The Panacea Products ( powder-coated metal raised garden bed looks like the perfect way to revamp my messy vegetable garden into a neat and tidy plot. (Photo by Kathy Jentz)

Your local garden centers, nurseries and landscape designers don’t take winter off.
Instead they jump into the new year with trade shows.
The Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show attracts a wide universe of green industry professionals to Baltimore each January.
While the show is only open to the horticultural trade, the garden media is allowed access and I was allowed to visit the more than 1,500 booths — covering 300,000-plus square feet of exhibit space.
Following my usual routine to this overwhelming annual event, I headed straight to the very back row of the hall where the newest companies have their booths.
I was seeking out the unique new product introductions and small companies that often get overlooked.
The first thing that caught my attention was the scent of roses and apples wafting down the aisles.
I tracked it down to the Brindebella Roses booth (
They are a new line of fragrant roses that were bred in Australia and are now being grown in Florida for distribution in the United States.
The next plant to grab me was the Gaultheria procumbens ‘Peppermint Pearl’ (
Let’s check off all of its pluses: evergreen, white berries in fall and winter, compact and low growing, flowers in summer, hardy down to zone 4, and it likes part shade.
It sounds like the perfect groundcover to me.
And get this — the berries are also great for making jams and teas!
The “if I win the lottery” product this year was the LF-ONE, a complete automated growing system distributed by GrowPulse, Inc. (
This is sized for restaurant, home, or office use.
You can grow several racks of greens and start seedlings in it. I could see this coming in very handy for the zombie apocalypse, but at $1,265, it was a bit pricey for my pocketbook.
That is a lot of lettuce!
The Panacea Products ( powder-coated metal raised garden bed looks like the perfect way to revamp my messy vegetable garden into a neat and tidy plot.
I loved the removable liner insert and the easy-to-assemble design. I plan on putting in a series of these and love that they come in not just green and brown, but also eggplant purple.
Doug Oster, a garden writer friend, steered me next to his favorite product at the show – the Power Planter Earth Auger (
“This is an indispensable planting tool, especially for spring and fall bulbs. Measuring 3 inches wide by 7 inches long,” Oster said. “It’s basically a giant drill bit used on any power drill that’s perfect for working close to the ground.
I’ve used augers for decades, but this one, with its hand-welded rugged steel shaft and non-slip hex drive is by far my favorite.”
He has me sold!
Finally, one of the “best” things I saw at MANTS was not a product or plant, but a service. It is Best Bees (
They are a full-service beekeeping operation.
They deliver, install, and manage beehives for residences and businesses in the Washington, D.C., and other cities (with fast expansion plans).
Their profits fund our research to improve bee health. Imagine a bee hive on your property without the maintenance worries and you get all that honey!
This jump on the growing season is always a relief to attend in the dead of winter. I always leave the massive show in the mood for planting and dreaming about this season’s garden.
(Editor’s note: Kathy Jentz is the editor and publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine.)