Garden Trends and New Plants for 2019

January, right after Christmas, means MANTS (mid-atlantic nurseryman’s show), and I attend every year to see what is up and coming in the gardening world. New plants, new products, new trends, are the things that I look for in the upcoming year. It is the CES of gardening, not as exotic or techy as electronics, but still exciting and new, and way more interesting.

Discussing new products with one of the vendors, Organic Mechanics
Discussing new products with one of the vendors, Organic Mechanics

New Plants

My favorite item to look for are new plants, or new improved cultivars of old plants. I have written about ‘Party Pesto‘ a mildew resistant basil from Burpee Seeds before and found another resistant one called ‘Amazel’ from Proven Winners.

Downy mildew of basil is a destructive pathogen that develops on lower leaf surfaces, all but rendering what’s left as inedible.

'Amazel' is a new downy mildew resistant Basil
‘Amazel’ is a new downy mildew resistant basil

‘Amazel’ is a basil that is resistant to basil downy mildew, and because it doesn’t flower early in the season, produces more foliage in July and August than most plants. The plants grow 24 to 36 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide. This is on my list to plant this year as I love basil and have had unsightly crops for the past couple of years.

Basil downy mildew
Basil downy mildew

‘Rockin Fuschia’ annual Salvia from Proven Winners caught my eye right away with glossy dark green leaves, and profuse bright pink flower wands that covered the plant. Salvias are one of my favorite plants because of the non-stop blooming and deer resistant traits, but this one stopped me in my tracks. Stockier and more compact than the taller forms, this would be perfect in a container.

Salvia 'Rockin Fuschia'
Salvia ‘Rockin Fuschia’
Truffula Gomphrena
Truffula Gomphrena

Gomphrena  Truffula also caught my eye because these are long bloomers, dry well, and last a long time as a fresh cut.This a tough and durable airy annual. I have written about ‘Pink Zazzle’ Gomphrena, another gomphrena. which I love and is a great looking plant, but I have trouble keeping it alive as it needs dry conditions with perfect drainage.

'Pink Zazzle' Gomphrena
‘Pink Zazzle’ Gomphrena

I was ready for another Gomphrena with easier care. Truffula is a large multi-branched plant which mounds up and is literally covered with flowers and I hope this one fits the bill.

Another plant that appealed came from Terra Nova Nurseries, Artemisia Makana. A soft grey pillowy plant that you could sink into, Makana would be wonderful in mixed containers.

 Artemisia Makana from Terra Nova
Artemisia Makana from Terra Nova

NewGen Boxwood is high on my list of shrubs to try this year. Boxwood blight/leafminer resistant, attractive, and deer proof are all traits that I am looking for in my landscape design business. Introduced by Saunders Brothers who spent years developing it, NewGen will definitely  be on my list this spring.

Sandy’s Plants was introducing a new Arum ‘Pamela Harper’ with a beautifully patterned leaf. An under-used shade perennial that bears wonderful red berries in the fall, deer won’t browse on it. A great ground cover that will add beauty with foliage and berries, I will look for this one in the spring.

Sandy of Sandy's Plants in Virginia
Sandy of Sandy’s Plants in Virginia
Pamela Harper Arum

A New Invasive

The MD Department of Agriculture had a large display on the dreaded Spotted Lantern Fly which is moving south from Pennsylvania into Maryland. A scourge for crops, especially hops, grapes, and fruit trees, I have seen this insect in Pennsylvania and they are expected to hit us home in Maryland soon.

Spotted Lantern Fly
Spotted Lantern Fly

An invasive with no known predators and laying eggs in the host plant Tree of Heaven, another invasive, I am not looking forward to this onslaught. But it looks like the MD Dept of Agriculture is on top of it with tons of information to give out.

The spotted lantern fly is actually a beautiful insect
The spotted lantern fly is actually a beautiful insect

New Products

Root Pouch makes great seed starters
Root Pouch makes great seed starters

I have written about Root Pouches before and they continue to wow me. Great for Micro Greens which continue to be a huge health trend, these sustainable alternatives to plastic pots, are useful for many situations.

Root Pouches
Root Pouches

Hydroponics continues to be strong and I can see a Millennial having one of the new hydroponic carts on display in their apartment growing greens and herbs. No soil required is attractive, and growing a lot of edibles in a small space with no additional watering is the perfect solution for busy people. Fresh healthy greens at your fingertips all year round!

AutoCrops' hydroponic set up called LF-ONE
AutoCrops’ hydroponic set up called LF-ONE

Garden Trellis & Fence, Co. was a new vendor this year. They solve the problem of tall-growing plants and vines. The trellis system allows you to plant large plants in a smaller footprint using their easy put-together(no tools!) trellis system. How many times have you planted a tomato and it grows quickly to the top of the cage and then drapes over becoming this huge cumbersome plant? Supporting your tomato plants to grow up rather than out sold me on this hot dipped galvanized trellis system that won’t rust and can be left in place all year-long.

