If you grow it, they may not buy it

One of the frustrating things about growing and propagating plants is when you find an incredible plant, offer it for sale, and virtually no one buys it. Such is the case with the Texas native, Ageratina havanensis, aka: Havana Mistflower, Eupatorium havanense. This fascinating woody perennial, formerly classified as a eupatorium, forms a 3′ tall x 7′ wide mound of foliage, that’s smothered starting in late October with a dense blanket of white flowers. I can think of little else that gives you this much flower power in the fall sun garden. An array of butterflies and moths are regular visitors. The photo below is from mid-November this year. Located with enough space, there is never any required maintenance. Any idea why we never could get folks to purchase these when they were offered through PDN?

Ageratina havanensis

Have a Fall Flowering Show

There are few plants that put on a better fall show than the amazing Eupatorium havanense, now known as Ageratina havanensis. This oustanding Texas native is flowering now, having burst into flower in early November, providing nectar for a wide variety of insects, and great floristic enjoyment for a wide variety of gardeners. Plant Delights offered this for a number of years, but sadly, few people could be enticed to purchase one. Hardiness is Zone 7b and warmer.

Eupatorium havanense

Cooking up a Joe-Pye

We wanted to create a buffet for local butterflies by our patio, and a mass planting of Eupatorium purpureum ‘Little Red’ did just the trick. Not bad for a highway ditch native.

Attracting Butterflies to the garden

Allium Millenium with yellow swallowtail2

We love plants that attract butterflies to the garden, and here at Juniper Level Botanic Garden, it’s been a banner year for butterflies. Allium ‘Millenium’ is always a favorite of yellow swallowtails…here are images from this week. See the top 25 flowers that attract butterflies here.

Eupataorium dubium Little Joe with yellow swallowtail

Joe Pye weed…aka Eupatorium is always a butterfly favorite.  Here is a photo this week with yellow swallowtails taking a sip of Eupatorium dubium.

Eupatorium dubium with pipevine swallowtailThe pipevine swallowtails were enjoying the same eupatorium together with the yellow swallowtails. You can find a link to all of our butterfly favorites here.  We hope you’ll plant to bring nature into your garden.


Plant Delights Nursery July 2014 Newsletter

Greetings PDN’ers!

We hope you are enjoying your garden this summer and taking time to relax a bit, especially when the temperatures are soaring.


It was so nice to see and chat with many of you at the Summer Open Garden and Nursery Days last weekend.

Echinaceas in the Souto Garden June 2014

Echinaceas in the Souto Garden June 2014

The garden has been brimming with colors this summer, especially the new Souto Memorial Garden which is currently under development. We installed irrigation throughout the garden beds and paths in the Souto Garden earlier this year, and the plantings are displaying nicely. We’re excited to finally showcase this area of Juniper Level soon!

As we mentioned in our last newsletter, we’ve had eight more agaves (century plants) flowering this year, so our research horticulturist, Jeremy Schmidt, has been busy on one of several ladders making crosses between the species. From his crosses last year, we now have hybrids of Agave striata x Agave lophantha. We’re still a year away from these being large enough for the garden, but the potential is wonderful. We also have nice pots of seedlings from our giant hybrid of Agave salmiana v. ferox x Agave scabra that visitors marveled over during Summer Open Nursery and Garden days.

Not quite the mile high club, but Jeremy and an agave getting it on. Onlookers optional.

Not quite the mile high club, but Jeremy and an agave getting it on. Onlookers optional.

No guns banned here: lots of pistils and anthers.

No guns banned here: lots of pistils and anthers.

In the arisaema world, we now have confirmed hybrids from our crosses of Arisaema fargesii x A. triphyllum and Arisaema triphyllum x A. taiwanense. Our first hybrid arisaema, a cross of Arisaema fargesii x A. heterophyllum, that we named Arisaema ‘Crossing Over’ will finally be available for spring 2015. It’s a rather amazing plant!

Although these are a bit farther in the future, many other horticultural gems will be available in our upcoming fall Plant Delights Nursery catalog, which we’ve been compiling since May. First, we decided which new plants made the garden performance cut, and then we propagated in enough quantities to share. The new catalog will be mailed, and available on-line, around mid-August…more anticipation than in a bottle of Heinz® ketchup.

Is Life a Drag? Volunteer at JLBG!

Juniper Level Botanic GardenFor over 20 years, we have been blessed to have incredible volunteers assist us in the gardens and research sections of Juniper Level Botanic Garden. We’d love for you to join us to volunteer and learn at one of the top plant collections in the country. Volunteer opportunities involve a range of activities from planting to labeling to garden maintenance. If you have some spare time or are nearing those treasured retirement years and you want to immerse yourself in horticulture, we hope you’ll consider becoming a garden or research volunteer. For more information, contact Heather Brameyer at 919.772.4794 or e-mail heather@plantdelights.com.

Volunteers Sally & Eric Benson keeping JLBG beautiful.

Volunteers Sally & Eric Benson keeping JLBG beautiful.

Southeast Palm Society Summer Meeting

Sabal uresana

Sabal uresana

We are pleased to announce we will be hosting the summer meeting of the Southeast Palm Society on Saturday, August 9, 2014. Guests are welcome to attend as well as SPS members. There are no reservations needed for the event…all we ask is that you let us know by August 1, if you’ll be here for lunch so we can have enough food. Please email us at visit@plantdelights.com no later than August 1, 2014.



