Planting a few new ideas for the year ahead


Time for the “list” for the new year. If you know me, you know that I like to make lists. And when it comes to the new year, I don’t make resolutions to kick bad habits.

No way! That’s way too hard!

Kelly Heidbreder
Kelly Heidbreder

I make lists of great things that I would like to happen in the year to come. I’m a “cup half-full” kind of girl, and I just think it is more optimistic.

This year, I have my shovel ready for some new additions, a few ideas on some new inventions, and maybe even a book. Yikes! I said it out loud!

Top 10 favorites

The first thing on my list this year will be to research my favorite shrubs, perennials, and annuals. I will give you my top 10 in each category to make it easier for you to make your choices this spring.

I have the inside track on this, because I have the experts’ numbers on my speed dial — if there is such a thing anymore. I’m talking about the biologists that are working on the newest varieties.

If you have purchased plants in the past 25 years, then you will recognize the name. They are my friends at Proven Winners, and they are truly the experts on our plants and the varieties available each year.

Dan Foster is one of those experts. He is the site manager and product line manager at Four Star Greenhouse in Carleton, Mich. Foster has been with Four Star for more than 20 years and has his degree in horticulture from Michigan State University. He oversees the growing of grasses, perennials, and ColorChoice shrubs at Four Star Greenhouse, which is one of the growing hubs for Proven Winners.

The shrubs are dormant right now, but Foster says, “We are working with about 145 varieties of shrubs for the upcoming growing season.”

Sounds like I will have a lot of fun looking through 145 varieties to come up with my top 10 for you. Four Star is also the world’s leading grower of our favorite Proven Winners annuals and perennials.

“We have over 20 acres of greenhouse space,” says Foster. “Each year, thousands of varieties undergo our extensive Proven Winners trialing process in hope of one day becoming a Proven Winner. Each year, only a select few make the cut,” he says.

I am ready to literally dig into this research.

What’s new

I’ve got a few ideas kicking around this brain and lots of scribbles on napkins. I will toss some of them at you this year and review some of the newest and hottest products for gardeners.

We need ways to conserve water, keep our plants fed, and protect our investments. So I am on the hunt for you in the year ahead.

What about a book?

I have been writing this column in the The Blade since 1999 and love every minute of it. For years, many of you have been asking me to write a book.

Maybe this is the year I start letting that idea grow. I think I’m going to need to put a bit more fertilizer on that one for now.

Start making your lists, everyone. I look forward to seeing what you have planned, too. Happy New Year, and may 2018 bring many wonderful things to you.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at: