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pro grow news The Gold Standard Transition Container-Grown Plants Bee Aware of Pollinators
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pro grow news Spring 2023 6 President’s Message 10 Committee Reports 36 A New Member Affinity Program 38 Safety Sense 46 Plant for Success On the cover — Growing Wild Massachusetts 8 MNLA Winter Conference 12 Transition Container-Grown Plants to the Landscape 14 Bee Aware of Pollinators 18 Plants with Purpose — The Gold Standard 22 Garden Trends — The Good, Bad, and Weird 28 Looking Ahead to Spring — AAS Perennial Selections 42 The Underdog Effect Departments contents Features Spring|2023 3|


Chris O’Brien, MCH Howard Designs, Inc.

Tel: (617) 244-7269


Kerry Preston, MCH Wisteria & Rose, Inc. (617) 522-3843


David Vetelino, MCH Vetelino Lanscape Inc. Tel: (781) 826-0004


Peter Mezitt, MCH Weston Nurseries, Inc. Tel: (508) 435-3414


Deborah Trickett, MCH The Captured Garden

Steve Davis, MCH Bigelow Nurseries, Inc

Justin Mortensen Farm Credit East

Patrick Parent Mahoney’s Garden Centers

David Anderson Mayer Tree Service


Deborah Trickett, MCH — Board Liaison

The Captured Gardens (781) 329-9698


Steve Corrigan, MCH — Chair Mountain View Landscapes & Lawncare, Inc.

Tel: (413) 536-7555

Chuck Baker, MCH — Vice Chair Strictly Pruning

Tel: (508) 429-7189


Peter Mezitt, MCH Weston Nurseries, Inc.

Tel: (508) 435-3414


Philip Boucher, MCH — Chair

Elysian Garden Designs

Tel: (508) 695-9630

Skott Rebello, MCH — Vice Chair Harborside P.S.

Tel: (508) 994-9208

MASSACHUSETTS CERTIFIED HORTICULTURIST BOARD (MCH) Corinne Jean, MCH — Chair Wisteria & Rose (617) 522-3843

Advisor: Jack Elicone, MCH John R. Elicone Consulting


Editor in Chief: Rena Sumner

Advisors: Ron Kujawski, Rick Reuland, Trevor Smith, Beverly Sturtevant


Rena M. Sumner

Tel: (413) 369-4731


John V. Fernandes Attorney at Law

Massachusetts Nursery & Landscape Association P.O. Box 387 Conway, MA 01341

news ProGrowNews is published quarterly by the Massachusetts Nursery & Landscape Association (MNLA), P.O. Box 387, Conway, MA 01341, tel. (413) 369-4731. Articles do not necessarily reflect the view or position of MNLA. Editorial coverage or permission to advertise does not constitute endorsement of the company covered or of an advertiser’s products or services, nor does ProGrowNews make any claims or guarantees as to the accuracy or validity of the advertiser’s offer. (c) 2014 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in print or electronically without the express written permission of the MNLA.
board committees pro grow pro|grow|news |4 pro grow news Spring 2023
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MNLA Aims to Stimulate, Reenergize, and Engage

In February, MNLA held the Green Industry Winter Forum Education and Trade Show at Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg. The emphasis was on continuing education for our members and Massachusetts Certified Horticulturists as well as the opportunity to meet and speak with businesses that supply products and services to our industry. A couple of other elements to the two-day meeting should be mentioned: the MNLA Youth Career Initiative and the MNLA Leadership Forum.

MNLA invited high schools with landscape and horticulture programs to bring their students to the Winter Forum to learn more about the green industry and to familiarize the students with some of the job opportunities offered in the trade. The Youth Career Initiative kicked off with a scavenger hunt, plant ID, and other fun activities. Then the students gathered to meet with and listen to MNLA members talk about their work and the path that brought them to horticulture. Interesting (and sometimes unexpected!) answers followed when students asked questions of members. The program provided a positive view of the many different opportunities to work and advance in the green industry for students who may have an interest in horticulture. We plan to repeat the program again with additional schools to help build the next generation of “plant people.”

Before the Winter Meeting began, MNLA’s board of directors, committee members, past presidents of MNLA, staff, advisors, and other volunteers convened at a Leadership Forum to discuss how to further stimulate, reenergize, engage, connect, and build the leadership in the association for 2023 and beyond. Past President Mary Jesch, who led a similar exercise during her leadership term several years ago, presented the meeting objectives to participants. Breakout groups formed according to interest: MCH, membership, government relations, history & media, education, social media & market-

ing, and summer conference/fun events. After discussions the groups reconvened for presentations on their recommendations.

MNLA’s board of directors will evaluate those reports and organize next steps to implement them. You will hear more about some of those ideas in the coming months. I ask each of you to step forward with your suggestions and volunteer if possible. It can be as simple as helping set up an event or it could be a commitment to serve on a committee. We need your help!

What do you need from MNLA? How can MNLA help accomplish more for your company and for our industry generally? Reach out to a board member or contact the MNLA office with your questions or for more information.

I also urge you to mark your calendars for our Down to Earth Summer Conference, which will be held on July 27th in Marshfield, Massachusetts, at the Fairgrounds. With the unlimited possibilities of this location, the event will feature an equipment rodeo competition, container garden competition, and a day of cutting edge education and vendor displays. The food trucks will be back by popular demand. We hope to see you there. pro|grow|news |6
President’s Message SAVE the DATE July 27, 2023 Marshfield, MA
Spring|2023 7|
oducts 40 Frankland Road, Hopkinton 3 River Street, Middleborough 160 Pine Hill Road, Chelmsford 1099 Main Street, Hingham (508) 293-8028 (508) 946-1505 (978) 349-0055 (781) 749-3773
The Be

Winter Forum Draws An Active Crowd MNLA Winter Forum and Membership Meeting

Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg played host to more than 400 nursery and landscape professionals and more than 90 high school students and educators in MNLA’s recent Winter Forum Dreams and Solutions and MNLA’s 113th Annual Meeting.

It has been three years since our last in-person Annual Meeting, and I would like to take this opportunity to extend a special thank-you to all of the vendor sponsors who made our two-day event possible with their generous support.

