Many years ago, when I was a kid learning how to grow things, I responded to a small black-and-white ad in the back of a magazine by taping a few coins to a postcard and mailing it to W. Atlee Burpee & Co. In return, I received a catalog and three packets of cactus zinnia seeds—coral pink, gold, and blazing orange. That summer, my Burpee zinnias were the brightest thing on the Kansas prairie. I can honestly say it was the best purchase I ever made.
So when I got an invitation to attend Burpee Media Day, just down the road in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, how could I resist? About 20 writers, photographers, and other media types gathered to get an early peek at the best of what Burpee will introduce to gardeners in 2011.
The morning started with PowerPoint highlights from Burpee CEO and Chairman George Ball.
The lunch menu featured some of Burpee’s tastiest vegetable varieties, old and new. Bell pepper ‘El Toro’ is one I plan to try next year.
Director of Research Grace Romero showed us the specialized technique for transferring tomato pollen from one flower to another—the crucial step in creating a hybrid tomato.
All in all, it was the kind of day we gardeners love—a chance to momentarily immerse ourselves in seed-catalog dreams. The above sunflower, called ‘Coconut Ice’, is new for 2011; its ivory petals fade to white as the flowers mature. I look forward to growing it next year.
My thanks to Mary Kliwinski for sharing her photos. —Doug Hall