newgen

What it Means to Have Wow Factor

A stunning display of boxwood hedges at the Chateau de Villandry in France.

A stunning display of boxwood hedges at the Chateau de Villandry in France.

People have always been drawn to nature for inexplicable reasons, creating gardens and landscapes filled with beautiful plants. Ornamental horticulture, as an industry, has prospered and grown through the centuries by cultivating beauty. Plants are bred and selected because they possess qualities that make them desirable. It could be because of the taste of the fruit, the shape or structure, or due to being pest and disease resistant but, arguably the most common trait growers, breeders, and gardeners are looking for is allure.

Paul Saunders evaluating boxwood for the National Boxwood Trials.

Paul Saunders evaluating boxwood for the National Boxwood Trials.

During the National Boxwood Trials, researchers evaluated boxwood on two major categories; impulse cosmetics and grower friendliness. Impulse cosmetics describes the immediate reaction a person has while walking by a specific variety of plant, either in a landscape or on the shelf at a garden center. Although the reaction could be either positive or negative, Paul Saunders, the initiator of the Trials, describes this initial reaction the “WOW factor.” He describes WOW as, “the factor that adds character and impact in a garden.” Even as gardeners have moved more towards plants that solve problems with pest resistance or tolerance to adverse conditions, the WOW factor remains an absolutely essential aspect for the success of any plant.

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This was an important consideration as we made the selections of NewGen Independence® and NewGen Freedom®. Both plants outperformed other generic boxwood as solution plants for pests and diseases, but not at the expense of attractiveness. With these plants, the beauty lies in the rich, shiny, deep green foliage that maintains its veneer twelve months of the year. The full, fluffy shape of the plants pulls in any passerby, encouraging them to interact with the plants.

Boxwood of different shapes and sizes on display.

Boxwood of different shapes and sizes on display.

NewGen Independence® has a more elegant style, sought after for more formal garden settings. The deep green foliage stands out as a specimen or serves to accentuate brightly colored flowers around it. The strong branches give it a rounded habit that withstands even heavy snow loads providing grace in the garden through every season.

Example of the rounded habit of NewGen Independence®.

Example of the rounded habit of NewGen Independence®.

Rich, dark, shiny foliage of NewGen Independence®.

Rich, dark, shiny foliage of NewGen Independence®.

NewGen Independence® accentuating purple Verbena.

NewGen Independence® accentuating purple Verbena.

NewGen Freedom® stands out because of its its shiny green foliage and uniform habit. In a landscape it appears fluffy, inviting you to touch and connect with it, without sacrificing its structure.

Shiny green foliage of NewGen Freedom®.

Shiny green foliage of NewGen Freedom®.

An example of the vertical structure of NewGen Freedom®.

An example of the vertical structure of NewGen Freedom®.

NewGen Freedon® with its fluffy, inviting shape lining this front walkway.

NewGen Freedon® with its fluffy, inviting shape lining this front walkway.

Though boxwood may lack some of the more flamboyant characteristics that catch the eye of onlookers such as bright flowers or colorful foliage, they have a timeless elegance, accentuating any landscape. Boxwood are known for providing structure and being malleable to fit a specific need. NewGen Independence® and NewGen Freedom® provide that and more. These plants were chosen not only as the problem solvers they are, but for their timeless beauty, lasting in the landscape for generations to come.

Boxwood gardens at the Chateau de Villandry.

Boxwood gardens at the Chateau de Villandry.

An impressive boxwood maze in a formal garden in France.

An impressive boxwood maze in a formal garden in France.

Introducing NewGen Freedom® and NewGen Independence®

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Behind every new venture lies the inspiration that initiated it all. The spark that led to the creation of NewGen™ lies with the two boxwood that will be the initial introductions of the line. After years of research, these two cultivars outperformed the more common varieties available on the market. These selections offer the industry a solution to the disease and pest problems boxwood continue to face. Being introduced to the market in 2020 are NewGen Independence® and NewGen Freedom®. With names that evoke imagery tracing back to 18th century, colonial America, where a new country was blazing a trail in history, these plants will lead the industry demonstrating better tolerance of Boxwood Blight, resistance to Boxwood Leafminer, and WOW factor in the landscape.

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The first selection, NewGen Independence® (Buxus NewGen Independence® ‘SB108’ PP# 28888) will catch your eye with its deep green color that holds through the winter. Filling out to a nice rounded, medium-sized shrub, this variety can be used in formal plantings or to provide structure in less formal gardens. NewGen Independence® fills a need in the industry as a replacement for English Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’). English boxwood is known as being one of the cultivars most susceptible to Boxwood Blight, so much so that many producers can no longer risk growing them. This new variety will offer gardeners and landscapers a solution by achieving the same look but with a plant that has shown high tolerance of Boxwood Blight.

