New Plant Introductions (and Loblaws) Have Me Excited

Media Event with Peter Cantley

Media Event with Peter Cantley

Loblaws is a large “grocery” chain in Canada that features President’s Choice products which are usually excellent quality at a decent price. But this blog is not about groceries, it’s about plants. I generally think that box stores are the worst place to buy plants unless you happen to show up 5 minutes after the delivery truck arrives at their garden centres. Loblaws stores is the exception. Loblaws is one of my favourite go-to retailers for plants and garden stuff. Their lawn and garden division is headed up by garden guru Peter Cantley, who knows and loves plants. And, he’s a smart cookie. For more years than I dare reveal about him, he has been making sure that Loblaws brings in great  plants and garden products for Loblaws’ customers.

Full disclosure here – every spring Cantley and his team invite  garden media to a mix and mingle (at the beautiful Botanical Gardens this year) with his growers. They come out to talk to us about what is going to be offered in Loblaws garden centres. AND, we get to take home plants…as many as we can carry and fill our vehicles with. I call it the Greedy Grab Fest…but, that’s not a fair assessment (though it is the gardening media event of the season!)  The idea is that we trial these plants and report honestly to our audiences what we think of them.

Here’s what  I saw yesterday that has me excited:

 Campanula 'Get Mee'

Campanula ‘Get Mee’

Campanula – Purple Get Mee™ - It, well, it got me! A clever wall created with small pots of the Purple Get MeeCampanula was stunning (and the grower came all the way from Denmark, top hat and all). This hardy perennial acts like an annual, and is covered in rich blooms that come back throughout the summer. Loaded with velvety purple bell-shaped flowers was a magnet for me. It is supposed to be well behaved and doesn’t roam all over the garden as many campanulas tend to do.

Mighty ‘Mato™

Mighty ‘Mato™

Grafted Tomato Plants – This is really big news for veggie gardeners. And what a monster!  Mighty Mato™ delivers abundant harvests from huge plants that grow up to 6 feet tall or more.  Several tomato varieties, including the heirloom Brandywine, are grafted onto vigorous rootstock with an excellent ability to absorb nutrients from the soil and help defend against pests and disease. The large, plentiful tomatoes mature earlier than the same varieties of tomatoes without a grafted rootstock, and keep going all season.

Pixie™ grape Pinot meunier Hardy vine

Pixie™ grape
Pinot meunier Hardy vine

A Teeny Tiny Grape Vine – Pixie™  – Developed at Canada’s Vineland Research & Innovation Centre, ® Pixie™ is the cutest little grapevine imaginable.  You can even grow in a pot (if you want)! It has lots of adorable little mini clusters of grapes to eat or make wine with. It is hardy, so of course you can grow it in the garden. A great addition to a small urban property.

Hosta 'Designer Genes'

Hosta ‘Designer Genes’

Hosta ‘Designer Genes’ – This hosta got my attention right away. Lovely brilliant yellow foliage with rhubarb red stems –wonderful contrast. I have a few shady spots that need some brightening and this one will fit the bill.

Hardy Fig

Hardy Fig

What the Fig! – I can’t wait to try this one. Steven Biggs, Canada’s fig expert http://www.grow-figs.com  got me interested in growing figs and convinced me I could grow them in places where I thought I couldn’t. He was right, but until now it meant bringing the plant into the garage and protecting it over winter. HOWEVER, this new fig, is hardy and where I live in Toronto (and other Zone 5 to 6 areas) the fig plant can stay outside over the winter and it shoots back up and re-fruits year after year.

Shrimp Tree

Shrimp Tree

Shrimp “Tree” – There were only a few available “Shrimp Trees” (Justicia brandegeana) available at the media event, but I managed to snag one. This “tree” form is created by training several plants up a stake to create what looks like a tree. The plant absolutely drips with shrimp-like blooms. Fascinating!  It will summer on my deck and then come indoors in the fall in front of a sunny window.