The State of Travel – Journey like the Jetsons

On a recent trip from RDU airport (Raleigh-Durham), I had my first encounter with a Jetson-like restaurant, where you have no interaction with humans. I’ve visited plenty of fast food restaurants with the option of ordering from a machine, but when possible, avoid the machines at all costs.

I get the idea of reducing labor costs, but as a customer who avoids technology at any chance, I am not amused. Techno-idiots like myself don’t find it easy to navigate these self-service businesses, and imagine the frustration if your smart phone runs out of juice or just fails to function.

All in all, it took me 33 minutes to get a biscuit. That included 10 minutes of trying to figure out how to place my order, and 23 minutes more of waiting. I’d probably still be waiting it I hadn’t wrangled a staff member who just arriving at work for help. Thank goodness, I caught her before she disappeared behind the artificial screens where the humans go to hide from other humans.

Really…someone thinks this is an improvement? I’ve been through fast food hell before, but nothing like this. Since you have to pre-pay for your food, I can only imagine how hard it is to get your money back when you have to board your flight before your computerized food arrives. Typically, at the Raleigh-Durham airport, there are an array of choices, but this time, virtually every other restaurant had permanently closed. Someone on the airport staff responsible for this mess needs a wake-up call. If this is the future of air travel, I think I’ll be sticking closer to home a lot more.

Ouch…my head hurts

I arrived home Friday afternoon to find the power out. The big bang we’d heard minutes earlier was a likely distracted driver in a black pickup truck, directly in front of our home, taking out its aggression on a defenseless light pole. It took until the wee hours of the morning to get the pole replaced and the lines re-hung, but thank goodness, no plants were harmed and the driver seemed in remarkably good shape…other than what was most likely a really bad headache the following morning.

Rocking and Rolling in the Winter Garden

If you’ve visited JLBG, you know how much we love working with rocks, so we continue to find new areas to plant more. We’ve recently tackled two long overdue projects near the Mt. Michelle waterfall.

The first was re-working the Mt. Michelle watercourse we know as Mystic Creek (named after one of our late cats). When this was installed in 2003, we used concrete to form the water channel. Well, after 18 years, tree roots had their way with the concrete, which lost both the battle and the war.

After a fair amount of root excavation work, Jeremy and Nick installed a new rubber liner, with rocks along the edge. We’ll probably wait until spring to finish the replanting in order to avoid planting on top of something that was winter dormant. Below is the new rocked watercourse.

Phase 2 of the project was re-working an adjacent bed, where light levels had changed dramatically since it was installed in 1998. Originally a full sun bed, the shrubs on the west side have grown substantially, leaving us with a bed that only gets 3-4 hours of sun on one end, and a full shade area underneath the canopy.

Here, we raised the center of the bed, with more of Jeremy and Nick’s rock work, which was then filled with our on-site created compost. This created a visual barrier to much of the winding path that visitors use to get closer to the small plants, which are now tucked in the crevices.

One the back (west) side, Jeremy and Nick installed another small rock seating area, of which there are never enough.

There are a few more days of rock work to complete Phase 2, then we’ll start on Phase 3, which will rework the west face of Mt. Michelle, with more boulders to create additional planting pockets. We hope you’ll check out the progress at our upcoming winter open house.

Holiday Gift for your plant lover

In the “in case you missed it”, this clever gag gift for the plant lover in your life has appeared on-line just in time for the holidays. Not sure what else we can say, other than watch for fire ants and chiggers.

Immaculate Maculata

Even with all of the amazing new Hydrangea macrophylla introductions, it’s hard to beat the old Japanese cultivar, Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Maculata’. Hope you enjoy this shot from JLBG this week.

A peach of a tree…albeit a little hairy

Few trees can hold the title of the earliest to flower and the latest to flower…except Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis Rosea’. This amazing tree is in full flower now at JLBG after gracing us with a superb show in late fall. Prunus x subhirtella is a group of flowering hybrids between the Japanese Prunus incisa and itosakura. The nothospecific epithet “subhirtella” means “a little bit hairy”.

More Hardy Cyclamen

It’s hard to find a cyclamen we don’t love in the winter garden, but we are particularly enamoured with Cyclamen maritimum…formerly a member of the Cyclamen graecum complex. Learn more about growing hardy cyclamen.

Cyclamen maritimum (formerly C. graecum ssp. anatolicum)

Cestrum color echo

This was a fun color echo we caught right before our first frost as the last of the monarchs stocked up on food before their International flight left for their winter vacation in Mexico. Cestrum (Solanaceae) seems to be a monarch favorite in our garden. Hopefully, we have someone who can work on producing a sterile clone, since they seed a bit too much in the deep south.

2020 Southeastern Plant Symposium and Rare Plant Auction

This is the week that we had expected to welcome hundreds of participants from all over the world to the 2020 Southeastern Plant Symposium in Raleigh, NC, but world events had other plans. So, we shifted gears and put together a replacement on-line symposium that will take place this Friday June 12 from 10am-3pm. This is a fund raiser for both the J.C. Raulston Arboretum, and for the Juniper Level Botanic Garden endowment, so we hope you can join us safely on-line. If you sign up, but aren’t available on Friday for the live event, you will also receive a private link, so you can also watch the symposium later.

The stellar lineup for the 2020 rapid-fire on-line symposium for plant nerds includes:

Dan Hinkley – World renown plant explorer and founder of Heronswood Gardens/and Nursery. Dan will speak on A Morning Walk-through of Gardens of Windcliff.

Nick Macer – World renown plant explorer and owner of Pan-Global Plants in the UK will speak on Things That Turn Me on—Confessions of a Plant Freak

Kelly Dodson/Sue Miliken – World renown plant explorers and owners of Far Reaches Farm and Conservancy. They will speak on Plantdemic in the Far Reaches.

Jimmy Turner – World renown plantsman, Director of Red Butte Botanical Gardens, and former Director of Horticulture of the Dallas Arboretum and later the Director of Horticulture for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. Jimmy will speak on The Land of Ahs.

