Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Sneak Peek at What's New and Exciting

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 jenc_art@hotmail.com. 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.


  1. I am completely envious, what a wonderful opportunity to try new plants. I wish someone here would do something similiar. Have fun planting!

  2. As always gorgeous pics with amazing colors!

  3. Hi Jennifer
    Wow! What a great opportunity - and what terrific plants!! Lucky you!
    I actually bought Hosta 'Rainforest Sunrise' from my local Fortinos (what Loblaws stores are called in my area). The hosta is lovely.
    Beautiful photographs. Aren't you glad it's Spring?

  4. Wow, what a great place to be, free plants just for the taking. That does sound like a gardeners dream.

  5. When I do get to Loblaws/ Fortinos I can never wait for the end of the season clearance. It is one of the few places where I can find plants in small 3 or 4 inch pots. Large pots seem to be everywhere and therefore a larger price. How you find out these things is a mystery to me but congrats on your new purchases.

  6. Hi Jennifer....how lucky to have a place that allows free trials! I have never heard of this and it sounds great!! The fact that they sell natives is wonderful too. Your picket fence garden is EXACTLY what I'm trying to achieve...it is breathtaking!!!!I have a picket fence (I HAD to have one in a cottage garden!), but it's not white. I recently planted a purple Clematis that I'm training to grow along the top of the fence. So far, so good. Thanks for this great post!!

  7. It would be hard to choose. But I think you picked out some great plants. I'm intrigued by the short clematis. Now my mind is wondering where I could put something like that!

  8. My mouth is watering! They are all so stunning!!! I love the idea of a shorter clematis! I have so many spots that I could put one! It sounds like such an outstanding company! I wish every garden center would collect and recycle the plant containers....it just makes sense! Your pictures are GORGEOUS!!!!

  9. OMG ! Jennifer girl (I have an e-mail going to you as well) .. what a wonderful way to test drive these plants !
    And YES !! .. I have much of my garden built on Loblaws plants .. and soil .. and lots of things that I just had to snap up .. I think I would faint if I was in a room full of free plants (honest to god !! LOL)
    I love roaming the two centers we have here in Kingston .. it is part of my ritual when I go out .. I just can't miss a chance for something different and awesome ! haha
    I have Twinkle a blue variety of the shorter clematis .. but so many new ones are being bred it is amazing !
    Great post fingers crossed ! haha
    Joy : )

  10. Awesome! I just picked up that same variety of variegated feather reed grass on the weekend, at Superstore. LOVE.THAT.STORE!!!!!!

    Gorgeous photos again.


  11. Great plants, wish we had something ike this here.


  12. That's an amazingly fun time for a gardener...wish we could have something like that here.

    We have the Real Canadian Superstore, which is a Loblaws...but not the selection that you mentioned.


  13. You and I have very similar tastes - I bought Designer Genes last year and LOVE it! Right now it's just starting to show off it's red "legs", but the chartreuse colour is fantastic. I also just bought the poppy you showed.

    Love the selection and quality of the plants at this big chain - they do such an amazing job.

  14. Wow, how lovely to be amongst so many fab plants and pick whatever you want. I would have gone for the purple campanula too, I love the way they spread and tumble over everything. How lovely that tow people will get gift vouchers. Good luck to them.xxxx

  15. Jennifer, I love this Recycle Program of collecting empty pots, etc. There will be made many new pots and baskets for flowers. I think this nursery is large and has a wide range of plants. You had a nice shopping!

  16. How lucky you are to be able to do this, I've not heard of it happening over here unfortunately. We have a short clematis which has been bred for pots, it is very successful here. I like your choice of plants, they all look extremely healthy!

  17. Please count me in.
    Thanks so much.

  18. Sounds fun! I wish we could have something like that here.I'm going to have common herb thyme you recommended! Thank you for your advice!

  19. Wonderful to see what is new on the market. Could you resist to take all the plants to your garden? I could not.
    Have a wonderful day Jennifer

  20. Jennifer, love that you profiled some short clematis. There is such a huge variation of these plants and they can be used in so many different ways. I took a class from a clematis breeder some years ago and have been infatuated ever since.

  21. I count on Loblaws great quality and prices to replenish my garden each year! I was a little disappointed to see that we are missing some of the great buys that you have, like the trilliums!!!! I would have bought a truckload! Thanks for showcasing this wonderful supplier.

  22. Amazing selections - I can't stop drooling over that rose-coloured tuberous begonia...and those ivy geraniums are spectacular. I can see why you love that campanula - it's a beauty! ~Sheryl @ Flowery Prose

  23. So much to choose from where to start...I am working on getting clematis to tumble over my white picket...how nice to see natives and at those prices wow!!


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