These pictures provide a tiny glimpse of some of the highlights of the Winter Forum. Thank you to the team of MNLA members who brought this program together with their expertise and to our speakers who brought their A-game for our attendees.

MNLA holds two major programs annually with education, vendors, and great attendees. We hope to see you at the NEXT BIG THING…on July 27th in Marshfield, Massachusetts.

Sponsors pro|grow|news |8
While everyone wanted to sit at the “fun” table during the Leadership Forum, it became obvious very early on that “every” table was fun and productive. Thank you to these great leaders...

Special thank you to the educators & students who participated in a fun filled day of education, competition and networking.

Students of Norfolk Ag take on the tool I.D. portion of the competition.

Career Initiative Lunch with the Pro’s where more than 90 High School students had the opportunity to learn more about the horticulture industry and the unique paths taken to achieve their goals. Great Q & A.

9| Spring|2023
MNLA’s Annual Meeting breakfast drew more than 200 attendees. Vendors Interact with Attendees

Committee Reports

MCH Board Has a Great Year Planned

2023 is going to be a great year for all MCHs. The board has new ideas on how to improve engagement. You will see a lot more opportunities to share things you see on the job and get credit for them. Some of these new opportunities will be in the upcoming pro|grow|news and in a new MCH email sent out just for members.

In addition to the Plant Selfie Challenge, new categories will be added soon: strange growth habits on a plant, strange homeowner fixes to landscape problems (aka, the wall of shame), great plant combinations, and trends you are seeing, to name a few. Each submission will be worth .5 credits, with a total of two submissions each year. Keep sending in those plant selfies via the website.

At the Winter Forum, we received many suggestions for Plant Geek Day locations, and we were blown away by the enthusiasm for it. Suggestions like these help us have events that our members look forward to and keep them fresh.

I want to thank each and every one of our members, new and old, for helping us be the association we are today. We look forward to what this year has to bring, what challenges the weather throws our way, and sharing stories along the way.

You will be hearing much more from us soon.

Mark your calendars for PLANT GEEK DAY - August 23, 2023 at Prides Corner Farms
At MNLA’s social networking on Wednesday night MCHs who have kept their certification for more than 20 years were recognized with a special “20 Year” certificate by MCH Chair, Corinne Jean, MCH.

Established in 1910, Cavicchio Greenhouses is a fourth-generation New England farm working more than 250 acres in Sudbury. As a horticultural grower and landscape distributor, we cultivate and supply an extensive variety of annuals and perennials, nursery stock, stone, masonry and landscape materials. With a hard-earned reputation for service, quality, selection and sustainability, we work with professionals and garden centers throughout the area to keep our region beautiful.

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Best Practices for Planting

Transitioning Container-Grown

The arrival of the spring planting season is a great time for a refresher on best practices for planting and establishing containergrown plants in the landscape. It is important to keep in mind how production impacts plants when installing them in the landscape. Irrigation frequency during production, soilless substrates, and circling roots should all be considered when transitioning container-grown plants to the landscape.

Container plant production is a resource-intensive process, with water and fertilizer generally applied in large amounts. The soilless substrates used in containers are meant to be lightweight, making them easier to handle and transport. The materials used in these substrates, such as bark, peat, and perlite, are meant to aid drainage, but their waterand air-holding capacities can be highly variable. Daily (or up to several times a day) irrigation is common. The combination of soilless substrates and frequent irrigation during production can result in increased water stress during landscape establishment.

Although producing plants in containers benefits the grower and consumer, the container itself can create plantgrowth problems because containers have limited rooting volume. In the ground, roots can grow horizontally, anchoring the plant and providing water and nutrient uptake. In a container, roots reach the side of the container and begin to circle around the pot. Failing to address circling roots before installation in the landscape can result in stem-girdling roots that disrupt water and nutrient flow in the xylem and phloem. Over time, this causes crown die-

back, early fall color, canopy thinning, and eventual death. Newer containers such as fabric containers and containers with air holes help reduce circling roots. Root issues such as circling or girdling should be addressed during planting. Circling roots should be cut, shaved, or teased apart. Stemgirdling roots should be removed.

Root establishment is important for plants to succeed in the landscape. For a container-grown plant to maintain its growth, it must receive similar irrigation in the landscape (i.e., daily irrigation). This is generally not realistic, but should be kept in mind, as irrigation frequency will determine how vigorously the plant grows. Irrigation should be monitored closely during the first growing season and adjusted according to rainfall and again as plants become established. Keep in mind that more frequent irrigation (around every 4 days) will result in more vigorous plant growth and that applying large volumes of water will not make up for infrequent irrigation. Less frequent irrigation can be adequate depending on rainfall, but will impact how rapidly the plant grows. As roots grow out into the native soil, irrigation demand lessens, and frequency should be reduced. It can take months for a plant to become established in the landscape, and larger plants take longer to establish. Directed irrigation applications, via drip irrigation or hand watering, should be used to ensure water is applied to the root area. Overhead irrigation often falls on areas with no plants roots or is intercepted by the plant canopy, not making it to the root area where it is needed.

The trunk flare on trees should be located to ensure trees are not planted too deeply. Buried trunk flares are unfortunately common and are a major reason for tree decline or death. The planting hole should be 2–3 times pro|grow|news |12

Container-Grown Plants to the Landscape

wider than the root ball and 1–2 inches less than the height of the root ball. The hole should be backfilled with existing soil. Do not over-compact the soil when backfilling, as this removes all air pockets. Water can be used to help settle the backfill, eliminating large air pockets without overcompacting.

Mulch should be applied at a depth of 2–3 inches and should be kept away from the base of trees and shrubs. Mulch provides many benefits including maintaining soil moisture, preventing erosion, and controlling weeds.

A little extra effort will help ensure that containergrown plants become healthy, established landscape plants and will help improve landscape sustainability.

Mandy Bayer, PhD, is Extension Assistant Professor of Sustainable Landscape Horticulture at University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


Gilman, E.F., A.L. Shober, K.A., Moore, C. Wiese, M. Paz, and S.M. Scheiber. “Planting Shrubs in Florida Landscapes.” UF/IFAS Extension ENH1129.

