As we welcome the arrival of a new year, the team here at American Meadows wants to take a moment to thank all of our loyal customers for their support in 2013. The year included many firsts as we continued to focus on offering the hardiest gardening products and the information you need to succeed. We are also proud that over 70,000 gardeners have joined our community on Facebook. We just love both interacting with and observing such a vibrant group of gardeners as they talk about all the joys (and frustrations!) that our gardens bring.
We certainly kept our hands full this year thanks to our partnership with High Country Gardens. If you are not familiar with High Country Gardens, they’ve long been known for perpetuating sustainable gardening practices with a special focus on plants that thrive in low water conditions. Pay them a visit.
As always, we at American Meadows stand ready to serve you with all of your gardening needs. With a host of new products for 2014, we look forward to hearing from you and hope that it’s a prosperous year for you and your garden.
Best Wishes and to Many Sunny Days in the Garden,
Mike “The Seed Man”, Ethan & the Gardeners at American Meadows
With the excitement of the Academy Awards finally over, it seems a good time to start thinking about red-carpet plants. What will the best-dressed gardens be wearing this season? You can get a preview of what’s likely to be popular by looking at this year’s award-winning plants.
Several organizations offer awards for outstanding plants and each has its own criteria for selecting winners. Some of the groups are regional and promote plants that are particularly well-suited to that climate; others are international in scope. Some promote only new varieties, while others award plants of outstanding merit, new or not. Some limit their choices to varieties available as seed.
Whether spring weather is knocking at your door or you’re still in daydreaming mode, browsing these award-winning plants is not only enjoyable, it’s also a way to narrow down your plant choices if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options.
Perennial Plant Association
A professional trade association dedicated to “improving the perennial plant industry by providing education to enhance the production, promotion and utilization of perennial plants,” the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) chooses one perennial as its annual Perennial Plant of the Yearâ„¢. There are four criteria. The plant must be:
- suitable for a wide range of climate types
- low maintenance
- easily propagated
- exhibit multiple seasonal interest
Here’s a list of the winners since 1991, the year they started the awards.
- 2014 Perennial Plant of the Year: Switchgrass Northwind
- 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year: Solomon’s Seal Variegatum
- 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year: Brunnera macrophylla Jack Frost
- 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year: Amsonia hubrichtii
- 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year: Baptisia australis
- 2009 Perennial Plant of the Year: Japanese Forest Grass Aureola
- 2008 Perennial Plant of the Year: Geranium â€˜Rozanneâ€™
- 2007 Perennial Plant of the Year: Catmint Walkers Low
- 2006 Perennial Plant of the Year: Dianthus gratianopolitanus â€˜Feuerhexeâ€™
- 2005 Perennial Plant of the Year: Helleborus x hybridus
- 2004 Perennial Plant of the Year: Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’
- 2003 Perennial Plant of the Year: Shasta Daisy Becky
- 2002 Perennial Plant of the Year: Phlox David
- 2001 Perennial Plant of the Year: Feather Reed Grass Karl Foerster
- 2000 Perennial Plant of the Year: Scabiosa Butterfly Blue
- 1999 Perennial Plant of the Year: Black Eyed Susan Goldsturm
- 1998 Perennial Plant of the Year: Echinacea Magnus
- 1997 Perennial Plant of the Year: Sage May Night
- 1996 Perennial Plant of the Year: Penstemon Husker Red
- 1995 Perennial Plant of the Year: Russian Sage
- 1994 Perennial Plant of the Year: Astilbe ‘Sprite’
- 1993 Perennial Plant of the Year: Veronica Sunny Border Blue
- 1992 Perennial Plant of the Year: Coreopsis Moonbeam
- 1991 Perennial Plant of the Year: Coral Bells Palace Purple
All-America Selections Awards for Outstanding Seed Varieties
The mission statement of All-America Selections (AAS) is “To promote new garden seed varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America.” To this end, since 1932 AAS has worked with seed companies to conduct trials nationwide to evaluate plants under a range of growing conditions. Many of the winners have been around for decades and continue to be popular in home gardens. For example:
- Golden Beauty Yellow Corn Seeds, 1955 Winner
- Zinnia Seeds Persian Carpet, 1952 Winner
- Cosmos Seeds Radiance, 1948 Winner
- Straight Eight Cucumber Seeds, 1935 Winner
An international trade group of the ornamental plants industry, Fleuroselect tests and promotes new annual and perennial flower varieties, and also acts as a watchdog for illegal propagation of patent-protected varieties. Toward its goal of supporting growers and stimulating plant breeding efforts, Fleuroselect conducts plant trials across Europe. Here are a few past winners:
- Bellflower Champion Blue, 1998 Winner
- Bellflower Champion Pink, 1998 Winner
- Coreopsis Early Sunrise, 1989 Winner
So what will the best-dressed gardens be wearing this season? You can bet this year’s award-winning plants will be in vogue. However, if you’re like me, your garden might wear the latest plant fashions but you, on the other hand, will be far less fashionable — unless old T-shirts and muddy work boots find their way to Paris runways.