John Cho – Retired University of Hawaii professor and breeder of the Royal Hawaiian series of colocasia (elephant ears). John was world renown for his breeding work with food taro before he turned his attention on revolutionizing the ornamental elephant ear offerings. John will speak on Breeding of the Beautiful Royal Hawaiian Collection of Colocasia.

Tony Avent – Founder of Plant Delights Nursery/Juniper Level Botanic Garden. Tony will speak on High and Dry—The Wonderful, Wild, World of Crevice Gardening

You can find more about the talks and register on-line here

Rare Plant Auction

Following on the heels of last years’ auction that had plantsmen/women around the world drooling, we’ve put together another amazing list of auction plants for 2020…many of which are released for the first time, including many incredible rarities that you just won’t believe. Plants that are 1 gallon size and smaller can be shipped domestically to the lower 48 @ $6 each, but larger plants will need to be picked up at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum.

The auction opens Tuesday June 9 @ 10 am and closes Friday June 12 @ 3pm. Bidding is open to anyone, so here’s the link through Click-Bid to sign up and bid. Bid early and bid often! Good luck!

Please help us share the word via your favorite social media site so more plant geeks can join us!

Friday Morning Podcast

More interesting seed pods from the garden this week.


This past week I went to our catalog printer in Lynchburg, VA for the press check of our Fall Catalog. The whole scope of the process and vast size of the printing presses is quite fascinating.

A printed copy of the cover off the press is compared to the initial proof and any minor tweaks or color adjustments are made. Once the color is approved, the printer starts up again. It first puts down the yellow components of the cover, followed by the red, green and then blue. Here are some samplings, ending with the final cover!

Look for catalogs to arrive in mailboxes mid-August. You can request a copy here, or you can preview the digital version.

Tubing! Hummers! Summer!

The genus Sinningia is a South American gesneriad (African violet and gloxinia relative). Hummingbirds and butterflies just love the tubular flowers of Sinningia, and several species including Sinningia tubiflora, are quite fragrant.

Sinningia tubiflora

Sinningia flowers come in a wide array of colors from white, to yellow, pink, red and all shades in between. Sinningia species are drought-tolerant and heat loving…perfect for hummers and the southern garden.
We hope you will join us in our excitement over the wonderful perennial sinningia.

Sinningia ‘Cherries Jubilee’

Trout Lily Fishing

We’ve assembled a nice collection of US native trout lilies, but unfortunately they don’t adapt well to typical nursery production. We are experimenting with digging these spring ephemerals while they are in flower and shipping them at that time. Here is one that was a start this spring that hopefully we’ll be able to share in a few more years.

White-spotted leopard

Recently took this photo of the amazing white-spotted leopard plant, Farfugium ‘Kaimon Dake’…so glad to have this back in stock finally!

Now you can have your very own white-spotted leopard!

Stephanotis kissin’ cousin

Cynanchum ascyrifolium is first cousin to the popular wedding flower, stephanotis. Despite it’s ease of growth in the garden, and hardiness to Minnesota, it’s always been a poor seller. We wanted to share the photo of our 2′ tall x 3′ wide clump taken last week in the garden. We could be persuaded to propagate again…if enough of you show an interest.

A new redbud to cultivation

Since redbuds were a favorite plant of the late J.C. Raulston, and a feature of the garden that bears his name, I assumed that I had seen or grown all of the known species. Boy was I wrong, as I learned from Scott McMahon, Manager of International Plant Explorations for the Atlanta Botanical Garden on a recent trip to Georgia. Cercis chuniana, which Scott brought in from China, is one of two species of redbuds with pendant racemes of flowers. The other is Cercis racemosa, which we’ve grown in our gardens since 1995. The foliage of C. chuniana is glaucous and quite unique, along with the flowers emerge white and age to pink. We look forward to this amazing new plant eventually becoming available to the public.

Cracks worth peering into

So far, it’s been an amazing spring in our now completed crevice garden. Composed of 200 tons of recycled concrete, the 300′ long drought-loving border is home to plants that need extremely well-drained planting media. We hope you’ll be able to visit this fascinating installation during our Spring Open Nursery and Garden days, today, May 4, 8am-5pm, tomorrow 1pm-5pm, and next weekend, May 10-12. If not, here are a few current images.

Kale by the Sea

We’re now 2 years into our first successful attempt at growing the European Sea Kale, and have just finished our first flowering season. They key to success with Crambe maritima seems to be growing it hot and dry, since it resides in our gravel crevice garden. How cool is it to have a plants that is both ornamental and edible!

Arbor Day – Look to the Canopy

Happy Arbor Day! As we all move hurriedly through life, focusing on what is directly in front of us, take a moment and look to the canopy. Raise your gaze and be more aware of your total surroundings.

Blooms overhead, the architecture and structure of nature…our place and purpose in this natural world.

Aesculus ‘Briottii’
Pinus taeda ‘Nana’
Trachycarpus fortunei Taylor form
Yucca treculeana var. canaliculata ‘Sasquatch’

Hardy Agave for Your Garden

There are many agave that are hardy in our Zone 7b garden that many people would not think would live here. The key to successfully growing agaves is proper siting, planting, and culture. These are pictures taken this week of agaves in the garden.

Join us May 4, 2019 at 2:00pm for our Gardening Unplugged garden chat on Hardy Agave for the Garden, during our Spring Open Nursery & Garden Days.

Agave ovatifolia ‘Vanzie’
Agave lophantha ‘Splendida’
Agave salmiana ‘Green Goblet’
Agave victoria-reginae Papay Giant form
Agave x pseudoferox

Urbanite Crevice Garden

If you haven’t been out lately, the last section of our crevice garden along the exit drive is nearly finished and being planted as we speak.

Previous sections are starting to fill in nicely and really shining this spring. Be sure to visit during our upcoming 2019 Spring Open Nursery & Garden Days, May 3-5 & 10-12, and get inspiration for your own crevice or rock garden.