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As a chance seedling found near Williamsburg, Virginia, NewGen Independence® thrives in zones 5b to 8 and will be a gardener’s dream whether it is a specimen on its own, used in a medium hedge, or as a foundation plant. Once planted and established, with minimal annual care, this plant will be a timeless addition to any landscape. For more details about this wonderful plant, check out the link below:

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NewGen Freedom® (Buxus NewGen Freedom® ‘SB300’) is the second of the two introductions but will capture just as much attention. As a more vigorous grower, this rounded cultivar is slightly taller than it is wide and has beautiful glossy foliage, making it an excellent choice for both formal and residential landscapes. This plant was chosen not only for its demonstrated tolerance of pests and diseases, but its overall vigor creates beautiful structure in a garden much quicker than many other varieties available. Hardy in zones 5-8, this particularly grower friendly plant makes an excellent specimen, hedge, or foundation plant in landscapes all over. For information and photos, follow the link below:

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Both plants were selected because they outperformed the rest through years of research. These new cultivars surpass current varieties available in the industry with their better tolerance of Boxwood Blight, strong resistance to Boxwood Leafminer, and overall beauty in the landscape. These plants offer solutions to the most prevalent boxwood pests and diseases today. The NewGen™ brand aims to lead the charge with this new generation of boxwood and continues to be dedicated to future innovations.

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Who is NewGen™?

Easily one of the most recognized garden plants, boxwood (Buxus sp.) have been gracing formal gardens for thousands of years and are considered one of the oldest ornamental plants. As slow-growing evergreen shrubs, these plants have always been a symbol of a gardener’s commitment and investment to a green space. Boxwood have held their reputation for many years because they are low maintenance, provide structure to a garden, and have few pests and disease pressures.Unfortunately, this reputation took a hard hit in 2011 with the introduction of Boxwood Blight in the U.S. and many growers became concerned about the beloved plant.

Saunders Brothers in Piney River, VA, a family-run nursery with a rich history of boxwood production, responded to this threat by investing in research to find a solution. Their experience in trials for resistance to Boxwood Leafminer, helped them to work with researchers and universities to begin testing for varietal tolerance of Boxwood Blight. After testing over 150 varieties, it was clear certain varieties excelled. Saunders Brothers was excited to have found solutions to a potentially devastating disease. They felt they needed to share these genetics with the industry. This sparked the creation of NewGen™ Boxwood.

NewGen™ aims to be the standard bearer of a distinctively better family of boxwood. This new generation of plants promises better tolerance of Boxwood Blight, better resistance to Boxwood Leafminer, and a WOW factor in the landscape.

“To meet the threat of rising pest and disease pressures, as well as maintain boxwood as the foundation of the landscape, we felt we needed a new approach,” says Bennett Saunders, General Manager of Saunders Genetics. “We’ve focused our attention on new and improved genetics, more thorough testing methods and protocols, partnering with like-minded growers, and establishing a distinguished brand identity. We believe NewGen™ represents the future of boxwood for the industry.”

By maintaining bio-secure testing methods and standards, we hope to continue making introductions of superior plants that maintain brand standards. We aim to establish a regional network of premier licensed growers and propagators to share these plants in landscapes all over the United States. We will dedicate 2019 to introducing the program to the industry and its customers, building production on our two initial selections. Plants are scheduled to be available for sale in the spring of 2020. At this time, we are partnering with 4 growers to distribute the product line: Overdevest Nurseries, NJ; Prides Corner Farms, CT; Saunders Brothers Nursery, VA; and Willoway Nurseries, OH.

NewGen™ Boxwood intends to raise the bar for boxwood to meet the changing dynamics of a new generation of the American garden and gardener.

Pictured is the NewGen™ team, Lindsay Day (left) Marketing Coordinator and Bennett Saunders (right) General Manager of Saunders Genetics.

Pictured is the NewGen™ team, Lindsay Day (left) Marketing Coordinator and Bennett Saunders (right) General Manager of Saunders Genetics.

Meet the Team!

We had such a blast meeting so many of you over the past few weeks, we thought we’d take a minute to introduce ourselves. Right now, our NewGen team is made up of just two boxwood enthusiasts, Bennett Saunders and Lindsay Day, leading the charge of the Boxwood Revolution.

Bennett Saunders learning a new pruning technique to combat Boxwood Blight.

Bennett Saunders learning a new pruning technique to combat Boxwood Blight.

Bennett Saunders leads our team as the General Manager, bringing over 36 years of experience in the industry to our team. He balances his NewGen responsibilities with his other duties as the Chief of Operations for Field and Fruit Production for Saunders Brothers Nursery. This means not only can he share a wealth of knowledge on all thing’s boxwood, but he has years of experience growing fruit trees. Since 2011 with the threat of Boxwood Blight in the United States, Bennett has taken initiative to learn everything he could about the disease, traveling to Europe to see the disease first hand as well as meeting with researchers in the U.S. to learn about how to combat the disease here.

Through years of testing, and trialing over 150 cultivars, it was clear that the solution might be bigger than just Saunders Brothers. As Richard Branson once said, “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.” So as NewGen began to form, Bennett looked at this as an opportunity to share his passion for boxwood and the promising future still ahead of them, with the industry.

Lindsay inspects container boxwood plants at Saunders Brothers Nursery

Lindsay inspects container boxwood plants at Saunders Brothers Nursery

Joining Bennett is Lindsay Day, the Marketing Coordinator for NewGen Boxwood. Lindsay brings 5 years of nursery experience with her to the team. She started with Saunders Brothers as an intern in 2013 and then joined full time as the assistant woody grower and propagation manager for the container nursery. After spending several years in the field propagating and working with the boxwood, when an opportunity arose where she could spend more time working with growers and customers teaching them about the promising future of boxwood, how could she say no? Since July of 2018, she has been part of the NewGen team connecting with our growers and finding new and creative ways to share boxwood knowledge with the industry with our website, mailing list, and social media.

Together we are looking ahead towards this new year as it gives us a chance to meet new growers and customers and share our passion about boxwood with you.