Delosperma (or Ice Plant) is an easy-to-grow garden jewel found mostly on the West Coast, but can grow almost anywhere. This groundcover is a drought-tolerant succulent that boasts large, show-stopping blooms, attracting butterflies to the garden. Try one of our five new varieties this spring and we guarantee you won’t be dissapointed!
This hardy groundcover creates a carpet of jewel-toned, purple blooms from summer into the fall. Lavender Ice tolerates partial shade and is a butterfly magnet.Â
With kaleidoscope-like blooms that carpet the garden floor, this Ice Plant is sure to turn heads in any sunny spot.
This long-flowering groundcover creates a unique statement throughout the summer months with bi-color white and pink blooms. Like other Ice Plants, Jewel of Desert Garnet is drought-tolerant and attracts butterflies.
Ice Plant Fire Spinners is a truly unique, fun addition to any sunny spot. Hot, neon colors ignite the summer garden and attract winged wildlife.Â
Jewel of Desert Peridot illuminates the summer garden with long lasting, cheerful-yellow blooms. This Ice Plant is heat-tolerant and grows in almost any sunny spot.
Now, choose a sunny spot and plant of these bold beauties this spring. Happy Gardening!
When I first heard we were going to be carrying Hardy Kiwi plants this spring, I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant. But after doing some research, these vigorous vines are actually quite simple to grow (even in our zone 5) and the small, sweet fruits are extremely sweet and satisfying!
About the Hardy Kiwi
Hardy Kiwis are also called Kiwi Berries, Hardy Kiwifruit, Grape Kiwi, and Baby Kiwi. The Hardy Kiwi Vine is native to Korea, Japan, Northern China and Russian Siberia. The fruits are very similar to the Kiwifruit but smaller and have smooth, edible skin. They can be eaten whole, without being peeled, and are much sweeter than the Kiwifruit.
Growing Hardy Kiwi
Growing this fruit-producing vine is really quite simple if you’re in hardiness zones 3-9 (find your zone here). First, start with both a male and a female plant. This is a must to produce fruit. We recommend planting at least one male plant for every five female plants that you have. Hardy Kiwi plants prefer full sun and average to well-draining soil.
These vigorous vines produce small, white flowers in the early summer, followed by greenish-yellow fruits in the late summer and into the fall. Be sure to provide support for the large vines and prune regularly, cutting back the non-flowering parts. To harvest the Hardy Kiwifruits, wait as late as possible into the fall once the fruit has ripened. If you’re threatened with frost before the fruit ripens, harvest and ripen the fruits in the refrigerator.
Looking for an easy-care, drought-tolerant perennial to ignite your garden into the autumn months? Sedum, also known as Stonecrop, grows in any sunny spot and each one looks so phenomenally different, you’ll want them all in your garden! We are carrying over 10 new varieties for spring 2014 and have highlighted a few of them below.
Purple Form is extremely easy-to-grow, thriving in any sunny spot. Blue/grey foliage changes to purple in the winter months and elegant pink flowers emerge in late summer.Â
Round, bean-shaped foliage changes from bright green to red in the summer months. This Sedum prefers full sun and is drought-tolerant.Â
From the Sedum Sunsparkler Series, this variety boasts deep, cherry-red foliage in the late summer through fall. Cherry Tart is drought-tolerant and prefers full sun.
This variety of Sedum withstands partial shade and is often the first to bloom in spring, adding elegance to the garden floor with pure-white, star-shaped blooms.