Schedule: Southeast Palm Society at Plant Delights
Nursery/Juniper Level Botanic Garden

9:15-10:00am History of PDN & JLBG (slide show in PDN Education Center)
10:00-11:00am Explore Juniper Level Botanic Garden on your own
11:00-Noon General meeting (Patio Garden)
Noon-12:45pm Lunch at PDN, provided by PDN (Patio Garden, must sign up by August 1, 2014)
12:45-1:45pm Guided Tour of JLBG Palm Collections
2:00-3:00pm Guided Tour of JLBG Succulent Collections

PDN and JLBG will be open to attendees from 9:00am – 4:00pm on August 9, 2014.

New! Photography Class with Professional Garden Photographer Josh Taylor

JLBG's Grotto Garden October 2013

JLBG’s Grotto Garden
October 2013

Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, 8am–4pm
Garden Photography – Photo Capture and Processing with Josh Taylor

Our instructor, Josh Taylor, is a professional garden photographer, workshop leader, and Canon camera instructor. Josh limits the class to 15 attendees so he can offer individual instruction, so please register early to ensure a spot! Learn how to get the best possible images from your camera and how to process your images in Lightroom with Photoshop/Photoshop Elements.

The fall landscape of the Juniper Level Botanic Garden at Plant Delights Nursery will be the setting for practicing camera skills. The morning focus of this all-day workshop will be on learning and getting reacquainted with your camera ISO settings, histogram, exposure compensation, shooting modes, bracketing, white balance, etc. You’ll spend 3 hours in the garden with your camera and the instructor.

The afternoon session will be devoted to post-processing with Lightroom using participants’ images for demonstrations. If you’re new to Lightroom or moving from Aperture or iPhoto to Lightroom, this workshop will be most helpful in getting you up to speed. You will learn how to import and process your photos in Lightroom. This workshop is designed for increasing your photographic skills and the joy of using your camera. Register here or call to register at 919-772-4794. See some examples of Josh’s work on his website: www.joshuataylorphotography.com.

New! Hosta Society National Convention – June 18, 2015 at Plant Delights Nursery

Please mark your calendar for June 18, 2015 to attend the 2015 Hosta Society National Convention. More details as we receive them.

Hosta 'Ice Follies' PPAF

Hosta ‘Ice Follies’ PPAF

2014 Fall Open Nursery and Garden Days

This will be our last Open Nursery and Garden event until late February 2015. Plan to join us to see our gorgeous fall offerings in the greenhouses and the botanic garden.

September 12-14 Friday/Saturday 8a-5p and Sunday 1-5p
September 19-21 Friday/Saturday 8a-5p and Sunday 1-5p
Rain or Shine!     Free Parking
Click for more info

Heronswood: East Coast Edition Sunken Garden at JLBG July 2014

Heronswood: East Coast Edition
Sunken Garden at JLBG July 2014

It’s All About the Plants

Growing and propagating plants is a lot like taking care of newborns. We have to feed them around the clock, keep the temperature and humidity comfortable for them, and diagnose and treat them when they are sick. And yes, we have to check them in the middle of the night when the monitor sounds off next to our bed indicating something is wrong in the environment or the equipment – even when it’s 9 degrees outside. Plantsmen and their families seldom sleep through the night, just ask them!

Wilbur, our irrigation system, has been an integral part of caring for our plants over the last two decades. He had become a part of the PDN family, so it was hard to retire him this year when finding replacement parts for him, a program written in DOS in the 1980s, proved impossible.

Our weather station rocks like Beyoncé!

Our weather station rocks
like Beyoncé!

After much research and review, Mike Spafford, PDN’s Nursery Manager, selected the replacement for Wilbur to be a new and sophisticated Tucor irrigation system. The fine folks at John Deere helped Mike and his staff through the process to procure and install the new system. Since May this year, our brand new irrigation system keeps the 30 greenhouses programmed to water plants according to current temperatures, humidity, and some other variables the new technology provides. The staff named the new irrigation system Beyoncé, since it’s so cool, sleek, and a real performer! Now the staff can rest a little bit easier since parts are readily available for Beyoncé when she needs a new gig.

Bar Code Scanning

We finally made another leap (with some trembling) into the 21st century with bar code scanning in the nursery for inventory and during checkout at Open Nursery Days. We’ve been practicing using the scanners and working out the software bugs since last fall and we did a test drive last weekend at the Summer Open Nursery and Garden Days. The response was very positive from our onsite customers since the lines at order write-up and checkout were significantly reduced. Thanks for your patience as we continue to enhance your shopping experience when you purchase unique and cool plants from us!

Staff News

We welcome Charlotte Saine as our new JLBG Research Assistant for Field Production. Working with JLBG Research Horticulturist Jeremy Schmidt and current JLBG Research Assistant Jared Chauncey, Charlotte will be doing lots of digging in the dirt in our acres of field trial and research beds, helping keep the data on each plant accurate and updated. Charlotte earned an Associates Degree in Horticulture from Sandhills Community College and was also our Summer Intern from Sandhills CC last year. We are delighted to see the younger generation of plant geeks be as passionate about plants as we are!

In Science News

Caterpillar on JLBG Dahlia June 2014

Caterpillar on JLBG Dahlia
June 2014

Interesting research at the University of Missouri demonstrated plants have the ability to “hear.” It seems that their “hearing” affects a plant’s ability to ward off pests. Researchers played noises of caterpillars munching on foliage to one group of plants while keeping a control group in silence. Later when the real caterpillars were set loose on the plants, the group that had been exposed to the caterpillar sound earlier produced more natural caterpillar repellents. Plants exposed to different vibrational sounds, opposed to silence, acted like the control group and didn’t produce the repellents.