Gilman, E.F., A.L. Shober, K.A., Moore, C. Wiese, M. Paz, and S.M. Scheiber. “Establishing Shrubs in Florida Landscapes.” UF/IFAS Extension ENH1130.

Photos and Illustrations

UMass -Amherst

The Morton Arboretum - Lisle, IL

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After hole preparation, remove plant from container and prep roots and root ball. Cut girdling roots and site plant in hole making note of root flare direction, relative height and of course verticality . Back fill hole with prepared soil taking careful note of plant height relative to existing soil. Apply mulch to drip line, but not touching trunk.

Bee Aware of Pollinators

Pollinators play a critical role in ensuring healthy ecosystems and a thriving agricultural industry in the Commonwealth, and we are dedicated to protecting these important species through the Commonwealth’s Growing Wild Massachusetts movement. Now in its third year, Growing Wild Massachusetts is a joint effort between the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) in which Bay State residents are encouraged to plant pollinatorfriendly plants and help boost pollinator populations by creating native habitats in their own yards. Growing Wild Massachusetts is partnering with MNLA in 2023 to expand the outreach and education of professionals and consumers.  MNLA Members looking to get involved should contact the MNLA office directly at to learn how they can participate.

Pollinators include bees, birds, bats, butterflies and other species. Over 45 percent of agricultural commodities in Massachusetts rely on pollinator species for crop pollination and food production. Pollinator species provide significant environmental benefits that are necessary for maintaining healthy, diverse ecosystems, and produce valuable products including honey, propolis, royal jelly and wax. However, many pollinator species are struggling

due to loss of forage and habitat, the spread of invasive plant and insect species, climate change, and improper use of pesticides. In an effort to promote and protect pollinator habitat on DCR land, the agency continues to plant pollinator gardens, manage wildflower meadows, and maintain limitedmow zones. While DCR properties provide habitat for a variety of native species, public lands alone cannot support the needs of native pollinators. Everyone has a role to play in protecting and enhancing native habitat. DCR and MDAR are encouraging residents to support the  Growing Wild Massachusetts movement by planting pollinator-friendly native plant habitat in their yards, patios, or window boxes. Each spring, we provide the public with free  Growing Wild Massachusetts starter kits and other educational resources to create pollinator-friendly native plant habitats and boost pollinator populations. We also partner with plant nurseries, schools, and others to promote Growing Wild Massachusetts and hand out the starter kits, making this a familyfriendly activity as well as a great learning opportunity. The pollinator habitat starter kits feature live plants, a Growing Wild Massachusetts yard sign, and a journal to track seasonal plant growth and pollinator activity. pro|grow|news |14 Growing Wild Massachusetts
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Growing Wild Massachusetts

Additional educational resources about pollinators are available on the Growing Wild Massachusetts web page ( growing-wild-massachusetts), DCR and MDAR’s websites, and social media channels. Enthusiasts are encouraged to share their Growing Wild Massachusetts pollinator progress on social media using the hashtag #GrowingWildMA. The 2023 Growing Wild Massachusetts pollinator starter kits are expected to be available at participating local nurseries in early June.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), an agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), oversees nearly 500,000 acres of parks and forests, beaches, bike trails, watersheds, dams, and parkways. The agency’s mission is to protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural, and recreational resources for the well-being of all. For more information, visit DCR’s website at

MDAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its five divisions — Agricultural Conservation & Technical

These places, with tall grasses and weeds, provide food and even structure for many organisms emdash large to small. Plants of varying heights and flowers that bloom at different times of the year attract a variety of bugs, birds, and wildlife. It is this diversity that helps keep nature in balance. Competition in nature is healthy and is part of good sportsmanship. Growing Wild spaces help level the playing field for fair competition.

Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Produce Safety — MDAR strives to support, regulate, and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit MDAR’s website at

|16 pro|grow|news
Growing Wild Display with Newly Named MDAR Commissioner Ashley Randle (l) and Former Commissioner John Lebeaux (r).
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Plants for a Purpose

The Gold Standard Plants that Lighten Landscape Projects

About 20 years ago, a majordomo in the horticulture world told a packed crowd of green industry pros that chartreuse and gold foliage was, well, awful. He said it was especially bad when it was combined with burgundy foliage (as in burgundy-leaved barberry paired with acid-yellow barberry — his example). Granted, these plants are considered problematic today, but his point? That particular color combo, in his opinion and in no uncertain terms, was in bad taste. Period.

Juniper chinensis ‘Saybrook Gold’

“I had one at my old house that was maturing nicely and I missed it when I moved, but my new one was just planted two years ago and has grown quite well. The color is a phenomenal focal point in the garden. It could be a stand-alone tree or in a garden border for a punch of color. I just love the texture of the ferny leaves and the bright color as an exclamation point in the garden.”

Well, that’s changed big-time. Gold and chartreuse are two colors that really pop in the a northern landscape, whether it’s perennials, shrubs, or trees. Add conifers and you’ve got multi-season interest, especially on drab winter days. Take Saybrook Gold juniper (Juniper chinensis ‘Saybrook Gold’) in plant breeder Hans Hansen’s garden in Zeeland, Michigan. It grows alongside the deciduous Gold Rush dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Ogon’), and the juniper makes a stunning specimen any time of year.

Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Ogon’

“Yucca is a great plant to give a southwestern look to a garden even though it’s actually native to Florida and Mississippi,” says Homer Trecartin, Jr., manager of sales and production planning at Twixwood Nursery in Berrien Springs, Michigan. “It is very drought tolerant once established so it works well in a xeric landscape or gravel garden and it’s hardy to zone 5. But Color Guard is even more versatile with its golden needle-like foliage — and it is evergreen, or evergold.”

I love, love, love this plant. In the home garden, the plant reached five-plus feet across. “It was always about three and a half feet high and gorgeous. It holds its foliage much longer into the summer than the straight species.”

|18 pro|grow|news
Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ Dicentra spectabilis ‘Gold Heart’


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Intelligent Irrigation

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Pure Energy’

I really like that it can give you a bright pop of color in a shady location. I pair it often with Krossa Regal Hosta and pumila astilbe (Astilbe chinensis var. pumila). The bright yellow of the Japanese forest grass seems to play well with the bluish-green of the hosta and the lavender of the astilbe. It’s a favorite of Trecartin, too. “It’s an excellent cascading grass for shady areas,” he says. “It works really well with hosta. I couldn’t believe something this exotic looking was hardy enough for Minnesota, but it is.”