Explore, Shop, Refuel

2019 Winter Open Nursery & Garden Days

Visit Plant Delights Nursery at Juniper Level Botanic Garden during our winter open house starting Friday, February 22 through Sunday, February 24, and March 1-3. Click here for directions.

During each of our Winter Open Nursery & Garden weekends we welcome you to explore the winter wonders of Juniper Level Botanic Garden and attend our free garden chat series, Gardening Unplugged, where you interact with our expert staff discussing seasonally pertinent topics such as winter garden maintenance, hellebores, and asarum (wild gingers) in the garden.

You will also have the opportunity to shop the sales houses at Plant Delights Nursery and take home and abundance of rare and unique perennials, as well as exclusive PDN introductions available nowhere else.

After all this exploring, shopping, and enlightened horticultural engagement, take time to refuel with local food trucks that will be available during both weekends. Current schedule is as follows:






Rich Dufresne estate update

I was blessed to spend time yesterday with Rich’s delightful family, who came down from Massachusetts to sort through Richard’s belongings at his home for the last 9 years in the NC Sandhills. They were thrilled for us to rescue Rich’s papers, scans, and other plant related material. Our goal is to make these available to the public in a yet undetermined way, and hopefully plan a future celebration of Richard’s life. It’s been lovely to see so many comments from others who also admired Rich. 

Special thanks to Rich’s closest friends, the Lindlaus’s, who were so helpful to Rich in his daily life, as well as coordinating the clean-up/rescue. Bless you all!


Perennial Plant Association coming soon

We’ve had quite at year already, but the best is yet to come. In just under three weeks, we welcome the Perennial Plant Association meeting back to the Triangle region for the first time in 21 years. The Perennial Plant Association is a professional association of folks in the business of perennials. This includes growers, retailers, marketers, writers, landscape designers, etc. So far, over 435 folks from all over the world have signed up. 

The Monday plant talks are the only part of the meeting open to non-professionals, but what a day of talks it is.

Monday Speakers include

Dr. Patrick McMillan, Director of the SC Botanical Garden, and one of the top plantsmen in the country. Patrick is a dynamic speaker, plant explorer, and Emmy Award winning television celebrity.  He will be speaking twice, once on Native Plants of the Carolinas and again on Growing Southwest native plants in the Southeast.

Dr. Kevin Vaughn is a highly-awarded breeder of hostas, hemerocallis, iris, and much more. His book, Beardless Irises will be the topic of what will be a informative and humorous talk.

Dr. John Kartesz of Bonap  (Biota of North America) is a walking encyclopedia of North American Native Plants.  His on-line database allows you to find out where any plant is native in the US, and to indentify it on-line with visible characteristics. Don’t miss this fascinating presentation.

Christian Kress is the owner of Sarastro Nursery in Austria. This amazing specialty nursery is the go to source for rare perennials throughout the entire EU. Christian is a world-renown plant explorer, who has ventured through many of the worlds most dangerous countries in search of great new garden plants.

George Coombs in the perennials trial manager for Mt. Cuba Gardens. In this capacity, George oversees the side by side evaluations of new perennials in a garden setting. You’ll be amazed to hear his real world results.

Dr. Larry Mellichamp is the retired professor and director of the UNC-Charlotte Botanical Gardens. Larry is renown for his botanical knowledge, keen sense of observation, and dry sense of humor, all of which will be front and center, when he explores the quirky and secret life of plants, from his book, Bizarre Botanicals.

Judith Jones of Fancy Fronds is a woman who eats, sleeps, and breathes ferns. Judith will regale us with her encyclopedic knowledge of ferns we probably don’t know, but should be growing. 

Lauri Lawson has long been a student and teacher of medicinal plants, especially those derived from perennials. With a horticultural background that included stints at both Niche Gardens and Plant Delights Nursery, Lauri has a wealth of plant knowledge to share about remedies from plants you may already be growing in your own back yard.

If you don’t want to sit all day, then there are also two tour options for Monday

The first option is to Metrolina Greenhouse near Charlotte, where a large portion of the perennials sold in the region are grown. Metrolina only has one greenhouse, but it covers 162 acres. In addition to their incredible automation, they employee up to 1300 people, and ship out 180 tractor trailers of plants daily. This is truly a mind-boggling operation.

Tour 2 on Monday is for garden designers

We have an amazing tour lineup Monday tour that includes the famed Chatham Mills Pollinator Garden, the NC Botanic Garden, the Honeysuckle Tea House, and the amazing Red Door Garden. These tours all focus on sustainable, organic, and pollinator-friendly gardens. You can find out more about each of these by clicking this link.

And that is the pre-convention day!   The core days are Tuesday-Thursday. You can find the full agenda here. Some spaces still remain, so sign up soon! 

It’s Alive !

Just after lunch today, the blessed event began as our Amorphophallus titanum ‘Peter Grande’ began to open. Here is an image from 215pm Friday, with our County Register of Deeds, Charles Gilliam, looking on…making sure it was indeed opening..  Peak viewing will be tonight from 5-8pm and tomorrow from 8am until 8pm. Artificial insemination will take place this evening…probably between 7 and 8pm…voyeurs welcome! 

Do you have rocks in your head…or your garden?

We’re members of many plant groups, and each are quite wonderful. One of the groups of which we’ve been member the longest is the North American Rock Garden Society.  We’re blessed not only with a great national organization, but also with a superb local chapter.

We were thrilled to host the groups’ National Meeting last year in Raleigh.  One of the incredible bonuses of membership is access to their incredible seed exchange, where one can get lost in a list of over 3000 rock garden plant seed, donated by members from around the world. These are not plants that are usually found anywhere else, and certainly not in typical seed catalogs.  Round two of the 2018 seed exchange will start in a few weeks, so if growing unusual rock garden plants from seed appeals to you, check out the seed exchange and consider becoming a member. 

Happy New Year

New Year greetings from the staff at Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden. We thank you all from the top of our hearts for another amazing year. As we turn the page on the calendar, 2018 begins our 30th anniversary year…and they said it wouldn’t last.  At this time of reflection, we wanted to share on of our favorite verses from poet, William Wordsworth, which can help us all cope better in a world of seeming craziness.  