Researchers are unsure how the plants “hear,” but assume it involves pressures on mechanoreceptor proteins, which calls for more research…i.e. another grant. You can read more here.

Retirement News

“Moving on to new adventures” is the phrase uttered with the retirement of two preeminent horticulturists. Holly Shimizu retired as director of the US Botanic Garden in May, after holding the position since 2000. Holly had previously served as the Herb Garden Curator at the US National Arboretum and later as the Director of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Virginia. Holly is a true national treasure, and I’m sure many of you have read Holly’s writings or enjoyed her wonderful presentations. Holly tells me that she has many interests in retirement but isn’t sure yet where her new chapter in life will take her. Re-working her home garden and starting one at her vacation home top the list.

Rocking into Retirement!

Rocking into Retirement!

Also, slated for retirement this fall is Dr. Larry Mellichamp, professor of Botany at UNC-Charlotte and Director of the UNC-Charlotte Botanical Gardens. Like Holly, Larry has had a huge impact on the world of horticulture through his writing and many presentations…as well as his hybrid pitcher plant introductions. If you’ve never visited the gardens at UNC-Charlotte, check ’em out before Larry departs the scene in October.

Life Passages

We’ve learned of the deaths of several prominent members of the horticultural community since our last newsletter, including Rosemary Bloom, wife of UK plantsman Adrian Bloom (Blooms of Bressingham) on May 26. We mentioned Rosemary’s illness in our last communication.

Around the same time, we’ll miss cycad (sago palm) giant Loran Whitelock, who died on May 14 at age 84. Loran first worked for the City of Los Angles before becoming a garden designer and cycad nurseryman. Cycad Gardens, which Loran started in 1972 at his home in Eagle Rock, California, held one of the most extensive cycad collections in the world. Loran, preceded in death by his wife Eva in 2007, had already laid the groundwork for his entire collection to be donated to the Huntington Botanical Gardens after his death.

Passing on...

Passing on…

During his lifetime, Loran regularly traveled to remote locations around the world to study cycads, and was very active in conservation work of this highly exploited group of plants. Not only did Loran travel, but he also wrote extensively about cycads. His most famous publication is the encyclopedic book The Cycads published by Timber Press in 2002. Loran’s contributions to the world of cycads were so extensive he was honored by having two cycads named after him: Encephalartos whitelockii and Ceratozamia whitelockiana.

Although we only met Loran once for dinner during our 2009 Agave summit in San Diego, he was a charming man, encyclopedic in his knowledge and gentle and giving in spirit. Job well done!

On the east coast another giant recently died, Kurt Bluemel, on June 4. Kurt was fondly known as the King of Ornamental Grasses for his pioneering work with the group. In 1964, the Czech Republic immigrant started his nursery in Fallston, Maryland, with German immigrant the late Wolfgang Oehme. The focus of Kurt’s nursery was ornamental grasses at a time when grasses were virtually unknown commercially in the US.

Kurt was always very generous with his time and knowledge when Tony was a young plantsman making regular pilgrimages to visit Kurt’s nursery and gardens in the late 1980s. At the time, there were very few nurseries with the selection of perennials and ornamental grasses that were available from Bluemel’s. Although Bluemel’s Nursery had both wholesale and retail divisions, it was the landscaping division that generated the lion’s share of their income, thanks to Kurt’s artistic eye and exacting understanding of design. Kurt would later open a Florida Nursery, Floraland, to supply plants for the Deep South, particularly to Disneyworld. Some of Kurt’s own introductions are still industry staples, Schizachyrium ‘The Blues’, Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’, and Eupatorium ‘Gateway’.

Kurt’s loss was a shock to all that knew him as he was indeed larger than life and had just returned from a botanizing trip to, of all places, Death Valley, just prior to being diagnosed with a very aggressive liver cancer. These trips were regular adventures with his famed traveling friends, plantsmen Ratzeputz Gang. Through the years, Bluemel’s Nursery served as a training ground for many of the world’s current crop of top horticulturists, so his influence will live on well into the future.

Solitude in JLBG's Woodland Garden July 2014

Solitude in JLBG’s
Woodland Garden July 2014

On a more local note, Raleigh plantsman Norman Beal died on July 12 after a four year battle with auto-immune disease. Three years ago, Norman sold his amazing Raleigh garden, which had been featured on countless regional and national garden tours.

Norman started his garden in the early 1990s, after retiring from the Virginia Cooperative Extension service and moving to Raleigh to garden like a crazed person for his remaining years. Garden he did, not only filling his garden with a plethora of aesthetically arranged rare treasures, but then taking over the adjacent gardens of four neighbors and gardening their land like his own. Norman was indeed a one of a kind…as generous as opinionated, always wearing his long tan pants and blue oxford shirt, which we all assumed he slept in as well. When you see a plant with the prefix Greystone, it is likely one of Norman’s many introductions. We’ll miss you my friend…life well lived and garden well grown!

Happy gardening!
~tony and anita



Featured Plants

Canna 'Blueberry Sparkler'

Canna ‘Blueberry Sparkler’

Colocasia esculenta 'Black Coral'

Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Coral’









Crinum x herbertii 'Carroll Abbott'

Crinum x herbertii ‘Carroll Abbott’

Echinacea 'Secret Glow' PPAF

Echinacea ‘Secret Glow’ PPAF








Musa 'Picasso'

Musa ‘Picasso’

2010 Plant Delights Nursery November Newsletter

Dear PDN’ers:

Here at PDN, the year is winding down as shipping ceases at the end of November…except for horticultural emergencies. We’ve spent the last month selecting plants for the new catalog, writing catalog descriptions, and choosing the catalog images. All that remains now is to finish the catalog proofing process before heading into the design and layout phase. Soon, we will start preparing the nursery for 2011 by moving out the plants that didn’t sell well enough and moving the new plants from the production greenhouses into the shipping greenhouses.

