Garden Diary - July 2009

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Tuesday, 28 July, 2009

There's MANTS in Baltimore, Maryland, CENTS in Columbus, Ohio, both in January, a slow season after the holidays and before gardeners come out of winter hibernation. Things again slow down at garden centers and nurseries by mid-summer. So now's the time when retailers can take a break and see what wholesalers are offering. In August there's FarWest is in Portland, Oregon and TLNA in Houston, Texas. For the mid-Atlantic region that's PANTS, the Penn Atlantic Nursery Trade Show produced by the Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association. Three days of schmoozing, networking, old friends and new contacts, and wholesale purchasing of a wide range of plants, tools, pots and trinkets and more.

People stroll up and down the rows of booths. A standard exhibition space is 10 feet by 10 feet.
Some firms take a double. Those at the end of an aisle are larger. All told, this year's event
has over 650 displays, all with presenters eager to hand you an information sheet, a catalog,
something! So it's no wonder some visitors bring a rolling piece of luggage to collect it.

Of course I made a special effort to be sure and visit the North Creek Nurseries booth.
They're wholesale vendors of quality perennials, grasses, ferns and vines with a strong emphasis
on eastern US natives. I like their plants, I like the way they're grown, and - having visited there -
I like the way the nursery uses their plants on-site in bioswales and rain gardens. Great plants,
as this luxurious arrangement from plants growing at their Landenburg, Pennsylvania facility clearly demonstrate.

Pitcher plants fascinate people. Not really carnivorous, instead call them insectivorous. And Aquascapes Unlimited
has a hybridizing program, propagating and selling these unique plants. But that's not all. The nursery also provides
native wetland plant material to landscape contractors and non-profit organizations nationwide. The plants are used
for restoration, conservation and storm water projects. Aquascapes also grows and delivers ornamental aquatics
to garden centers and designers near their Pipersville, Pennsylvania facility. Interestingly, they even provide
exotic aquatic cuts, including water lilies, lotus and Sarracenia, to wholesale florists and distributors.

Isn't this lovely. I'd never have thought to combine phormium and heuchera, but it works.

Some vendors sell liners, small plants for growing on before retail sales.
Others offer ready-for-sale perennials, deciduous and evergreen shrubs and trees,
like Advanced Ornamentals superb conifers, all the way from St. Paul, Oregon.

There were a couple of booths selling bulbs. Their displays had empty boxes
with colorful pictures of tulips, daffodils, and other fall-planted, spring-blooming
bulbs. In one vendor's display were quite the largest hippeastrum I've ever seen.
Maybe you know this bulb as amaryllis. Whatever name, this is quite a handful!

This glassy looking rock is a chunk of underground lava from New Mexico.
Pennsylvania Perlite Corporation breaks it into little bits, then heat treats them
in a furnace to above 1500 Fahrenheit so they expand four to twenty-fold.
There are many other uses but here the focus is horticultural: hydroponics,
seed composts, growing medium, rooting cuttings, and as a soil conditioner.

I adore good pottery. Problem is, I don't have a barn with a loft where I can store everything
over the winter. These pots really tempted me though. Couldn't you just see one of the blue pots
turned into a fountain? I can envision it, with water spilling out and over the notches . . . .

I was completely charmed by these boulder owls, offered by Stone Age Creations.
There were turtles and benches and other stone objects but for me, it was these owls.

I've previously ordered tools and supplies from A. M. Leonard in Piqua, Ohio. Today's booth
displays a great range of hand tools, all with bright orange handles that make them easy to find
when you lay them down in the garden. Available from some garden centers, home gardeners
can now order direct from their Gardeners Edge subsidiary. I was very impressed with this soil knife
and even more so by the leather sheath. Serrated back edge on the knife, cutting notch on the other side,
thumb rest on the handle. And the sheath can be threaded on your belt or use the metal clip to hold it on.

In the interests of full disclosure - one came home with me.

Looks good enough to eat, doesn't it. But this is trail mix for birds, . . . . . . . from Scarlett Pet Food who wholesale mixes for wild birds, companion birds, and small pets
with papaya chunks, split peanuts, raisins, sunflower kernels,
pumpkin seeds, diced apples and dried cherries

Year by year the holidays show up in stores earlier and earlier. I know it's July, and Wal-Mart is selling chrysanthemums.
So of course there are vendors of decorative holiday trinkets at PANTS. Halloween, anybody? Christmas? Gotta be prepared.

Vendors bring in their wares, and do a terrific job creating attractive displays.
Look at this outdoor patio fireplace, set up by Cambridge Pavingstones.
It's their Olde English Outdoor Fireplace kit. For the show it's just dry-laid blocks.
For real, hire a mason. It's impressive, and an example of what PANTS has to display.

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