This easy-to-grow groundcover boasts vibrant green foliage with maroon highlights, offsetting rosy-red flowers in the late summer.
This easy-to-grow groundcover creates a lush carpet of foliage with small, light green leaves and soft pink flowers. Perfect for rock walls, this Sedum will grow almost anywhere.
This Sedum gets its name from small, blue leaves that resemble the needles of a blue Spruce. Cheerful yellow flowers emerge in the early summer.
View all of our Sedum here. Happy Gardening!
December 8, 2013
Â· Amanda Shepard Â· 2 Comments
Tags: Drought Tolerant, Fall Color, Groundcover, Low Water Gardening, New Plants, Perennials, Sedum, Stonecrop Â· Posted in: Gardening in Spring and Summer, Perennials
A common question we often get is, "Can I store excess seed for next season’s use and if so, how?" Seed storage is not only a great way to save money (it’s cheaper to buy in bulk), but is extremely easy to do!
We recommend storing seed in an airtight container. You could use kitchen tupperware, a large storage bin or whatever you have lying around. Make sure it is as airtight as possible and is completely dry before you put your seed in it.
Keep your airtight container in a cool (not freezing), dry place that is not subject to extreme temperature variations. Don’t keep it in your freezing garage, your refrigerator or on top of your dryer! A cool, stable temperature (such as a closet) is the perfect place to store the seed. Viability, also known as the life of the seed, varies from species to species. However, most Wildflower species will maintain good germination quality for at least a year or two, sometimes up to 5 years.
Storing seed is especially helpful for those of us planting Annuals and Vegetables. Order a pound of our All Annual Mixture and keep it around for years, sprinkling each season for a burst of blooms all summer long. Happy Gardening!
Each year, the National Garden Bureau chooses a perennial to feature as their "Perennial of the Year." They recently announced that 2014 is the "Year of the Echinacea" We are thrilled because Echinacea is one of our favorite perennials and we carry over 20 varieties as seeds and plants.
From their website:
"Echinacea was chosen as the perennial for the National Garden Bureau’s 2014 Year of program because of the vast assortment of flower colors and shapes available to today’s gardener but also because they are such an American staple. The classic flower shape continues to be a favorite in home and public gardens so it’s time we highlight the history of the “tried and true” classics as well as some of the newer varieties sure to please any home gardener."
Below you can find some of our favorite varieties.
Echinacea is famous across the country for illumining entire meadows with stunning pink flowers. This butterfly-magnet is easy to grow and makes for spectacular bouquets.
In fiery tones of red, orange, and yellow, this drought-tolerant perennial ignites the garden from summer to fall. Cheyenne Spirit is deer-resistant and makes gorgeous summer bouquets.
Hot Coral makes a fun, bright statement with coral blooms offset by deep centers. Stunning both in the garden and cut for summer bouquets.Â
This cheerful-pink variety is a hybrid, bred to have upright petals, unlike the drooping petals of the native variety.
A mix of three varieties of this popular perennial, this is an affordable way to fill your sunny garden with colorful flowers.Â
Coneflower White Swan is the white version of Purple Coneflower. Together, the two make a great show.Â
View all of our varieties here. Happy Gardening!
Daylilies are one of the true cornerstones of any perennial garden. With some care, they grow in any soil type and multiply each year, making them one of the best garden investments. Many varieties are re-bloomers, putting on a colorful show twice in one season. These deer-resistant beauties are a must-have for any perennial garden and we are excited to be carrying seven new varieties for spring 2014.
With slightly ruffled petals and dramatic pink/burgundy blooms, Raspberry Ruffles is a must-have for any Daylily lover. Plant in spring for a knock-out summer show year after year.Â
Ignite your summer garden with this fire-orange Daylily. Tuscawilla Tigress boasts big, bright-orange blooms with a deep center and white markings on the petals. This deer-resistant favorite is a re-bloomer, illuminating the summer garden twice in one season.Â
This unique variety has won numerous Daylily awards and we’re not surprised! Large, double pink blooms appear almost fluffy and Siloam Double Classic is also intensely fragrant. Like other Daylilies, this fabulous variety is extremely easy to grow and will thrive in almost any sunny spot.Â
This raspberry-colored beauty boats a striking green throat and stays open in the evening hours, unlike many Daylily varieties. Mary Reed is extremely easy to grow and spreads each year, making it a great addition to any perennial garden!Â
Unlike its name, Prairie Blue Eyes is a charming lavender/purple, accented by a bright yellow throat. Deer Resistant and easy to grow, plant this Daylily in any soil type and it is sure to dazzle with an abundance of blooms in the summer months.Â
Pygmy Plum’s deep-colored blooms delight twice in one season and this plant is extremely easy to grow, withstanding almost any growing conditions. Plant this beauty in the border of your garden or in containers.Â
This cheerful yellow Daylily is a re-bloomer, igniting the garden with an abundance of blooms twice in one season. If you’re looking for a multitude of flowers, Bakabana is the perfect choice! A vigorous spreader, plant this beauty once for years and years of fabulous color.