It may seem too early to start planning for next year, but we want you to be sure and mark a special date on your 2011 schedule. Our 2011 Winter Open House is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, February 25, 26 followed by Friday and Saturday, March 4, 5…from 8am-5pm on all days. As a special enticement, the JC Raulston Arboretum will be also holding a special half-day mini-symposium on Saturday February 26, featuring Dan Hinkley, Todd Lasseigne, and yours truly. After the talks, you can spend the afternoon at the JC Raulston Arboretum and then come visit us at Plant Delights. We really hope your schedule will allow you to attend this plant intensive event!

I am saddened to report the untimely passing of our friend and obsessed plantsman, Greg Speichert, 47, who died on November 4 while attending the Independent Plant Breeders Conference in Philadelphia. The cause of death is still unknown, but Greg had been on a recent health kick because of high blood pressure, and by all accounts had made great progress. Only a day earlier, he spent the night at Asiatica Nursery and left for Philadelphia with a great outlook and a truckload of plants.

Greg served as the Director of Hilltop Garden and Nature Center at Indiana University Bloomington since August 2007, but prior to taking this position, Greg owned a mail order water gardening nursery, Crystal Palace Perennials. Although running a business wasn’t Greg’s forte, finding and championing good plants was…along with writing about them. For many years, Greg and his wife, Sue, published Water Gardening Magazine. Additionally, his articles have been published in virtually every plant magazine. Others may recognize his name from his books, Water Gardening In Containers: Small Ponds Indoors & Out with Helen Nash (Sterling 1999) and The Encyclopedia of Water Garden Plants (Timber Press 2004). We are fortunate to offer a number of Greg’s introductions, including Aspidistra retusa ‘Nanjing Green’, Miscanthus ‘Gilded Tower’ and Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’.

Greg leaves behind a legacy of sharing great plants and his family: a wife, Sue and an adopted niece and nephew, Ariel and Aaron Sanders. Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Indiana University Foundation for the benefit of Hilltop Gardens, for either the Hilltop General Operating Fund (38IU02050) or the Hilltop 21st Century Endowment Fund (37IU02052), at PO Box 500, Bloomington, IN 47402. For more information about IUF.

By now, you all know that Asiatica Nursery closed this fall, and now owner Barry Yinger has put his entire Pennsylvania property on the market. This is an amazing piece of land with lots of potential and a ton of cool plants. For those who don’t know the history, Barry grew up on his family farm and later remodeled the old barn on the property into a modern home/studio/office. The more than 72 acres include three spring-fed ponds, a permanent deer fence for 40 acres, and a number of fields (half wooded, half mowed), visually isolated from all neighbors. Fields can be certified organic now. Also included is the original 1880 farmhouse plus a 4500 sq. ft. 1880 bank barn residence/office rebuilt in 2005 with original stonework and beams, 3 bedrooms (2 master suites), 4 baths, large sun room, radiant floor heat, granite counter tops, and many other high end extras. The large home office with a second kitchen and handicapped-accessible bath could be a separate apartment. Also on the property are: an 1880 stone springhouse and 2 frame outbuildings, 2 wells, a large storage room, emergency generator, underground cable tv and high speed internet, an 1800 sq. ft. Nexus greenhouse (built 1998) with automatic controls plus a custom 1000 sq. ft. polycarbonate greenhouse (2005) with radiant in-floor heat. Hundreds of rare and unusual trees and shrubs grow on the property…it is a fabulous gardening site. There is a Farmer’s market next door and the property is 15 minutes from York and Harrisburg, PA, one hour from Baltimore, and two hours from downtown Philadelphia and Washington DC. The address is: 600 York Road, York Haven, PA 17339. Price: $899,000. Contact Barry Yinger at genepool@nni.com or 717 938-0770. No realtors please.

The demise of the nursery industry continues as International Garden Products (IGP) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 4, 2010. So, who is IGP, you ask? IGP is a venture capital firm, founded in 1996 to purchase nurseries. At one time, IGP was a $170 million business, including the likes of Iseli Nursery (Boring, OR), Skagit Gardens (Mount Vernon, WA), Briggs Nursery (Olympia, WA), Weeks Wholesale Rose Growers Inc. (Upland, CA), Ridge Manor Nurseries (Madison, OH), Thompson & Morgan (Ipswich, England), and Little Valley Wholesale Nursery (Brighton, CO) and both the now defunct Langeveld International (Lakewood, NJ) and Vandenberg Bulb Co. (Chester, NY). One by one, the nurseries and its portfolio have either been sold off or gone bankrupt.

Of the four technically remaining IGP nurseries, Iseli Nursery and Weeks Roses are still functioning in bankruptcy, while the two later acquisitions, California Nursery Supplies and Old Skagit Inc. are out of business. Iseli Nursery is one of the top conifer growers in the country, so if you have ever purchased conifers in a garden center anywhere in the US, there is a good chance they came from Iseli. Weeks Roses is the major US supplier of roses. The hybrid-tea rose business has been in the proverbial toilet for years, ever since the introduction of the Knockout Roses, and the recent Jackson and Perkins bankruptcy didn’t help.

A series of bad business decisions, combined with the recession, led to the IGP bankruptcy. Since 2008, Iseli’s sales have declined 35%, while Weeks dropped 9% during the same period. IGP currently lists debts of $47 million, but has secured $7.5 million in bank funding, which they estimate will be enough to keep the last two companies afloat.

