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Perennial Plant Association Names Geranium Biokovo as the 2015 Perennial of the Year

Geranium Biokova

Each year, the Perennial Plant Association awards one perennial variety as the “Plant of the Year.” This year, Geranium Biokovo has earned the award!

Perennial_Plant_Association_LogoThis Geranium, also known as Crane’s Bill, is the perfect groundcover for any garden. Delicate, pure-white blooms are splashed with pink, creating an elegant carpet of color in the summer garden. Biokovo grows in full sun to light shade and tolerates most soil types.

Geranium Biokovo attracts pollinators to the garden and will quickly become one of your favorite go-to perennials for easy-care, low-growing blooms. This variety spreads heavily, but it is easy to control by digging up and dividing every few years.

We love the ease of this perennial and are excited that the Perennial Plant Association has awarded it the “Plant of the Year” for 2015.

Geranium Biokovo

Have you grown Geranium Biokovo? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook Page. You can view all of the past “Perennial of the Year” winners in our blog, “Award-Winning Garden Plants.” Happy Gardening!

January 4, 2015 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Perennials

2015: The Year of the Gaillardia

ngb-year-of-the-gaillardiaEach year, the National Garden Bureau chooses a variety of plants to feature. They explain on their website, “Each year we select one annual, one perennial and one edible as our “Year of the” crops. Each is chosen because they are popular, easy-to-grow, widely adaptable, genetically diverse, and versatile.”

They’ve chosen 2015 as “The Year of the Gaillardia” and we couldn’t be more thrilled. We love this versatile, easy-to-grow perennial for a variety of reasons. This native plant boasts daisy-shaped flowers that ignite the garden in all shades of red, orange, and yellow. They delight in the summer garden through the fall, providing a bounty of blooms even in extreme heat and drought.

The National Garden Bureau explains the story behind Gaillardia’s common name, Blanket Flower. “Legend has it that a native American weaver was so good at her craft that when she died, her grave was blanketed with flowers colored as brilliantly as the blankets she had made.”

gaillardia-blanketflower

The boldly-colored, bright blooms make a statement in almost any garden. The National Garden Bureau talks more about the perennial gem.

Gaillardias are unparalleled companions to ornamental grasses and you don’t need many to make an impact. They also work well as bright, long-flowering fillers in young shrub beds. As the shrubs mature, they’ll replace these short-lived perennials when their time is up.

In borders, mass single varieties of compact gaillardias along the front, or plant taller ones in bold groups separated from other flowering perennials by plants that have gray foliage or blue or white flowers, which provide a cooling buffer between hot-colored gaillardia flowers and their neighbors. Use cool-colored plants as companions for containerized gaillardias too. A few gaillardias also deserve a place in every cut flower garden. Just be prepared to stake the tall ones so they don’t flop.

Gaillardia_Fanfare_BlazeWondering if you could grow Gaillardia in your garden? As long as you have full sun and well-draining soil, Gaillardia will thrive in your landscape. Blooming in June through frost, remember to deadhead flowers as they fade to prolong the life of the plants. This perennial thrives in almost any hardiness zone and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden. Many varieties also thrive in containers, making this the perfect choice for a small space or container garden.

In 2015, “The Year of the Gaillardia,” consider adding this versatile, easy-to-grow perennial to your garden. We carry four Gaillardia varieties as small plants, Gaillardia aristata seeds and Gaillardia pulchella seeds.

What is your experience growing Gaillardia? Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Happy gardening!

Learn more about Gaillardia on the National Garden Bureau’s website.

December 28, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Perennials, Wildflowers

Bee Helpful By Gardening

Butterfly Weed

Honeybees are integral to our food system; they pollinate many fruits, nuts and vegetables, helping crops grow and produce. Recently, the bee population has been declining worldwide, which can be harmful to our eco-system in many ways. Agricultural agencies, environmental workers and farmers have been trying to solve the bee problem for several years, and it really starts with you – the gardener.

Bees need nourishment from nectar and pollen, so as a gardener, planting a diverse variety of flowers and herbs can go a long way. Native varieties are great for bees in your area and it is extremely helpful to plant easy-to-pollinate varieties.

Gaillardia SeedEasy-to-Pollinate Varieties that Bees Love:

Other than planting bee-friendly varieties in your garden, you can also provide bees a clean source of water to drink. Whether it’s a small-scale water feature or rainwater collection system, keeping bees hydrated is extremely important. Taking it one step further, you could contact your department of transportation and see if they have the budget to plant Wildflower Seeds along the highways and public roads in your area. This will help the bee population in your area tremendously.

Did you know? Bees Pollinate an Estimated 33% Percent of All Crops (Berkley.edu)

sedum-bee-blog

Gardeners can really make a difference in the movement to help restore the bee population and keep crops producing in a healthy, natural way. How do you help honeybees in your garden? Please post in the comments below or on our Facebook Page. Happy Gardening!

