Private Jet arborvitae is ideal for creating a quick privacy screen in your landscape, growing an impressive 24 inches per year. (Photo by Kathy Jentz)

Snowdrops and Winter Aconite are starting to pop up in gardens across the region – spring will be here soon! Your local garden centers, nurseries, and landscape designers are preparing for the busy growing season ahead by gathering new product ideas, inspiration, and knowledge by attending the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show. This year’s event was held on Jan. 11-13 in Baltimore.
As a member of the garden press, I attend each year and am able to get an early glimpse of what may be offered for sale this year at a local garden center near you.
Since winter has me craving all things living and green, let me start with the new plants I learned about at the event.
You couldn’t miss the biggest plant sensation of the show as it was displayed everywhere with giant signage.
It is “Pop Star” from Bailey Nurseries, this is the newest introduction in the Endless Summer hydrangea series.
What makes Pop Star such a sensation is that it is the quickest to rebloom of any hydrangea in production — producing new buds in just four weeks after a hard cutback. It is also compact — growing just 18-36 inches high and wide.
This makes it a great choice for containers, mixed in perennial beds, or as a focal point in your garden.
The next plant “celebrity” was “Private Jet” arborvitae.
This one came with a runway mock-up and folks suited up as airline pilots to introduce this fast-growing evergreen shrub.
It is ideal for creating a quick privacy screen in your landscape — growing an impressive 24 inches per year! It will reach 15-20 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide at its mature size.
I was enchanted by a new exhibitor at the show this year, Flawn Seed Kits. They sell packages of flowering lawn seeds sized for the homeowner.
They are right on trend as so many people are looking at converting their landscape from turfgrass lawns to more sustainable and environmentally friendly groundcovers such as micro clover or creeping thyme. These also have the side benefits of being beautiful and aiding our pollinators.
One new product that was drawing a crowd around it was the HandAll. If you’ve ever tried to carry heavy bags of soil by yourself, you’ll know why this was so popular.
Basically, it is a handle that attaches to the top of a bag to make it easier to grasp and move. You could use two – one on each end – to make the load more balanced or to have a second person help you carry it.
A few products I saw were perfect for getting the beginning houseplant grower started. The first is the Leafjoy series from Proven Winners.
The product line includes educational plant tags — how many of us have bought houseplants with just a price sticker on them!
They also have an easy-care series of water-grown plants that thrive hydroponically called Leafjoy H20 that are extremely low-maintenance as well as attractive.
Another first-time exhibitor promoting houseplant success was We the Wild from Austalia. They showcased a new line of indoor plant care items.
Their “Protect” product is a bioactive spray with Neem oil in it that helps fight signs of stress in houseplants.
The also carry leaf-cleaning gloves made from high-quality microfiber to shine and enhance plant leaves.
I think this is the perfect gift for a new plant parent who wants to “pet” and interact with their houseplant babies.
Speaking of protecting things, the Vole Kingnet products are a flexible metal mesh that can keep critters from gnawing on the roots of your outdoor plants as well as from chewing around the crown and trunk areas of trees and shrubs.
They would also work perfectly to enclose tasty bulbs and tubers to keep squirrels and groundhogs from digging them up and eating them!
Another ingenious device for keeping clever critters like raccoons out of your bird feeders is the Guardian Pole System from Brome.
They are from Canada and have a lifetime care warranty. What I really liked about their system was how easy it is to set up and install.
Plant Wizard Brands offers a different kind of plant protection.
They make trap kits that attract pests, including the invasive Spotted Lanternfly, with a nontoxic lure.
You attach the sticky trap near the affected area with the included hangers.
The insects fly into it and are caught on the surface, you discard the entire trap after about 30 days or once it is full.
Finally, I was impressed with the modular AgroSci GardenWall Kit. It helps maximize growing space both vertically and horizontally on balconies, decks, patios, etc.
This adjustable growing system attaches to walls, fences, or railings, so no matter where you live you can have a beautiful and productive garden to enjoy.
After reviewing the exciting displays at MANTS, I am ready and recharged for the coming growing season.
I look forward to trying out these new plants and products in my own garden.