Introducing Hibiscus ‘Summer Carnival’

On of the exciting new plants in the 2018 catalog is the first commercial variegated hardy perennial hibiscus.  Hibiscus ‘Summer Carnival’ was developed by our friend Hans Hansen. I can still recall the moment I first laid eyes on this beauty…truly love at first sight. The variegation runs up the stem, into the leaves, and even into the flower buds. We hope you enjoy this as much as we do. Mature size is 42″ tall x 5′ wide, and hardiness ranges from Zone 4a-9b. 

Visit to Mr. Maple

I’m just back from speaking to the Western NC Master Gardener Symposium…always a great time chatting with MG groups.  While in Asheville, I dropped by to finally visit our friends Matt and Tim Nichols…the owners of Mr. Maple mail order nursery in East Flat Rock, NC.  It just happened that the PBS show, Growing a Greener World was filming there at the time, which afforded a chance to connect with host Joe Lamp’l, and producer Erica Glasener…a great day!

Lycoris surprise – the late season

While Lycoris x squamigera is one of the first surprise lily to flower each summer, Lycoris x caldwellii (Lycoris chinensis x longituba) is one of the last, usually in early to mid September in NC.  With the popularity of Lycoris x squamigera in gardens through the upper midwest, it is quite shocking not to find the equally winter hardy Lycoris x caldwellii...especially since it offsets quite fast for a surprise lily.  We guess some of the lack of other hardy clones in gardens is that most people purchased mislabeled plants and think they are actually growing Amaryllis belladonna.  Unless you garden from Zone 8 south, you are not growing Amaryllis belladonna outdoors.  We’re doing our best to get these great lycoris spread far and wide. 

Foxtrot in the Garden

Foxtrot – “a dance characterized by long, continuous flowing movements” – Wikipedia. Pennisetum ‘Foxtrot’ –  I’ve long loved this splendid fountain grass, but somehow never managed to remember to stop and take a good photo…until now.  We like it so much, we planted a big mass around our new home.  These were planted as 1 quart pots in January…yes, we shop here also.   


Cow Pies….aka Meadow Muffin

I will admit I originally purchased this from We-Du Nursery co-founder, Dick Weaver for the name, after he shared the story of tromping through the woods near his home in Polly Spout, NC, and spotted what appeared to be a green cow pie.  It turned out to be an exceptional form of the native woodland groundcover, Erigeron pulchellus.  Figuring a plant named ‘Cow Pie’ wouldn’t sell well to city folks, Dick opted for the name Erigeron ‘Meadow Muffin’.  We’ve grown this for nearly 30 years, and as a shade groundcover, it’s hard to beat.  The semi-evergreen (temperature dependent) rosettes knit closely together, forming a dense mat.  In mid-spring, the clump are topped with an incredible show of light pink daisies.  We hope you love this as much as we did, and help us keep the story alive. In case you know Dick during his NC nursery days (after retiring as the taxonomist at the Arnold Arboretum) he recently moved from his retirement home in Florida to Pennsylvannia after the passing of his long time partner, Rene Duval. 


Magnets and Magenta…both attract

We were marveling this week at the incredible number of pollinator insects feeding on Sedum ‘Dynomite‘ in the garden.  Visitors included honeybees, native bumblebees, dirt daubers, and assorted other wasps…all feasting away as if the buffet was closing. 

Gardens can be environmentally healthy and attractive.  Fom a different angle, the same plant of Sedum ‘Dynomite‘, combined with Persicaria ‘Golden Arrow’.  Part of the fun of the garden is creating fun color, texture, and form combinations.  

New – Agave ‘Durango Fandango

This spring, we introduced a new seed strain of century plant, named Agave ‘Durango Fandango’.  These arose from a cross made by one of our volunteer agave curators, Mike Papay.  Agave flexispina pollen was applied to a hardy selection of Agave schidigera. As with all agave crosses, it takes a while to full evaluate the offspring, but we wanted to share photos of our plants that went into the ground in March 2017 from 1 quart pots.  Since both parents mature around 2-3′ in width, we expect the same from the offspring, but one of the nice surprises is the stunning red border that becomes more prevalent as it grows. Since both parents are winter hardy in Zone 7b, we expect the same for Agave ‘Durango Fandango’.  If you want to try this or any of our agave hybrids, remember that the amount of plants available is limited by the seed set from the cross, and there will be no more once those are gone…until one of the offspring flowers, which could take many years.

A Loss for NC Horticulture

Image result for hunter stubbs

It’s especially sad for us to announce the all too early passing of former PDN’er Hunter Stubbs, 47, who passed away this weekend from brain cancer.  Hunter was a star student of the late Dr. JC Raulston, and an amazing worker for us, before he moved to Asheville, and became a household name in the landscape community. Hunter’s first job there was as landscape manager for Richmond Hill Inn, and his incredible passion for plants led him to start a horticulture symposium there, for which he enticed Dan Hinkley and I to speak on the same program. Hunter went on to become part-owner of the BB Barnes Landscape Division. Like JC Raulston, Hunter almost seemed bigger than life…always smiling, and always positive.  Even at the NC Nursery Show this January, you would have been hard pressed to know anything was wrong. Hunter is survived by his wife Carla, and two children, Hayden and Carson.  Life well lived, my friend.    

New Redbuds

I had the wonderful opportunity recently to spend the day with NC State plant breeder, Dr. Dennis Werner in his extensive redbud breeding plots. So far, four redbuds have been named and released, including Cercis ‘Ruby Falls’ (weeping purple leaf), Cercis ‘Whitewater’ (weeping variegated leaf), and Cercis ‘Merlot’ (upright purple leaf with better color retention), and Cercis ‘Pink Pom Poms’ (double pink flowered upright). The new plants in the pipeline are almost unimaginable, from foliage colors to size, form, and even leaf shape. If you’ve never bred plants, it’s hard to imagine the incredible amount of thought, work, and time it takes to create such an amazing array of plants. Even though Dr. Werner has now retired, he will be continuing his work as a JC Raulston Arboretum volunteer plant breeder…how cool!  We’re saving some room in our garden for more of these exciting introductions that will be coming soon.

