CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When boxes come to our office, there's a pecking order as to who gets to open them. Food stuff goes to Julie, entertainment goes to Amy, books to Rosalie, and Bill opens everything else. I never, ever get boxes.
Until now, thanks to White Flower Farm and Proven Winners. They sent "sneak preview" shrubs for me to try in my garden. Public-relations brilliance!
Now there are all sorts of ethical journalistic questions that arise when swag comes through the door in the newsroom. Do you take free stuff? Does the fact that it's free influence your writing?
I'm looking at these plants in a scientific way. First, I've paid for many plants from White Flower Farm and from Proven Winners in my garden over the years. I've written good reviews and bad -- depending on the plants in question. Second, I'll plant these shrubs and treat them like I treat all the rest of my landscape -- with benevolent neglect.
So they are in the ground. The specimens are very small; they are not the typical size you would purchase at a garden center. I dug adequate holes, planted them at the correct depth, and watered them in well. I put the soaker hoses around them like the rest of the shrubs in the garden beds. I will fertilize this week. They are in the correct sunny locations. Now, we wait.
The shrubs include:
Exochorda Snow Day Surprise (Pearl-bush) that will have large white blooms in spring. The cultivar is touted as a stronger grower than old-fashioned Pearl-bush, with a neater, more compact habit. It will grow to 4 feet tall and wide, and it works in full and part sun. It can be pruned after flowering and flowers on old wood. I took out an old weigela that had become infested with bittersweet vines and poison ivy, and I've let the spot go for a year without planting to make sure I got all of the roots of the invasives. So I put the Pearl-bush in that spot.
Thuja North Pole, a new arborvitae cultivar, addresses many of the flaws of the "old" arborvitae. It has excellent hardiness, is resistant to winter burn, and is more narrow than the standard, "Emerald Green." I've never been a fan of arborvitae, as our winters tend to damage these plants, but I'm giving this a try. It's supposed to grow to 15 feet tall, so I've put it behind a bed to create a backdrop for the shrubs that are already there -- they are smaller, more colorful and not as structured.
Rosa Oso Easy Honey Bun is Proven Winners' answer to the Knock Out rose phenomenon -- a rose for non-rose-growers. It's disease-resistant and needs no spraying -- perfect for low-maintenance mass plantings or as part of mixed borders and perennial gardens. Deadheading isn't necessary and it blooms all summer.
The semi-double flowers range from blush-pink to butter yellow to creamy white, although my little specimens don't have any blooms yet.