Garden trellis system
Garden trellis system


New Services

Best Bees
Best Bees

Have you always wanted honeybees on your property but were afraid of the upkeep and the work involved? Best Bees is for you! A company that installs and maintains beehives on residential or commercial properties, they will make sure you have honeybees that you can watch and enjoy the honey benefits but not lift a finger! Yes, it costs money, but if that is your dream, then you can use this company’s services.

You can even get a custom paint job on your hive to duplicate your house
You can even get a custom paint job on your hive to duplicate your house

Another unique service is Bower & Branch, an online service that delivers ordered plants to a local garden center for pick up. Trees, shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses are available. Their plants on display were beautiful and you can get unusual things that a local garden center won’t carry. How many times have you lusted for a plant but it isn’t available locally? I can see the benefits of this right away. I need to try it!

Bower & Branch is an e-commerce solution for independent garden centers
Bower & Branch is an e-commerce solution for independent garden centers

Pesticide Free Nurseries and Seed Companies


After picking out dead honeybees from a honeycomb frame recently, I pledged to use only plants that are neonic free. Neonics or neonicitonoids have been implicated in recent bee declines as well as other factors, such as loss of habitat and the bee parasite- the varroa mite. There are a number of studies that have conflicting findings and beekeepers aren’t convinced that there is a number one cause. See this article at The Huffington Post and you will be even more unsure what to believe. But I think that limiting the use of neonics will help.img_4460

Many gardeners have contacted me who say they are no longer buying plants from regular retail nurseries and seed companies because there is no way to tell if the pollinator-attracting plants they are purchasing have been treated with Neonicotinoids/imidacloprid, etc. As a beekeeper, I am interested in keeping my property free of these systemic pesticides.


Honeybees bring back pollen to the hive from flowers that could be contaminated with neonics


Plant Nurseries that don’t use Neonics

Some are wholesale and some are retail; the wholesale ones sell to your local nurseries 

Annie’s Annuals – CA

Arrowhead Alpines – WI

Behnkes Nursery – MD, If the plant is listed as Pollinator Friendly, it hasn’t been treated with neonics

Bluestone Perennials – OH

Brushwood Vines – GA

Dancing Oaks – OR

Dawn’s Wild Things – NY

Digging Dog – CA

EcoTulips – VA

Edible Landscaping – VA

Far Reaches Farm – WA

Fernwood Nursery & Gardens, ME

Forest Farm – OR

Greener Earth Nursery – OR

High Country Gardens – NM/CO

Hostas Direct – MN

Iseli Nursery- OR

Joy Creek Nursery – OR

Lazy S’s Farm Nursery – VA

Mountain Valley Growers – CA

Niche Gardens – NC

Plant Delights-NC

Prairie Moon Nursery – MN

Prairie Nursery – WI

Rolling River Nursery – CA

Santa Rosa Gardens – FL

Select Seeds – CT ,They also sell plants

Streambank Gardens – DE

The Tasteful Garden – AL

Tripple Brook Farm – MA

Valley View Farms– MD, Read their policy concerning pesticide use at the link provided

Walters Gardens-MI, this is a wholesale nursery that provides a lot of Proven Winners Plants

Xera Plants – OR

Big Box

Lowe’s garden stores and BJ’s Wholesale Club have agreed to phase out all neonic-treated products on their shelves.  Home Depot has asked its suppliers to label any plants treated with neonics.  Many local garden stores are doing the same.

This is where it all starts-Monarchs mating
Neonics affect all insects, not just honeybees

Should you boycott nurseries that use neonicotinoids?

No! Many trees, conifers, ornamental grasses, ferns, and other plants provide habitat and tremendous wildlife value and don’t attract pollinators. There is no need to throw out the diverse array of plants available from these nurseries.

Every certified backyard habitat has a variety of plants-pollinator attracting ones and evergreens that shelter animals
Every certified backyard habitat has a variety of plants-pollinator attracting ones and evergreens that shelter animals

Neonics are both good and bad. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater! The application process is relatively safe in comparison to spraying of the old-time organic phosphate chemicals.  The old chemicals that were applied were a lot more toxic because they left a residue. The difference with Neonicotinoids is that they are watered in and taken up by the plant roots to permeate the plant internally, all throughout the plant tissues. For a great article disputing that neonics are causing pollinator problems, go to Financial Post. This article says that “Neonics are a minor issue for bee health and the continued false allegations are pulling resources away from stopping the real threat” and that according to an apiculture scientist there are three top reasons for bee colony death and they are “varroa mites, varroa mites, and varroa mites”. These tiny parasite like ticks suck the blood from bees and they can weaken the entire hive.