Agave Mountain Man – the big moment

We posted this a few weeks ago as our Agave ‘Mountain Man’ (A. gentryi x montana) prepared to open. We’ll, the big moment is here…below are a few shot from today.

The seed were wild-collected in Mexico in the late 1990s by our friends at Yucca Do, and our seedling was planted in May 2000, so it took 17 years to flower.  Fingers crossed for good seed set, and fortunately we have many more agaves in flower (and a tall ladder) to help the process. 

Jobs at PDN and JLBG

Nursery Intern

Plant Delights Nursery is seeking a driven and energetic student or recent graduate who is interested in working for a world-renowned mail order nursery in Raleigh, NC.  Come learn with us as we rotate you through each of the nursery departments, and our through our stunning botanic garden.  You will gain experience in plant identification, propagation, IPM, shipping, nursery maintenance, facilities upkeep, and face-to-face sales. 

Our goal and our passion is to be one of the most unique botanic gardens in the world. In our quest for new plants, we have taken over 80 botanical expeditions and sponsored many more, both domestic and global, since 1994. We also work closely with the top plant explorers and breeders around the world to grow and evaluate the best in new ornamental plants. Few, if any, plant nurseries or botanic gardens can match the diversity of our plant collections, which currently numbers over 22,000 taxa, of which many have original provenance data.

Qualified candidates for our internship programs must have a good work ethic, a friendly personality, and be able to work well with others. Candidates must be able to pay acute attention to detail while working at a quick pace. We are seeking a team player who enjoys working in a friendly and fast-paced environment. Please send resumes with cover letters of interest with reasons why you are the ideal candidate to

Position Classification: Hourly (Non-Exempt) Seasonal 

Program Details: 

  • Education-focused program designed to expose interested students to all aspects of operations in a truly unique mail-order retail nursery
  • Exposure to on-site sales during our Summer Open Nursery and Garden
  • Hands on experience tending to plants in the nursery and during rotation through the garden and research areas
  • Networking opportunities with staff, volunteers, and visitors to a noteworthy horticultural establishment
  • Experience the rush of being part of a team dedicated to the mission of PDN and JLBG 

Grounds and Garden Assistant

Plant Delights Nursery is seeking seasonal garden and grounds assistants to work Monday–Friday.  Applicants must be available to work 20-40 hours per week from March-August for Juniper Level Botanic Garden, effective by March 15th, 2017.  Qualified candidates must be physically durable, have a tolerance for a wide range of outdoor weather including summer heat, have a good work ethic, a friendly personality, and be able to work well with others. Qualified candidates must be able to pay acute attention to detail while working at a fast pace. Preference will be given to applicants with horticultural or botanic garden experience. We are seeking team players who enjoy working in a friendly and fast paced environment. Send resumes with cover letters of interest with reasons why you are the ideal candidate to

Position Classification: Hourly (Non-Exempt) Seasonal, $8 / hour

Job Description

  • Perform horticultural maintenance in the display and research gardens including weeding, raking, and planting
  • Assist with grounds maintenance, including surface water control
  • Other duties as assigned 

Hardy Lady Slipper Orchids!!

Cypripedium, Lady Slipper Orchids, is a genus of woodland garden plants that are among the most desired of all native hardy orchids for sale, despite their often finicky requirements.

Plant Delights Nursery is excited about our bare root shipment of responsibly grown, flowering size, cypripedium orchids we received yesterday.  These plants are nursery propagated and not collected from the wild.

picture of bare root cypripedium pubescens

Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens – healthy bare root liners with multiple eyes!

Fall is the best time for planting your hardy lady slipper orchid. Beds should be well-prepared and amended with compost unless you naturally have rich, organic soil. Dig a shallow but wide crater, spread the roots out flat (with eyes pointed upward), cover them with 1″ of soil, and water in well.

picture of cypripedium gabriela and healthy bare root liners

Cypripedium ‘Gabriela’ – healthy bare root liners with multiple eyes.

You should avoid planting your lady slipper orchid near aggressive groundcovers (such as ivy, vinca or Japanese pachysandra) or near the base of trees or large shrubs due to root competition. Check out this article on Cypripediums for more in depth information.

picture of cypripedium reginae and healthy bare root liners.

Cypripedium reginae – healthy bare root liners with multiple eyes.

Other varieties of Cypripedium we just got in for sale include C. kentuckienseHank Small, Michael, and Philipp. All plants have been potted to keep the roots from drying out and for shipping, but the mix can easily be removed for fall planting and incorporated into the planting site.

Final Weekend of Open Nursery and Garden for 2016!

This is the last weekend of our 2016 Open Nursery and Garden! Come see our gardens and be inspired to add a bit more color and texture to your own gardens. Be sure to stop by Jim and Kathy Phillips Pottery and Stone Sculpture booths, debuting at Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden for the first time this weekend!

picture of Kathy Phillips Pottery booth at Plant Delights Open House

Jim and Kathy Phillips Pottery and Stone booth at Plant Delights Open House

picture of Echinacea blooming in the Sales House

Echinacea blooming in the Sales House

picture of Souto Garden that opened Spring 2015

Souto Garden that opened Spring 2015

Snackin’ in the garden

Mantis-cicadaIn the dim pre-dawn light, I was making my morning trek to retrieve the morning newspaper, when my attention was pulled to a pain-like screeching coming from the garden.  It wasn’t hard to follow the noise, which turned out to be a hungry praying mantis, squeezing the life from a still struggling cicada, who’d found itself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  There are so many wonderful opportunities in the garden to observe nature if we just slow down and be mindful of each moment.


