2009 Plant Delights Nursery September Newsletter

Greetings from PDN and we hope you’ve all had a great gardening summer. Folks in much of the Northeast and Midwest still haven’t had much of a summer, many experiencing the coldest summer temperatures in recorded history. Many of you in this wet, cool corridor have seen an array of diseases along with heat-loving plants that just haven’t grown very quickly. In years like this, good soil preparation really pays off since good drainage is so important when the rains just won’t stop. Over the years, I’ve also found organically gardened soils that haven’t been “chemicalled” to death tend to fare better since they still have plenty of good microbes to fight off the damaging ones.

There are also going to be more foliar diseases in years like this, but be sure to determine what pathogen is causing the symptoms before embarking on a course of action. Some plants with foliar damage may simply go dormant early and be fine next season, while other may need more air movement to keep diseases at bay. Consequently, some perennials may fare better if they are cut back or thinned to allow more air to penetrate the constantly damp foliage. I find most foliar problems can be solved with improving the cultural conditions, so please don’t adopt the philosophy of “spray first and ask questions later.” Given the choice, I’ll always take a drought instead of a monsoon since you can always add water, but it’s so hard to remove it. Years like this may be a good time to re-examine our planting schemes, opting more for plants like hibiscus that will take both wet and dry conditions.

We’re almost ready for our Fall Open House that begins soon and we hope to see both many of our regular gardening friends, as well as many out-of-towners that haven’t visited in a while. The greenhouses are chocked full of great looking plants, just waiting for you to select your favorites. We’ve got a special guest this year who will be here to greet Open House visitors…yes, it’s the barrel monster. Unless you were hiding under a rock or in Iraq for the last few months, you’ve heard the story of a NC State student who creatively rearranged traffic barrels at a road construction site into the now world famous barrel monster. If you did miss it, you can find out more at www.thebarrelmonster.com.

Our staff is also busy potting many new plants for the spring catalog. Unlike many mail-order nurseries who don’t actually grow their own plants, such is not the case at PDN. Growing our own plants allows us more control over timing, quality, and trueness to name. There are only a few plants we aren’t able to produce in our climate and some others where the patent owners limit the production of liners. We’ll spend the next month analyzing sales figures from this year to determine which plants have earned their way back into the catalog and which will be relegated to an on-line offering only. Then, we’ll look at the pool of new plants we have selected and try to guess which ones will generate enough income to also make it into the print catalog. We’re getting our crystal ball professionally cleaned before the process moves into high gear.

We hope you’re enjoying our fall catalog supplement and finding some cool new plants that you can’t live without. A couple of errors crept into the catalog for which we’d like to apologize. First, Phlox ‘Triple Play’ actually is from iris breeders Jan Sacks and Marty Schafer of Joe Pye Weed Gardens and not from Darrell Probst (they’re all friends and neighbors). We apologize for the incorrect information. Also, the liners we purchased of Crocosmia ‘Walcroy’ turned out to be another cultivar, so we have pulled them from the sales area until we get the correct plant re-propagated. If you are one of the eight folks that purchased this during our July open house, give us a holler so we can get the error corrected.

One of the many cool plants from our fall catalog is the breeding breakthrough, Tom Ranney’s Hydrangea arborescens ‘Spirit’. I had the fortune of spending a couple of days with Tom Ranney recently, looking through his amazing breeding creations. Tom is getting closer to a release time for his hybrid x Gordlinia grandiflora (gordonia x schima). Meanwhile, his work continues on sterile miscanthus and even hybrids between miscanthus and sugar cane (saccharum/erianthus)…who knew? There are a number of other amazing plants including some wild mahonia hybrids, but I don’t want to get you too excited too early. If you have the opportunity to hear Tom speak about his amazing breeding work, don’t miss the chance.

Another interesting trip this month was to the home of the late rain lily guru, John Fellers. I was presented with the opportunity to help salvage some of John’s breeding work. I wasn’t quite prepared for what I found when I arrived…a greenhouse with nearly 10,000 pots of rain lilies, each labeled with a nonsensical code. John was a code breaker in WWII and obviously truly loved his craft and consequently, managed to leave us with a puzzle that will take months…maybe years to solve. Due to John’s declining health, his rain lily collection had declined dramatically in vigor, so it will take a couple of years to regrow the plants to flowering size so we can figure out what we have. Our goal is to share John’s breeding stock with other rain lily breeders, which will hopefully lead to more new rain lilies for our gardens.

For those who haven’t heard, Mike Dirr’s new Manual of Woody Landscape Plants (2009) has just been published by Stipes Press, replacing the 1998 version. I’ll direct you to Stipes website www.stipes.com – but be warned, their website is so old and outdated it doesn’t even have a shopping cart. One thing is for sure…they don’t believe in spending a lot of money on marketing. While you’re ordering, you’ll also want to pick up the most recent edition of Allan Armitage’s Herbaceous Perennials, also revised and released last year.