When it comes to perennial grasses, Brent Horvath, president of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens, likes Pure Energy fountain grass. “It has wide gold foliage almost like All Gold hakone grass but for full sun, and it grows 30 to 36 inches tall and 36 to 42 inches wide with ginger-red flowers.”

Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’

This golden Japanese spikenard was chosen as the 2020 Perennial of the Year. “It turned out to be such a wonderful plant,” Hansen says. “It has beautiful gold foliage and can be used in place of a shrub.”

Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’

Provencher transplanted her Rising Sun redbud from her previous home two years ago. “I have loved that little thing,” she says. “I’ve even wrestled with plastic in 30 mile-per-hour winds to cover it when the late frosts threatened its tiny little gold leaves in spring. It has grown like a weed and throws out random peach, red, and yellow leaves all summer long. It grew about one to two feet this past year. It’s about 10 feet tall now, and it’s only three years old. It looks like a traditional redbud most of the year but the spring show and the random leaves give it some pizazz in the garden. I have it in full sun, and it doesn’t scorch the lighter leaves at all. In fact, I think the sunnier side of the plant gets better colored leaves than the branches that hang into the shadier side of my garden.”

“The color can range from chartreuse to bright gold to orange and reddish tinges depending on the time of year and growing conditions,” Trecartin explains. “It makes an excel- pro|grow|news |20
Cercis canadensis Rising Sun™ ‘JNJ’ Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’

lent accent along the border of the garden or in a rock garden. I have a batch planted between my Flower Carpet roses, and it makes a nice groundcover transition.”

Thuja plicata Forever Goldy® ‘4Ever’

Provencher has experimented with golden arborvitaes to see how fast they grow and if they kept their color. “They grew three to five inches per year, and they did keep the gold color,” she says, “and the rabbits left them alone. Their spring and summer color is much more bright lemon-yellow, and it’s a nice color change in my long narrow border. They are right next to some ‘Blackhawks’ big bluestem so there is really nice color contrast in late summer to early fall with the deep burgundy grass.”

We’ll end here with one of my favorites. The feathery gold false cypress has the most delicate weeping branches with goldtipped, threadlike foliage that does not burn in full sun even in winter. We have fairly heavy deer pressure in our landscape, and they don’t bother these shrubs. So, plant snobs, beware. Gold in the landscape is a hot commodity.

OVER 400 ACRES of Quality Plants

21| Spring|2023
Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’
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Trends: The Good, The Bad, The Weird

It’s that time of year when every “expert” comes forth to tell us what landscape trends are hot. Depending on who you believe, your clients this year will be clamoring for edible gardens, cottage gardens, cut-flower gardens, zen gardens, “new” Victorian gardens, ultra-contemporary minimalistic gardens, pollinator-friendly gardens, gravel and scree gardens, xeric/dry gardens, rain gardens, sustainable gardens, lawnto-meadow gardens. And artificial turf! Go figure.

In case you were wondering what exciting new color tastemakers are throwing at homeowners, the Pantone Color of the Year for 2023 is Viva Magenta, described as “vibrating with vim and vigor.” Or, maybe it’s just a deep Pepto Bismol. There are plenty of flowers that flaunt that hue. Wendy’s Wish salvia. Magenta Star dahlia. Mystic Magenta daylily. Pepto Bismol petunia. (Well, ok, I made that one up.)

Besides the fierce new color, there are all sorts of landscaping trends that may (or may not) prove to be long lasting. Time will tell. But, here’s a little inspiration to get those design chops going.

It’s a Small World After All

Smaller, more compact plants, covered with tons of flowers. That’s what breeders have been working on for years. You can now have petite Knock Out roses, compact PJM rhododendrons, Tiny Tuff Stuff® mountain hydrangea, Kelsey’s Dwarf Red-Osier Dogwood (30 inches tall and wide), and itsy-bitsy annuals like the 6-inch-tall Brainiac celosia, which has a blossom the size of a cauliflower, and Kitchen Minis — super compact tomato and pepper plants. Expect to see more of these new “dwarf” varieties of perennials, shrubs and annuals to use in your designs no matter what size the project.

|22 pro|grow|news Garden Trends
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Garden Trends

Water Features

After the Great Recession, few homeowners were willing to spend big bucks on ponds, streams and waterfalls. But, like all landscaping trends (and based on what’s happening in the economy), ponds are making a big comeback. And for smaller landscapes, especially in busy urban areas, pond-less water falls and bubblers help mask or at least distract from street noise.


Every time your clients visit a public garden in summer, they’re exposed to sun-loving, eye-popping annuals. They want that color and they want it to last. For clients leery about spending extra bucks on something that “only” lasts summer through fall, work in a small area of annuals around a patio or a front entry or in pots to get them interested in seasonal color.

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Meditation Garden

There are many definitions for the word “zen.” It’s been described as “a state of calm attentiveness in which one’s actions are guided by intuition rather than by conscious effort.” The pandemic forced people outdoors, to their patios and decks, where they could recharge. This particular zen-like stroll garden might have the neighbors wondering when the homeowners are out walking in circles, but, let’s just say, hey, it’s all about the design.


They’re not going anywhere. There are countless cultivars of several species and you can expect to see more of these wildly popular plants coming to a nursery near you.

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Garden Trends

Shrink the Lawn

Benjamin Vogt’s brand new book, Prairie Up: An Introduction to Natural Garden Design, is a nod to recreating prairie, meadow, and savanna ecosystems, and a DIY for those looking to convert lawn to something more sustainable. It’s not a look for every client or every property, to be sure, but those remotely interested in pollinators, biodiversity and sustainability may ditch part of the lawn in exchange for a lively bed of blossoms and host. plants.

