Yearly Archives: 2015


"Great Gardening"
by Sally Cunningham adobe pdf icon

Sally Cunningham

Sally Cunningham

Gardening from a Hammock is the title of a book by Canadian garden writers Dan Cooper and Ellen Novack, and it was the subject of his talk when Cooper visited Western New York last weekend. Can you really garden from the hammock? Well, perhaps not while you’re in the hammock, except for the thinking part. But he discusses designs, techniques and plant choices for home gardens and landscapes that require the very least effort possible, so you can actually have a pleasing garden and plenty of time to spend in a hammock or on a deck chair.

Then during the same garden seminar other experts spoke, both national and regional, and this was the revelation: In one way or another we (myself included) all provided variations on the same themes – how to decrease work and increase success. Every speaker acknowledged the challenges of gardening, from weeding and watering to winter and wildlife. Everyone commented on our aging and busy gardening population, with everybody wanting less work. And everyone pushed careful plant selection and thoughtful garden design. It’s not a new message – work smarter, not harder – but doing so takes some rethinking about our gardening ways.

The Plants We Choose

Gardening conferences always include best-plant talks. Speakers cover the rare or exotic plants that collectors want, or the recently introduced and allegedly improved cultivars that cause lust and drooling among plant geeks. But as Dawn Hummel said: “No matter how gorgeous it is – and I’m a sucker for variegated anything – it’s no darned good if it dies by next spring or runs all over your other 17 favorites.”

“OK, honestly, how many of you assess the open spots available in the garden before you go plant shopping?” she asked the audience.

Almost nobody raised a hand. She reiterated the first rule of horticulture: Know the site available and match the plant to the site. She also said that a nursery or garden center professional should be able to hear your specs – the site, the look you want – and lead you to the right plants. The right plants mean less work.

Sally Cunningham Hostas

“Hostas are the perfect ‘Guy Plant.’ They rest under the snow in winter. You lie on the couch and watch football. And then in the spring, they're back. Just look at your garden!” said Mike Shadrack, hosta expert.

Select for Size

A plant’s mature size is crucial if you want to decrease yard chores, especially tree pruning. Hummel and Cooper both recommended trouble-free trees or perennials, and recommended dwarf cultivars in yards with limited space. Lest you think that “dwarf” means 3 feet high, check this definition: A dwarf is a shorter variety or cultivar compared to the species plant. A wonderful dwarf gingko tree may grow 20 feet tall, compared to its 50-feet kin.

Slow-growing is another highly desirable descriptor if the goal is low maintenance. Some of Hummel’s “Top 20 Favorite Small Trees,” hardy enough for Western New York and sized for urban lots, are Snow Fountains Weeping Cherry, Japanese Snowbell ‘Marleys Pink,’ Acer griseum (Paperbark Maple) and various Cotinus cultivars (Smoke Trees).

Group by Water Needs

Experts in most gardening forums today stress the crucial message about water use, for practical and ecological reasons. Scientists predict that water shortages will soon be one of the greatest crises of this century, with dire consequences for nature and the human condition. In my “Nature Friendlier” landscaping talks, I urge gardeners and landscapers to group plants according to their water needs – sedum, coneflowers and grasses out where drought is inevitable, and the willows, rodgersias and other thirsty plants in boglike conditions so the least watering is necessary. Without having heard my talk, Cooper reiterated the point and showed many of the same drought-tolerant plants – even specific choices such as the ground covering Sedum spurium ‘John Creech.’ Proper grouping, a basic Xeriscape principle, is both low maintenance and simply good gardening. How and when you water also counts – base of plant; morning if possible, Cooper said.

Place According to Behavior

Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum 'Variegatum' Missouri Botanical Garden

Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum 'Variegatum'
Missouri Botanical Garden

In her talk with husband Mike on shade-loving plants, Kathy Guest Shadrack described gardening with some notoriously ill-behaved plants, but in such a way that their habits are appreciated rather than lamented. At Smug Creek, the Shadracks’ sprawling, intensely planted Boston garden, she placed the giant Petasites japonica along the creek on the far side of the house. (The plant is also labeled Japanese butterbur or bog rhubarb and is often called a massive thug.) In its location it can never encroach upon their collectibles. No work. And it is the plant that most visitors comment about (except for hostas). She also collects and grows plants that are known to “run” such as Solomon’s seals (Polygonatum, which has species of many sizes and variegation) and Epimediums. Spreading plants that are placed where a ground cover is wanted: great, that is low maintenance.