As if that wasn’t enough, Hines Nurseries has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time, after emerging from bankruptcy in 2008. At the time of their last bankruptcy filing, Hines was the largest nursery in the US, supplying plants to box stores across the county. To reduce debt as part of the 2008 bankruptcy, Hines sold off several of their operations, but last year got into the acquisition business again, when they purchased the bankrupt Bordiers Nursery of California…hmmm. As of the most recent bankruptcy filing date, Hines employed 825 full-time staff and owned or leased over 3,500 acres for nursery operations in Arizona, California, Texas, and Oregon. Hines lists assets of $179 million and debts of $87 million. As is the usual recipe for disaster in the nursery industry, Hines is owned by a private equity firm, Black Diamond Capital Management.

On a much smaller, but no less important scale, Rocky Mountain Rare Plants is closing its doors after this year…its 14th season. For those who are unfamiliar with RMRP, they offer seed, primarily wild-collected from the Rocky Mountain region. While we can’t grow lots of their material in the east, we were always able to find a few choice gems worth trialing.

So, on a more positive note, let’s talk plants. This was a lovely but later fall flowering season in the garden, since the extraordinarily hot summer caused heat delay on many reliable fall bloomers. Plants such as Dahlia imperialis, brugmansias, rabdosia, and many other perennials are several weeks to a month late starting to flower. Obviously, that’s problematic if the flowers in question aren’t frost-resistant, due to the danger of freezing.

I don’t know about you, but I think one of the great side benefits of having a garden is the ability to use those plants in flower arrangements. Although we’ve had several light frosts already, there are still plenty of plants available. Recently, to use a fall theme, I put together a vase of some of my favorites. I started with Gladiolus ‘Halloweenie’…a fantastic orange and yellow fall-flowering gladiolus. To complement the color of the gladiolus, I added one of my favorite fall flowering sages, the bright orange, Salvia regla. As a color foil, I used one of my favorite fall natives, the white flowering Eupatorium havanense…an absolutely splendid perennial that is probably much more winter hardy than we list and should be grown for fall interest in every sun garden. As a textural contrast, I included a few plumes from a miscanthus…in this case, Miscanthus ‘Andante’, which reflowers well into the fall. A favorite filler which I use in almost all arrangement is Asparagus virgatus. I can’t imagine a garden without this lovely and easy-to-grow South African textural gem. Voila! Even for non-talented arrangers such as myself…a hard to miss masterpiece.

There is a wealth of other late-fall flower arranging favorites. Most folks know Verbena bonariensis for summer flowering, but we find the frost-resistant flowers continue well into fall with an airy texture that makes them so valuable as a cut flower. For something a bit taller, it’s hard to beat Verbesina microptera, the giant Mexican frostweed. For us, it’s in full flower now, with massive 10′ tall stalks of giant yellow panicles. I’ve mentioned Salvia regla, with its brilliant orange red flowers, but there are other colors as well in the fall-flowering salvia group. Salvia madrensis has lovely butter yellow flower stalks, Salvia puberula has pink flowers, Salvia disjuncta flowers red, while Salvia leucantha has purple flowers. There is such a diversity that I can’t imagine a fall garden or fall arrangements without these great fall-flowering salvias. Farfugium is another genus of plants that just doesn’t get the credit it should as a fall flowering plant. The branched flower spikes of attractive lemon-yellow daisies are stars of the mid-fall garden. While all farfugiums are great, the double-flowered clones such as Farfugium ‘Yaezaki’ are especially cool.

Even though we’re talking fall, the Christmas holiday season is nearly upon us, and it’s time to start thinking about what to get that special gardener in your life. As always, we have a plentiful stock of Plant Delights gift certificates available, and if you start now, there’s plenty of time to get them to you before it’s too late. Another great gift idea is a new book titled Bizarre Botanicals, by my friend Larry Mellichamp. A few years ago, I was asked by Timber Press to write a book on the subject, but upon hearing the topic, I knew it could be much better authored by Dr. Larry Mellichamp, a brilliant botany professor at UNC-Charlotte. While it took some arm twisting and able assistance from his co-worker Paula Gross, Larry finally relented and the newly published book is everything we hoped for and more. If you find unique natural traits and odd plants fascinating, this book is for you. More importantly, if you have a child that shows any interest in plants, this engaging book, with its amazing photographs, will surely send them over the edge.

For those who entered the Top 25 contest, we’ll post the final results and announce the winner next month.

Thanks for taking time to read our newsletter, and from the Plant Delights family to yours…Happy Thanksgiving!


2007 Plant Delights Nursery July Newsletter

Greetings from Plant Delights and we hope the summer find you all well.

We recently finished our 2007 Summer Open House and would like to thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to visit and take home a few special plants. For those who have never been to visit us in the summer, this is a great chance to see numerous summer flowering plants, many of which only make an appearance during the summer months. We really hope we can encourage more folks to visit during this exciting time of year in the garden. If you missed our open house, we’re just over a week away from hosting the Summer Meeting of the Southeastern Palm Society.

This is a great chance to talk with other palm and exotic plant growers from around the southeast, as well as pick up some of the latest new plants. If you would like to attend and are not a member of SPS (we hope you will join SPS at the meeting), just email our Administrative Assistant, Julie Picolla, so we can get a head count of how many to expect for lunch. You can download the meeting schedule at www.sepalms.org/SPS_Meetings_News.htm.

