If you were lucky enough to find yourself in a room filled with free plant samples that you could take home and trial in your garden, what would choose?
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in just such a happy conundrum.
The occassion was the Annual President's Choice ® Sneak Peek Event hosted by Peter Cantley, Vice President of Floral and Garden for Loblaw Co. Ltd's chain of grocery stores here in Canada. For a single afternoon a room in the Toronto Botanical Garden was transformed into an indoor garden filled with plants; all of them available for attendees to trial.
The event proved to be a wonderful opportunity to meet other garden writers, talk with growers and get an advanced look at what new plants would be in bloom at Loblaw Garden Centres this spring.
I honestly can't think of another retail chain here in Canada that does a better job with their outdoor garden centres than Loblaw does.
A good part of my garden is built on President's Choice® starter sized perennials priced 4/$10. All of my Japanese ferns, ornamental grasses and many of the accessories in my garden come from the amazing clearance sales in early July.
I also like the fact that they have a Recycle Program that collects empty pots and flats and returns them to the manufacturer to be ground down and made into next year's plant pots.
The company works in close partnership with its growers to develop unique and often exclusive offerings each year. For instance, I think this newly redesigned hanging basket (available in apple green and plum) is a huge improvement on the cringe-worthy white plastic hanging baskets that you would find commonly in nurseries and garden centre in year's past.
Other items you may find interesting this spring are: Hardy fig trees (watch a short video on these fig trees by clicking the link), Haskap berries (a cross between a blueberries, raspberries and Saskatoon berries), and the Mighty 'Mato (watch a short video on these 6 foot or taller tomato plants by clicking the link)
On a recent visit to my local Loblaw Garden Centre I was thrilled to see that they even had a nice selection of plants native to Ontario.
I sapped up white, yellow and red flowering trilliums for $3.99 each.
Have you seen these shorter varieties of Clematis?
They only grow to a height of three or four feet which makes them perfect for growing along a shorter fence like the picket fence I have bordering the front garden.
I love when Clematis tumble over the top of the white pickets.
So what did I select at the Sneak Peek Event to trial in my garden this summer?
Who could resist this pretty Purple Get Mee ™ Campanula? I have never had a dwarf campanula last for more than a few years in my garden. This cultivar is not only supposed to be extra hardy, it blooms for an extended time.
I also choose several hostas, some annuals and a few ornamental grasses from the tremendous selection of plants on hand:
The leaves of 'Rainforest Sunrise' are solid light green when they emerge and quickly develop dark green borders with radiant gold centres. The thick, glossy foliage is supposed to be slug resistant. Exposure: Sun/Part shade Height: 20 cm Spread: 40 cm
'Designer Genes' has brilliant yellow leaves that emerge from deep red/wine shoots in early spring, making it a good companion plant for spring bulbs. In comparison with the foliage of other yellow hostas, this cultivar supposedly holds its color well. Tall red scapes carry purple flowers in summer. Sun/Part shade Height: 45 cm Spread: 30 cm
These heat tolerant cultivars promise a heavy display of flowers all summer long. Geraniums require 3 to 6 hours of sun daily. Height: 30 cm Spread: 45 cm
DahliaNova ® is a neat compact plant with double, extra large blooms. Sun/light shade Height: 25 cm Spread: 30 cm
Go-Go™ Rose Bicolor Begonias Sun/light shade Height: 20-25 cm Spread: 20-25 cm
Fescue glauca 'Boulder Blue' Exposure: Sun Height: 20 cm Spread: 60 cm
Variegated Feather Reed Grass, Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Avalanche' Exposure: Sun/part shade Height: 120 cm Spread: 90 cm
The best news is that I am not the only one with a chance to test drive some of these exciting new President's Choice ® plants.
Loblaw Companies Ltd. has generously provided me with two $25 gift cards. The gift cards will be given away in a draw to two lucky Canadian gardeners. Canadian readers who leave a comment below will be entered in the draw. If you are not a blogger, you can still enter by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contest will stay open for one week. Winner to be announced in an upcoming post.
Good luck everyone!
P.S. I promise to announce the winners of the most recent book giveaway in the next post.