A simpler take on low maintenance was presented by “Hosta Man” Shadrack, however. With all due apologies to men, he said, “Hostas are the perfect ‘Guy Plant.’ It rests under the snow in winter. You lie on the couch and watch football. And then in the spring, it’s back. Just look at your garden!”

Choose to Avoid Trouble

In a talk called “Plants and Pairings for a Great Spring Garden,” David Clark, gardening instructor at the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens and Niagara County Community College, dealt with the obvious deer question. Deer eat tulips. You want the pink of ‘Angelique’ tulips in Deer Land? Plant daffodils with peach or pink cups such as ‘Sentinel,’ ‘Vie en Rose’ and Pink Silk.’ Deer do not eat daffodils. For low-maintenance bulb care, Clark and Cooper both recommended against the ineffective and labor-intensive leaf braiding, and recommended bulb placement behind plants such as hostas that will block the view of the browning foliage.

Trouble comes as disease spores also. Both Hummel and Cooper recommended lilacs, phlox and Monarda that resist the classic end-of-season fungus. They added the value of good air circulation and uncrowding the plants – back to right sites for every species.

Design for Least Work

How you design the beds greatly influences how much work your landscape requires. In teaching eco-friendly gardening, I promote less lawn (if any) and layered planting, with trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses covering the ground. Not surprisingly, the beautifully photographed gardens in Cooper’s book are also layered, with great swaths of plants running into each other and little bare soil in sight.

Ultimately, experts concur that low-maintenance gardens are quite possible. And someday, just maybe, you will find yourself viewing yours from a hammock.

Sally Cunningham is a garden writer, lecturer and consultant.


BeeDazzled Media
20819 NW Swire Lane, Beaverton OR 97006
Media Contact: Dawn Hummel
Cell phone:   503.784.0691

HAMBURG, NY (September 1, 2015) – BeeDazzled Media is proud to announce that Dawn Hummel will be speaking at Lockwood’s Garden Center on Saturday, September 12 from 11:30am – 12:30pm.

The presentation topic is ‘Top Twenty Trees for Small, Urban Gardens’. Lockwood’s is hosting their yearly Fall Garden Fair from September 12 – 13, 2015.

Lockwood's Garden CenterSally Cunningham, local television and gardening guru commented, “We are thrilled to host this scintillating speaker from Oregon. Known for her creativity in landscape design, Dawn will present benefits and uses of beautiful, lesser-known, and under-used trees for Western New York gardens.”

Interested gardeners can stop in or call Lockwood’s Garden Center at 716.649.4684 to register for classes or see each class listing under Lectures & Workshops to register on-line: Individual classes are $10 each. Full day of classes at the popular Fall Garden Fair is $25.

Dawn who currently resides in Portland, Oregon is originally from the City of Tonawanda, NY. Hummel said, “It’s such an honor to be asked to speak locally on my favorite trees. I love to share my passion and enthusiasm for ornamental trees, conifers and shrubs to gardeners nationwide. Fall is simply the best time of the year to select and plant foundation/ specimen trees and shrubs. It provides the root system time to nestle in the soil, grow deep over winter and get established before our hot and humid summer days arrive.”

Other fine speakers for the Fall Garden Fair weekend event include: Dan Cooper, author of Gardening from a Hammock, Mike and Kathy Shadrack from Smug Creek Gardens, ‘Hostas, Arisaema, and their Shady Friends’, David Clark ‘Pairings for a Great Spring Garden’, and Sally Cunningham ‘Tweaking Our Gardening Ways’. In the food court, East Aurora's Medici House will offer seasonal salads, soups and pizza, and Sarah Sorci of Sweet Flag Herbs will demonstrate making ‘The Four Thieves Vinegar’.


