Armitage Says Strong Marketing Ideas From HGTV And Vegetalis And A New Intergenetic Cross Grab Attention At Spring Trials

Allan and Laura at VegetalisToday’s visits were a lot of fun, with breathtaking views of both California and incredible plants at the various Trials we toured.


Anybody who grows combo baskets has Dummen to thank for its blazing the trail with the Confetti series. It continues to add combinations, ensuring that plants in the containers work well together and that the colors appeal to the eye. The containers are so darn successful, they even appeal to my eyes.

As breathtaking as some of the Confettis were, I was most impressed with the new series of lobularia, the YOLO series (which in the pop culture world stands for “you only live once.”). I knew that, of course. The best one for me was YOLO White, with compact dense habit and clean white flowers.

Dummen is also bringing out some eye-popping begonias, my favorite being ‘Lucky Strike’ and ‘Miss Montreal,’ but others are equally handsome. Its association with Bartels Stek has provided many excellent perennials for their program, take a close look at their phlox, penstemon and heucherella.

HGTV heavy metals trendHGTV

Even though HGTV is relatively young, I believe this program can be wildly successful. It is all about lifestyles and a brand most people recognize and trust. The plants in the program appear to have been chosen with care and research.

Today, HGTV Home Plant Collection showed its annual program, which is in its second year, along with its new shrub and perennials selections. I believe this program will have something for everybody. Garden centers in particular should jump on board because of the brand recognition that HGTV brings. Any program like this is only as good as the people involved, and the people we have met bring professionalism and creativity to the brand.


Floranova continues to breed excellent bedding material. Their new marigold with large flowers and short habits were exceptional, and their cool season violas are looking very, very good. I’ve always been impressed with the Sugar Rush wallflowers and the colors they are showing should make them an excellent plant this season and for many to come.

Two major items that caught my eye were the new Bossa Nova begonias — handsome boliviensis hybrids from seed. Four colors are available and all appear to have excellent greenhouse performance for hanging baskets and containers. I particularly liked the red, but the other three colors were also nice.

The vegetable program at Vegetalis continues to expand with many new items coming down the pipe. The major emphasis this year was on how to help the retailer make proper use of vegetables for the consumers walking in the door. With their carry-packs of vegetables that “play well” together, the retailer now has a product that can get the consumer excited to spend money on these functional items.


Westoffs Lilac FallsWesthoff:The plant that was calling everyone’s name was ‘Lilac Falls,’ an intergeneric cross between Lamium and Stachys (seen here). I don’t know how this will do, but it is an excellent, low-growing plant with handsome lilac flowers and dark-green leaves. It’s brand new to the market place, so only time will tell how good it really is. It was also great fun to see a fragrant verbena, ‘Estrella Up Ballet Pink.’

Beekencamp: Relatively new in the American market, Beekencamp brings a rich history of breeding from Europe. One of its strengths is the breeding of begonias — and I was quite taken with the Encanto begonia series — they were vigorous, in good colors and potentially excellent performers.

Terra Nova: Terra Nova continues to bring a great diversity of outstanding perennials to the market place. I saw extraordinary heucheras, heucherellas and echinaceas and was really impressed with the Kudo agastache series. The other group of plants they do a great job on are nepeta, which have handsome blue flowers and a subtle smell of lemon.

Not known for annuals, nevertheless Terra Nova is bringing some really fine annuals to the market as well. I really love ‘Terra Nova Cuckoo’ coleus, which is unique when compared to upright forms.

PAC Elsnor: I believe PAC has a winner with their Angelos series of dwarf angelonias. The bicolors are excellent and the trailing forms of Angelos were exceptional and could be easily incorporated into combo hanging baskets. It is hard to get excited about verbena, but excited I was when I saw Vera verbena and the six colors on display. They were uniform, brilliant in color and would draw the eyes of any consumer in a garden center or landscape. The best was the deep red — it would be in my hands if I were shopping.

Plug Connection: I am potentially in love with grafted vegetables. I say potentially because I have never tried one. I understand the potential benefits of grafting onto a great root stock and believe this is a concept that could catch on if properly presented at the retailer level. It’s going to take some education and some POP to make this a mainstream item, but with the addition of grafted melons to their grafted tomato line, MightyMato, MightyMelon’s is just around the corner.

Skagit Gardens: My favorite at Skagit was ‘Embers Wish’ salvia. The bicolors stood out from all other salvias, and they are certainly more dwarf than others in the Wish series. It’s also good to see new colors of digiplexis coming out. I believe it is more of an annual than a perennial, but if properly presented and reasonably priced, it should do well.


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