If you’re planning to attend the Garden Writers Association meeting here in Raleigh in September, we are pleased to announce that Hawaiian elephant ear breeder, Dr. John Cho will be at the PDN morning tour to talk to attendees about his breeding work and show you around the colocasia trials here at Plant Delights. We’ve spent this week together deciding which selections make the final cut, so don’t miss this great opportunity.

Another local event not to be missed is the JC Raulston Arboretum Green Industry Reunion. JCRA Director, Ted Bilderback has invited all past students of the NCSU Horticulture Department along with anyone who was involved with the arboretum to attend a party on Friday October 9, from 5-9 pm. Ted promises a barbeque dinner and fun for all, while reconnecting with folks you may not have seen for a while. For more information or to register ($50 each), call or e-mail Anne Porter at (919) 513-3826 or anne_porter@ncsu.edu.

On a sad note, another retired Director of the US National Arboretum has passed away…also in North Carolina. Dr. John Creech, 89, of Columbus, NC passed away after a period of declining health. Dr. Creech retired from the Arboretum in 1980, and moved back to the mountains of NC. His legacy includes a number of plants he introduced to the trade including a sedum bearing his name and the well-known southern staple, Lagerstroemia fauriei that he collected on one of his early plant expeditions. Memorials can be made to the Western North Carolina Arboretum, 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806-9315 or Hospice of the Carolina Foothills, 130 Forest Glen Drive, Columbus, NC 28722.

There continue to be a number of changes in the world of horticulture…many the result of the economic downturn. Northwest Bulb and Perennial of Oregon, one of a handful of wholesale producers and distributors of perennials has been sold to a competitor, DeVroomen of Holland. DeVroomen has their US headquarters in Illinois and will use the Oregon operation to grow domestic perennials. Former Northwest Bulb owner, Rene Heuermann is now a DeVroomen employee.

In other plant people news, plantsman John Elsley has departed as Director of Horticulture for Klehm’s Song Sparrow mail order nursery in Wisconsin. John tells me he doesn’t have any specific new projects in mind, but is open to offers. If you’re interested in John’s services, just drop us a note and we’ll put you in touch.

Also in the mail order world, Carroll Gardens of Westminster, Maryland has closed their doors according to President Alan Summers (son of the recently deceased American Hosta Society founder, Alex Summers). Carroll Gardens always had an amazing listing, although on line chat groups didn’t always find the customer service to match their amazing offerings. Another small, but delightful nursery, Canyon Creek has also closed their doors to mail order.

While many nurseries are struggling to keep their financing in place, this will not be a problem for Monrovia Nurseries based in California, who secured $100 million in working capital from GE Capital Markets. Do you ever wonder what the interest payments would be on $100 million dollars?…it’s certainly beyond my comprehension.

In other some good news, The Northwest Flower and Garden Show has been purchased by O’Loughlin Trade Shows, who will continue to operate the show. O’Loughlin Trade Shows is a producer of consumer shows that already operates the Portland and Tacoma Home and Garden Show. The San Francisco Flower & Garden Show was also sold, but to a different group of business investors from the Bay Area.

The Southeastern Flower Show is also back in action for 2010 after taking a sabbatical in 2009. The 23rd annual show is scheduled for the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, GA from February 4-6, 2010.


The sponsoring organization, the Southeastern Horticultural Society is also holding a fund-raiser next month at the garden of Vince and Barbara Dooley. Known as “Coach” to his friends, Vince became enamored with plants, thanks in large part to Dr. Mike Dirr, who became a close friend during his tenure at the University of Georgia. Vince was the football Coach at the University of Georgia for 25 years before becoming Athletic Director. The event will be held on Sunday, September 13 from 5-8 pm at the Dooley home in Athens, GA. You can find out more about tickets at www.sehort.org.

Many of you may be familiar with the late NC garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence, who was a true horticultural pioneer/plant nerd in the Southeast US. Alan Bush, founder of the former Holbrook Nursery in NC, wrote a wonderful piece about visiting Elizabeth that you can find by clicking here.

And in case you missed it, there have been increasing incidents of the use of manure causing toxic effects on plants, even after the manure has been composted. The common thread seems to be if the animals have eaten hay treated with the herbicides Milestone, Forefront, or Grazon. Typically, the active ingredients from most herbicides are either broken down by the animals’ digestive system or during the composting process, but this is not the case with this group of chemicals. As it turns out, these chemicals degrade best with exposure to light, but in the meantime, their use may kill valuable ornamentals. Obviously, we all need to perform due diligence to track down the source of our composts.

As always, thanks for taking time to read our rants and most of all, thank you so much for your support and orders this year!

