area into a Japanese garden? This economical moss milkshake is the perfect answer. CLAPPING Each easy-to-use carton covers up to 20 square feet and can be ordered on-line. Visit their website and tap into 45 years of expertise and know-how for establishing an aesthetically pleasing and environmentally sound moss garden at MossAcres.com.

If being environmentally friendly is important to you, you’ll love these products from TheGardeningRevolution.com. CLAPPING Pure Spray™ Green Concentrate is an effective, OMRI listed (Organic Materials Review Institute) solution that works year-round to kill insects and mold indoors and out. And when weeds are your problem, kill them dead with Clear Choice. Its patent pending formula uses up to 85% less active ingredients. This low odor, selective herbicide kills over 60 broadleaf weeds right down to the root, without harming lawns. From thegardeningrevolution.com.

This showcase also includes an environmentally friendly mouse repellent from Shake Away. CLAPPING Send mice packing with these guaranteed organic packs. Mouse repellent is just one of the many fine repellents from shake-away.com.

Garden maintenance will be a snap with your new top-of-the-line pruners from Grow Tech. CLAPPING This spring-loaded pruner is engineered to be light-weight and well-balanced for easy use all day. ARS tools are built for strength, precision and durability. Once you use it, you’ll never settle for cheaper imitations again. From growtech.com.

Vertical gardening continues to be extremely popular, and you’ll discover why as you plant your new living wall planter from Woollypocket. CLAPPING

It’s simple to hang, can be used indoors or out, and is self-watering. Breathable vents allow roots to air prune and increase evaporation which discourages overwatering. Create a woolly great focal point with this living wall from the friendly folks at woollypocket.com.

But your vertical gardens don’t stop there. You’ll also enjoy Pamela Crawford’s Living Wall Planter. CLAPPING

Pamela Crawford's Living Wall

Pamela says, “Since we are accustomed to hanging artwork in our living rooms, why not hang a living piece of art outdoors?” It can be hung alone or in multiples to fit your space. Look for them at your local garden center or order online from kinsmangarden.com.

Your walls won’t be the only thing visitors drool over. Take a look at these blooming shrubs from Proven Winners. CLAPPING

That’s right Peggy, this great selection starts with a new, improved sweetshrub (Calycanthus ‘Aphrodite’) You’ll fall in love with the fragrant, red, magnolia-like flowers. This rebloomer has nice, glossy foliage, too. You’ll also receive Ceanothus ‘Maria Rose™’, an extremely drought-tolerant plant with rich pink flowers that appear in mid-summer and again in early fall, followed by red seed capsules. Fall bouquets will never be the same again once you start harvesting from your new hybrid beauty berry (Callicarpa ‘Purple Pearls™’). And your garden will look sweet when you plant this fabulous new selection of our native buttonbush (Cephalanthus ‘Sugar Shack™’). It was chosen for its compact size, colorful red fruit and glossy foliage. They’re all brought to you by our good friends at ProvenWinners.com.

Pane in the Grass plant markersWorried about keeping track of so many different plants? Not when you have garden markers from Pane in the Grass! CLAPPING These colorful markers are handmade from reclaimed silverware and fused glass. The plant name is kiln fused permanently into the glass, so it won’t fade or rub off. With proper care they can add a lifetime of fun and functionality to any garden. From PaneintheGrass.com.

And finally, at the end of a long day of gardening, you’ll be ready to sit down and relax with a nice glass of wine and some yummy wine sticks from The Sweetery. CLAPPING Forget about dipping donuts in coffee or Oreos in milk, now you can dip your wine stick into a delicious glass of wine! Whether you enjoy red or white, this alternative to bland crackers will enhance each sip. From thesweetery.com.

This gardening showcase can be yours, if you are a plant ho. – Of course I am THE plant ho, and I’m excited to start using my new stuff.

Note to readers: Much of this post was slightly reworded and/or out-and-out plagiarized from these companies’ websites and literature. I never do that, but I didn’t think they would mind, and I’m pretty sure The Price is Right does it that way too.

Note to suppliers: If you sent me something, and you don’t see it here, it’s because I received it after this post was written. I’ll post about it later.

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I’m a Writer, Speaker and Plant Ho
by Peggy Hill - posted 09/08/13

Hi, my name is Peggy Hill. I’m a writer, speaker and plant ho. And if you’re unfamiliar with the term plant ho, I have a quick question for you. When you visit your friend’s garden and see a spectacular plant, do you coyly suggest that it looks a bit crowded, and you would be glad to help divide it? Well then you might be a plant ho too. But I’ve taken it to a whole new level. Let me explain.

