In sync with Mother Nature

By Kathy Van Mullekom

Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

Just like you sync your tablet or smart phone to cloudlike backup systems, gardening can sync with Mother Nature to create a more-perfect natural world, according to Susan McCoy, trend spotter and president of Garden Media Group (

“We walk, talk and sleep with our phones,” said McCoy in a news release.

“Now, people are getting plugged in outside, too, syncing garden habits with technology and garden hobbyist with each other. People want to be successful with plants without a lot of work or information. To do this, they are turning to technology to help grow plants both indoors and in the garden.”

Armed with apps

“Consumers are utilizing technology in the garden,” says Joan Casanova, spokeswoman for Bonnie Plants, a brand of vegetable, flower and herb plants sold at garden centers nationwide.

“Instead of technology being a distraction, it is instead a pocket-sized garden tool to learn and share food gardening experiences.”

The Bonnie Plants “Homegrown” app acts as a resource for gardeners of all levels – novice to expert, according to Casanova, thanks to these features:

Notes: Track your garden’s progress through the season, including planting, watering, feeding, pests and harvesting.

Reminders: Set notifications so you never forget an essential garden task.

Photos: Create a visual history of everything you grow.

My Garden/Catalog: Browse info on more than 250 veggies and herbs, then create a personalized list.

Choosers: Use the Tomato and Pepper Choosers to find just the right varieties to grow.

Weather: See current and predicted weather for your locale, including rainfall.

Learn to Grow: Access a series of guides that provide the basics for success.

Sharing: Quickly and easily share triumphs, challenges and lessons learned with friends and family on social channels.

Hands-Free: Go nearly hands-free in the garden with the dictation feature.

You can enter every plant you have, what date you planted it and keep tabs on how it’s doing, too, like your own personal garden journal right in your pocket.

The app is free on the iTunes App Store. To learn more about the app and download for free, visit

Easy peasy plants

Succulents in anything can be seen at gardening trade shows and in magazines, according to Tish Llaneza, owner of Countryside Gardens in Hampton, Va.

“They are really taking off,” says Llaneza who goes to trends and buying shows up and down the East Coast annually.

“Both indoor varieties and outdoor are becoming more and more popular, using them in terrariums, high heels, coffee cups and hanging orbs, just to name a few indoor uses.”

Teresa Bennett, owner of online Gardens by Teresa ( in Yorktown, Va., agrees.

“Succulents are drought- tolerant, easy care, both for those that are hardy in this area and the tender varieties. They also come in an amazing array of textures and colors. Even the cuttings from many succulents make extremely long-lasting arrangements.”

Pollinator gardens

Pollinator-friendly gardens remain huge, according to Diane Blazek, executive director of the All-America Selections ( and the National Garden Bureau (

“If you have a vegetable garden, don’t’ forget the plants that attract the pollinators who do their job and help you get cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins, etc.,” says Blazek.

The National Garden Bureau is one of a couple dozen organizations supporting the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge managed by The National Pollinator Garden Network to register pollinator-friendly gardens at

“Without pollinators, your edibles suffer and do not properly mature. And, pollinators don’t have to be just native plants. Yes, natives are important but many annuals can be just as beneficial. It’s important to understand the many different types of pollinators and their pollen and nectar needs at different life stages,” Blazek says.

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