Please direct all replies and questions to office@plantdelights.com. To Subscribe, Unsubscribe, or change your email click on www.plantdelights.com/mailinglist.html. Thanks and enjoy


2009 Plant Delights Nursery April Newsletter

Greetings from Juniper Level and we hope you’re having a great spring. Other than a couple of cold spells, we’ve had a near perfect spring with cool temperatures and timely rains. Only recently have we seen a few days in the 90’s, which normally dot our spring season. We’ve been spared the crazy weather seen in other parts of the country including Colorado’s frequent late spring snows, North Dakota’s floods, and tornados throughout the Southeast. At least the gardeners in northern Georgia and upstate South Carolina are finally getting some rain after being parched for several years. Even Atlanta’s Lake Lanier is within 7′ of finally refilling. Parts of the Texas Hill Country set a record last year with only 2″ of rain, but fortunately, the weather patterns have changed in recent weeks and the rains have finally returned.

We’ve just added some more plants to the on-line catalog including the very rare variegated shredded umbrella plant, Syneilesis ‘Kikko’. As always, most of these gems are only available in limited quantities, so don’t delay. They are integrated into the main on-line catalog or you can find the new additions listed separately.

It was great to have our friends Carl Schoenfeld and Wade Roitsch from Yucca Do visit a few weeks ago along with encyclopedic Texas nurseryman Pat McNeal. We have long worked together to trial plants in each other’s climates, so it was interesting for them to see the damage that occurs to woody lilies when temperatures drop into the single digits F. Yucca Do has recently completed their move to Giddings, Texas, about 1.5 hours west of their former location outside of Houston. The old property was sold to the Peckerwood Garden Foundation, which will allow Peckerwood to expand their gardens as well as have more parking. You can read more about the Yucca Do move at www.yuccado.com/themove.htm.

It’s been a busy spring…. just not as busy as we would have liked. It was great to have visits from an array of groups including most recently the Carolina Gardener Symposium as well as attendees from Southeast Palm Society meeting in Raleigh.

Last fall, I had the pleasure of meeting and lecturing with Lucinda Hutson of Austin, Texas. Lucinda is a delightful person; a combination artist, designer, and chef. Lucinda has published several cookbooks as well as an array of articles in addition to her career as an interior/exterior designer. You can get an idea of Lucinda’s exuberant style and possibly book her as a lecturer through her website at www.lucindahutson.com.

If you’re out and around North Raleigh on Tuesday May 5, I’ll be presenting a free gardening seminar at 7pm at the North Raleigh Library at 7009 Harps Mill Road. If we have a good crowd, I’ll consider doing more of these in the future. No registration is necessary, but the library phone number is 919-870-4000. Bring your gardening questions and problems; I hope to see you there.

Obviously, the big upcoming events for us are our two Spring Open Nursery and Garden weekends on Friday – Sunday, May 1-3 and May 8-10. We will be open from 8am-5pm on Friday and Saturday and 1-5pm on Sunday. There is so much to see that we truly wish everyone could visit and enjoy the gardens for themselves. Just walking through the gardens now is a sensory delight. Not only are the colors and textures a thing to behold, but the exuberant fragrances are just amazing. From banana shrubs to phlox to dianthus, it’s amazing what fragrances plants can add to your garden. At Open House, not only can you see how plants should grow in the garden, you will no doubt leave with a cartload of ideas, inspiration, and hopefully a few cool plants. This year, one of our largest agaves ( Agave salmiana v. ferox ‘Logan Calhoun’) has sent up a huge flower spike, which should be close to fully open, so come and enjoy a phallic moment with us in the garden. Directions can be found on our website.

One of the many challenges of running a nursery is predicting what will sell and in what quantities. Sometimes we hit the target, and sometimes we miss as bad as a North Korean missile launch. There are many factors that determine how well a plant sells, but the most important is the photograph…hence the reason many mail order catalogs pay professional photographers to take studio shots that often use dozens of plants which are then ‘cut and pasted’ to make one photo. A particular favorite is the commonly used mail order photo of Arum italicum showing the arum seed heads with leaves inserted from a calla lily. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a problem trusting folks who use doctored photos, but then they probably laugh at our meager sales. Another key factor in determining sales is photo placement…did you realize the location of an image on a page can double or triple sales of that item? That being said, here are our top 10 list of great plants for 2009 that didn’t sell as well as they should have …. consequently, we have some really nice ones remaining.