2016 Summer Sale – Save 20% On Nearly 100 Plants

Our annual Summer Clearance Sale is now underway. With summer inventory complete, we’ve found some of the coolest plants didn’t sell in the numbers that we’d hoped, so we’re left with extra inventory. Quantities are limited. Sale ends July 3 and plants must be scheduled by July 5 for shipment or pickup. Shop now!

Favorites from this week in garden.



Dryopteris x australis3There’s so much going on in the garden now, it’s hard to know where to start.  The ferns are looking fabulous, and one of our favorites is the native Dryopteris x australis.  Yes, “australis” means from the south.  This 3-4′ tall fern grows well in moist or fairly dry soils.  Here’s the clump beside our shipping office. Epimedium Splish Splash

Epimedium ‘Splish Splash’ is in its second flowering spurt of the spring.  This re-flowering Plant Delights introduction is really quite special, both in foliage and in flower.


Eucomis Sparkling Burgundy combo with Verbena Lavender Frappe

Here’s a fun color echo combination of Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy‘ and Verbena ‘Lavender Frappe’.  The textural difference in the two plants makes this vignette visually appealing.  Baptisia Pink Truffles3


Here’s our clump of Baptisia ‘Pink Truffles’ from the breeding work of our friend Hans Hansen at Walters Gardens.  This is the first named pink flowered baptisia….we are very pleased with its performance.Clematis recta Lime Close foliageClematis recta ‘Lime Close’ has been amazing this spring.  For years, I was under the mistaken impression that this wouldn’t grow in our heat…I was very wrong.  The non-vining Clematis ‘Lime Close’ is often sold under the marketing name Serious Black.  I love this plant!


Anole Love

We love our color-changing, native Carolina anoles.  He are some recent photos from the garden.Anole on yucca leaf

Hello…need some auto insurance.  Just kidding!

Anole on yucca leaf3




I’m looking for a mate…are you a mate?

Anole love

That’s more my speed…love in the afternoon…at Juniper Level Botanic Garden.


A Mindful Finch

Blind house finch at feeder


After finishing a recent lunch, I headed outside on the porch to fill our bird feeders.  Normally, all the birds instinctively retreat to a safe distance, awaiting their new snack, but something was different this day.  A solitary house finch remained, seemingly oblivious as I re-filled the feeder.  Why, I wondered, did it not fly away with the other birds, and then I noticed that it was blind. Researching further, I learned about finch mycoplasma (which also affect plants), is a disease that robs birds of sight, and often their life.

As sad as the finch plight was, it was amazing to watch the finch using its other senses to fearlessly continue to eat. The finch reinforced many of the lessons I’ve been learning…embrace all of our functional senses each moment and do so without judgment or fear, as none of us are guaranteed anything beyond the present.  What society labels disabilities are only so if we label them as such.  The natural world has many lessons to share if we’re mindful enough to observe.

Newsletter Mix-up

If you’re subscribed to the blog and receive each post in an email you maybe be scratching your head right now. While performing some maintenance we accidentally sent out the last three Newsletter posts again. Please accept our apologies for any confusion this may have caused.

– PDN Staff

Tony’s Piano for sale


On a note unrelated to plants, I have decided to sell my piano, which was purchased new around 1980.  Believe it or not, I took lessons for eight years of lessons as a youngster.  This piano is one I purchased as a recent newlywed around 1980.  I have come to the realization that my chances of finding time to play again aren’t realistic, so I’m hoping to find it a loving home.  If interested, and you’re in the local area, click the Craigslist link .

More highlights from Seattle

Washington Convention Center Seattle

My first stop in Seattle was the Downtown Convention Center, which was hosting the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.  Despite my uneasiness of mass transit, and lack of sense of direction in big cities, I threw caution to the wind and took the Link Light Rail from the airport to downtown ($2.75 fare compared to $50 for a taxi).  Amazingly, it delivered me only a couple of blocks from the Convention Center, which my cell phone was able to locate.

Water garden at NWFGS

The Flower show was like other flower shows in many ways, yet very different in others.  The central garden displays were over the top, as is often the case at these shows, but the show felt much less pretentious than my last trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show.  Overall, I think it’s the best flower show I’ve ever attended.

Plant Market at NWFGS

I normally avoid the vendor areas of the show, filled with hot tubs and aluminum siding, but that was not the case here.  There was an array of fascinating plant vendors, botanical gardens, garden related art, and so much more.  If I’d had more time, I would have left much more money with the show vendors.  As it was, I returned home only with a pack of Bob’s Freakin Nuts, of which I’m munching on as I write.

David Fishman booth at NWFGS

I stopped by  to visit the booth of PDN customer, and amazing photographic artist, David Fishman, whose botanical photographic art is simply indescribable.  We actually have one of David’s pieces hanging in the PDN office.  After presenting a couple of talks at the show (along with 70 other amazing speakers), it was off to catch the ferry over to Mahonia Summit.

Dan Hinkley welcoming Mahonia Summit participants to Heronswood

After a half day of talks, our first tour was to the original Heronswood Nursery gardens, which are being fully restored.  It was truly a deja-vous moment to have the tour led by garden founder, Dan Hinkley.  The weather in the oft winter-dreary Seattle area was fabulous.

Duane West at Heronswood

It was also great to see so many of the former Heronistas (Heronswood staff) back at the garden as volunteers, including former nursery manager, Duane West.

Heronswood driveway looking north

After five years of maintenance neglect, the gardens look amazingly good.

Scoliopis bigelovii in flower at Heronswood

There were lots of amazing plants to see in the gardens. I was particularly thrilled to catch Scoliopus bigelovii (California Adder’s Tongue) in full flower.

Driveway at Windcliff

The next stop was Dan Hinkley’s amazing new home garden, Windcliff, where he and Robert hosted the group to a wonderful dinner, garden tour, and evening of mahonia presentations.

Aucuba omeiense at Windcliff

I was particularly impressed by the giant-leaved, tropical-looking Chinese Aucuba omeiensis.  I’ve killed this twice, so I’m pondering a third attempt.