Pollinator Garden

Save the Monarch Butterfly! Save the Honeybees! Plant Milkweed! Your clients hear the plight of pollinators in a nonstop news-cycle often linked to climate woes and habitat loss.“Our members are definitely saying the interest in pollinator-friendly plants is on the upswing,” says Diane Blazek, executive director of All-America Selections (AAS) and the National Garden Bureau in Downers Grove, Illinois. “Native plants are being requested more often. Questions about how much pollen and nectar are on plants are more common. Our pollinator-focused blogs on both the National Garden Bureau and All-America Selections sites are easily the most popular and get the most shares on social media.”

Gravel and Scree Gardens

They have increasing appeal because they’re viewed as lower-maintenance. Some readers will recall the wildly popular use of red or black lava rock in residential planting beds back in the 1980s. That’s not what today’s “rock” garden is about. Scree gardens are a cool trend with upright stone slabs and loose, weathered gravel and interesting drought-tolerant plants. You may have seen these formations at the bottom of a mountain or a steep hill. They provides excellent drainage because plants growing in this type of environment must be able to withstand hot, dry conditions during the summer and sub-freezing winter temps.

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Looking Ahead to Spring

Trialed and True All-America Selections

Plant breeders are busy people. In 2021, more than 1,250 plant patents were issued in this country. Many, but not all, of these plants will make it to market. But how do you know which ones will be worthy workhorses for your projects?

That’s where plant evaluations are helpful. The AllAmerica Selections (AAS) group has trialed annuals, vegetables, and herbs since 1933. But in 2015, AAS began evaluating perennials in earnest across the U.S. and Canada.

“We wanted a more all-encompassing trial program for more types of plants,” explains Diane Blazek, executive director of All-America Selections and the National Garden Bureau in Downers Grove, Illinois. AAS is an independent non-profit organization that tests new plant varieties. “We had previously allowed perennials in the trial, but it was only a one-season, first-year flowering trial.” For example, Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’ received an AAS award in 1989 for its profuse flowering.

“After working out the details in collaboration with the Perennial Plant Association, we launched the three-winter trial to test for survivability, but also for overall garden performance,” Blazek says. “This is key for landscapers who want to know which new varieties will perform well over the long term. Our judges are horticulture experts who evaluate all the entries on garden performance, consumer appeal, number of flowers, and many other traits that breeders claim are unique.”

The new perennial trial program has been well-received. “Home gardeners, growers, retailers, and landscapers love that we’ve expanded our program, and breeders are very happy to be able to brag about their robust perennial breeding programs.”

AAS will continue evaluating new perennials. “We are keeping constant with 24 trial sites all over North America to really prove garden performance in all regions. We accept perennials that are propagated from seed, vegetative cuttings, tissue culture, and bare root.”

Here’s a look at current and past perennial winners.

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Echinacea PowWow Wildberry (2010) Echinacea Sombrero® Baja Burgundy (2020)


Echinacea x hybrida Artisan™ Collection Yellow Ombre (2023)

Artisan Yellow Ombre coneflower is a great plant with dazzling color all season long, and the Artisan series offers several other colors. This winner, with an intense golden-yellow flower, is a real gem. Judges were impressed with the uniform growth habit, rich flowers, and multi-branched plants that produce a prolific number of blooms. Full sun; 16–28 inches tall and 10–25 inches wide.

Echinacea Sombrero® Baja Burgundy (2020)

Who doesn’t love a coneflower, especially in sunny sites where deep-violet-red blossoms steal the show? Plants were trialed over three tough winters, and the AAS Judges were impressed by this coneflower ’s hardiness, sturdy branching, and floriferous habit. Birds and pollinators flock to this deer-resistant beauty making it a dual-purpose plant. Full to part sun; 18–22 inches tall and 22–24 inches wide.

Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ (2013)

This stunning coneflower produces a bounty of blossoms from rich purple, pink, red, and orange to lighter yellows, creams, and white. ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ is not a water hog, and it offers a wide range of uses including a perennial border, a mass landscape planting, a butterfly garden, or as a cut flower. It resists toppling even with strong winds and rain. Full sun; 12–30 inches tall and 12–24 inches wide.

Echinacea PowWow Wildberry (2010)

This AAS Winner differs from other coneflowers with its intense color, branching, and size. The vivid deep-rose-purple blooms retain their color longer than other coneflowers, and the basal branching habit results in more flowers per plant. Even better, it blooms continually without deadheading. Full sun; 2–3 feet tall and 12–18 inches wide.

29| Spring|2023
Echinacea x hybrida Artisan™ Collection Yellow Ombre (2023) Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ (2013)

Looking Ahead to Spring

Leucanthemum Sweet Daisy™ Birdy (2021)

This beautiful Shasta daisy has robust, long-lasting blooms. In the three-year AAS Trials, it demonstrated excellent cold and heat tolerance and maintained a tidy, sturdy habit. The blossoms provide food for many kinds of pollinators. Full sun;18–24 inches tall and wide.

Leucanthemum Carpet Angel® Shasta Daisy (2023)

The name is fitting for this ground-cover Shasta daisy that grows 6 inches tall but 20 inches wide and is covered with giant blossoms. Its profuse branching results in more flowering stems. Deadheading spent flowers will prolong the show throughout the season. Full sun; 6 inches tall spreading to 20 inches wide.

|30 pro|grow|news


‘American Goldrush’ (2020)

This gorgeous black-eyed Susan has probably appeared in some of your projects already. Bright golden-yellow flowers with dark centers and arching petals make it a great addition to a sunloving border. It’s a compact, domeshaped plant with narrow hairy foliage that resists Septoria leaf spot. Nonstop bloom from July to September, with some color up until frost, this cultivar is shorter in height compared to existing varieties. Full sun; 18 inches to 2 feet tall and wide.

31| Spring|2023

Looking Ahead to Spring

Penstemon barbatus Twizzle Purple (2017) Vibrant purple flowers present a new color among penstemons. Twizzle Purple was evaluated as a first-year flowering perennial by judges who were impressed with the upright habit and superb flowering. A North American native cultivar, it blooms profusely with many tubular flowers on long slender stalks. Full sun; dryish soil; 23–35 inches tall and 12–18 inches wide.

