Earlier in the week I attended the Independent Garden Center Show 2009 here in Chicago on the same site as the Chicago Flower & Garden Show. Over on Chicago Garden the first post is Independent Garden Center Show 2009. Followed by the post on products for gardening in small spaces, garden pots and planters, garden tools and plants and my favorite the Obama head planter. While the Independent Garden Center Show isn't open to the public I hope my posts give you an idea of what was on display and you may catch in garden centers in your area next year.
I was hoping that I'd get a chance to see a lot of new plants at the IGC Show but that wasn't the case. My disappointment didn't last long because there were a lot of garden seed vendors at the show and I got to meet a couple of them. Renee's Garden was there and they were promoting her new varieties for Renee's Garden seed line in 2010 and the Cornucopia (website coming soon) line of seeds. Of the new varieties they have I'm most excited about the Spanish Padron pepper. The second night of the IGC Show I was treated to dinner by Renee and had a great time talking about the seed business, garden bloggers and much more. Meeting Renee, who is so nice and friendly to garden bloggers, and her team was the highlight of the show for me. Yesterday I got an Email from Renee's Community Garden, a social networking site by Renee's Garden for gardeners who grow from seed, that they were having a 30% off sale to clear out the warehouse and make room for those new introductions I mentioned. Enter sale09 as your Coupon Code at checkout between now and September 8, 2009.
Thompson & Morgan also had a booth and I stopped by because of the sign that read "The Kew Collection." I was really geeked about it because I'm a big fan of Kew, even though I've never been and have only seen it on television-- I'm going to make the pilgramage one day. I figured that if I can't get up and go to Kew gardens, I could at least grow something from Kew gardens. This line of seeds by Thompson & Morgan isn't of plants introduced or developed by Kew, they're just given the stamp of approval by Kew.
Maybe it is just me, but I'd be more inclined to buy these seeds if the connection to Kew was more than them just getting royalties for loaning out their name. On the other hand, I think their Taste of Italy line of garden seeds is pure genius. I'm told that these seeds can't be kept in stock on Long Island, you know, on account of all those Italians that live there. They also do well here in Chicago where we have a large population of people of Italian heritage. How cool would it be to be able to go to a garden center and pick up a whole gardens' worth of seeds based on the country you ancestors came to America from?
I'd buy that for a dollar!
Also at the show was Botanical Interests who is another seed company, who besides selling awesome seeds, has been showing garden bloggers a lot of love and respect. They were there to promote the The Botanic Garden Series they developed in conjunction with the Denver Botanic Garden. The aim of the line is to sell seeds from plants that are endangered in the hopes that they will be kept around for future generations by home gardeners like you and I. What a great idea that; 1. protects endangered plants from being lost 2. shows that companies can do good while making money.
I was drawn to the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Company booth by the funny costumes but I stuck around to look at the heirloom seeds, many varieties I'd never seen for sale before, and meet Jere. The seed company was started by Jere Gettle when he was 17 years old and his catalog consisted of one photocopied page that he sent out. Now he owns an heirloom seed business, has an heirloom seed store in Petaluma, California, a magazine devoted to gardening with heirlooms and a pioneer village. I wish I would have that kind of drive at his age. That's Jere in the picture talking to me and Garden Girl about heirloom tomatoes.
Update: In the comments CandidWines points out that the seeds for ChicaoTomato Fest, which I'd forgotten about.
If you're one of the gardeners that has been feeling down about the loss of Smith & Hawken I've got good news. I've seen the future and it is Burgon & Ball--ok so they've been around since 1730--but, OMG is their stuff awesome. They bill themselves as "tools for serious gardeners" but they sure look like the kind of company a seed nerd could fall in love with. The metal box above is a garden seed organizer, you open it up and it has compartments organized by months, to keep track of sowing times. Check out their website for a glimpse of what else you serious gardeners could spend your car payment on.