What’s your favorite Daylily? Please share in the comments below or post on our Facebook Wall. Happy Gardening!
November 15, 2013
Â· Amanda Shepard Â· Comments Closed
Tags: daylilies, daylily, Hemerocallis, New for 2014, New Plants, New Products, Unique Varieties Â· Posted in: Gardening in Spring and Summer, Perennials
Now that we’re into November, it’s extremely important (if you haven’t already) to prepare your garden for the winter months. This doesn’t need to be a weekend-long affair, simply follow a few easy steps and your garden will be ready to hibernate (along with you) for the winter and come back next spring stronger than ever!
Cleaning up and Cutting Back
It’s important to cut back perennial plants, then rake debris and leaves out of your garden beds. This helps to prevent any bacteria or mold to grow and disrupt the healthy growth of your precious plants. If you planted Wildflowers, mow them down in the fall and leave the broken stems on the ground. This helps for the annual varieties to re-seed for next year and provides food/shelter for birds!
Fall is a great time to mulch, especially if you’re trying to protect Bulbs or smaller plants from harsh winter temperatures. It’s best to apply mulch just after your first hard frost. This helps to stabilize the temperature of the soil. We recommend using an all-natural pine or wood bark mulch that help to enrich the soil. If you’re protecting your plants from the cold, we recommend a layer of mulch about 3-6" thick. Once the ground thaws, you may want to clear some of the mulch away from your small plants.
Adding Bulbs for Spring Color
Once you’re doing your fall cleanups, it’s always a great time to take note of bare spots in your garden. Purchase a bag of Tulips or Daffodils and tuck the Bulbs where there are empty spots in the garden. You will thank yourself in the spring when you’re greeted with cheerful blooms!
What is your fall cleanup process? Please share in the comments below or post on our Facebook page. Happy Gardening!
November 11, 2013
Â· Amanda Shepard Â· 3 Comments
Tags: Cutting Back, fall bulbs, Fall Cleanup, Garden Maintenance, Mulching, Preparing your Garden for Winter Â· Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Fall, How-Tos, Perennials, Wildflowers
If you love the colorful blooms of Tulips, Daffodils and Hyacinths but can’t wait until spring, try forcing bulbs indoors for earlier flowers. The process is fairly simple and fun — A great activity to do with children.
1. Choose your variety. Choose any variety of Tulip, Daffodil or Hyacinth to force indoors for early blooms. Try something you wouldn’t normally plant in your garden and get creative with color combinations!
2. Chill the bulbs in the refrigerator (away from any fruits) until you are ready to plant.
3. Plant the bulbs in containers after at least 6 weeks of chilling. Use any shallow container for most bulbs. If you’re planting taller varieties of Tulips or Daffodils, use a deeper container. Bury the bulbs just below the soil surface with the pointy sides sticking up. Get creative and plant several different varieties together in different containers!
4. Chill the container in any area that is about 45 degrees fahrenheit. A refrigerator or cool (above freezing) garage will work.
5. Once the bulbs start to pop up and sprouts are about 1 inch above the surface, bring the container out of storage and place in a sunny window.Make sure to keep it in a cooler area, as too much sun and warmth will hinder growth.
6. Once in bloom, enjoy your spring preview way before bulbs in the garden have started!
November 6, 2013
Â· Amanda Shepard Â· One Comment
Tags: fall bulbs, forcing bulbs, forcing daffodils, forcing hyacinths, forcing tulips, gardening projects, kids gardening, Winter Blooms Â· Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Fall, Gardening in the Winter, How-Tos