1. Agapanthus ‘Back in Black’ …must be the photo, as it’s a really cool plant.
2. Agave guiengola ‘Creme Brulee’ …we possibly saturated the market last year, but this is a really amazing potted specimen.
3. Colocasia ‘Blackwater’ – this narrow leaf C. ‘Fontanesii’ has evidently been overshadowed by the great new John Cho hybrids.
4. Colocasia esculenta ‘Hilo Bay’ – this overshadower has the most distinctive leaf, but is the worst seller…really hard to capture this well in an image…bummer.
5. Cypripedium parviflorum v. pubescens – the high cost of 7 years production time has unfortunately put this plant out of reach this season for many economically impaired gardeners. It should have sold much better…very disappointing. Disappointing, heck…this means I’ll have more for my own garden.
6. Epimediums, especially ‘Pink Elf’, E. x youngianum ‘Tamabotan’, E. x versicolor ‘Cherry Tart’ and E. grandiflorum ‘Pierre’s Purple’. So, do we just have too many eps? These are all great selections and ‘Cherry Tart’ is just delightful, but for some reason, folks just won’t buy it. E. ‘Pink Elf’…one of only three patented epimedium in the world…very floriferous…must be the darn photograph.
7. Fargesia denudata – do people really trust that there are clumping bamboos when disreputable nurseries are selling Phyllostachys nigra (black bamboo) and claiming it to be clumping…which is it not. Perhaps folks want all bamboos to be 30’ tall…and they are really hard to photograph well. I wish you knew how hard it’s been to get these into the trade.
8. Hostas…geez, is it the deer or too much to choose from? A new hosta will sell really well, then when collectors get their fill, sales drop off for the next 2-5 years until regular gardeners realize how great they are. Disappointments for 2009 include

H. ‘Appetizer’…a really nice dwarf;
H. ‘Applause’…which looks like a clump of hands clapping;
H. ‘Cathedral Windows’…an incredible sport of H. ‘Stained Glass’;
H. ‘Deliverance’…ok, the movie connotation probably did this one in;
H. ‘Electrocution’…so where are you gardeners with the sick sense of humor?
H. ‘Landslide’…it’s a photo thing along with leaves that aren’t round and cupped;
H. ‘Mango Tango’…it’s as nice as H. ‘Stitch in Time’, but the name just doesn’t have the same ring;
H. ‘Parasol’…we thought the name on this H. ‘Blue Umbrellas’ sport was perfect, but you must not have agreed; and
H. ‘White Wall Tire’;…sold great last year, but is a dud in 2009…must be the Detroit crash that has affected this one.

9. Malvaviscus ‘Pam Puryear’ …something about a pink turk’s cap just didn’t find a niche in the market.
10. xHeucherella ‘Alabama Sunrise’ …okay great name, great photo, great plant …. guess I’ll need to call the psychic hotline to figure this one out.

And this business looks easy to who?

Speaking of hostas, our staff suggested we let you know which containers of hostas are obscenely huge and need a good home, so here’s the list of those that would make instant clumps or are so dividable you can immediately get into the nursery business. Applause
Capitol Hill
Christmas Pageant
First Frost
His Honor
Journey’s End
Key Lime Pie
Miss Tokyo
Peedee Elfin Bells
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Pot of Gold
Sun Power
Swamp Thing
Twilight Time
White Necklace
Yesterday’s Memories

For those who entered our Top 25 contest to compete for the $250 worth of plants, click here for the results though April 26, 2009. Topping the list for the first time is the new Echinacea ‘Tomato Soup’, which just edged out Colocasia ‘Thailand Giant’for the top spot. The only other colocasia in the list so far is Colocasia ‘Mojito’in the 4th spot. In third place is the first appearance for Syneilesis aconitifoliain the top 25. The only other echinacea in the list this month is E. ‘Green Envy’. Thanks to the shade gardeners, it’s good to see two ferns, an asarum, an epimedium, and even an aspidistra make the list. The list changes each month, so if your picks don’t show up near the top yet, don’t despair.

In other news, we reported last month the Northwest Flower and Garden Show and the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show were both being phased out unless a new owner stepped forward. The latest news is Duane Kelly has two different parties interested in purchasing and continuing the shows. No final decisions have been made, but at least there is hope. In the Southeast, the Southeastern Flower Show in Atlanta is taking a temporary hiatus for 2010, while it re-evaluates the financial commitments required to put on its annual flower show. There is still no word on when or if the New England Flower Show in Boston will ever resume, since the financial mess there is still to be resolved and their bills from the 2008 show remain to be paid.

We were saddened to learn of the passing of plantsman Alex Summers of Bridgeville, Delaware on Sunday, April 11. Summers, 96, was a founding member of the American Hosta Society in 1968 and served as president for the first decade of the society’s existence. Alex was also a keen gardener as anyone who has visited his garden knows firsthand. Alex was preceded in death by his wife Gene, but is survived by his son Alan. Instead of sending flowers, the family asks donations be made to the American Hosta Society.

We lost another giant of the plant world on April 12, with the passing of Dr. Thad Howard of Texas at age 79. Thad is best known for his extensive work with bulbs for hot climates, though his numerous plant expeditions into Mexico, and for his 2001 book, Bulbs for Warm Climates (University of Texas Press). I was fortunate to visit Thad at his home in May 2003 and take him on a ride though Texas to visit other bulb greats such as Crinum guru, Dave Lehmiller, the wonderful Yucca Do Nursery, and to meet another Texas crinum guru, Marcelle Sheppard for the first time. It was truly a trip that I.ll remember for the rest of my life. Thad also was a mentor to a number of young men, who later went on to become bulb experts in their own right including Steve Lowe of Tejas Bulbs, and garden writer/lecturer Scott Ogden.

