Handblown glass from Apricont Mint is intended for use with succulents and other air plants. (Photo by Kathy Jentz)

Your gardens may be dormant in winter, but your local garden centers, nurseries and landscape designers don’t take a break.
They spend the start of the year attending the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show in Baltimore.
It was the 50th anniversary of the show and brought in more than 12,000 total registrants and exhibitors through the doors of the Baltimore Convention Center Jan. 8-10.
With the show focused on the horticultural trade, the garden media is allowed access and following my usual routine at this overwhelmingly large annual event, I headed straight to the back rows of the hall where the newest companies have their booths.
I always seek out the unique new product introductions and small companies that often get overlooked.
In a back corner, some beautifully lit glass works on display caught my eye.
The owner of ApricotMint eagerly showed me his new product line for use with succulents and air plants.
The 100-percent hand-blown, art glass is durable and beautiful.
The colors and patterns are exquisite and I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love getting one of these as a gift for their office or home décor.
One first-time exhibitor that had me intrigued was The Curb Cabinet.
It is just a prototype now, but the product designers said they wanted to bring it to MANTS to gauge the level of interest in it.
The “cabinet” is a metal structure that would sit under the front window of a typical rowhouse.
It would be used to store trash and recycling bins as well as a bicycle, scooters and garden tools.
The top could be used to line up windowbox planters for display. I could see this being useful for keeping vermin out of your refuse as well.
This cabinet might also work well for under a deck or around a mailbox.
Another first time company to the show was Garden Wands.
They had a set of two small tools for terrariums indoors and miniature outdoor gardens.
These would also work well for houseplants and container gardens.
I was impressed by the heft of these tools, as many similar products sold currently seem to break easily.
Speaking of container gardening, Lake Valley Seeds showed me several of their new vegetable seed offerings that are specifically marketed to patio and balcony gardeners.
Among the scaled-down edible plants they featured were the “Finger Fruit Purple” eggplant and the “Mini Bell Red” pepper.
At the Peace Tree Farm booth, Lloyd Traven showed me the Lavender “T4,” which he called the next generation of the Lavender “Phenomenal,” a French hybrid lavender notable for its outstanding cold hardiness and tolerance to heat and high humidity.
“T4” is still being trialed now and will doubtlessly have a different name be the time it hits a garden center near you.
At the Syngenta booth, I was happy to see a big display of shade-loving impatiens. Thanks to the new breeding programs, we can have impatiens back in our gardens safely.
These Imara XDR impatiens walleriana have a high degree of resistance to downy mildew with a proven landscape performance that fights back with reliable flowering all season long.
What a joy to say “Welcome Back!” to a favorite shade bedding plant.
On one of the main aisles, I found a crowd gathered around the iMOW robotic lawn mower from Stihl.
This is the outdoor equivalent to the Roomba and other self-operating vacuum cleaners.
There are two models, one for small lawns of a quarter-acre or less and the other can do up to an acre on one charge.
The iMOW adjusts its speed to suit the mowing conditions such as hilly conditions and can be programmed to stop mowing in the rain.
I can see the allure of this time-saving product.
Finally, one of the “best” things I saw at MANTS was Topbuxus. It looks like a big, green horse pill.
The “pill” is actually an effervescent tablet that is effective against boxwood blight.
It was developed and tested in Europe.
This year, it is being introduced in the United States and boxwood nurseries that used it have been able to avoid fungicide sprays.
This is welcome news to those who have boxwoods growing on their property.
After a few days at MANTS, I always leave in the mood for planting and dreaming about the coming garden season.
This was just the winter re-set I needed.
(Editor’s note: Kathy Jentz is the editor/publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine. A life-long gardener, Kathy believes that growing plants should be stress-free and enjoyable. Her philosophy is inspiration over perspiration. She can be reached at KathyJentz@gmail.com or www.washingtongardener.com.)