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Salvia nemerosa ‘Blue By You’ (2023)

This meadow sage produces rich blue flowers that appear up to two weeks earlier than similar perennial salvias. With excellent winter hardiness and heat tolerance, ‘Blue by You’ has repeat blooms from late spring through fall when deadheaded. While it attracts hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies, pesky deer and rabbits avoid it. Full sun; 20–22 inches tall and 18–22 inches wide.

Discover more great plants at the AllAmerica Selections website:

33| Spring|2023
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Safe as You Gear Up for Spring

As the weather grows warmer, mowers and other outdoor power equipment are put to greater use, and new equipment is acquired, remember to instill safe operating practices among your employees.

“Think safety first,” says Kris Kiser, president & CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). “I can’t stress enough the importance of your employees, seasonal help, and H2-B workers understanding and following manufacturer’s guidance for safe operation, especially mowers.”

Tips for a Safe Season

• Identify the differences in your machines. Whether you’re using a zero-turn, ride-on, mid-mount,

rear-mount, garden tractor, or another type of mower, make sure you and your crew members understand their unique design, requirements, weight classification, and other differences that impact how to use it safely.

• Review equipment with your work crews before the season gets rolling. Make sure all your workers understand the safety features of the equipment they are using, and that they are following manufacturer guidelines and on-product messages for safe operation. Do spot safety checks on job sites and incorporate safety checks into your morning roll-out.

• Make sure safety features are operable. Figure out the safety features on all your equipment, and make

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Safety Culture

sure they are operable. Do not disable or modify manufacturerinstalled safety equipment. Be sure you review this with your work crews and check equipment when it returns from a work site.

• Keep children away from machines during operation. A child should never be on the equipment. Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for bystanders who may be nearby.

• Walk the areas you intend to mow and remind crews to do so. Slopes, wet grass, and weather may impact equipment performance and safe handling procedures. Remind everyone to pick up sticks and limbs that have fallen to the ground and any loose objects that could be hit by a mower. Inspect trees for damaged limbs that may get in your way when mowing.

• Identify slopes in advance. Follow

all manufacturer guidance regarding operating machinery on slopes.

• Make manufacturersupplied owner’s manuals and guidance readily available. If you have lost the guidance supplied with the machine, look it up online and save a copy of it on your computer, print out a copy in any language needed for your employees, and keep it in an easilyaccessible location like the break room and trucks. Do not remove on-product safety messages.

• Check equipment before use in the field. Check the air filter, oil level, and gasoline tank. Watch for loose belts and missing or damaged parts. Replace any parts needed or take your equipment to a qualified service representative. Verify

that you have the appropriate, manufacturer-recommended batteries if needed.

• Protect your power. Use only E10 or less fuel in gasolinepowered outdoor power equipment if it is not designed for higher ethanol blends. Add a fuel stabilizer if you don’t use up all the fuel in the tank right away. Burn off any fuel before storing the mower more than 30 days. For battery-powered equipment, only use battery packs specified by the manufacturer. Follow all charging instructions as outlined in the owner’s manual. Store fuel and batteries safely. Keep batteries away from other metal objects, store them in a climate-controlled area, and never stack batteries. Look at your trucks and work trailers to determine how you will store




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batteries in the field before the crews leave the garage or office.

• Keep your equipment clean. It will run more efficiently and last longer. Always remove dirt, oil, or grass before using and storing, and store equipment in a dry place, avoiding damp or wet environments.

For information on safe fueling, go to

Kris Kiser is the president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing outdoor power equipment, small engine, utility vehicle, golf car, and personal-transport vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. For more safety information visit


Ashley Randle to be Promoted to Commissioner Energy

and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rebecca Tepper today announced the appointment of Ashley E. Randle to the role of Commissioner of the Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). MDAR supports, regulates, and enhances the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. Randle starts on March 6, 2023, as the twenty-first Commissioner and the first woman appointed to lead the Department.

“As we build our leadership teams in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, I’m glad Ashley is joining the Healey-Driscoll Administration,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper. “Having been raised on a dairy farm, Ashley deeply understands and appreciates the agricultural industry. Her experience will be critical to guiding agricultural policy for our state, supporting our farmers and fisheries, and promoting access to nutritious foods in every community.”

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue my service to the Commonwealth as a member of the Healey-Driscoll Administration,” added Randle. “We will continue to work to ensure a safe and secure food supply while building a more equitable, robust, and resilient local food system. Agriculture has laid the foundation for my career, and I have a deep appreciation for the dedicated members of our Massachusetts agricultural sector. It’s truly a privilege to work with our MDAR team, farmers, fishers, and stakeholders in this new role.”

Spring|2023 37|

Invasive Plant Update

The following invasive plants were added to the Massachusetts Prohibited Plant List in November 2022

• Cytisus scoparius (Scotch broom)

• Eragrostis curvula (Weeping Lovegrass)

• Pinus thunbergii (Japanese Black Pine)

Read more about these species and their associated phaseout periods on MassPest Outreach Blog.

For the full list go to https://

Spotted Lanternfly on Nursery Stock

Last year, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) detected populations of the invasive pest known as spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) in multiple locations throughout the state. Since this is the time of year that nurseries are receiving shipments of stock for the spring planting season, we are sending this notice to remind growers, retailers, and landscapers to inspect any plant material coming from states where SLF has been found (see links below), to ensure it does not harbor SLF egg masses, and to report any finds to MDAR.

Spotted lanternfly is a sap-feeding insect that has caused significant impacts to vineyards, orchards, and other agricul-

tural commodities in states where it has become established. SLF not only harms grapevines, maples, hops, blueberries, and over 100 other host plants, but has the potential to negatively impact any outdoor businesses through the swarming behavior that occurs when adults are looking to mate. MDAR has continued to monitor high-risk areas in the state but needs all green industry representatives to be on the lookout for this pest.