I credit Jean McWeeney, who worked at State by State Gardening, for giving me mad-crazy plant ho abilities. I’m not sure she realizes the Pandora’s Box she opened when she suggested I attend the 2011 Garden Writer’s Convention. It was awesome! I walked through the exhibit hall and people gave me little bags of free plants. And not just any plants. If you are a grower or promoter, you are giving your best stuff to 500 garden writers from across the country. When the convention ended, the writers pleaded and begged for the larger display shrubs. I was caught up in the frenzy, “Just give me that shrub. I know I don’t have any more hands. I’ll clench it in my teeth if I have to.” Then I dashed up the stairs to drop my load and came back for more. Here’s my haul.

Free Plants

It included some fabulous plants like this pretty Echinacea ‘Southern Belle’, which I used in several flower arrangements last fall.

Echinacea 'Southern Belle'

Plants Nouveau handed out this Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Everlasting Garnet’.

Hydrangea macrophylia 'Everlasting Garnet'

They advertise it as “Better than re-blooming, they’re Everlasting™!”. Young flowers look like that one on the top, they mature to a solid color, and then slowly transition to lime green as they age. Very nice, I’m impressed.

One of the people I met at the convention was Dan Heims, president of Terra Nova nurseries. He will always have a special place in my heart because he was the first person to call me a plant ho. And because he sends me free plants like this wonderful Echinacea ‘Coral Reef’. - This picture of my Echinacea ‘Coral Reef’ was taken by Kristy Lapenta.

Echinacea 'Coral Reef'

Dan’s business card wasn’t the only one I collected at the convention, so when I was working on a Hot Plant article for the February 2012 issue of Alabama Gardener Magazine about Southern Living’s dwarf nandina ‘Flirt’,

Nandina 'Flirt'

I knew just who to call for more information. And while I had Buddy on the phone, I mentioned how interested I was in their new Southgate™ rhododendron and the Early Bird™ crapemyrtles. Three large plants arrived the following week, and you can read about the rhododendron in the February 2013 issue of Alabama Gardener Magazine.

Southgate rhododendron

Same song different verse when I called the nice lady at Briggs Nursery about an article I was working on for the October 2012 issue of Alabama Gardener Magazine on the new pink blueberry ‘Pink Lemonade’. We had a pleasant chat, and she sent me all these plants to try.

Free Plants

Fast forward two years to today. I’ve been writing a Hot Plant article in every issue of Alabama Gardener Magazine for the past two years, and unless I mess up somehow, that should continue through 2014 and beyond. Breeders and promoters want that type of publicity, so they send me boxes of free plants each spring.

This Brunnera ‘Sea Heart’ was part of the 2013 package from Skagit Gardens. I wasn’t very excited when it came because Brunnera always dies for me. - Boy was I surprised. - Pick up the October issue of Alabama Gardener Magazine, if you want to know more.

Brunnera 'Sea Heart'

I don’t know what’s in them, so opening the boxes is like Christmas, and I have 5 or 6 Christmases every year. Proven Winners sends me their brand new plants a year before they release them to the public.

Hibiscus 'Full Blast', rose of SharonHibiscus 'Full Blast', rose of SharonNothing puts a smile on my face like hearing a garden visitor say, “Wow, that’s a pretty plant.” And I reply, “Yes, it is pretty for you to look at here in my garden, but you can’t have it in your garden until next year.” Uh-oh, I think my competitive side is showing.

This rose of Sharon (Hibiscus ‘Full Blast’) grew more in its first season than any other shrub I've ever planted. It went from under a foot tall in spring to 5 1/2 feet by September. But don't waste your time looking for it this fall, maybe next year.

I don't want to give you the wrong impression. This blog is not just going to be about my free trial plants, I’ll talk about whatever gardening thought floats out of my crazy head onto the computer. I'll also feature some of the spectacular plants I buy with my hard-earned writing income, like this amazing Pennisetum ‘Princess Caroline’ in the next picture.

You can read my article in the September 2012 issue of Alabama Gardener Magazine to learn everything you need to know about growing it.

Pennisetum 'Princess Caroline'

But if you want to grow that pretty superbells® (Calibrachoa, ‘Pomegranate Punch’) in the foreground, I’m sorry, it’s not yet available to the general public, but you can admire it here, in my garden. smiley

In addition to writing this blog for Alabama Gardener Magazine, I also have a personal gardening blog, hiddenhillsgarden.com. You can also get there from a link on my website, which has a much easier name to remember, ThePlantHo.com. I alternate my weekly posts between the two sites. 

I just started a Facebook page for overflow pictures, and I have an embarrassingly few likes, but if you'd like to see more, you can 'like' The Plant Ho on Facebook.

Anyway, that’s who I am, and I hope you’ll come back often to hear more tales from the plant ho.

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