Perennial Gathering

Just back from the Perennial Plant Association meeting in Lancaster, PA, held in person for the first time in three years. It was like a family reunion after such a long period of no contact, except via Zoom. Over 450 people from around the world showed up for the first year back.

The Perennial Plant Association is a professional organization for people involved in production, sales, trials, research, landscaping, or growing perennials. The annual meetings consist of a week of talks, tours, and a trade show. There are plenty of tour options, so attendees can select whether they are more interested in landscape design, retail, or production.

Briggs Nursery booth at PPA trade show in PA

Aris Greenleaf is a large liner producer, who also has a trial garden. Sadly, non of the trial plants here had been planted more than a few months.

Aris Greenleaf production and shipping facilities
Aris Greenleaf trial garden

Cavano’s Nursery in nearby Maryland, was one of several top notch perennial growers we visited.

Cavano’s Nursery tour
Cavano’s Nursery

North Creek Nursery, a leading producer of native plant liners in PA, hosted the group for an amazing dinner

Dinner @ North Creek Nurseries
North Creek Nurseries production greenhouses

Owner Ed Snodgrass welcomed the group to his Emory Knoll Farms, an “off the grid” nursery that only produces plants for green roofs. 100% of their power is produced by solar panels on site.

Ed Snodgrass

For those unfamiliar with green roofs, shingles are replaced with plants, which help insulate the structure, while also reducing runoff.

Green roof planting at Emory Knoll Farms
Green roof plant production at Emory Knoll Farms

What interested many on this tour, was their use of an outdoor version of a Stanley Steamer, for weed control. The manufacturer, Weedtechnics is out of Australia, but has a few US distributors.

Steam is applied too kill weeds as you would clean a carpet. The steam only penetrates the ground to 5 mm, but that’s enough to kill both the weed and weed seed, without bothering nearby plants. This is certainly a technology many of us on the tour will be investigating.

Weedtechnics tractor mounted weed steamer
Weedtechnics steamer in action

We visited the amazing Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware, a place I’ve had the pleasure of visiting several times over the last 30 years. The gardens have undergrown a dramatic facelift that made a great garden even better. It was great to catch the native Zigadenus glaberrimus in full flower by the lower pond.

Zigadenus glaberrimus

The amazing Chanticleer Gardens and Longwood Gardens both hosted the group for two incredible dinners and a chance to stroll the grounds. At Chanticleer, we caught the water lotus (Nelumbo) in full flower, looking eerily like something from the Little Shop of Horrors.

Nelumbo @ Chanticleer Gardens

Of course, we are all there to see the latest and greatest in new plants, and these gatherings never fail to show us something new we need to try. Below are the latest from the world of echinacea breeding.

Echinacea ‘Rainbow’
Echinacea ‘Green Jewel’ @ The Perennial Farm
Echinacea ‘Tres Amigos’ @ The Perennial Farm

Lysimachia lanceolata ‘Burgundy Mist’ and Sorghastrum nutans ‘Golden Sunset’ are two new US natives that are just hitting the market.

Lysimachia lanceolata ‘Burgundy Mist’
Sorghastum nutans ‘Golden Sunset’

Of course, in addition to the plants, these meetings are also about the people and the networking that these meetings afford. It was great to see two former JLBG’ers in attendance, Adrienne and Jon Roethling. Adrienne is now the Director of the Paul Ciener Garden in NC, and Jon heads up the grounds at Reynolda House and Gardens.

Adrienne and Jon Roethling

And it was great to catch up with Simple, the Roving Garden Artist…one of the most “out of the box” designers I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Simple, The Roving Garden Artist

It was a lovely surprise to run into an old friend, plantsman Barry Yinger, who was in town, taking a break from his Sanseveria conservation work in Tanzania to visit his sister, and happened to be staying next door to the convention.

Barry Yinger

It’s always great to catch up with old friends, Nanci Allen (long time PPA director), and Allan Armitage (retired UGA professor). You never know who you’ll run into at these meetings. If you work in the field, check out the PPA, and perhaps we’ll see you at a future symposium.

Butterflies on Echinaceas

Echinacea purpurea kim's Knee High with yellow swallowtailThe butterflies are feasting on the echinaceas in the garden.  I just caught this Eastern tiger swallowtail sitting still this week.  You can bring amazing pollinators into your garden by planting lots of nectar-producing plants.

 

Incredible coneflowers

Echinacea Julia5

The echinaceas have been incredible in the garden this spring and summer.  Here are a few shots from JLBG last week.  First is Echinacea ‘Julia’…a very compact orange-flowered coneflower with sturdy stems.Echinacea Salsa Red8

Echinacea ‘Salsa Red’ is one of the most floriferous coneflowers we grow…truly amazing!

Echinacea Secret Glow5Echinacea ‘Secret Glow’…love this color and flower form!

 

Echinacea ‘Aloha’

Echinacea Aloha11

Here’s another coneflower that’s been a star in our trials…the creamy yellow-flowering Echinacea ‘Aloha’.  All of these I’ve shared have shown excellent vigor, good perennialization, and have sturdy stems.

Echinacea ‘Secret Glow’

Echinacea Secret Glow5

After last years’ performance, Echinacea ‘Secret Glow’ moved into our top tier of favorite coneflowers.  Again, this year, it’s a star in the garden as you can see here!

Echinacea ‘Hot Papaya’

Echinacea Hot Papaya11

The hybrid coneflowers are making such an amazing show in the garden now, we just had to share.  Here is Echinacea ‘Hot Papaya’...part of a stunning 3′ tall, five year old clump.  They key to growing echinaceas is to plant them in well-drained soil, and do so before September.  It’s also very important to cut the flowers off before they bloom and until they get well established.