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Your Gardens & Proven Winners®
January 11, 2010

Never have your yearly physical right after the holidays.

In years past, my 'man physical' has always been in late November.

However, for some reason it was pushed back to the first part of the year.

I don't mind the couple extra pounds (winter wool), but the B.P. was up, cholesterol was down a few points, but the Triglycerides were way high.

Now I'm on Blood pressure pills (saw that coming) and having to promise a better diet and to eat fish more flax-seed.

I have to believe that at least the Triglycerides would have been lower as in years past (to many sweets).

At least everything else checked out fine.


Do get a yearly physical, it can be a life savor

Live and learn my friend.

With winds out of the north, we were blessed with a couple of bight sunny days.

Now that doesn't happen a whole lot around here this time of year so we make sure we enjoy them.

Winter is settling in for the duration it seems.

In many parts of the the United States, there have been record cold temperatures.

In my part of Michigan, we have had some snow, while 30 miles South and along the lake shore they have experienced up to four feet of lake effect snow, followed by a mini storm.

While states west of here have experienced sub zero temps, we have been up to 20º warmer thanks to my wonderful Lake Michigan.

In fact there were times this past week, when we were warmer than much of Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and much of the deep south. In fact, warmer than parts of Florida.


While the big lakes do kick up a lot of snow when conditions are just right, but they also are a great buffer zone.

The keep us cooler in the summer and break down many a severe storm, as hot air cools down coming across the large bodies of water.

In the winter, when the lakes aren't frozen, cold air comes across and warms up several degrees.

It also creates these day after day clouds that keeps in what ever warmth from escaping.

When the cold and wind is just right, the Great Lakes can and do dump feet of snow.

Yep, you take the good with the bad.

Enough of that.

Garden catalogs continue to come in, just not as many now.

I still haven't found the time to really settle down and look through them.

With college football finally over for the season, I can now spend a few evenings getting things together.

I continue my evening walks, (Layers) as I dress for it.

Keet (Akita) gets a shorter than normal walk, while Ziggy the poodle is content with very little walking.

For new readers, Keet and Ziggy are the fur kids.

Birds are every where right now.

A period this past Thursday during the snow fall, I counted no less than 15 male cardinals (plus females) at one time feeding and flying through the yard.

Cardinals are skittish birds and wont stay still long enough to get off some good photos, so often you must quick snap and hope for the best.

As winter wears on and temperatures plummet, it becomes more important to keep feeders filled with high energy feed like

sunflower seed, peanuts and suet..

Also of bird feeding interest, this came across my desk not to long ago.

Ron Pittaway of the Ontario Field Ornithologists says there is a good chance of crossbills irrupting south this season.

Pittaway’s report says that both White-winged and Red Crossbills wandered widely this summer, and that cone crops are poor in the Atlantic Provinces and only fair to moderate in Western Canada this year.

He also said that this fall most Purple Finches (pictured) are likely to migrate south out of the province because overall tree seed crops are too low.

Common Redpolls rely on white birch seed and that crop is also poor in the northern part of the boreal forest but fair to good in the southern half. Is it enough for the whole winter?

If not, expect to see Common Redpolls and a few Hoary Redpolls show up south of Lake Ontario in mid winter.

Pine Siskins are conifer seed specialists in winter, so most could leave the province this past fall due to a poor spruce cone crop in the boreal forest.

It is uncertain whether the huge white pine seed crop will keep some siskins in central and northern Ontario this winter.

Speaking of irruptive birds, I haven't seen any Red-breasted nuthatches since they were here for a couple of weeks in November.

I am curious to know if any of you have this irruptive species this winter when you typically don't have them every year.

Last year I had an opportunity to visit a special kind of plant grower.

As a Michigan Certified Nurseryman (MCN) or member or Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA) Four Star Greenhouse opened their doors for a day last year.

Unfortunately, it was the same time we planned on being in the upper peninsula with family and vacation time wonout.

I did however, get some information I saved and can share with you.

Interesting how things work out sometimes.

A bit of history on Proven Winners® flowers and plants.

I hope you enjoy this bit of blooming information in the dead of winter.

Hopefully there will be more plant information to come.


A Brief History of Proven Winners®

Company Background:

Proven Winners® is the leading brand of high quality flowering plants in North America, sold under the Proven Winners® name.

The Proven Winners® brand is owned by three leading U.S. plant propagators.

'Four Star Greenhouse' in Carleton, MI; 'Euro American' in Bonsall, CA; and 'Pleasant View Gardens' in Loudon, NH. These companies "founded" Proven Winners ® in 1992,

Eventually, 'Nordic Nurseries' in Abbotsford, BC; 'Ed Sobkowich Greenhouses' in Grimsby ON and 'The Shed Floral Nursery' in Mentone, AL. were added to produce superior liners under the Proven Winners® name.

In the late 1980's Tom Smith and Four Star began a relationship with Kientzler's in Germany producing New Guinea impatiens bred by Kientzer.

This led to virus free vegetative plant material.

Because of this relationship with Kientzler, Tom was able to travel to Europe and meet other breeders working on new and unique vegetative annuals.

The rest as they say................

"Is History."

Liners (starters) are then sold to wholesale growers to "finish" (grow) and sell to retailer garden centers across North America.

The Proven Winners® group also sells a complementary brand, Proven Selections®, which consists of regional favorite varieties that complement Proven Winners®.

