Avant Gardener – 120213

Hosts Derek and Carolyn have started to receive the new season’s seed catalogs and they comment on the impressive new full color 2014 edition of Baker Creek’s heirloom seed catalog, which contains 354 pages and billed as the largest seed catalog in the history of gardening. A veritable book, the catalog not only lists hundreds of heirloom vegetable and flower seeds, it also has interesting articles that include a trip the owners took to Thailand in search of new vegetables, and also their opinions about GMO (or Gene Modified) seed varieties. Derek likes the way the Baker Creek staff are shown with their pictures, and also the large size photographs of varieties that give you a very good idea of what to expect. Derek singles out Big Rainbow tomato among his favorites and also Chocolate Streamers sweet pea. He also notes that many of the varieties listed are not really heirlooms because they were introduced to the market too recently to be considered a true heirloom, but the company considers any non-hybrid capable of reproducing true to seed to be an heirloom. The expert this session is Jeannine Standard, spokesperson for Proven Winners, an organization that finds special varieties of annuals, perennials and shrubs and introduces them through garden centers nationwide. Jeannine explains the history of the organization and their testing of new varieties, and she has special praise for their Sunblaze coleus that can be grown in sun or shade; also new varieties of hydrangea, now the most popular shrub to grow for summer-long color. In the email segment Derek explains how to grow foxtail lilies so they come back as hardy perennials, how to grow a wildflower meadow and whether it is too late to take advantage of surplus bulb clearance sales in local garden centers.