Because SLF egg masses are flat and gray in color, they are difficult to detect, especially on tree bark. For examples, please see this Pest ID Tool. If you find an egg mass or any other life stage of SLF, please report it to MDAR immediately at You can also use that link to download our Best Management Practices for Nurseries and Landscapers and other educational materials, or to see a map of where this pest has been found in Massachusetts and elsewhere in the USA. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us by emailing

|38 pro|grow|news
Weeping Lovegrass Japanese Black Pine Scotch broom
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MNLA Member Benefit Affinity Program

Affordable Health Plans for the Landscape and Nursery Industry

Many large employers throughout the country use self-funded health plans to get control of health insurance cost. Now, these types of plans are gaining traction with smaller groups seeking to reduce the cost of health coverage, and with expenses on the rise, it’s time for employers in the landscape and nursery industry to take a closer look at what’s available.

Self-funded health plans used by small groups are usually level-funded which means the employer pays the same amount every month regardless of claims. This approach allows money to build up in the plan’’s claims account while also eliminating the financial ups and downs of monthly healthcare claims. No further payments are required regardless of the cost or number of claims as the plans use stop-loss insurance. If the claims are higher than expected, stop-loss insurance kicks in to make the claim payment.

Potential Refunds

A unique feature of level-funded health plans is the potential for receiving a refund of unused claims funds. The claims fund keeps accumulating and if these funds are not spent, the health plan administrator, known as a TPA (third party administrator), will refund a portion to the employer. Depending on the plan design, the refund can be 50 to 100% of the unspent claims funds.

So, level-funded plans can save money by lowering the cost of the health plan and provide a refund if the claims are less than expected. The expected claims are based on factors such as the age and health risks of the group. Younger groups with active and healthy employees can expect to see the greatest savings and refunds which is why this strategy may be a win-win for our industry.

Allstate Level-Funded Health Plan

After purchasing National General for $4 billion in 2020, Allstate has taken center stage in the health benefits industry by offering level-funded health plans to employers.

In Massachusetts, Allstate level-funded health plans can be established with as few as 2 employees. The plans can include medical networks such as Cigna and Aetna. Lower cost Allstate plans use reference-based pricing, which allows employees to use any hospital or doctor and the plan will pay 140% of Medicare. This approach gives employees the flexibility to use any

healthcare provider or facility while giving employers maximum savings..

Allstate has an online portal to check claims, utilization, and watch your money. In an Allstate plan, employers receive 50% of their unspent claims funds back after 12 months. When employees are healthy for the year, the employer saves money instead of increasing profits for health insurance carriers.

There’s more flexibility in level-funded plans offered by Allstate, as employers can cover employees who work 20 hours per week making this a great way to incentivize part-time employees. 1099 and seasonal employees can also be covered, That’s why we think this is a great opportunity for the nursery and landscape industry.

MNLA members can receive a proposal from Allstate in just a few days once they know who is being covered. Dental and vision can be added to the plan making MNLA a convenient, one stop source for all of your health benefit needs.

Please contact Memberly Benefits, MNLA’s broker partner, for questions and quotes. Memberly will collect your employee census and work with Allstate to prepare a customized health plan for your landscape and nursery business.

For Questions and Quotes Contact: Memberly Benefits

Dom Maggiore, President

(631) 905-6555

For General Inquires: MNLA

Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association, Inc. P.O. Box 387 Conway, MA 01341 413-369-4731

|40 pro|grow|news
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The Underdog Effect

5 Ways to Overcome and Win

What’s your favorite underdog story? Why did you root for them? Whether it is a small company up against a big company or a dynasty sports team against the Bad News Bears, you know the stories. You’ve probably seen countless times in every sports history, from the Pirates defeating the Yankees in 1960 to the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey team. Hollywood even makes movies about the loveable underdog. Legends are made because the odds are stacked against them. Have the odds ever been stacked against you? Perfect.

Here are five ways you can win as the Underdog:

1) Tap into the Underdog Effect — the Odds Against You Can Be an Asset. Ever wonder why people root for the underdog? More importantly, how can you get people to not only root for you, but also come alongside and actually help you?

When the odds are stacked against you, the crowd is rooting for you. It’s in your DNA. People are programmed to want to help, even people you may not know — people who have money, contacts, and skills that could help you beat Goliath. When they see your undogged persistence they are inspired and will use their assets to help you on this seemingly unachievable win. Get their attention, that’s an asset!

Get your story out there and tell it in a compelling way. The bigger your challenge, the more compelling your story. The more compelling your story, the more people will come

alongside you and help. Even unexpected people of influence or people you don’t know may pitch in and help. Make sure your story includes all the ways the odds are stacked against you. If your Goliath is known as a bully, even better. Get your story on the news, industry magazines, social media, and the papers, in any way you can.

2) Decide to Be All In. What is the Underdog Effect? Intelligence is something people love, respect, and want more of. You’ve probably heard of EQ — emotional intelligence Today, many people are talking about AI — artificial intelligence. Now you’re about to discover A.I.I. — the Underdog Effect.

A.I.I. stands for all-in intelligence. When you are all in, you think and decide differently. It is because the odds are against you that people will root for you, and some will even come alongside you and help.

To take advantage of the underdog effect, you must decide. But this isn’t just deciding you are going to win; this is getting every single person on your team to make an all-in decision. Once you “burn the boats” and you make an all-in decision, your perspective changes dramatically. You think and act differently. You feel differently. Like a parent caring for their child, there is nothing they won’t do to protect them. What stops you from committing to a dream or challenge like that? Us. We do. Enough is enough.

If one team member is not all-in, it affects the whole team. If one team member is all-in, they can inspire others to follow their lead.

|42 pro|grow|news Business Minute
When we are kids, we dream like rivers flow. We never worry about the “how.”

About the Author

Darren LaCroix, founder of Stage Time, is the only speaker in the world with a CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) and an AS (Accredited Speaker) and is a World Champion of Public Speaking. He is the author of the book 17 Minutes to Your Dream and the co-host of the Unforgettable Presentations podcast. Through his live workshops and, he helps good presenters become unforgettable. For more information, please visit

3) Stop Worrying About the “How.” Knowing exactly how is optional. The exciting part is that you may not know how, and it’s OK! Embrace it. When we are kids, we dream like rivers flow. We never worry about the “how.” Why does this concern us so much as adults? Because if we can’t see the entire path, we don’t want to start the journey. That is not how successful underdogs win! They don’t worry about tomorrow; they focus on what they can do today, right here, with what they do have.

