Photo by Kirk Brown in gorgeous lobby of the Lord Baltimore Hotel

The Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show at the Baltimore Convention Center is my favorite happening in January (sadly, with no actual competition). And last year it almost looked like it would return, post-covid, but then omicron happened and, like so many others, I stayed home. And sulked.

But this week the show returned – the happiest, possibly best-attended show ever! And that includes the garden-writer events that accompany the show, like the scene above in the Lord Baltimore Hotel. Ranters Marianne Willburn and Scott Beuerlein and I (giving a sideways thumb’s up) were partying with podcaster Leslie Harris, on the right.

On the left are two of Leslie’s friends there in Charlottesville – Sarah Schrock and Abbie Shelhamer of Abigail Gardens. (Pretty website!!) They’ve got me thinking of paying Charlottesville a visit this year.

Seen on the Trade Show Floor

Here are my favorite displays on the convention center floor, examples of terrific merchandising in a sea of not-so-much.  Though trade shows aren’t for ME or any home gardeners, some vendors make the effort and it’s appreciated.

This display by a company called Colmet is soooo striking! They make steel landscape edging and found a way to display it dramatically. introduced me to the term “flawn” for flowering lawn and I hope it catches on.

I lingered over the large display by The Pottery Patch coz I want it all.


I told this fellow from Beechdale Frames that I’d never display a sign welcoming dogs into my garden and he rightly pointed to the “…on the porch” part of the sign. Same goes for cats. Attendees showed a lot of interest in the Southern Exposure Seed ExchangeIn a sign of changing pot-growing laws here and around the country, the Humboldt, County California company Royal Gold showed its colors. I can’t resist the look of massed succulents displayed well. These are from Bennett Plants.

I admire these humongous boxwoods from George Bridge Boxwoods and hope they survive their trade-show adventure. 

When I see whimsical metal creatures like these I always WANT them.  I’m just not so sure they’d look right in my garden. (I missed the vendor name.) I think any of these handsome lighting fixtures would look great, though – anywhere.  Love masses of grasses. The Jack Rabbitt folks traveled from Arizona for the show. Reality check! There are turf farms and there will always be the need for them. No matter the lawn-hating zeitgeist in the culture right now. Plantaflor USA’s motto is “A modern approach to modern plants,” which seems to mean airplants and succulents displayed in creative ways. This vendor traveled from California for the show.

The Beaver Dam Woodworks motto “Amish hand-crafted nautical decor” had me longing for beach-time.

I stopped to chat with guest ranter Mary Vaananen. She’s the former work wife of our Allen Bush at Jelitto Perennial Seeds. Pansies have been on my mind since a friend asked why I don’t use them in my winter pots. Seeing them here with another seasonal favorite – cabbage – just confirmed my lack of enthusiasm for them. I’d rather look at juniper cuttings, honestly. Displays that create little gardens are much appreciated in early January! Thanks, Lancaster. Have you heard of Instant Hedges? They come potted-up like this, ready to pop in the ground, or sliced-up to fit the site.  I claim no insight into how well that works out.I say YES to dwarf conifers in these shapes and colors.  Rare Tree Nursery brought these all the way from Oregon.

Lastly, another garden writer told me to not miss the Mossify booth.  Expecting a display of mosses, I was surprised to find instead some bendable houseplant stakes made of coir.  Hmm. Maybe I’m not enough of a houseplant-grower to GET these devices, or how they’re sustainable. And sadly, I’m not interested enough to research possible answers.

See you in 2024

Oh I’ll be back all right! I had a great time seeing plant people and garden-writer friends on the floor and during the three communicator events. It’s the highlight of winter for me.

Thanks to the MANTS team for being so welcoming and helpful to garden communicators.