BeeDazzled Media is a digital media firm specializing in all things horticulture. We support the unique marketing needs for the wholesale nursery trade and retail garden centers – including both box stores and independents. BeeDazzled produces horticultural marketing materials, social media campaigns, website design, video, multimedia and book publishing services. We are experts in event marketing, speaking engagements and conceptual tradeshow design and show management. For more information, contact: Dawn Hummel at 503.784.0691 or

Since 1914, Lockwood’s Garden Center has evolved from a nine-acre farm to a 26,000 square foot destination retail garden center, attracting tourists by the bus load. Lockwood’s is dedicated to ongoing education. Gardeners flock to a myriad of gardening classes, hands-on workshops and guest speakers. The Fall Garden Fair is the largest one-day educational event, followed in popularity by the Christmas Open House. For more information, contact Teresa in Marketing at 716.649.4684 or

Sow & Dipity Logo

"The Business of Being Green"
by Shelley Levis adobe pdf icon


Shelley Levis

Are you passionate about gardening? Do you dream of starting an online business sharing your love of all things green? Perhaps you already have a blog and are active on social media but it’s just not generating the kind of income that your friends would call a legitimate ‘job’.

I’m not exactly ‘there’ yet… but I’m growing. In this post I will share the seeds of wisdom I have learned from gardenistas I admire and from my own journey along the way. Grab a coffee (or a glass of wine)… this is a post that has been months in the making!

I love Mother Nature, gardening, plants, and all the little critters that share my outdoor Eden. I am not new to this industry by any means but I’m still learning new things everyday. I have a degree in Horticulture, I ran my own garden design business for 8 years and have managed a retail nursery for the last few.

I also love business and marketing. This may seem odd for a tree hugger, but if you plan to be an entrepreneur, then you’ll need to embody some of the characteristics of this type of personality too.

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show happens every February in Seattle, Washington. I LIVE for this show! Gorgeous display gardens, booth after booth of garden goodies and tons of educational seminars on every horticultural topic you can think of.

This is where the who’s who in my industry gets together to dish the dirt. I’ve admired these garden gurus and gardenista's online for some time now. I have read their books, watched their videos and shared their posts.

heart wreath

Succulent heart wreath at the 2015 Northwest Flower and Garden Show

This year I left my hubby home and headed off to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show by myself. I made it a priority to meet as many of my favorite gardenista's as I could while I was there. I filled my calendar with seminars and book signings and planned to spend as much time as I could cruising to each and every booth. I was going to connect with people doing what I want to do and learn everything I could about what they had done to get there.

I went online and started tweeting, emailing and PM’ing the ladies I wanted to meet. The worst thing that could happen was… nothing would happen.

The week BEFORE the Northwest Flower and Garden Show was an experience in itself. Twitter blew up with everyone excited about the upcoming show, and I was connecting with so many people I couldn’t wait to meet.

One of the biggest lessons I learned came from two of the garden world's most comedic gurus I have ever met. Dawn Hummel and Stephanie Cohen are a force to be reckoned with, and these gardenista's have no problem getting dirty.

As we sat in the book signing room discussing their ideas about what makes a garden guru successful, we were interrupted dozens of times by folks that came up laughing about their recent seminar on "Trials and Tribulations of Gardening: Dirty Ladies Doing Stand-up."  If you are one of those plant people that’s a stick in the mud, this was definitely not a seminar for you. In fact, Dawn joked about how a few people were a little too ‘sensitive’ to their racy garden humor and quietly excused themselves from the room.

The message here: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Even Mother Nature has a sense of humor! Ever get two weeks of gorgeous weather before the last frost date and think you can outwit her by planting your annuals earlier? Ha ha ha!

Dawn-Hummel with rooster

Dawn Hummel and Friends

Dawn spoke about choosing things that make you happy. She clearly knows how to keep a smile on her face while working as a marketing manager for UpShoot, designing gardens, creating digital media and coordinating garden show events. I went with her to return a prop to a booth that she had borrowed for their comedy routine… I think I’ll let you just take in the photo below that she had me take of her with these two lads from the UK… do you see the joke? LOL, what a riot!