Mahonia group at Far Reaches

Our third and final tour was to Far Reaches Farm.  The best way I could describe Far Reaches, is to call it a young Heronswood. I’m pretty jaded as far a nurseries go, and they exceeded all my expectations.  Three hours was barely time to make a dent in looking through their plant greenhouses.  Far Reaches has become one of my favorite mail order nurseries to find new plants to try, although their climate is far different from ours back in NC.  Owners, Kelly Dodson and his wife, Sue Millikan welcomed the group.

Dan Hinkley at Far Reaches greenhouse

Even the horticulturally-jaded Dan Hinkley was amazed at their selection of plants.

Container and Field production at Far Reaches

Although the production area was still mostly dormant, we were amazed at the array of names on the tags and look forward to a return trip.

Erythronium japonicum at Far Reaches

As always when I visit the Pacific Northwest, I’m envious of plants I’ve managed to kill several times, including the lovely spring ephemeral, Erythronium japonicum.  That’s ok….we can ripen tomatoes.

Returning home proved a challenge as a winter storm was racing ahead of us toward NC.  My Monday return flight was cancelled before I arrived at the Seattle airport and I was re-booked as far as Atlanta for the night. This would have been fine, but the storm was pummeling Atlanta as we tried to land, and after circling the airport for over an hour, we were nearly out of fuel, so we flew east to Columbia, SC to refuel.

We finally returned to Atlanta, where we landed around 130am…a bit later than our scheduled 915pm arrival. As you can imagine, there was no food on the flight, and we were a bit hungry when we arrived back in Atlanta.  I don’t know when I’ve been as excited as when I learned that the Burger King at the Atlanta airport remains open until 230am…hooray.

After a quick bite of food, I phone the hotel I’d booked that morning for a shuttle pickup, only to find their shuttle service stopped at 1am.  Okay taxis aren’t that bad…are they?  Well, a 2am taxi ride in Atlanta doesn’t produce the best drivers. After a ride of less than one mile that costs $15, I finally arrived at the hotel to find they’d given away my reserved room.   After some certainly incoherrent due to the time of day, I did manage to find my way to an out-of-service room at the hotel, that suited me just fine for a couple of hours of sleep before a flight back to Raleigh in the early morning hours.  All in all a fabulous trip, and I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the trip highlights.

Facilities Maintenance Position

Plant Delights still has an open position for a Full-Time Facilities Maintenance Specialist.  We’re looking for a handyman with good skills in a variety of areas.  You can find more by clicking the link above.  We’re also looking for some part-time help in this division as well.  If this sounds like you or someone you know (i.e. a retired spouse that you’d like to get out of the house)…please let us hear from you.

More new garden construction here at Juniper Level

2014 9249 Ghse 8 bed construction

Here’s our latest new garden construction at Juniper Level Botanic Garden.  We’re clearing out an entire hedge of giant Nellie Stevens hollies behind the Open House sales greenhouses and replacing them with a more diverse and intricate planting.  All of our beds are composed of a soil mix that we make: 50% native soil and 50% compost.  It’s soil preparation like that makes plants grow so well and so insanely fast.  It’s our goal to have this project completed by our next open house in February.

SFASU plantsmen

Greg Grant at SFASUDave Creech with Black Diamond Crape Myrtle

It was great to visit several of my favorite plantsmen/women on my recent trip to Texas.  Here are two my camera happened to capture at the Stephen F. Austin Gardens.  Top is Greg Grant, who has shared many of his wonderful introductions with us.  Below is Dr. Dave Creech…the founder and mastermind behind the Stephen F. Austin State University Gardens.  Dave is showing us one of the Black Diamond Crape Myrtles, bred by his friend Cecil Pounders of Mississippi.  Not photographed are Dawn Stover, Dave’s strong right hand, and Dr. Jared Barnes, a recent NCSU grad who is taking over the horticulture teaching duties at SFASU.  Great to see them all on a far too quick visit…a must stop if you’re in the area around Nacogdoches.

Goodbye to Pearl

Pearl Sept 2014


We lost a long-time member of our Plant Delights family yesterday with the passing of Pearl at the ripe old age of 16.  I’m sure many of you interacted with Pearl during her tenure at Plant Delights, so here is one final photo taken by Anita last week during her final trek out into the garden.  Pearl was preceeded in death by her sister, Ruby, and is survived by Zirconia, Jasper, and Henry.  We hope you’ll share your memories of Pearl here and during our upcoming open nursery and garden days that start tomorrow (Friday).

Tony and Katie occupying the garden

Tony and Katie at Katie's garden

I’ve spent a bit of time over the last few weeks with my stepdaughter Katie at her first home, working with her on the basics of landscaping. She’s never gardened before and this is her first time experiencing the joys of home ownership.  After this weekend, she’s getting close to seeding her first lawn. She’s really embraced the amount of work required to properly prepare the soil organically.  Anita snapped this yesterday as we laid out the lawn borders…all while wearing the appropriate garden attire.

Earthquake News from CA

Just heard back from Bill McNamara, director of the Quarryhill Botanical Garden in California’s Napa wine country, and the garden came through the earthquake in good shape with only a few books shaken off the shelves.  Thank goodness, since this is one of the most amazing collections of Asian plants in the country.  I’m sure everyone has visited this national treasure.  Our thoughts are with those in the area who were less fortunate.

Red-Bellied Water Snake

Red-bellied watersnake in garage7Red-bellied watersnake in garage4

This fellow, a red-bellied water snake showed up under Anita’s car in our garage this weekend, where we found him happily dining on organic frog legs…and other frog parts.  Our cat, Zirconia was interested, but unwilling due to his advanced age to engage this potential play toy.

Get Well Soon Wishes to David Culp

Get well soon wishes go out to our friend David Culp, author of the hit gardening book, The Layered Garden.  I had just seen with David a couple of weeks ago in Cincinnati where he received an award from the Perennial Plant Association for his wonderful book.  David is just starting the road to recovery after recent emergency Aortic Dissection surgery.  David was scheduled to be at Plant Delights today, but obviously didn’t make it.  He’s currently resting uncomfortably at home and beginning his recovery with short walks. Please join me in wishing David a speedy recovery.

