Now really...who drives six hours (one way, through four states) and pays for one night in a hotel for a one-day event? Two gardeners who are pretty sure that they're going to get more than the cost and time of doing that, in return. And we weren't the only ones, as eight states were represented at this event!
The third of four Proven Winners® OLE events (previously in Seattle and Atlanta, and next in Toronto on April 15), we were treated to topics by four speakers unique to the Milwaukee event.
About 1000 lines of plants each year are trialed for two years or more, by 60 breeders in various locations throughout the world, in the ground and in containers. From these, 15-30 new plants per year are introduced. Proven Winners® plants are trialed for good branching, heat and drought tolerance, clean clear color, no need for deadheading, and disease tolerance or resistance.
|Solenostemon scuttellarioides Colorblaze® 'Alligator Tears' |
In the background, Nemesia Sunsatia® Coconut and Sunsatia® Lemon
Some of this year's new plants that you'll want to look for:
Solenostemon Colorblaze® Alligator Tears (A sun coleus!)
Absolutely Amethyst™ Iberis (Perennial candytuft, in purple)
Lobelia Lucia® Lavender Blush
Intensia® Blueberry Phlox (An annual phlox)
Leucanthemum Daisy May (Shasta daisy that blooms all summer, when deadheaded)
|Anisodontea Slightly Strawberry™|
|Nemesia Sunsatia® Cranberry|
Angelonia angustifolia Angelface® Blue
|Bidens ferulifolia Goldilocks Rocks™|
Kerry teased us with a look at some of the 2012 plants, too!
She got a bit of laughter from us when she started out by saying one of the keys to success is to "plan first and shop later." She got a lot of laughter with that, actually, since we've all been rendered helpless when faced with all that eye candy as we walk into a garden center!
"If you don't have enough space to grow all the plants you want to grow, you have a small space garden."
Melinda lives in Wisconsin and besides being the author of several gardening books, she's also featured on television and radio, as well as in many other publications. You can learn more from Melinda at http://www.melindamyers.com.
Lunch was a time to catch up with familiar faces and to meet new ones. It's always nice to see Danielle Ernest, Public Relations and Brand Development Coordinator at Proven Winners® . I'll get to spend some more time with Danielle when we both attend the upcoming Garden2Blog event at P. Allen Smith's Garden Home Retreat in Little Rock.
I got to see and chat with Sandy Wentworth (Customer Relations for Proven Winners®), too. I'd met her previously in Dallas at the Garden Writers' symposium. Jessica Reinhardt, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist from Dramm Corporation, was a familiar face too, as we had met in Dallas and she's provided me with some of those wonderful Dramm products that I've mentioned in the past.
|Pat, Brenda and me.|
Danielle introduced me to The Impatient Gardener, a.k.a Erin, a fellow garden blogger who lives in Wisconsin and frequents Twitter, as I do. It's always fun to meet those people in person that you "see" online.
Spring Meadow Nursery (MI), tell about his searches the world over for new and interesting plants. That's why he's known as The Plant Hunter. He shared some of his travels to The Netherlands, France, Japan, and other places, where he meets the breeders of some of the plants we have in our gardens. Travel and plants - what a great job, eh?
He also filled us in on how shrubs get to be in the Proven Winners® ColorChoice® family of plants. Key characteristics of these shrubs are:
- great garden performance
- interesting foliage
- multiple seasons of interest
- unique look or use
- compact habit or growth
- ease of care
Popular Proven Winners® shrubs include Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight', the only continuously blooming H. paniculata; Physocarpus opulifolious Coppertina™; Berberis thungerii Sunjoy® Gold Pillar; and Weigela florida My Monet®.
P. Allen Smith's Garden Home on PBS and just recently launched a new series, P. Allen Smith's Garden to Table. At lunch, he was constantly being photographed and it didn't stop when he began speaking.
He showed us ways to use containers in our gardens, whether they were on porches, patios, or integrated into the flower beds themselves. We got to see many examples of how he uses Proven Winners® plants at his home and in his designs. Allen proved to be a charming comedian too, with his dry sense of humor and he kept the gardeners grinning.
During breaks in the program, garden products from Dramm, Corona Tools, Cobrahead, The Seed Keeper Company, Lechuza, local garden centers, and many other companies were given away. Proven Winners® gave away many of their plants, too. P. Allen Smith gave away three of his new card sets that were just published on roses, bulbs, and veggies & herbs.
|Two lucky gardeners won a Seed Keepers kit, held here by Danielle.|
We all got to take home a Calibrachoa Superbells® Coralberry Punch. I was thrilled about this, because I'd seen it in Proven Winners® The Gardener's Idea Book and fell in love with it. Superbells® Blackberry Punch is a winner, too. Several of the new introductions were available for purchase.
|Calibrachoa Superbells® Coralberry Punch|
|Calibrachoa Superbells® Blackberry Punch|
In our swag bags were many publications to help us with garden design and plant choice, including a sliding graph plant chart from Proven Winners®. We also got a window thermometer from PW, a trowel from Corona Tools, Milorganite® organic nitrogen fertilizer, Organic Bio-tone® StarterPlus plant food, Zum Bar® Goat's Milk Soap from Indigo Wild, a garden ruler from The Seed Keeper Company, and a Rite in the Rain® mini notebook.
Before we knew it, the day was over and we drove the six hours back home, arriving at Our Little Acre around 11:15 PM. As we drove east on U.S. 30, the conversation centered on what we were going to do in our gardens and how we would use many of the Proven Winners® plants we saw that day.
|There were 10 of these combination planters for sale, and about 30 people|
that wanted to buy them. Names were put into a container and drawn out
for the right to buy one. Mom got one!
Thank you, Proven Winners®. Thank you, speakers. Thank you, sponsors. What a wonderful event this was. For those of you who've never attended one, there's still time to go to Toronto for the final event this Friday!