Simple and elegant, a living tillandsia necklace from LiveTrends allows you take part of your garden wherever you go. (Photo by Kathy Jentz)

Every August, independent garden center retailers and vendors from all across the country and around the world gather for a huge trade show that includes order-writing specials, inspirational keynotes, continuing education, and peer-to-peer networking.
At this year’s IGC Show in Chicago, the Garden Writers Association held its annual conference.
The cross-pollination between the garden media and garden product retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and plant breeders was a win-win-win for all.
It offered a sneak peak at what is coming to the market soon.
The trade show featured some exciting new products and plant introductions sure to come to a garden center near you soon and those that don’t can likely be order online directly from the manufacturer.
With hundreds of booths to visit and thousands of products of display, the event can be overwhelming and it is easy to lose focus.
Luckily, there is an additional “New Product Showcase” outside the main exhibit hall that allows visitors to hone in on things they may have missed in the vast main display area.
My favorite products included the appropriately named Screen with Envy (
These gorgeous, durable garden screens are light-weight.
I can imagine dozens of uses for them from dividing a garden patio area off for privacy to creating shade on a hot, summer day to suspending a panel as a pergola for vines to climb onto.
It is a wood composite that feels and wears beautifully.
Another product that immediately caught my eye was the planter line from Crescent Garden (
Wow, where have these been all my life?
These self-watering, large containers are exactly the kind I have been dreaming of for easy use.
Most of the containers in their line are modular and can be mixed and stacked together to form attractive groupings.
They are a great solution for small-space gardening as well as for those with physical limitations.
Best of all, they are double-walled so they act as insulators to the worst of our freeze-thaw-freeze winter cycles.
The Summer Spice Hardy Hibiscus Collection /Hollywood Hibiscus Collection from J. Berry Nursery ( were show-stoppers.
These popular tropical hibiscus produce large, showy flowers, bountiful bud and bloom counts and pure colors.
Many of these are hardy in our region and the range of colors is simply stunning.
The ‘Cordon Bleu’ bloom was one of those flowers that looks different in whatever lighting you place it — sometimes more lavender, other times appearing more dusky gray.
I wasn’t sure if I liked it at first, but now don’t think I can do without it!
For sheer “wow” the Endless Summer Hydrangeas ‘Summer Crush’ from Bailey Nurseries (found at is a winner.
I have been trialing this plant in my own garden all summer and it has bloomed its head off despite the poor weather we’ve gotten.
Summer Crush’s profusion of large raspberry red or neon-purple blooms is the result of focused breeding and years of production and field testing.
Zone 4 is cold-hardy and said to be the most wilt-resistant Endless Summer variety to date, this compact hydrangea fits smaller spaces in the garden and is suitable for containers.
It is a compact plant and perfect for containers or the front of a border.
I was utterly charmed by most everything I saw in the Studio M Artful Home and Garden booth (
I could picture someone in my life who would love each item. From gifts for new homeowners to old garden club pals, there was something for everyone.
I especially like their new line of “garden dirt” motifs. Kitchen towels that said “Keep Your Plants On” and tote bags that admonishe “Don’t Kale My Vibe” will bring a smile to your day each time you use them.
Other products that deserve a quick mention include TrashCan Fertilizer ( and Grass Flip Flops
This new all-purpose 4-4-4 organic fertilizer is made with 30-percent food waste.
Every pound of our fertilizer removes 10 pounds of food waste from landfills while providing the nutrient-rich ingredients that ensure long-term plant health.
It can be applied to a wide range of plants — vegetables, flowers, herbs, and shrubs.
The flip flops are just plain funky and fun.
I can see these tucked into Christmas stocking or given as a Father’s Day gift for that guy who is lawn-obsessed.
These sandals are actually surprisingly comfortable and come in white/pink, black/green and new camo/green.
If you ever get a chance to go the IGC Show, pack shoes you can walk in for hours and know that almost every booth display will hold something that you “just have to have.”
It was a tough job winnowing the hundreds of choices to these few top winners, but such is the life of a garden writer *wink*.
(Editor’s note: Kathy Jentz is the editor/publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine. A lifelong gardener, Kathy believes that growing plants should be stress-free and enjoyable. Her philosophy is inspiration over perspiration. She can be reached at or