The 2007 Fall Plant Delights Catalog is at the printers and will go in the mail next week. Thank goodness I can finally unchain myself from this computer and head back out into the garden where I belong. It’ll take days to wipe the chlorophyll from my keyboard, so don’t expect me to be back into the office anytime soon. I can tell that focusing on writing catalogs gets progressively more difficult as you age… either that or my ADHD is getting much worse. Regardless, the symptoms are the same.

As with all fans of native plants, we mourn the passing of former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson. I hope everyone has had the opportunity to visit the wonderful center named in her honor in Austin, Texas. If not, put it on your list. You can find out more at www.wildflower.org.

In other gardening news, Dr. David Creech, director of the SFA Mast Arboretum in Nacogdoches, Texas, will be retiring at the end of August and that opens a position in the horticulture program at Stephen F. Austin State University. If you’ve got your PhD and are passionate about plants, consider throwing your proverbial hat in the ring. SFASU is an exciting place, not just because most of the former Space Shuttle Challenger pieces landed there, but because Dr. Creech’s boundless enthusiasm for plants has resulted in a truly amazing botanical collection. As a good friend of the late Dr. JC Raulston, he shared the same philosophy and vision…. It’s all about the plants. If you’ve never seen the collections at SFASU, put this on your list to visit the next time you’re in East Texas.

Another change that came as a shock to most of us in the horticulture world was the spring departure of Doug Ruhren from the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. It was Doug’s design skills and plant knowledge that took Daniel Stowe from a flat country field to a destination garden, setting it apart from the cookie-cutter gardens that are popping up around the country. It’s a shame that something as silly as differing management philosophies over how to deal with problem staff were allowed to get in the way of keeping a horticulturist as brilliant as Doug at the garden. Far too often, garden management folks simply don’t realize the importance and scarcity of top flight horticulture and subsequently lose the heart and soul of their gardens. Doug is still actively involved in garden design with both private and public projects.

In other news, the famous Western Hills Nursery in Occidental, California has new owners. The property and nursery has been purchased by Robert Stansel and Joseph Gatta. For those who might be unfamiliar with Western Hills Nursery, it was opened in 1960 by famed California horticulturists Marshall Olbrich and Lester Hawkins, who bequeathed the nursery to one of their staff members, Maggie Wych. For much of its existence, Western Hills was considered the top nursery in the country to acquire new rare plants, and on more than one occasion the late Dr. JC Raulston raved about visiting Western Hills. Not only did the nursery offer great plants, but the 3-acre garden is a plantsman’s masterpiece. After struggling with the nursery’s financial health, Wych put the nursery up for sale in 2005. The nursery has now reopened, and you can find out more, including how to visit, by going to www.westernhillsnursery.com”.

In news that just delights me, The Garden Conservancy has adopted Pearl Fryar’s topiary garden in Bishopville, SC, as one of its new conservation projects. I first met Pearl nearly a decade ago when we were both working on the same program, and I came away with a new appreciation of topiary and for the soul of a very special man. If you haven’t read Pearl’s heartwarming story, take time to read about him and hopefully visit his garden at www.fryarstopiaries.com.

Horticulture magazine has announced a fall symposium in Raleigh on Saturday, October 20. The symposium includes a line-up of Lucy Hardiman, designer and author from Oregon; Scott Kunst of Old House Gardens; Landscape Architect Gordon Hayward of Vermont; Rosemary Alexander, founder of the English Gardening School at the Chelsea Physic Garden; and Horticulture.s own Nan Sinton. We’re hosting a special brunch on Friday morning at the nursery before the symposium, where you will be able to tour the gardens and… if the mood strikes you… shop until you drop. We hope to see you here. Details are available at www.hortmag.com.

It’s been quite the year for Amorphophallus titanum flowering. Just after the plant at UNC-Charlotte flowered, another at Cleveland’s Clemet Zoo flowered. To learn more or to see the video, go to www.clemetzoo.com/animal_plant/horticulture/cronus.asp.

Amorphophallus are one of our specialty research genera to determine which species might survive outdoors in our warm temperate climate. Amorphophallus are quite valuable for a lightly shaded garden since most don’t emerge before late spring/early summer and add a valuable freshness when the woodland garden begins to tire as the spring ephemerals go dormant. Not all amorphophallus species have huge or incredibly smelly flowers, but all do possess the delightful form of a deciduous perennial palm tree. Additionally, the seed heads provide another great garden feature. A. henry produces club-like spikes of blue fruit, A. konjac delivers a giant stalk of orange berries, and A. kiusianus produces fruit that starts pink and gradually turns blue. Another interesting thing we’ve noticed is that most species grow better in partial sun and in some cases full sun for several hours. Dense shade tends to produce very weak plants that aren’t particularly attractive. We’re now up to 11 species that have been successful outdoors in the ground… see the list below. There are still many more species that we are yet to try, and we hope for a few more hardy species.

* A. albus
* A. bulbifer
* A. corrugatus
* A. dunnii
* A. henryi
* A. kiusianus
* A. konjac
* A. symonianus
* A. thaiensis
* A. yuloensis
* A. yunnanensis

For the first time in several years, we are working to catch up on Hosta registrations from our breeding program. While our hosta breeding has continued, we simply have not had the time to catch up on evaluations and subsequent registrations. After dedicating three consecutive days to the project, we have named 18 new hostas, most of which will be gradually introduced over the next few years. We are also changing the name of our Hosta ‘Chickadee’ to ‘Dixie Chickadee’ since research revealed that the late Dr. Herb Benedict introduced (but never registered) a plant by the same name. The name change will be reflected in our catalog as of January 2008. We feel this will be the easiest way to avoid possible confusion.