As always, thanks for taking time to read our rants and most of all, thank you so much for your support and orders this year!

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

Thanks and enjoy


2008 Plant Delights Nursery April Newsletter

April brings the start of my two favorite seasons… baseball and gardening. With both, there is the fading of bad memories from the preceding season and a childish optimism about the upcoming year. All in all, we had a relatively mild winter with no snow and a low temperature of 14.7 degrees F. This spring has been relatively cool, which has kept plant emergence far behind 2007, and has allowed us to better weather the late spring frosts which are inevitable every year.

For the first time since last spring, all of the public reservoirs around Raleigh are finally full and watering restrictions have been relaxed. Gardeners not only here, but in other areas hit with the drought in 2007 can finally begin replanting plants lost last year. Some parts of the country have had too much water, but I guess we will never be able to spread the water around more evenly.

We made an interesting, but disappointing discovery this winter when we found Agave parryi ‘Cream Spike’ isn’t nearly as hardy as we had thought and hoped. Although we originally received our plants as A. parryi, we now believe them to actually be a less-hardy species, A. applanata. Whatever they are, they make great container plants, but are no good as a garden specimen in cold climates, since ours were killed at 15 degrees F. We listed it as hardy to Zone 7b, so if you purchased one thinking it was going to be hardy in Zone 7b, please contact us for a refund or credit. We are very sorry for the error.

There’s so much blooming in the garden now, it’s hard to know where to start. One of the overlooked woodland plants I wouldn’t garden without are Solomon’s seals. Solomon’s seals include the genera Disporum, Disporopsis, Polygonatum, Smilacina, and Uvularia. Some polygonatums can reach 6’+ tall, while most disporopsis and disporums range from 6″ to 18″ tall. While none of these members of the lily family have overly flashy flowers, they have a wonderful presence in the woodland garden… especially now. Solomon’s seals grow from thick underground rhizomes, which serve as a storage structures allowing them to withstand drought conditions such as we experienced last summer. All of the Solomon’s seal genera, except for disporopsis, can be found native in both the US and Asia. As was the case with many other woodland genera (asarum and arisaema), the US only kept a small fraction of the species, while most took the trip to Asia. We’re glad to help reunite these long-separated siblings. On a side note, one of our wonderful customers shared a variegated Uvulaia perfoliata with us a few years ago, and we forgot who you are, so if you are the one, thanks, and please let us hear from you.

Another favorite group for spring is phlox. Most of these are US natives that have either been selected or hybridized for great garden potential. The phlox season begins with Phlox subulata, P. nivalis, and P. bifida for sunny sites and P. stolonifera and P. divaricata for shadier sites, all groundcover phlox for us are still in full bloom. The upright phlox such as P. maculata doesn’t start for another month, with the exception of the wonderful P. maculata hybrid, P. ‘Minnie Pearl’, whose first flowers are starting to open now. This amazing find from Mississippi is drawing rave reviews from gardeners and nurserymen around the world. Two other little-known native phlox are the tight-clumping P. latifolia, which opens in the next few weeks and the wide-spreading P. pilosa that opens around the same time. These small growers are happy in either full to part sun. As a rule, phlox are very drought tolerant, while able to withstand moist years as well. We hope you will explore this amazing genus of plants.

Visitors often ask if we have a problem with deer and the answer is no. The answer is no because we use Benner Deer Fence. We also planted a holly hedge around the perimeter when we first purchased the property, but in the areas that weren’t hedged, a row of the 7.5′ tall black plastic netting did just the trick. There are plenty of deer tracks on one side of the fence, but not the other. We use metal stakes, driven in the ground every 8′ to support the netting which is attached by tie wire. Current prices are between $1.40 and $1.60 per linear foot. You can find out more at the Benner’s Gardens website.

I hate to pass along more sad news, but the co-founder of Goodness Grows Nursery in Georgia Marc Richardson, passed away on February 3, 2008 at age 52 of lung cancer. Mark is survived by his partner of 31 years, Rick Berry, who will continue to run the nursery operations. Goodness Grows, a retail/wholesale perennial grower just outside Athens, is best known for its introduction, Veronica ‘Goodness Grows’.

In good news, best retirement wishes go out to Margaret Roach, who is retiring from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, where she has worked for 15 years. For much of her time there she was Editor of Martha Stewart Living magazine and later was Editorial Director of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO). Margaret is looking forward to spending more time in her wonderful garden, writing her new gardening blog, and working on a series of other projects.

Like Freddy Krueger, House and Garden has been killed once again. The magazine, which started in 1901, closed from 1993-1996, before re-opening, has once again gone to the recycle bin in the sky. Most gardening magazine editors tell me this is a tough time to make money in the magazine publishing business. In another move that shocked long-time subscribers and staff, Horticulture magazine is moving their operations from Boston, where it has been since its inception in 1904, to Kansas City, the home of its owner since 2002, F&W publications. As of this writing, it is uncertain if any staff members other than editor Meghan Lynch will remain with the publication. If you haven’t seen the May 2008 issue, Dr. Bobby Ward wrote a nice piece about our berm gardening here at PDN.

