By Dave Harrison
George Sant & Sons Greenhouses and the Ball Horticultural Company welcomed hundreds of growers to this year’s annual open house at the Sant facilities in Kleinburg, Ontario, just north of Toronto.
Featured were extensive product line displays, along with demonstrations of the ‘Big Blue’ Machine and the Punch ’N Gro® Transplanter. Some 600 pots of plant material were showcased.
Tours of the six acres of state-of-the-art greenhouses were also available. Included was the newest addition, which features 33,000 square feet of seed plug production, including three growth chambers, and 24,000 square feet of space for hardening off plants.
|Rick Sant (at left) was among hosts leading tours of the greenhouses, including the new propagation area.|
|Breeding breakthrough ‘Ptilotus Joey’ is heat and drought tolerant. It is native to central Australia, and is ideal for sunny garden locations. The large, conical spikes of feathery flowers top thick, silver-green foliage. It can be used in mixed containers or flower beds, and can also be used as a cut flower where spikes will last up to three weeks in the vase. It has short crop times of about 14 to 16 weeks, allowing growers quick returns.|
|Strobilanthes ‘Persian Shield’ is very vigorous with excellent heat tolerance. It works well in mixed containers, baskets and window boxes. Plant growth regulators are not usually needed. Moderate light levels produce more colourful foliage. This plant has great architecture, seemingly reaching out to passersby.|
|‘Fuchsia Gartenmeister’ comes alive with a gentle breeze, offering an impressive show for gardeners. Featuring long, orange single flowers with bright orange centres and red foliage, it blooms from summer to autumn. It grows in either sun or shade, and is one of the more distinctive trailing plants.|
|Every consumer loves coleus, and ‘Henna’ would be a standout in any presentation. This is a Simply Beautiful®, a Made for the Shade, and a Hot Summer Survivors selection. It grows to 55 to 70 cm in height, and spreads to 35 to 40 cm. It is very uniform in growth, with serrated foliage in a unique chartreuse to copper colour accented by dark burgundy undersides.|
|Another eye-catching coleus is ‘Electric Lime.’ It is also a Simply Beautiful®, a Made for the Shade, and a Hot Summer Survivors selection. The bright – almost neon-like – leaves look great in the shade, and don’t fade in the sun. It grows to 35 to 50 cm in height, and will spread to 40 to 60 cm.|
|One of the perennials catching my attention was ‘Lamb’s Ear Silver Carpet,’ hardy in Zones 4-9. The oval leaves have a soft and fuzzy texture. Low-growing and spreading, it works well both in landscapes and containers. It is a low-maintenance performer, with great drought-tolerance. Plant growth regulators are generally not needed.|
|Garden Mum ‘Grandeur White’ is an early season variety, with a perfectly mounded habit. Its blooming season extends from late summer through the fall.|
|Garden Mum ‘Goldcrest Yellow’ is just one variety in the popular Garden Performers lineup from George Sant & Sons Greenhouses. Garden Performers containers definitely stand out at retail, and provide consumers with helpful and easy-to-read information.|
|The open house attracted steady crowds throughout the day.|
|Dummen also displayed some of their varieties at the open house, including Calibrachoa ‘Aloha Tiki Orange,’ at left, and ‘Potunia Lobster.’ The Aloha lineup has been bred for combination planting, and features a semi-upright habit and bright, tropical colours. The Potunias have a round, compact habit and are daylength neutral, perfect for high-density container production. The Potunias are cold and mildew tolerant and require few to no growth regulators.|
|This is a perfect illustration of the impact of the container on the perceived value of a plant. ‘Silver Fog’ is popular enough with consumers, but the upscale container takes it to a much higher price point, well beyond the additional cost of the container!|