December 22, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Gardening in the Winter, How-Tos, Perennials, Wildflowers

Anemones (or Windflower): A Colorful Sight

Anemones

Customer photo of Anemones

Also known as windflower, Anemones are colorful, delicate and unique, offering a variety of uses in almost any garden. Depending on the variety, they can bloom in the spring, summer, or fall, offering season-long interest of spectacular blooms.

Known for their small height, Anemones grow best in the front border of the garden or in containers. They are deer resistant and easy to grow, as long as you give them a little bit of shade and well-draining soil.  They multiply vigorously, so within years you’ll be happily dividing and re-locating or giving to a lucky gardening friend. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from double, full blooms to single, delicate flowers. View our entire selection here.

Anemones

Anemone blooms are so unique and colorful, be sure to plant extras for cut bouquets. The colorful blooms are bold enough to be placed in a bud vase, or will make an extreme statement arranged together.

Gardeners love Anemones because they are:

  • - Deer Resistant
  • - A colorful groundcover
  • - Gorgeous cut flowers
  • - (Mostly) fragrant blooms
  • - Great for containers
  • - Low maintenance
  • - Grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 1-10
  • - Shade-tolerant
  • - Multiplying

Anemones exude such charm; they even catch the eye of famous poets! Emily Dickinson writes about the cheerful flower in her poem Summer for thee, grant I may be:

Summer for thee, grant I may be
When Summer days are flown!
Thy music still, when Whipporwill
And Oriole—are done!

For thee to bloom, I’ll skip the tomb
And row my blossoms o’er!
Pray gather me—
Anemone—
Thy flower—forevermore!

Anemones

 

What is your experience with growing Anemones? Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Happy Gardening!

December 15, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials

We Dig Dahlias: Employee Success Story

Erin, one of our master gardeners and product managers, bought a house two years ago that had no existing landscaping. She and her husband have been slowly beautifying their landscape by planting perennials, shrubs and bulbs.

The first year, they planted all around the foundation. This year, they decided to hide the ugly septic system by planting a variety of Dahlia Bulbs.

In the late spring, they dug up all of the existing grass and added compost to the soil for extra nutrients. They planted 50 Dahlias, including Snow Country, Kelvin Floodlight, Babylon Red, Prince of Orange, Otto’s Thrill and Babylon Purple.

All of the Dahlias came up and they were absolutely stunning (as you can see by the photos below). Their daughter loved heading out to the Dahlia patch every day to see the new blooms. They were so happy with the results that they dug up all of the tubers this fall to re-plant for next season. They hope to have the same gorgeous display next year.

We hope you enjoy the amazing transformation and photos of her garden as much as we do. Happy Gardening!

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

December 7, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Spring and Summer

Reflecting on the Growing Season

With winter now in full swing for most of us, it’s easy to put the garden on the back burner and forget about it until spring. But if you do that, you’re missing one of the best parts of the year! Winter is the perfect time to reflect on the past growing season while it’s still fresh in the mind and write down what went well, what didn’t, and what could be added for next year.

My list. Thankfully, most of my additions ended up on the left side of the list!

My list. Thankfully, most of my additions ended up on the left side of the list!

I added a lot of perennials and vegetables to my garden this past season. A variety of them did great, but some did not fare so well. My white Peonies did awesome; my pink Peonies grew but didn’t bloom, leading me to believe that I may have planted them too deep. My annual wildflowers didn’t bloom as profusely as I’d hoped for; I don’t think they got enough sun. The squirrels got all of my squash blooms and my beets just didn’t work out.

This fall, I dug up my pink Peony and re-planted it closer to the surface. I didn’t get the chance to add much this fall, but cleaned everything up and added my raked leaves to the garden beds for the winter. I did add Daffodils to both the garden bed and also the green spaces outside of my house. While planting, I was reminded of Wordsworth’s famous poem The Daffodils.

Wordsworth Daffodils

I write in my garden journal each winter, dreaming, scheming and longing for spring. How do you reflect on your garden in the winter months? Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Happy Gardening!

White Peony

My white Peony did fabulous this year!

Columbine and Salvia

The Columbine and Salvia both did great this year.

November 30, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Gardening in the Winter, How-Tos, Perennials, Wildflowers

Growing Elephant Ears

Elephant Ear Mojito

Elephant Ear Mojito

Elephant Ears are a gardeners’ dream; Huge, unique foliage adds drama to the garden and containers in the summer months. Native to tropical Asia, Elephant Ears thrive in full sunlight, heat and moist areas. They are happiest in damp soil, including low-lying areas where rainwater collects.