With all the magazines going out of business, it’s quite unusual to find a new magazine hitting the newsstands, but such is the case with the Charleston, SC based, Garden and Gun magazine. I admit the name sounds a bit strange and conjures up images of articles about plants to draw deer into your garden, but instead Garden and Gun is a southern upscale version of Town and Country magazine. Their stable of authors includes well-known southern favorites such as Pat Conroy (The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides, My Losing Season), Daniel Wallace (Big Fish), and Winston Groom (Forrest Gump). If you’re looking for a good literary gardening publication, check it out and you’ll see an upcoming feature on Plant Delights. Perhaps we’ll hang a few back issues from our deer fence to really antagonize the critters.

In March, we were fortunate to have Swedish plantsman Peter Korn speak to our local chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society. Everyone in attendance was blown away by Peter’s amazing garden. I didn’t have any plans to visit Sweden until I saw Peter’s talk, now Sweden has moved up quite high on my travel plans.

I just got notice for the upcoming Conifer Symposium to be held in Watkinsville, Georgia from May 22-25, 2008. The CANR Conifer Conference features tours of Conifer Gardens and 13 well-known speakers including Carol Reese, Rita Randolph, Don Howse, David Creech, Richard Bitner, and many more. If you like conifers, this should be one heck of a symposium.

While you have your calender in hand, the Garden Conservancy Open Days once again includes the Raleigh area. The tour features six private gardens to visit on Saturday, September 20 (9 am to 5 pm) and Sunday, September 21 (12 pm to 5 pm). A portion of the proceeds from the weekend will benefit the JC Raulston Arboretum. Discount tickets may be purchased in advance or entrance to the gardens can be ‘pay as you go’ with a fee of just $5.00 per garden, collected at each garden entrance. Call 1-888-842-2442 or visit www.opendaysprogram.org for more information. For local ticket information, please contact Autumn Keck at the JC Raulston Arboretum at autumn_keck@ncsu.edu or (919) 513-3826. Your $5 admission fee per garden supports the expansion of the Open Days Program around the country and helps build awareness of the Garden Conservancy’s work of preserving exceptional American gardens such as Montrose in Hillsborough, the Elizabeth Lawrence garden in Charlotte, North Carolina and Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California.

I was recently at the US National Arboretum in Washington DC to speak for the Lahr Native Plant Symposium, which was the first time in over a year I’ve been able to visit. From my first visit in the mid-1970’s, the US National Arboretum has been one of my very favorite botanical gardens. From the world class herb garden to the bonsai pavilions, from the Gotelli conifer collection to the native plant collections, the Arboretum is an amazing place. I’ll have to admit my favorite has always been the Asian Valley and the later addition, China Valley, which despite dozens of visits still yields surprising treasures around each corner. There was always so much to see, I could never finish by the time the gates closed at 5 pm, so in the summer months, I would spend hours after the gates closed dodging security personnel as I continued exploring every nook and cranny of the gardens. The Arboretum was probably the first public garden to feature the ‘New American Garden’ landscape trend that swept the nation back in the early 1980’s, and their legendary woody plant breeding work includes industry stalwarts such as the disease resistant, cold hardy Lagerostroemia fauriei crape myrtle hybrids.

The 446-acre site on the west side of Washington DC makes it a true jewel in the Nation’s crown. Because the Arboretum is housed under the US Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, its budget is subject to both political whims and departmental trends. Other area gardens are under different parent institutions and often not subject to the same fate. For example, the US Botanic Garden comes under the auspices of the Architect of the Capitol and many of the gardens in downtown DC fall under the Smithsonian Institution. This year’s proposed budget takes funding for the US National Arboretum from $5 million to $2 million. You can imagine the devastating effect on the Arboretum, if it can even remain open. While I’m a big advocate of fiscal responsibility on the part of our Federal lawmakers, not funding the US National Arboretum simply doesn’t make sense. Not only does the Arboretum represent our Nation’s gardening efforts to visitors from around the world, but it does the same to residents of our country, who support it with their tax dollars. The Arboretum needs those of you who care about its success to write letters of support to your congresspersons to try and restore their funding. You can also find a list of key lawmakers involved in budget processes at the Friends of the National Arboretum website Thanks for taking time to engage our political leaders about this important issue.

We hope you will be able to visit us for our Spring Open House, May 2-4 and 9-11 (8 am -5 pm Friday, Saturday, and 1-5 pm on Sunday). I’m afraid many folks may need to replace plants that didn’t survive our stressful 2007 summer and of course, if you’re looking for a worthy recipient of your economic stimulus check from Uncle Sam, we’re here for you.