Underdogs win when they move with purpose even when they don’t know what tomorrow brings. Improvisation is an essential underdog skill. Having the ability to adapt and overcome each obstacle is part of their secret. They welcome mistakes because they are fully aware they can learn, adjust, and re-engage. This becomes a huge advantage because Goliath has a success strategy that they stick to. They are less likely to have to adapt because they usually win. So, their adapting muscle is not as strong. If you are the underdog, build yours! It can be a huge advantage.

4) Have an Unexpected Strategy. This can be a game changer. In the movie Rocky II, Rocky’s trainer Mickey tied his left hand behind his back and trained him to box right-handed. Mickey did this to protect his blind spot. Apollo Creed, the champion, trained expecting to box a southpaw. Surprise! Midway through the fight, Rocky said, “No tricks” and reverted back to boxing lefty again. Yeah, it’s just a movie, but what if you could use that idea?

In the story of David and Goliath, Goliath was a massive, unbeatable warrior. David was a young sheep herder. He was not a seasoned warrior, never mind an equal match for Goliath. David did not try to fight Goliath sword for sword. Instead, he used a different weapon — a slingshot. Think about this, though. It was his weapon. It was one he used for years to protect his herd, the one that came natural to him, the one that gave him confidence. Using a slingshot allowed him to attack without being in range of being struck by

Goliath’s sword. What unexpected strategy can you implement?

5) Beat Them at Their Own Game. What if you meet your opponent where they live? What if you out-train them? The inspiring true-life story of the 1980s USA hockey team was portrayed in the movie Miracle. The coach, Herb Brooks, didn’t pick professional all-star hockey players from the NHL, nope. He didn’t even choose the most outstanding college hockey players. He chose the best ones that would work together as a team. He trained his team to play a different style of play based on flow — to play in the style of the Russian hockey team that was considered to be unbeatable. In the film, Coach Brooks decided to train them on this new style, but harder than they had ever worked before. He chose the players that would train that hard. What if you out-trained your competition?

Make no mistake, the mindset with any of these strategies is critical when you are the underdog. A line delivered by coach Brooks in the film sums up the mindset. Just before the game where they faced the Russian hockey team, Coach Brooks said, “One game. If we played them ten times, they might win nine, but not this game. Not tonight.”

Don’t be a hobbyist; be a lobbyist for your dream. Yeah, some people don’t like lobbyists, but when you are all in, you won’t care what other people think. You don’t have time. Focus. How about you and your team living your own underdog story? Which of the five ways will you use?

43| Spring|2023
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The Massachsetts Nursery and Landscape Association has a long history of innnovation. pro|grow|news is simply a reflection of MNLA and its position in the industry. Its purpose is to promote the environmental well-being of the state as well as the highest levels of business ethics within the profession.

The annual publication is mailed to members.

Spring|2023 45| Advertising Opportunities pro grow news Four Seasons Guide Underused Ornamental Plants Creating a Sustainable Bird-Friendly Garden Down to Earth Preview Four Seasons Guide 2022 The Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association A Year Long Resource — Complete MNLA Membership UMASS Green Industry Resource Guide Massachusetts Certified Horticulturists Membership Directory SPRING 2021 pro grow news Fire Pit Plantings Coloring the World with Plants pro grow news Display Advertising Rates 1x 4x Page $635 $613 1/2 526 510 1/4 439 427 For B/W rate subtract $200 2023 Display Advertising Rates — pro|grow|news Display Advertising Rates 1x 4x Page $635 $613 1/2 526 510 1/4 439 427 For B/W rate subtract $200 pro|grow|news delivers loyal and active readers to its advertisers. Our policy remains — keep ad rates affordable in order to attract
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My Favorite Plant

Aquilegia canadensis ‘Corbett’

Reasons This Plant Shines

Golden Eastern Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis ‘Corbett,’ is a robust plant with delicate flowers. I love it because it’s native and supports hummingbirds, bees, hawk moths, finches, and buntings; keep using it because this perennial thrives where other showy flowers struggle. I find Aquilegia c. ‘Corbett’ doesn’t mind poor, disturbed urban soils and tolerates shade well. I have seen it flower profusely with only indirect light on the north side of a street, with no supplemental irrigation. I would advise against planting in full sun unless there is irrigation. It is also rabbit resistant. Who doesn’t appreciate a rabbit-resistant showy flower that can perform in drier urban soils in shade?

Facts and Features

The foliage holds up well through the growing season if the plant isn’t in too much sun; occasional dead heading and deadleafing is helpful. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, the foliage of Aquilegia c. offers more resistance to leaf miner than do other Aquilegia species and hybrids. It spreads well from seed (avoid mulching if re-seeding is desired).

Aquilegia canadensis ‘Corbett’

Bloom time: April to May

Bloom Color: Pale lemon

Fall Color: Brilliant reds, oranges, purple

Growth Rate: Slow to moderate

Size: 3 to 5 feet high and wide Zone 5–8 pro|grow|news |46
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My Favorite Plant Aquilegia canadensis ‘Corbett’ article cover image

My Favorite Plant Aquilegia canadensis ‘Corbett’

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MNLA Member Benefit Affinity Program Affordable Health Plans for the Landscape and Nursery Industry article cover image

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Invasive Plant Update article cover image

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MDAR News article cover image


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Safety Culture article cover image

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Safe as You Gear Up for Spring article cover image

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Looking Ahead to Spring article cover image

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Looking Ahead to Spring article cover image

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All-America article cover image


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Looking Ahead to Spring Trialed and True All-America Selections article cover image

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Garden Trends article cover image

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Trends: The Good, The Bad, The Weird article cover image

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Intelligent Irrigation article cover image

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Plants for a Purpose The Gold Standard Plants that Lighten Landscape Projects article cover image

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Growing Wild Massachusetts article cover image

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Bee Aware of Pollinators article cover image

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Container-Grown Plants to the Landscape article cover image

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Transitioning Container-Grown article cover image

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Winter Forum Draws An Active Crowd MNLA Winter Forum and Membership Meeting article cover image

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MNLA Aims to Stimulate, Reenergize, and Engage article cover image

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