Above: Epimedium plant

Above: Epimedium plant

Winter is an essential time of year for a landscaper.  This is a great time to rest from the previous season, but also start planning for the coming spring.  In addition to meeting with customers and preparing planting designs, I’m busy doing research.   I like to think about what we have planted in the past that worked, what didn’t work and why.  I also look for new plants that come on the market.  There are so many new plants being introduced all the time.  Although not all may be available in our area, it is interesting to learn about them. 

We took a trip to MANTS (Mid Atlantic Nursery Trade Show) this January.  It was a large trade show in Baltimore, Maryland.  There were between 900 and 1000 nursery and supply vendors.  It was a bit overwhelming but it was a great opportunity to see new plant introductions and make some new nursery contacts.

One of the vendors I spoke with specialized in Epimediums.  Epimediums are a perennial ground cover with an array of different leaf colors and almost orchid like flowers.   Epimediums are not usually used in regular landscape work, but they should be utilized more often, as they require very low maintenance and can tolerate dry conditions.

Heucheras or Coral Bells are another type of plant that has many new introductions.  Heucheras are generally grown for their foliage, but some have been bred to have more showy flowers.  Heucheras are good for part sun to shade and are available in reds, purples, burgundys, lime greens and multicolors.  New introductions of coral bells for 2017 include “Pink Pearls”, “Lime Ricky”, “Forever Purple” and “Fire Chief “.

One of my concerns for the future is planting plants that will be beneficial to bees.  Colony collapse disorder and other diseases have caused bee populations to decline.  I feel it is important for everyone to do whatever they can to help save the bees.  Bees and other pollinators are essential to growing the food we eat.   I am researching more native plants that could be used in my landscape designs to help with this effort.