If you want to enjoy the huge, vibrant leaves of Elephant Ears in the garden all summer long, plant bulbs once the chance of frost has passed and the weather has warmed significantly. Most varieties enjoy full sun, but if you’re in a particularly hot and dry area, try planting Elephant Ear Bulbs in partial shade. Water consistently; keeping the soil moist and adding fertilizer monthly will create larger, fuller leaves and a bigger statement in the garden.

Plant these foliage favorites in areas that are consistently damp. If you want to create a huge statement on a patio, balcony, or in window boxes, plant Elephant Ears in large containers. Growing tip: Plant smaller annuals such as Petunias and Marigolds in the containers with your Elephant Ears. This helps to fill in around the bare stalks in the lower part of the container, as well as add a splash of color.

Elephant Ear Imperial Taro

Elephant Ear Imperial Taro

In hardiness zones seven and up, foliage will die back in the fall and bulbs will return year after year. If you’re in an area that gets a hard frost, save bulbs and re-plant each year by digging them up before the first frost. Remove soil from the roots and place roots in a cool, dry area to dry out for about a week.

Elephant Ear Black Magic

Elephant Ear Black Magic

Then, place in a cardboard box or paper bag and store in a cool area (that doesn’t freeze) for the winter. Plant again in the early spring once the danger of frost has passed.

We carry ten unique varieties of Elephant Ear Bulbs for spring planting, many of which you won’t find in the big box stores. Add versatility and unique foliage to your summer garden this year with these tropical beauties.

November 23, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos

New Perennials For Spring 2015

Lenten Rose Double Queen

Lenten Rose Double Queen

One of the best pastimes during the colder months is planning and dreaming of spring. This year, we have over 40 new perennial varieties for spring planting and are excited about the wonderful diversity and dependability of our selections. We’ll highlight a few of our favorites and you can browse through them all here.

New Varieties for Shade

Gardening in shade can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be! There are a large variety of versatile plants that thrive in the shade and put on a spectacular show in the garden. This spring, we have several new shade-loving varieties. Lenten Rose Double Queen boasts gorgeous, double blooms that create a splash of vibrant color in the early spring garden. This heat-tolerant perennial thrives in partial to full shade and becomes a true conversation starter in any garden. Coral Bells Circus is a must-have for any shade garden and definitely steals the show! The brilliant foliage changes color throughout the season and the gorgeous red scapes boast elegant bells in the early summer. Our Astilbe Mix is an amazing shade-loving choice, providing a variety of color to the mid-summer garden with unique, spiky flower plumes that don’t require staking. Also known as False Spirea, our sAstilbe Mixture is deer resistant and amazingly easy to grow.

New Varieties for Containers

Lavender Platinum Blonde

Lavender Platinum Blonde

Containers not only make it possible for any gardener to create a gorgeous landscape, but also add color, texture, and fun to a porch, patio, or walkway. We have a variety of new perennials for spring that thrive in containers. Platinum Blonde Lavender is a compact variety, growing to be 16-24” tall, making it perfect for a small space or container garden. Deer resistant and highly fragrant, this Lavender makes for amazing fresh and dried bouquets, sachets, and more. Hens and Chicks Spring Beauty is extremely easy to grow and is the perfect choice for rock gardens, container gardens, rooftop gardens, and more, growing in almost any condition. Blue Fescue Beyond Blue’s colorful foliage forms graceful clumps, making its own proper statement in the garden all season long. We recommend planting this easy-care beauty in a rock or container garden.

New Deer Resistant Varieties

Dwarf Butterfly Bush Blue Heaven is the perfect choice for any garden! Growing to be only 2-3’ tall, this compact variety is drought tolerant, disease resistant and blooms from spring through fall. Big Bluestem Grass Red October crates a fiery red statement in the fall garden with its foliage colors. Growing to be about 6’ tall, plant this ever-changing beauty in the back of the garden bed for an amazing backdrop for all of your favorite plants. With a little deadheading, Arizona Red Shades will bloom all summer long, providing vibrant color to almost any perennial garden. Like all Gaillardia, this variety thrives in full sun and tolerates most soil types.

Hens and Chicks Spring Beauty

Hens and Chicks Spring Beauty

Other Favorites

The Hollyhock Halo Mixture is perfect for planting in the back of the garden and creates a spectacular backdrop of color for the rest of the garden. Single blooms delight in the late summer until fall, flowering in a variety of white, yellow, red, and purple, with contrasting eyes. A bright, uniquely-colored Asiatic Lily, Trogon creates a show-stopping statement both in the summer garden and cut for bouquets. This easy-to-grow Lily is dependable, growing in almost any garden, as long as it has sun. Coreopsis Polaris’ pure white blooms reflect the moonlight in the evening hours and are perfect for a moon or sensory garden. The long-lasting, neutral blooms look amazing planted with almost any other perennial and become the true backbone of any formal or wild garden.

