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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Plant Patents


Well today Andy brought home some Verbena bonariensis 'Little One', a new dwarf, sterile selection of the normally 5' tall annual (perennial here). The difference is that we 'own' the patent on this plant. I'm generally not a fan of patenting plants, I kinda believe in an open market system with free propagation of all the great stuff out there. Some of the best plants don't get propagated because of licensing rights. But I do realize that with many plants much research, time and effort goes into bringing a plant to market. Since I live in this world and not an ideal one, we went capitalistic. We found this dwarf Verbena in a seed batch we grew several years ago. It's a perfect plant with great proportion, so we decided to go forward with patenting it. We do have bills to pay  after all. My concern was who was growing it, it had a 'Proven Selections' label (with no patent id #) with my name 'Little One'. If I find out they are paying patent rights, well then great, more money for me. (Trust me it's not that much). My concern is that in the past The Proven Winners/ Proven Selection people have been not so trustworthy, I've been told by other growers. They are excellent business people, focused on advertising, but they are very aggressive at acquiring new plants, sometimes 'stealing' peoples plants, renaming them and patenting them themselves. The bigger issue for me is I see lots of 'PW' plants in local nurseries, and even though they say what they grow is proven for any region, I see lots of plants, like Heucheras, that do not do well here at all. People then kill their plants and think that gardening is hard and then give up. I know the local growers choose the plants to grow, but we just need to do a better job of empowering people as new gardeners. I personally grow plants that love our climate, and that are easy to grow. And 'easy' doesn't mean boring, more next time. tom

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Today I was thinking about Hawaii. As a lot of you know, Andy and I have the house and nursery for sale and we are planning to move to HI. The real estate market is super slow, so we are here for the immediate future. I was walking through the front garden and I was really feeling that tropical vibe; the sun was back lighting the palms and I felt totally okay with whatever the future holds. I love our garden, we've been here for nine years now and the garden is really coming into it's own. We finished the pond in the front yard last fall, which was just a big hole in the ground for over two years, (as Andy reminded me often). For me, it meant everything, it sets the whole mood for the space. The sound alone is amazing and of course the dragonflies and birds it brings in are great. I love looking at the fish and even the greenish patina forming on the sides. I know some people like that sterile, chlorinated look, but I wouldn't have it any other way. What I didn't count on was the incredible reflections on the garden structures and ever the ceiling in my living room. What a great bonus! So even though we are not in Hawaii, I feel that I've created my little bit of paradise here. I've changed my entire life this year, and while the uncertainty of our future is disconcerting, I find it very exciting. The fact the I get to live in this great house (that we just finished remodeling) and this amazing garden is just such a joy. My time is so different right now. I'm so used to working six or seven days a week. Not having a regular staff has really freed me up to do a lot of things I've wanted to do; like create this blog. For example, I started taking a 'html' class yesterday. It's so cool to be able to step out of my comfort zone and stretch myself. This is really new for me, so hang in there while I'm getting used to this. Sharing what I've learned (so freely from my mentors) with the others is what I think this journey is all about. I hope to get into some specific plants and topics, so stay tuned. tom

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A new day

Been in Southern California for almost 25 years, growing, or at least trying to grow, everything I could get my hands. I'm a self confessed plant addict, and can never seem to get enough. I'm a landscaper and wholesale grower. But, things are changing here, and I've realized we have to change too. So I'm putting together a website to promote good information on horticulture and maybe sell some plants as well. Knowledgeable sales people are hard to find in local nurseries, and good landscapers are even harder to find. People who are good gardeners here are few. I think everyone is busy, and it's easy to find cheap labor, what we call mow and blow. It's too bad, because I have found this to be one of the best places to grow an amazingly diverse variety of plants in the same location. So I'm going to try to reach out to other horticulturists to talk about all thing horticulture. As my blog title says, I am an opinionated gardener, but I am very open to other points of view, and have even been known to change my mind on occasion, granted those are few. I love tropicals, drought tolerants, natives, woodsy, Asian, okay I like everything, that's the point. More to come