There are so many great plants that look great in the summer that it often makes us wish that visitors could see them all, but the best we can do is to tell you about them and hope you will try them for yourselves. I’ll start with some of the late-flowering daylilies. If you’re like most folks, your normal daylilies have come and gone, but not if you grow some of the wonderful late-flowering varieties. While there are some modern day breeders working on late-flowering varieties, many of the most popular selections are still WWII era introductions. Two of my favorites which are in full flower now are H. ‘Autumn Minaret’ (yellow) and H. ‘August Flame’ (red).

Other flowers similar in height include the perennial Alstroemerias, such as Mark Bridgen’s great hybrids, A. ‘Freedom’ and A. ‘Sweet Laura’… both great in the garden and for making summer flower arrangements.

Mid to late July is also when the first of the ginger (hedychium) hybrids start to flower. The first in what will be a summer sucession of flowers include H. densiflorum ‘Stephen’, H. ‘Kanogie’, H. ‘Daniel Weeks’, and H. coccineum ‘Flaming Torch’. While the plants will survive amazing drought conditions, remember that moisture is the key to good hedychium flowering. Additionally, planting hedychiums on a slope is preferred, although certainly not necessary. One of the things that struck me in the wild is that hedychiums are always found growing on a slope.

There are a number of great summer bulbs including crocosmias. The new selections from David Tristam are exceptionally good flowering and a far cry from C. ‘Lucifer’, which essentially crowds itself out and stops flowering after only one season.

Other favorite summer-flowering bulbs include the many selections of crinum and lycoris. Crinums are winter dormant, while lycoris are dormant in spring and early summer. Both plants provide a great mid to late summer show, despite the vargaries of the weather. Many of the crinums and lycoris have also proven to be much more winter hardy than some gardening texts give them credit. Thanks to help from our bulb friends, we’ve been able to assemble one of the best offerings of both of these great bulb genera that you’ll find. While both are great southern pass-along plants, you first need a friend to pass them along. In the meantime, we’ll be your intermediary.

Lilies…yes, summer is the time for a great show of lilies. Many of the asiatic hybrids don’t do much for me, but some of the species selections are phenomenal. Lilium formosanum is certainly hard to beat for a white lily, but the yellow-orange Lilium henryi provides a different effect with its arching stems of pendant flowers. If you haven’t grown the recently discovered US native Lilium pyrophilum, then you’ve missed a truly great lily… find a moist spot and enjoy! Lest I end without mentioning Lilium lancifolium ‘Flora Plena’. The amazing tiger lily is great in the garden, great as a cut flower, and also makes bulbils in the leaf axils that you can share with gardening friends.

If you like red hot pokers, how about some that bloom in the summer? One of my favorite summer flowering clones is Kniphofia ‘Nancy’s Red’, which is in full flower as we speak. I couldn’t stop without mentioning the wonderful eupatoriums. All it takes is a slightly moist location and you’ll have a landing tower for butterflies, not to mention the wonderful bouffant purple flower heads. I could go on for hours, but I’m already two pages over what marketing consultants tell us that customers will actually bother to read… you know, short attention spans and all that garbage.

In other plant news, we like to let you know when we find a mix-up or when a plant doesn’t perform as we have touted it. This is going back a few years, but we offered a Hosta ‘Blue and Gold’ in 2003, which was reportedly a sport of H. ‘Hadspen Blue’. Now that our plant is mature, it is obviously H. ‘Tokudama Flavocircinalis’… a great hosta, but not a sport of H. ‘Hadspen Blue’. If you are one of the seven people who purchased these, change your tags.

We have also been very disappointed at the overwintering performance of many of the new coreopsis hybrids. Part of the problem seems to be that one of the parents that imparts the cool colors to the hybrids is Coreopsis tinctoria, which is an annual species. While true winter hardiness is not the problem, we are finding that when planted in the ground and allowed to flower, they are not surviving even our last two mild winters of 15 degrees F. Reportedly, non-flowering plants installed in late fall will survive fine. A few folks tell me that if they are cut to the ground in the early fall, that this may help with winter survival, but we aren’t betting on this. Researchers from NC State University think the problem is that the excessive flowering does not allow energy to go into developing enough basal growth for the plant to overwinter. We are pulling these from the market and hope the introducers of these will be willing to assist us with refunding money to customers (yeah, right!) who have not found them to be as winter hardy as promised. To get a credit or refund, just email our customer service department at office@plantdelights.com.

As if we needed more pests, the following alert from the Florida Department of Agriculture may be of interest for those living in or vacationing to Florida. To quote information from officials in Florida, ‘The redbay ambrosia beetle, Xyleborus glabratus was first detected in the U.S. in a survey trap in Georgia in 2002. It now exists from Florida to South Carolina on redbay and sassafras. Not enough is known about this ambrosia beetle, but its behavior seems very similar to the Granulate (Asian) ambrosia beetle. This beetle also makes “toothpicks” and is thought to vector a wilt disease. Please report any wilting or bark beetle activity on redbay or sassafras so it can be checked.” For more information, see the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Pest Alert at www.doacs.state.fl.us/pi/enpp/ento/x.glabratus.html.

There’s been some movement in the Top 25 this month, although most of the list has stayed relatively stable. Tiarella ‘Pink Skyrocket’ zoomed from off the list last month to 10th place overall, while Nierembergia ‘Starry Eyes’ also shot from 22nd to 14th place. In a couple of other big moves, the perennial hollyhock, Alcea rugosa, jumped from off the list to 19th place and Aloe polyphylla moved from 27th to 20th. So, how are your top 25 predictions faring? Only four more months remain before we award the $250 Plant Delights gift certificate to the person who came the closest to predicting the correct finishing order of sales.