You can view all 45 of our new perennial varieties here. What are your favorites? Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook Wall. Happy Gardening!

November 16, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials

How To Store Your Seed for Spring Planting

Wildflower SeedsWith the fall Wildflower planting season in full swing, many gardeners ask us what to do with their leftover seed. Storing seed for next season is extremely easy and effective; simply place the seed in a ziploc bag or tupperware, making sure to label it clearly, and store in a room-temperature area. A dark closet or room is the perfect storage area, just make sure that the seed is not exposed to moisture or extreme temperatures. Seed will keep like this for months and maintain a high germination rate.

Did you Know?

All of the seed at American Meadows is lab tested to ensure the highest purity and germination rates possible. When storing your seed for the winter (or even for the year), you may lose a few percentage points of the germination rate, but you’ll still have high quality seed that will thrive in your garden.

A lab test for our Cosmos Sensation Mix - 96% Germination Rate & 99.64% Pure Seed

A lab test for our Cosmos Sensation Mix – 96% Germination Rate & 99.64% Pure Seed

Is this Seed Still Good? Do Your Own Germination Test to Find Out.

If you’ve been storing Wildflower Seed for a long time and aren’t sure if it’s still good, conduct your own germination test to find out. It’s really easy:

  • - Choose ten seeds at random.
  • - Dampen a paper towel.
  • - Place the seeds on top of the damp paper towel.
  • - Place the paper towel/seeds in a dark, warm place.
  • - Wait 10-14 days.
  • - Check every few days until you see sprouts.

The number of seeds that have sprouted tells you the germination rate. For example, if 6/10 seeds sprout, you have a 60% germination rate.

Baby Snapdragons

What’s a Good Germination Rate?

The standard here at American Meadows is 75% germination rate, with most of our seed coming in higher than that.  Anything above 60-70% will produce great results in your garden or meadow.

How do you store your leftover seed for the winter? Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook Page. Happy Gardening!

November 5, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Wildflowers

New Bulbs for Spring 2015

Dahlia Alauna Clair-ObscurEach season, our garden experts choose a selection of new varieties to carry and all of us here at American Meadows get really excited to see the list. This year, the excitement level was met with an amazing selection of vibrant, unique summer-blooming bulbs that we’ll all be adding to our landscapes this spring.

New Dahlias

As the Dahlia gardener knows, there is always room for new varieties in the garden and each year must top the last! The Dinnerplate Dahlia Peaches and Cream gets its name from the delightful contrast of peach and cream blooms that can reach up to 8” across. The Semi-Cactus Dahlia Striped Vulcan requires almost no care, growing in any sunny spot and blooming from mid summer to frost. With unique blooms that fade from deep pink to white in the center, Cactus Dahlia Hayley Jane is a unique variety that is a true conversation-starter in any sunny spot. Like the city itself, the Dinnerplate Dahlia Manhattan Island is full of life and color, boasting huge, red blooms with a hint of yellow in the center. View all of our new Dahlias for Spring here.

Gladiolus Princess Margaret Rose

New Gladiolus

Gladiolus take up little room in the garden and are perfect for tucking amongst perennials or adding to containers on the patio. We’re excited to be carrying three new varieties for spring 2015. Igniting the summer garden with yellow-orange blooms edged in red, Gladiolus Princess Margaret Rose creates a huge statement both in the garden and cut for summer bouquets. One of the richest, most luxurious purple Gladiolus around, Purple Flora is a must-have for any summer garden. A fabulous color combination of purple, green, and white, the Gladiolus Glad You Are Here Mixture is extremely easy to grow and creates a cool color statement in any landscape.

New Canna Lilies

Canna Lily TropicannaCanna Lilies add a unique, dramatic look to the summer garden with boldly-colored blooms and variegated foliage.  A perfect choice for the backdrop of a garden bed or large containers, Tropicanna Gold shines brightly in the summer garden with vibrant green, variegated foliage and light orange blooms. Canna Lily Orange Magic is extremely easy to grow and can be planted in large pots or window boxes. With bronze foliage that illuminates the summer garden and blooms to match, Canna Lily Tropicanna is a must-have for any Canna lover. 

Other New Favorites

Why not add a little diversity to the garden? Harlequin flowers are easy to grow and at only 10” high, are perfect for containers, borders, rock gardens, and containers. A unique addition to any garden, Caladium Tapestry’s gorgeous heart-shaped leaves are deep green with vibrant pink veins and cream centers, growing in any shady spot. Looking for something to “wow” your neighbors? This Pineapple Lily Mix is the perfect choice, boasting fun, spiky flowers and decorative top tufts.

Caladium Tapestry

View our 24 new Spring-Planted Bulb varieties here. What are your favorites? Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Happy Gardening!

October 28, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Spring and Summer