Since we’re all thinking and hearing about recycling these days, Plant Delights is glad to help you clean up by recycling any pots that come from here, so if you are heading this way, throw those old pots in the car and we’ll take them off your hands. Please, do not bring odd-sized pots from other vendors since these will not fit our production standards.

Our Spring Open House will also be your last chance to say goodbye to departing Garden Curator Adrienne Roethling, who will be leaving us after 8+ years in that position. Adrienne has been an important part of our operation as she oversaw the development and growth of the garden during this time. Adrienne and her husband Jon are moving to Kernersville, NC where she will assume a similar position at the developing Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden. Taking over for Adrienne is Todd Wiegardt, who has served as Adrienne’s assistant for the last year. I hope you will take time to thank her for her contributions and to welcome Todd.

It’s been a good spring for the growth of most nursery plants, and to that end, we have more new and returning items we have just added to the website. Remember some are only available in limited quantities, so if you see something that strikes your fancy, don’t hesitate too long.

If you’ve submitted your ballot for our Top 25 contest, visit our best sellers’s list for the current standings. There was some minor shuffling in the top 25 with the big mover for the month being Agave ovatifolia which leapt up to 14. May is when we begin to see more dramatic shifts in peoples’ ordering habits. Don’t get discouraged if your selections don’t appear on the list yet, as it changes dramatically as the season progresses.

As always, we thank you for your continued support and patronage.

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

Thanks and enjoy


2006 Plant Delights Nursery July Newsletter

What an incredible gardening year this has been. This year’s record June rainfall (thanks TS Alberto) is quite a contrast to 2005, when we already had both a drought and water restrictions. Our summer garden is as lush as I ever remember and I hope you will be able to visit for our upcoming summer open house that starts this Friday. We will be open Friday-Sunday for two consecutive weekends, July 7-9 and 14-16. The hours are 8-5 on Fridays, 8-8pm on Saturdays, and 1-5 on Sundays. If you don’t get our open house flyers, click here for directions and information about attending the open house

The number of plants in flower are simply amazing. The hemerocallis and hymenocallis are both stunning now. Buddleias should be almost at peak bloom for open house as will many of the summer phlox. If you haven’t tried some of the hardy gesneriads, be sure and see the wonderful sinningias in full flower. Lest I forget the eucomis, which are really in perfect form now, along with companions such as thalictrum, and several of the great lilies. We’ll even have a dasylirion in full flower for open house this year, so don’t miss the blessed event. (Read more about Buddleia here)

We’re in full swing writing the fall catalog which goes in the mail in 4 weeks. Once we finish taking a few more photographs and proofreading the text, the formatting process begins. I can already tell you that there are some truly exciting new plants…. in fact, more new plants that we’ve ever offered in our fall catalog. Several of them are already available, but only if you attend our summer open house, so get a jump on your friends.

In order to clear out some room for these new items, we’re offering an on-line only sale on some items that are currently overstocked from the spring catalog. This sale only lasts until Thursday July 6 at midnight, so don’t delay. The more overstocked items we can move, the more room we will have for new plants at the summer open house. click here for list of sale plants

I don’t want to dwell on weather, but need to make a mention of one special weather event…. the Carolina Hurricanes. In case you missed it, our Raleigh-based ice hockey team won the Stanley Cup at the end of June. I realize that many of you may not be ice hockey fans, and I will admit to just figuring out the difference between a red line and blue line, but this is the first professional sports championship for a NC team and we think they deserve a huge congratulations. And they said hockey and sweet tea wouldn’t mix.

We’ve previously talked at length about the closure of Heronswood Nursery in Kingston, Washington, but we’ve also recently lost another of my favorite mail-order nurseries, Roslyn Nursery on Long Island, New York. I understand that the owner, Philip Waldman is having some health issues, but hope these can all be resolved so that he can continue gardening. Thanks to the Philip and Harriet Waldman and the entire Roslyn staff for their contributions to the plant world.

Our friends at Boo-Shoot Gardens north of Seattle, WA, are looking for a Customer Service Manager. Boo-Shoot is a wholesale producer of bamboo. For more information, visit their web site. This is a really great wholesale nursery with great folks, so if you are looking for a job in the Horticulture field and live in, or want to move to the beautiful Skagit Valley, check them out. You can Send resume to Boo-Shoot Gardens LLC, 5722 Campbell Lake Road, Anacortes, WA 98221


2006 Plant Delights Nursery April Newsletter

Howdy folks, and I hope everyone is having a great spring as is the case at Juniper Level. So far, the late spring frosts haven’t been too bad. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we are finished with winter, but we’ll be watching the forecasts closely over the next few weeks. There is nothing more agonizing for a nursery than trying to figure out when to uncover the greenhouses in spring. If you wait too long, plants stretch and become weak. If you uncover too early, well…. you know what happens if it gets cold again. Also, if you have more rain than your quota, please send some our way. We’re already six inches behind for the year since the folks in the PNW have been hoarding all the winter moisture.