Stephanie Cohen is known by many names and describing her as a Perennial Diva certainly fits the bill. Her sassy, no-bones-about-it attitude has netted tons of respect in the industry. She relaxed back in her chair, leaning forward every once in a while to rest her hand on my knee when she wanted to make sure her message was really getting through. ‘Find your niche,’ she advised and be honest, be yourself. People can sense a phony, and the more authentic you are, the more success you will be in this business.

She also said several times that “Life does not go in a straight line.” I understood that completely… I most certainly have had to take a few detours to get to where I am now, but I didn’t forget to enjoy the view along the way.

I am so grateful for the connections, friends and new colleagues that have come into my life over the past couple of years. As a garden blogger, I have a whole ‘online’ life filled with amazing people too.

Digital flipbookPlants for drought-weary growers, landscapers and consumers

Over Mother’s Day weekend, my mother told me it reached 86°F in Tonawanda, N.Y. The same day in Portland, Ore., we hit 81°F. Usually Mother’s Day weekend is cold, wet and rainy on both East and West coasts. When my mother mentions that they are in a drought situation after a blistering winter, I take notice. Plants nationwide are responding to these changing temperatures with earlier bloom times than ever. Mature lilacs in the Portland area were finished blooming at the end of April. In the Pacific Northwest, they generally are still in full glory through Mother’s Day. My rain barrel that usually lasts through the end of July is 90 percent used.

In 2014, Ball Horticultural Co. surveyed landscape tradesmen, and more than 64% reported their customers are asking for lower maintenance landscapes with 57% asking about drought tolerance. In their perennial grower survey, more than 74% of their customer base is looking for native plant species with water-wise and drought-tolerant qualities.

We need to be forward thinking and listen to our customers.

By working together, our industry can create beautiful water-wise gardens and increase future revenue streams at the same time. To assist growers in meeting the demands of retailers, landscape professionals and ultimately gardeners nationwide, here are tried and true alongside new plant introductions to consider adding to your inventory portfolio for 2016 and beyond.


Agastache ‘Kudos Yellow’

Not only is this drought tolerant, it is deer resistant and a magnet for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. Perfect for mixed borders. Hardiness: Zones 5-10 Mature Size: 24 inches high and wide Blooms: Summer through fall Flower color: Yellow Landscape uses: Perennial borders, container plant

Allium Lavender Lollipop

Drought tolerant and pollinator friendly. Hardiness: Zones 4-9 Mature Size: 15-18 inches high Blooms: Late summer Flower color: Purple Landscape uses: Provides a pop of color in a mixed perennial and shrub border.

Delosperma Jewel of Desert Garnet

Rich red outer petals fade into bright magenta hubs around yellow stamens. Hardiness: Zones 5-10 Mature size: 4-6 inches high Blooms: Late spring to fall Flower color: Multicolored Landscape uses: Rock gardens. Pairs well with Euphorbia myrsinites in containers for a stunning spring show.

Hypericum Sunny Boulevard

Bright, pollinator attracting flowers are followed by attractive red berries. Hardiness: Zones 4-8 Mature Size: 24 inches high by 36 inches wide Blooms: Summer Flower color: Bright yellow Landscape uses: Perennial borders;


Baby Blue rabbitbrush

Also known as dwarf blue rabbitbrush, this late blooming dryland shrub native has multiple season interest. It is deer resistant, sweetly fragrant and provides a source of nectar for native bee populations. Found in isolated areas in the Colorado Front Range, it is grown in select nurseries in the Western states. Hardiness: Zones 4-9 Mature Size: 16-24 inches high by 20-30 inches wide Blooms: Late summer through fall Flower color: Golden Landscape uses: Wildscaping

Caryopteris × clandonensis ‘Dark Knight’

Bluebeards attract pollinators to their flowers and aromatic foliage. Shrubs can be trimmed into a deciduous flowering hedging plant. Hardiness: Zones 5-9 Mature Size: 2-3 feet high and wide Blooms: Late summer to fall Flower color: Deep purple-blue Landscape uses: Perennial or shrub borders Retailer tip: Drought tolerant plants are easy to spot in a retail garden setting when grouped together in a display showcasing shades of green, gray and glaucous blue foliage mixed together.