Please direct all replies and questions to office@plantdelights.com.

Thanks and enjoy


2006 Plant Delights Nursery August Newsletter

Greetings from Plant Delights. We hope all is well in your hometown. It’s that time of year and the fall catalog will be on the way on Friday, August 11. If you want to get a head start on your friends, you can find the new catalog on-line at www.plantdelights.com.

We hope you are making your plans to visit PDN this fall, either for the PDN fall open house or for the JCRA 30th Anniversary Symposium.

Even though we may cringe at the idea of summer gardens, there are quite a few plants that relish the idea. The gingers and the colocasias are loving the summer heat, and I can’t think of a plant that more represents summer than the wonderful hardy hibiscus, which are in full flower as we speak. August is a fun month, since this is when many of the wonderful lycoris (surprise lilies) flower. I usually don’t like surprises, but I always break my rule when it’s lycoris time. Another bulb that just loves summer weather is the crinum lilies with their amazing stalks of pink, red, striped, or white flowers.

There are so many summer butterfly-attracting plants flowering now, from the long-flowering verbenas to the stunning eupatoriums (joe-pye-weed), to the well known buddleia (butterfly bushes). Since butterfly attracting plants are designed to flower when butterflies are in season, most of the summer flowering plants are probably good nectar sources. We hope you’ll take time to journey through the pages of the new on-line catalog and see what fun plants you can’t live without. (Read more about Buddleia here) (See the top 25 flowers that attract butterflies here)

On a sad note, we have lost one of our wonderful NC plantsman, Rob Gardener, to cancer. Rob retired from the NC Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill a few years earlier, after devoting his life to gardening and in particular to the genus Sarracenia. Other than many of the sarracenia hybrids we carry, Rob will also be remembered for two of his other introductions, Baptisia ‘Carolina Moonlight’ and Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’. We’ll certainly miss a good friend and fine plantsman.

For those who entered our Top 25 Contest, be sure to check how your favorite plants are selling. -tony

2005 Plant Delights Nursery November Newsletter

The 2005 shipping season is drawing to a close at the end of November, so if you’ve procrastinated until now, time is running out. If you need to purchase Christmas or holiday gifts for that special gardener, remember that a Plant Delights Gift Certificate may be just what the plant doctor ordered.

In a couple of weeks, we’ll be announcing the winner of our 2005 Guess the Top 25 Best Sellers Contest for the $250 PDN gift certificate. If you didn’t enter the contest this year, be thinking about next years’ contest that begins January 1.

We’ve been busy writing the 2006 catalog that is now only a few weeks away for hitting the presses. To fill the pages, we’ve propagated an amazing array of great plants that includes 125 new offerings…enough to drive even the most hardcore gardeners completely over the edge. To make room for these new offerings, we will, unfortunately, be rotating an equal number of our old favorites out, so if you’ve been thinking about ordering that obscure gem, it’s often best not to wait. Remember that fall is a superb time to plant, provided your ground is not already frozen, and the plants you are planting are more than marginally hardy in your zone. For marginally hardy plants in your zone, it is very important that you wait until spring to plant.

We have enjoyed a beautiful fall season and have so far only had 2 light frosts. It’s amazing how many plants are still in flower, and I’d like to take a few moments to highlight a few. We all know that fall is the peak season for many ornamental grasses such as Muhlenbergia capillaris, many of the miscanthus, Pennisetum ‘Tall Tails’, and the giant Saccharum arundinaceum, but there is so much more to offer color now.

If you don’t grow salvias, then you have missed out on some of the best fall bloomers. The Salvia greggii and microphylla cultivars are simply superb for fall bloom. If you like yellow and haven’t tried Salvia madrensis ‘Red Neck Girl’, you have missed a real winner with its 18″ long flower spikes. Another fall bloomer that has put on a real show this fall has been Salvia ‘Blue Chiquita’ along with the ever-popular Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’.

The tree Dahlias have been great this fall, since we have had a late fall. The single, purple D. imperialis must have several hundred flower buds atop the 14′ tall stalks. The double purple form seems to be the earliest in flower in our trials. We have now assigned a name to this previously unnamed cultivar…Dahlia imperialis ‘Double or Nothing’.

If tall is your thing, Verbesina microptera is not to be missed. This giant Mexican frostweed makes a huge, 14′ tall clump, topped now by giant panicles of yellow flowers with the unique fragrance of burning sugar. If you need something smaller, Verbesina persicifolia ‘Autumn Sunburst’ is also flowering as we speak.

If you live in Zone 7b south, I hope you are growing Hibiscus mutabilis. We offer a superb selection of these fall-flowering Chinese hibiscus that have been long-prized in Gulf Coast gardens…back when there were some Gulf Coast gardens.

Other plants of fall include some of our splendid offerings of all blooming garden mums. Do not confuse these with the marginally hardy plants that you purchase from your local garden centers. http://www.plantdelights.com/Catalog/Fall/page16.html The surprisingly hardy Coreopsis integrifolia, fall-blooming South African Kniphofia rooperi, and US native Eupatorium greggii are all fabulous additions to the fall garden for late flowering.

Other great fall flowering perennials with an obscenely long season of bloom include Geranium ‘Rozanne’, which has been in flower since May and Dianthus ‘First Love’ which started in May. If you would like something taller, the evening-fragrant Cestrum parqui is still in full flower after starting in May.

I couldn’t conclude without mentioning cyclamens, especially the easy-to-grow C. hederifolium that is in full flower now. As long as you plant it where it can stay reasonably dry in the summer, you can’t loose with this gem.