We’ve been snapping photos as fast as we can and still can’t keep up. It’s been a great spring for most plants in the garden, especially the arisaemas. The early-flowering A. amurense group has been stunning this year. This is also the best show we have ever had from Arisaema kishidae ‘Jack Frost’…. a patch is certainly quite stunning. Arisaema taiwanense is also coming into full flower, along with the beautiful Arisaema sikokianum. If you haven’t tried the Asian jack-in-the-pulpits, you’ll find them quite easy, especially when they are planted in well-draining soil. We have found that even the often-difficult Himalayan species have grown very well when we plant them under large trees or shrubs where they will be very dry during the summer months when they are dormant.

The terrestrial Calanthe orchids are also just coming into flower, and what a sight. If you live in a zone where these will thrive, it’s hard to imagine a better and easier-to-grow spring woodland flower. If you have a woodland garden and don’t grow Phlox divaricata, why not? There is no single plant that makes a better floral show than the US native, Phlox divaricata.

Although not as showy as phlox, a group of plants that I wouldn’t be without are the Solomon’s Seal. This broad group of architectural gems for the woodland include several genera of shade-loving Lily relatives such as disporum, disporopsis, polygonatum, and smilacina (now Maianthemum).

I mentioned helleborus in our last update, but need to make a special mention of H. ‘Walhelivor’. This stunning hybrid from David Tristam of England is one that you really should try. The problem is that it doesn’t photograph well, which explains why we had only sold three plants of this before winter open house. When people saw it in person, over 100 flew off the benches in just a matter of hours. Please forgive my photographic skills, and give this unique hellebore a try.

Many of the early hostas are up, while most of the later emergers are still sleeping. Emergence comes from the genetics of the Hosta species used to breed a hybrid. Species from warm climates tend to emerge earlier. This information can be useful to those of you who live south of Zone 7 where there is often not enough winter chill for hostas to thrive. We have compiled a list of some of our favorite low-chill hostas that are much better adapted to warmer climates.

Low Chill Hosta List Green Foliage

clausa Crystal Chimes (yingeri) Old Faithful (plantaginea) Potomac Pride (yingeri) Raspberry Sorbet Stingray Teaspoon (venusta) tibae Tortifrons (longipes) tsushimensis venusta White Necklace yingeri

Gold Foliage

Sweet Tater Pie (yingeri, nakaiana)

Blue Foliage

Baby Bunting (venusta)

Variegated Foliage

American Sweetheart Bob Olsen Carolina Sunshine (tibae) Cherish (venusta) Chickadee (plantaginea) Diana Remembered (plantaginea) Dixie Chick (plantaginea) Ebb Tide (montana) Fan Dance (sieboldii) Fragrant Bouquet (plantaginea) Grand Tiara (nakaiana) Guacamole (plantaginea) Harpoon Korean Snow (yingeri) Masquerade (gracillima) Ming Treasure (plantaginea) Mistress Mabel (plantaginea) Red Hot Flash (sieboldii) So Sweet (plantaginea) Stained Glass (plantaginea) Teeny Weeny Bikini

Did I mention ferns? I used the search feature on our website the other day and found that we have over 119 different ferns listed. If you haven’t explored the world of ferns, please follow our lead and enjoy the wonder of these delightful garden plants.

There aren’t as many early spring flowers in the sunny part of the garden, but a couple that I wouldn’t be without are the dianthus and the early sun-loving phlox. I’m particularly fond of Phlox nivalis ‘Camla’, which makes a solid carpet of mauvy flowers year after year… simply outstanding. My favorite dianthus are D. barbatus ‘Heart Attack’, D. ‘Feuerhexe’, and the stunningly brilliant D. ‘Neon Star’. Even in our hot humid summers, these wonderful cultivars don’t even blink.

We are in full shipping mode now with plants flying out the door and headed your way. If you don’t believe me, watch our shippers work via the PDN Shipping Cam If it looks like they aren’t moving, hit the refresh button.

If you live nearby or are looking for an excuse to visit, I’ll be giving two Plant Expedition talks next week…. one on our 2005 trip to North Vietnam/Thailand (April 18 – Gardeners of Wake Co., Raleigh) as well as our 2006 trip to South Africa (April 20 – JC Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh). You can find more details on my program schedule.

Our spring open house begins in three weeks (May 5-8 and 12-14), so start making your plans to attend. The garden renovations from this winter are settling in and will be in full splendor for spring open house. We have directions and a list of nearby hotels to help you plan.

We were thrilled to be featured in the April edition of The NY Times in an article by famed garden writer Ken Druse. If you missed it, you can find the article at The NY Times website. You will need to register, but it is free.

There is also an easier to access audio/video version with more photos (try the moden version if broadband won’t load for you).

I know you’ve got better things to do that sit here reading my diatribe, so I’ll stop now and let you get back to important things such as gardening. Again, thanks for being a PDN customer!

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

Thanks and enjoy -tony