January 20th, 2015
Gardening’s first big event of the year kicked off last week in Baltimore at the 45th annual Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show – the place where most of our region’s landscapers, garden centers and garden-related retailers go to figure out what we gardeners might want to buy.
It’s a huge, not-open-to-the-public show that attracts 10,000 professionals and nearly 1,000 companies that sell everything from the latest, greatest new plants to the little plastic labels that get stuck in their pots.
I got an inside look at the 3-day, 2015 version of MANTS (as it’s called in the trade), and came away with one theme I heard over and over again – compact. Compact as in “shrink those plant sizes.”
“Dwarf plants are popular, but people want them even smaller,” said Shannon Downey, who was manning the Proven Winners ColorChoice booth.
She says yards are shrinking, and more people are looking for options for patios and balconies.
“Plus, people are so afraid of pruning things the wrong way that it’s just less work and less to worry about if everything stays small,” she adds.
Maybe you’ve seen the Proven Winners’ butterfly bush called Lo and Behold ‘Blue Chip’ that stays under 3 feet tall.
This year you’ll see ‘Blue Chip Jr.,’ which is a few inches smaller and less brittle in the branching.
But even that one isn’t the line’s smallest. The new Lo and Behold ‘Pink Micro Chip’ is a lavender/pink-blooming butterfly bush that stays under 2 feet tall – a far cry from the hulking 10-foot butterfly bushes most people grew a decade ago.