09-05-09 Last month's Independent Garden Center Show

Last month was the Independent Garden Center Show at Navy Pier. I attended two lectures one on native plants and the other on containers and took in the vendor's exhibits which shows what's coming to the garden centers next year.

Some comments on what I learned:

The native plant lecture was presented by Allan Armitage, a real character and someone who knows his stuff on natives. He did give us his opinion on many different varieties and some of his favorites. He has written a book called “Legends in the Garden” that sounds like a good read if you want to know where plants come from.

Some of the plants he talked about:

Blue Star Flower (Amsonia)

'Blue Ice' is a good performer.

Foam Flower (Tiarella)

            'Spring Symphony' is very hardy.

Coreopsis (Tickseed)

            'Route 66' no deadheading & 'Jethro Tull' both are popular plants.

Rubeckia (Yellow Coneflower)

            'Viette's Dwarf' is a good container plant.

            'Early Bird Gold' is early flowering.

            'Henry Eliers' is a new three-foot-tall big plant.

Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) he commented on this plant that 5 years ago there were 3 varieties now there are 30. He thinks that the purple color does the best.

            'Kim's Knee High', Big Sky Series 'Sunrise', 'Sundown', and 'Summer Sky'

            Best Double 'Pink Double Delight'


            'Delta Snow' best year after year.

The Peacock series, 'Neon Rose,' 'Neon Dark Rose' and 'White,' good drought tolerance.

False Indigo (Baptisia)

            The first commercial crop in North America used for dye.

            These plants look great in the garden.

            'Purple Smoke' and 'Screaming Yellow'

Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed)

            'Bartered Bride' a white type.

            Dwarfs for containers 'Little Joe' and 'Little Red'


            Osmunda cinnamomea 'Cinnamon Fern' is a great plant.


            'Little Lanterns' Small works well in a container.


            'Northwind' one of the best won't fall apart and fall.

            'Dallas Blue' is a good container plant.

You can see there are a lot of plants he covered. I suggest you copy the names and Google them to see what they look like. It is a good way, I have found, to check them out fast.


One thing I thought was worth a note, was that the lecturer Dan Benarcik, plant curator of Chanticleer Gardens, said that they fill their containers with two thirds rich compost and the top third is potting soil. Benarcik said the mixture works best for them because the potting soil on the top third of the container will help establish the young plants when they are first planted and then as the season continues the plant will have the rich compost to feed the plants and he says the compost will hold moisture much better than just potting soil.

Benarcik also said that when choosing a container you should keep in mind that porous containers like cement or clay terracotta are better for plants that are drought tolerant because they will not hold the moisture and will dry out faster than ceramic, plastic or metal containers.

Taking in the vendors' show there were many exhibitors showing containers and yard ornaments. I also saw many vendors showing those bubbly fountains in containers of all sizes that overflow with water down the sides of the container disappearing in pebbles at the bottom, there seemed to be a lot of different types of those.

I think containers are very much part of the new green technology because they are easy to care for, they are a garden that can be moved easily from place, conserve water, fertilizer and might be a look into the future of gardening.

Posted in Joes Tips