Geauga Gray Dogwood

A fast-growing hedge that can be pruned for a more formal look. A tough ‘nativar’ that thrives in the harshest conditions with the ability to tolerate dry, wet and poor soils. Multi-seasonal interest with changing foliage, flowers and white berries. Part of the American Beauties Native Plants Program. Hardiness: Zone 4 Mature Size: 6-8 feet high by 4 feet wide Foliage: Mahogany-red new growth followed by glossy black-green leaves Blooms: Spring Flower color: Creamy-white Landscape uses: Hedging or specimen planting;

'Persian Spire' Upright Ironwood

Leaves emerge with a strong purple cast morph into a purple halo margin followed by dark emerald green foliage in summer. Provides a long-lasting, elaborate autumn color display of ever-changing yellow, orange, burgundy and red hues. Hardiness: Zone 5 Mature Size: 25 feet high by 10 feet wide Landscape uses: Specimen tree, containers Landscape design tip: In a container, mixes well with Scallywag holly, Nepeta faassenii ‘Blue Ice’ and Hebe ‘Red Edge.’

Russian Sage ‘Denim ‘n Lace’

Tightly spaced colorful calyxes make ‘Denim ‘n Lace’ look like it is still in bloom even when it is past peak. ‘Denim ‘n Lace’ loves full sun, tolerates low to average moisture levels, is deer resistant and attracts hummingbirds. Hardiness: Zones 4-9 Mature Size: 28-32 inches high by 34-38 inches wide Flower color: Bright sky blue Landscape uses: Mixed shrub and perennial borders Retailer and florist tip: Makes a good cut flower with foliage and flowers that can be easily dried.

Black Tower Elderberry

Narrow upright shrub/small tree with dark burgundy foliage. Big blooms all summer are followed by black berries in fall. The foliage covers the plant right to the base resulting in no bare stems at the base. Hardiness: Zones 3-9 Mature Size: 6-8 feet high by 3-4 feet wide Blooms: Summer Flower color: Dark pink Landscape uses: Hedge, mixed borders, container, specimen Landscape design tip: Mix with Sedum makinoi ‘Ogon’ or Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ at the base for a stunning combination in the ground or in a container.

Dawn Hummel is president of BeeDazzled Media and a 20-year veteran in the horticulture industry. For more information:

Photos courtesy of growers unless otherwise specified.

Clackamas County Master Gardeners™
31st Annual Spring Garden Fair

May 2, Saturday 9:00am - 5:00pm
May 3, Sunday    9:00am - 4:00pm
Clackamas County Event Center
694 NE 4th Ave, Canby, Oregon 97013

Do you crave knowing about the latest and greatest available from our Northwest Nurseries? Come into the New Plant Introduction and Silent Auction tent to view the new plant introductions for this year. The silent auctions run on both Saturday and Sunday. You need not be present to win the auction, but if you have the top bid the item must be picked up between 2pm and 3pm that same day.Located in row F/G in the front of the center section - look for the big yellow banner.

2015 All-star New Plant Line-up

• The new Portland Rose Festival Rose, Rosa 'Velvet Majesty'

Log House Plants: Ketchup ‘n’ Fries tomato and potato graft and Pixie Grapes

Sunflower Acres: Coleus Color Clouds™ Honey Pie, Cosmos Pinstripe™ Chocomocha, Coleus Under the Sea™ Sunfish, Petunia Glamoflauge™ Blueberry

Iseli Nursery : Cedrus deoda 'Snow Sprite', Picea omori 'Kamenz', Pinus parvi 'Fukuzumi'

Proven Winners: Sutera SNOWSTORM® Blue Bubbles, Sutera Marzipan, Calibrachoa SUPERBELLS® Cherry Red Improved, Calibrachoa SUPERBELLS® Strawberry Punch, Cleome PEQUEÑA ROSALITA™, Solenostemon COLORBLAZE® Lime Time™, Nemesia Berrie White™, Pennisetum Black Stockings, Petunia SUPERTUNIA® Black Cherry, Petunia SUPERTUNIA® Limoncello