There are thousands of companies wanting some of the money jangling around in your pockets. Through research and teaching I have worked with hundreds of them, however, there are but a handful whose products I recommend. I can do so because I use them and personally endorse their effectiveness. The last thing anyone needs is another shyster hawking wares from the roadside - nobody is paying me to recommend these to you here. So believe or ignore them - regardless I wanted to share them with you.
HGTV Brand of Plants: The Home and Garden Network has been on the airwaves for many years, and it seems that the garden part has taken a bit of a backseat to new kitchens, basement renovations, fixer-uppers and flipping house in recent years. However, they have made a new commitment to putting out excellent plants for the gardener, under the HGTV brand. I work with them in helping to recommend the annuals & perennials that you will see in most garden centers starting in 2014. So now, if you love the plant you buy in the HGTV pot, you know whom to thank.
The Perennial Farm: This perennial nursery is located in Glen Arm, MD, one of the finest perennial plant nurseries in the country. I work closely with the nursery on programs like DeerLeerious and Treadwell brands you see in your local garden centers. The Perennial Plant Farm is wholesale only but gardeners can now order direct through The Perennial Marketplace. A discount is available by mentioning my App.
Nature’s Source Plant Food: A natural plant food I have been using in the Trial Gardens at the University of Georgia and in my own garden for years. It is available in easy to use hose-end sprayers and it simply works. I also tout it because it is made from oilseed extract, a sustainable, renewable, natural and safe source of plant nutrition. Easy, effective and environmentally safe - that’s enough for me. Check them out online or at your favorite retail outlet.
Tilley Hats: Still the greatest hat on Earth, for anyone who works in the sun. Whenever I go to a gathering, a meeting of gardeners or a trade show, the first comment I receive is "I don't recognize you without your hat." So if I wish to be anonymous, I simply take it off. As much as I joke about my Tilley, I wear it for a reason, my skin and hot sun do not go well together. If you work in the sun, wear a hat - if you want the best, wear a Tilley.
Squirrel Buster Bird Feeders: I have no problem with squirrels, I just don't want to feed them. I love my birds, I love my bird feeders - that is another aspect of gardening that makes it all worthwhile. I have been using Squirrel Buster feeders for over 20 years, and recommend them to all my family and friends. Squirrels try, but they can't get the sunflower seeds! They get frustrated, but eventually leave them alone. I love my birds, and am one happy birder.
Jolly Gardener Soils: I have trialed, tested, cussed, cursed, and been frustrated with so many "bagged" soils for consumers but at last, I have found a brand I can recommend to my daughters. And that is high praise! When I put soil in a container or a basket, I want something that drains well, holds moisture and provides easy access for root growth. Jolly Gardener soils do just that. They can be easily purchased from garden centers, and I can choose a soil with slow release fertilizer, or with water absorption gel - or not, regardless - they are always my first choice. How good is this soil? I used Jolly Gardener exclusively in the Trial Gardens at UGA and in my own garden. Now, as I use Jolly Gardener in my window boxes and containers - and feed my plants with Nature's Source plant food - life is indeed good.
Greenhouse Grower Magazine: A truly great trade publication run by dedicated individuals who are leaders in the Horticulture industry. I have been writing for Greenhouse Grower for many years – the magazine and e-letters are intended for commercial audiences, but my monthly columns may be of interest to all. Give them a read at http://www.greenhousegrower.com/.
Grower Talks: Another excellent trade magazine and e-letter, with a fantastic group of writers who have their pulse on industry happenings. While I don’t write for Grower Talks, I am pleased to endorse it.
I have been around this industry for a good many years, and like many of us old timers, I have worked with great ones and not so great ones. Maria Zampini and UpShoot are at the front of my list of “Great People, Great Companies”. I do not give such recommendations easily, but people like Maria are not found easily. If I need something answered, a job done professionally, elegantly and on time, I need only write her and it is done. There are few people who can compete with me on ideas for a given project, but Maria is one of them, and is not afraid to voice her ideas, usually far better than mine. The result is something much better than I ever thought possible. I enjoy the relationship with Maria and her excellent staff and hope to continue to walk hand in hand down the garden path for many years to come.