Pollen is collected from flowers and carried by the bee to the hive
Pollen is collected from flowers and carried by the bee to the hive

The problem for bees is the pollen that they collect. When plants treated with a neonicotinoid produce flowers and pollen, the pesticide is concentrated within the pollen and bees bring it home to their hive, where even small amounts can affect the health of the bee.

Bumblebees are affected by neonics like honeybees
Bumblebees are affected by neonics like honeybees

Many nursery owners who use neonics say they take precautions by not applying them when the plant is in bloom.Though growers who use neonics say they take these precautions, the chemical is still carried through the entire plant system-enough to harm honeybees.

Some seed companies that don’t use neonics

Seed Companies that don’t use Neonics

  • Adaptive Seed
  • All Good Things Organic Seeds
  • Annie’s Heirloom Seeds
  • Baker Creek
  • Blue River Hybrids
  • Botanical Interests
  • Burpee
  • Denali Seed Company
  • Fedco
  • Goodwin Creek Gardens
  • Grow Organic
  • Gurney’s Seed Nursery Co
  • Harris Seeds
  • High Mowing Seeds 
  • Horizon Herbs
  • Hudson Valley Seed Library
  • Johnny’s Selected Seeds 
  • Maine Potato Lady
  • Native Seeds
  • Northeast Seeds
  • Peaceful Valley
  • Pinetree Seeds
  • Renee’s Garden
  • Seed Savers
  • Southern Exposure
  • Sustainable Seed Company
  • Territorial Seed

Other plant sources that are usually safe

Local native plant sales (ask to be 100% sure). Local farmer’s markets ( many growers are not organic and so it is important to ask). If you shop at big box stores and aren’t sure where the plants come from, the grower’s label is usually applied to the pot.Where Can I Find More Information?

So much has been written on this subject and here is some further reading:Xerces Society

Buying Bee-Friendly PlantsHow Your Bee-Friendly Garden May Actually be Killing BeesA Native Bee RancherBeyond PesticidesHome Depot to Label Neonics

Ladew Garden Festival 2016

Ladew Topiary Gardens iconic scene of the flx and hounds
Ladew Topiary Gardens iconic scene of the fox and hounds


Now in its 8th year, the Garden Festival at Ladew Gardens in Monkton, MD, has become the most anticipated specialty plant and garden ornaments sale in the region, featuring an eclectic variety of vendors who specialize in unusual and unique plants and garden related items.

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Beautiful arrangement greets visitors as they enter the Garden Festival
Beautiful containers dot the grounds at Ladew
Colorful containers dot the grounds at Ladew

Garden Festival guests can shop from more than 45 vendors offering hard-to-find perennials and annuals, unusual exotics and container specialties, decorative garden furniture, urns, statuary, and other architectural treasures. I attend every year and get lots of ideas, buy many plants, and meet like-minded plantaholics. You don’t get many casual plant shoppers here, but knowledgeable plant fanatics.

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An antique bird house for sale
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The gardens are in spring bloom
Unique garden items are for sale
Unique garden items are for sale

Attending the lectures and workshops is an added benefit, but I am usually so busy shopping that I don’t have time to attend. After shopping, I also stroll through Ladew’s beautiful historic gardens known for the sculpture of shrubs into fantastic shapes.

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Oversized bird houses are on the grounds

I am always searching for the latest and greatest plants and I am sure to find them at Ladew – at a cost though. The prices aren’t cheap, but you will find things here that you can’t find anywhere else, so I am careful about what I purchase. Since I usually buy wholesale plants, I always get sticker shock when I see retail prices.

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I picked up this yellow Salvia Madrensis which I love for its unusual color and furry leaves

 Forget carrying all those heavy purchased plants around as Ladew volunteers collect your plants in wagons and take them to the parking area where you can drive up and load them up. I still take my portable cart with me as once it is full, I stop!


Ladew is always looking for quality vendors, and there is usually new ones as well as old favorites. The fairy garden vendor is especially charming and I always stop and admire the miniature gardens.

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Miniature garden for sale
Verbenas in chair
Peace Tree Farm booth
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Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm


This year the Festival will be held Saturday, May 7, from 10 AM to 4 PM at 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, MD.  For more information, go to Ladew Gardens. This is your opportunity to find plants and ornaments that are rare and beautiful to make your garden a unique place.

A beautiful spring container at Ladew
Venus Dogwood
Want a Venus Dogwood that has blooms as big as your hand? You will find this at Ladew
Where else can you find miniature hostas?