Wanted – Equipment Operator – Part time

We’re looking for a part-time equipment operator who can operate a tractor, mower, and preferably a skid steer and front end loader.  Hours may be up to 40 hours some weeks, and less when weather or work load dictates.  If you know anyone who has this skill set and might be interested, please have them email a resume to our business manager, Heather Brameyer at  Thanks.

One Year and Counting

1308_Tony&AnitaAvent_212-950 copy

Anita and I celebrated the first anniversary of our life together this weekend in the garden where we were married.  Whatever mysterious forces brought us together still amazes me.  Over the last year, I;ve learned so much and my life has positively changed in ways I never thought possible.  I am one very lucky man to find such an amazing woman at this point in my life…one who even tolerates my chaotic, crazy, and obsessive life.  Ain’t life just grand!

Rant of the Day

I’m in the midst of writing, measuring and researching plant descriptions for the fall Plant Delights Nursery catalog and keep coming across on-line references to Penstemon schmidel.  The only problem is that this is not, nor has ever been the the name of a Penstemon species.  Kasimar Schmidel is the 18th century botanical physician that named the genus Penstemon.  Not only did an array of reputable nurseries fail to catch such a obvious error, but one of our top horticultural trade magazines and the US Patent office all revealed what a sloppy job they do in fact checking, the latter accepting the non-existent species in a recently approved plant patent. Doesn’t anyone care about accuracy any more, or are we all just willing to reprint the same errors?   No wonder we have such a wealth of misinformation in our industry…shame, shame!

Higher than the proverbial kite

Helicam flying distant2

The drone soared to several hundred feet above the nursery and gardens, taking incredible video which we are now having edited.  As soon as the videos are complete, we’ll post them to the website providing a virtual tour of our facilities for those who can’t visit in person.  All in all, a fascinating experience.  If you’re in need of video work for your business, we had a marvelous experience working with the lovely folks at Helicam Aerial Media Services, who left here to film new, top secret government aircraft at an undisclosed location.

Drone day at Juniper Level

Helicam in landing platform with Roger, Richard, and Denise Mann

This week we welcomed the Helicam Aerial Media folks to Plant Delights/Juniper Level Botanic Garden to take aerial drone photos of the nursery and garden.  Wayne, Denise, and Richard Mann of Randleman, NC are the owners and creators of these drones, which they use to film everything from television shows to truck commercials around the country.

Hellebore Sale Redux

Hellebores sold out?  Hold on to the mouse a bit longer.  Since we switched to a live inventory system in January, it didn’t occur to us that customers would put sale plants in their shopping cart and then forgot to check out.  Well, as it turned out, that’s exactly what happened.  Since we allow shopping carts to remain un-dumped for 24 hours, many of the sale hellebores appeared to be sold out, but re-appeared in inventory 24 hours later…don’t you just love computers.  Anyway, there are still 50 of the 2-quart sale hellebores remaining, so please take the final ones for real this time.



Hellebores flew out the door

Wow…you folks are amazing.  It took less than a hour to clear out all 338 of our 2 quart-sized hellebores.  I hope those of you who ordered them get as much enjoyment from watching them flower as we have.  For those who missed out, we are very sorry, but we had no idea they would go as fast as they did…incredible!  Now, on with the potting of next years’ crop of lenten roses for next winters’ open house.  Thanks so much for helping us clear out needed space!

Speaking in Kernersville, NC

This Saturday, May 17, I will be speaking at the Paul Ciener Botanical in Kernersville, NC (near Greensboro/Winston-Salem),as part of their Triad Plant and Landscape Festival.  As always, I look forward to meeting each of you and putting faces with those that we’ve only met previously on Social media.  I hope to see you there.  You can find out more details at the Ciener Botanical Garden website.


Ozarks continued – Phlox world

Phlox divaricata stop 1 AR

I’ve never encountered the likes of phlox like we saw in the Ozarks.  Our first stop had three species of phlox growing together in a flood plain, Phlox paniculata, Phlox divaricata, and Phlox pilosa…which doesn’t look anything like Phlox pilosa I’ve seen in other regions.  I appears that all the phlox integrade, as many plants there appeared to be hybrids among the many species.  Truly, a fascinating conundrum.

Ilex opaca gold leaf

Ilex opaca gold at stop 6 AR

We’re always keeping our eyes open for aberrant forms of native plants. and I nearly drove off the road when I spotted this gold leaf American holly, Ilex opaca.  Sorry for the fuzzy picture, but it rained on us every single day of the trip and taking good photos in the pouring rain is a worthwhile challenge.

Bird-foot violet, Viola pedata

Viola pedata running clone at stop 1 AR

One of the plants that loves degraded, rocky shale banks is the bird-foot violet, Viola pedata.  At this site, however, we found some Viola pedata plants that made 2′ wide spreading patches, which I’ve never heard of or seen before.  I’ve seen this species across the country and it always makes a small tight clump, so this is a huge variation from normal.

Botanizing in the Ozarks

Vista after stop 8 AR

Just back from a botanizing trip into the Ozark Mountains in Northwest Arkansas.  It’s a beautiful part of the county with rolling hills and low mountain plateaus. The Ozarks are the largest mountain range between the Rockies and the Appalachians and contain a number of  interesting plants.

Plant Delights Website Checkout Issues

We apologize for the checkout problems today on our website.  We fired our last e-commerce vendor in December because they couldn’t keep our e-commerce platform functional, and darn if we haven’t managed to find another vendor that’s equally adept at screwing up our e-commerce.  We’re told the checkout is finally fixed, but if you find any further problems, let us know immediately ( and please accept our sincere apologies!  Thanks for your patience.

Tornados missed Plant Delights

In case you were watching the weather last night, two tornados touched down within a couple of minutes of the nursery…one 5 minutes south, and another 3 minutes north.  Fortunately damage to homes and property was minimal and the tornados weren’t on the ground when they passed over PDN…whew!