On a retail sales level, Proven Winners® and Proven Selections® sales are greater than a half-billion dollars annually (that's a chunk of change).

Now days, the plants are available from just about every garden center in North America.

The goals of Proven Winners® are to introduce the best, most unique, high performing plants, to produce them under the highest quality standards, and to market the plants innovatively.

Proven Winners® plants are unsurpassed in terms of flowering, growth habit, disease resistance, and garden performance.

No other plant line goes through the same rigorous plant selection process, which takes 2-3 years and occurs at facilities in the U.S. and Canada, as well as at trial stations in Europe, South Africa, and Japan.

Every Proven Winners® variety is protected by U.S. and Canadian patents. What also separates Proven Winners® is its viral control process, which is second to none.

Besides producing better flowering plants, Proven Winners® is also credited with creating the "container gardening" craze, and making new plant genera known.

Most consumers had never heard of Bacopa, Nemesia, Verbena, etc. until Proven Winners® introduced these varieties.

In terms of innovative marketing, Proven Winners® has created a consumer plant brand that means value to home gardeners.

Some groundbreaking marketing program from Proven Winners® include the industry's only Certification program for garden centers across North America.

Find a certified garden center and your plants will remain healthy on the garden center floor as well.

The industry's only on-line photo library, a plant selection and promotion partnership with Country Living magazine, and introduction of Proven Winners® branded premium soils and plant foods for home gardeners.

In 2004, a shrub line was added to the Proven Winners® family and 'Spring Meadow Nursery' in Grand Haven, MI was added as a propagator licensee of Proven Winners® Color Choice® shrubs.

Why are Proven Winners Plants Better?

Once a PROVEN WINNERS® plant makes it to your house, you'll enjoy them for because;

They are easy to grow and care for.

Covered with blooms.

Bright and colorful.

All-season bloomers.

Diseases free.

Trialed and tested.

Plants are guaranteed healthy from the grower.

(However, what happens at the retail location and your gardens are two different stories.)

There is no other activity quite like gardening.

And there's no other company as committed to growing superior plant varieties as Proven Winners®.

A collection of some of the industry's most renowned propagators, they are constantly developing new varieties that perform for the grower, retailer and of course, the consumer.

Proven Winners® are a combination of the most colorful, fastest growing, versatile plants in the world. And they back them up with the strongest retail support in the business. .

Proven Winners® and partners also do a lot for communities and non profit organizations.

Here is only one example:

Proven Winners® approached plant breeder Cheryl Baker about the coleus/perilla cross. ‘Gage’s Shadow’ is named after Baker’s son, Gage, who is challenged with cerebral palsy (CP).

‘Gage’s Shadow’ has purple-black foliage, a great background to set off colorful flowers in the landscaping. It is fast growing and drought, sun and shade tolerant. In full sun, the plant takes a burgundy tint.

"This plant was going to be for children who have cerebral palsy," Baker says. "This was going to be their plant. I know there are many children out there who have CP and just can’t get help."

Baker’s Shed Floral Nursery is a Proven Winners breeder, as well as a wholesale grower and retailer.

Proven Winners® donates 100% of the marketing funds received from the sale of every ‘Gage’s Shadow’ plant to the local United Cerebral Palsy chapter where Gage receives treatment and support.

Baker points out that the proceeds of the plant will help many children with CP, not only Gage.

She worked on the breeding for ‘Gage’s Shadow’ over ten years, and decided on Proven Winners® among the many interested breeders to patent the plant and become its licensed propagator.

Now this is the kind of grower I want to do business with, one that give back and helps our gardens look better.

Hopefully I scan hare more plant knowledge with you this winter, as well as other topics.

Stay tuned.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.

Anne Bradstreet

For many of us, winter is just beginning to settle in.

For our friends in the deep south,

I hope you have a greater appreciation for your warm weather now.

This quote deals with a couple of things.

Spring is more pleasant, we wait for it sometimes with little or no patience.

But when Spring does arrive, we are intoxicated by all of her beauty.

Sight, sounds and smells.

If we had spring or lived in a sort of paradise year round, we wouldn't appreciate the beauty as much.

I think winter also gives earth and us a time of rest.

Earth is allowed to rest and be cleansed by the winter snows and rains.

We get to charge our batteries as we wait for another season.

We have something exciting to look forward to.

Winter and spring are also metaphors for our daily lives.

If everyday was wonderful, we would have little to look forward to.

If everyday was like Spring, would you take it for granted?

I'm sure I would (though it might be nice to give it a try).

No hurts, no pains, no healing, no failures to learn from..........

Would you learn to love more?

You get the idea.

Our lives, yours and mine need a few winters (maybe a blizzard or two) so we can appreciate the Springs in our lives.

Again, appreciate what you have and what you can do for others.

Learn to grow more than just plants.

Tough times or winters can seem so long and dreary for many of us, but they make you appreciate the good times that much more.

Rough times also mean more God time.

Again, ...................

If everything is peachy, would you call on him more often, or would you begin to take our creator for granted as well?

If everyday was swell, others miss out the need to help and share with you.

We have but one go at this thing we call life, be sure to make the most of every day, of every moment, Spring and Winter.

That means you must try to appreciate even the most dreary of winter days.

You can always find something positive can't you?

Until next time my friend.

God Bless.

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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