CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Everyone asks if I get free stuff as a garden writer. I always answer no, because I usually don't get more than weeds or insects from loyal readers, asking if I can identify them.However, Proven Winners sent a couple of teeny (and I mean teeny) seedlings to me back in May to try in my garden.The accompanying letter read:"Here are a few 'sneak preview' shrubs from Proven Winners ColorChoice, the leading flowering shrub brand. We are sending them to you with the hope you will try them out in your garden -- and if you like them, recommend them to your readers."The plants were sent from White Flower Farm, a mail-order nursery out of Connecticut. The sampler included "Exochorda" Snow Day Surprise, "Rosa Oso Easy" Honey Bun, and "Thuja" North Pole.My preliminary report is as follows:They are all alive. Considering how little the specimens were, and how little I did to tend them, that's a good sign. They have grown a bit.
The pearl-bush ("Exochorda" Snow Day Surprise) didn't bloom, but it was probably just too small. I'm watching it for next year. I planted it in a sunny spot, and I hope I will see some spring blossoms. It's supposed to grow to 48 inches, but that means it still has about 44 to go.The Honey Bun rose is described as a "landscape rose." I think this is supposed to mean easy to care for and abundant in bloom. So far it's only a few inches tall, but when it blooms, it's supposed to have blooms that range from pink to yellow to cream. Official report will be filed when it blooms -- I promise.I'm not quite sure why the "Thuja" North Pole, an arborvitae, was in the "flowering shrub" collection. Arborvitaes are evergreen, and they have no blooms. My little sample is about 6 inches tall now (started at 5 1/2), and it looks healthy. I'll keep you posted on that one, too.Now, this is silly
I had an email offering to send me a "Wearable Gardening Stool" from the website www.cleanairgardening.com
. I declined. I look silly enough in my pink Crocs, tattered sweatpants or shorts, stained T-shirt and filthy work gloves without adding a large "adjustable pedestal leg" to my derrière. The thing straps on with a "soft nylon harness with snap-on lock to keep the stool in place comfortably while walking or sitting." Now that's a sight you won't see in my garden.Or maybe I should have accepted the generous offer so my family could get a good laugh.Reach Sara Busse at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1249.