Slangin’ Delightful Plants

Yesterday afternoon I placed my order with Plant Delights, the nursery down in NC that publishes the best, and most addictive, catalog in all of horticulture. 

My intention was  to buy ONLY a Danae racemosa, with which I was unfamiliar until a local designer introduced me to it a few years ago.  Also called Poet’s Laurel, this small evergreen shrub is said to be “laden with marble-sized reddish-orange berries in fall” according to Tony Avent, owner of Plant Delights, author of its catalog, and “dealer” of delightful plants. 

You have to watch out for Tony.  He might lure you into buying a plant merely through his wry, irreverent, and often provocative descriptions.  For example, Tony introduces Poet’s Laurel with this line: “From Iran and other “axis of evil” countries comes one of our favorite garden plants.”  He closes the blurb with: “Danae was the daughter of King Acrisius of Argos…the dude who became a rock gardener when he was shown Medusa’s head.”

Damn you, Tony.  With your puns AND allusions to Greek mythology how can I NOT buy this plant???

But it was all good up to this point.  I had a spot picked out for this Poet’s Laurel. I made this purchase with a clear head, so no morning-after guilt on this one.

This Poet's Laurel was purchased with much forethought and planning.

But as I was online making my purchase, I thought, “ooooohhhh, maybe I should just buy an unusual fern, too.”  After all, I just finished up my online fern class at Mt. Cuba, so I’m a Fern Pro, a Fern Afficionado, and Tony’s nursery is known for its “rare” and “unusual” perennials.  So yeah, I ordered a couple of native Dryopteris

 Big Deal! 

What? Do I have any clue where I might put them?   Are the Dryopteris part of a long-term planting plan that I have carefully formulated and will responsibly execute?

None of your business!

So I have my three nifty plants all selected, and I’m ready to “Check Out.”   I’m good to go. 

Then Tony does something really sneaky!  The bill comes up, and along with the itemization of plants I’ve ordered, and a statement of shipping charges, comes this message:

You can buy two more plants for the same shipping charge.

In other words: Wouldn’t you like just a little more plant-crack?

Yes please!

I’ll be honest. After this giddy spree of impulse buys, I couldn’t even remember which two plants I added to my order.  

I have only a vague memory of purchasing this clematis.

Once the high wore off I went back to look at my online receipt.  Turns out that, in the foggy mania of these impetuous purchases, I ordered some sort of weird chartreuse-leaved clematis, and a totally righteous-looking “Morning Sun” Cast Iron plant, which is possibly not cold-hardy in my area.

WTF am I going to do with these? 

Never mind.  I’ll find a place.  And they’ll look totally sweet, I’m sure. 

I’m just warning you in advance.  Tony’s slangin’ delightful plants.  You won’t be able to buy just one.

Comments

  1. You will not regret your purchase of Danae racemosa. It is a plant that I grow and recommend often for shade. Elegant, evergreen and berries to boot. Tony’s catalogue is always tempting.

  2. Where I live in the South East of the UK we have clay soil that many plants do not like, my Danae racemosa, though, puts up with it and whatever weather is thrown at it. It looks totally healthy and shiny with its evergreen leaves and has berries to boot. Some of the old stems need to be cut down to the ground when they turn brown, no other maintenance required. They also look fantastic if you are into flower arranging.

  3. Becca Mudge says:

    So glad to know “I’m not the only one”! As a fully acknowledged Plant Collector who pretends there’s design and premeditation involved and not just “addiction” I always know I’ll have to dig up more lawn when the box arrives…Did you check out his hellebores, epimidiums, hardy agaves, and…..This last order I was mostly looking for my Tim Burton bed of the weirdest looking plants I can find….needless to say….I find some!!!!

  4. I’m in zone 7a and it looks like you are 6b. You better let me have that awesome Aspidistra since it says zone 7-10! I’ll send you photos!

  5. That clematis is fabulous!

  6. I am glad to know that I am not the only one lured by Tony’s silver tongue (or should I say pen?). Had I stuck to my resolutions, my garden would have not even a quarter of the plants it now has. He makes me look like a far better and more knowledgeable gardener than I really am.

    How was the fern class? I am thinking to taking one of their classes.

    • Leslie, The fern class was good….easy to watch the videos & take in the information at your own pace. And the handouts are really well done & informative. I’d definitely do it again.

  7. Last Saturday I spent a delightful several hours listening to Tony A. lecture (with slides) on “gardening in drifts of one”. The Connecticut Hort Society sponsored a symposium and he was the featured speaker. He is as funny and addictive to listen to as his catalog is funny and addictive to order from.

    But beneath the shtick is a very serious gardener, and he keeps his credibility while still entertaining an audience. He provided great examples of how a plant collector (oooh, I’ll order one of those!! and one of those! and . . .) can create a cohesive garden by using repeating colors and complementary forms, while not actually massing drifts of the same plant. Loved his ideas, loved his examples, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself listening to him. With your impulse purchases it sounds like you will be gardening in drifts of one!

  8. Tony Avent is one of the reasons why I tell people that my favorite gardening song is Ministry’s “Just One Fix”. And yes, that’s intended as a compliment.

  9. Well you can always use the Aspidistra as a houseplant… and I don’t know what with everything else. Danae racemosa is one of my favorites…maybe I need to get one… or maybe I should stay away from the internet for the rest of my life…

  10. Lani Wilkinson says:

    One never buys only one thing from PDN. Start at 5 plants and know that you’ll probably have to go into hock to pay for the 20 that you end up with. Incredibly great and different stuff. For me, there’s also the competition from Logee’s for tropicals. The 2 catalogs sit on the table looking at each other, wondering how fast the fingers on my hand can move on the keyboard going from screen to screen. PDN, Logees, PDN, Logees,……I NEED these plants!!!!

    • Oh great, Lani. Thanks for introducing me to ANOTHER cool nursery. This is exactly what I need!

      • Oh, Logee’s can be even worse. After about five minutes with the catalog, it seems perfectly, well, reasonable to buy a cacao tree for your back yard. (In my case, I could pull it off, so long as it stayed on my back porch. I have a huge covered back porch, though, thereby giving the tree the deep shade it desperately needs.)

        • Go ahead and pour salt in my wounds, Paul, with your huge porch and ability to grow Cacao trees. Not fair. Oh, but you have locust swarms and carnivorous ants and stuff down there, too, don’t you? So I guess it all evens out.

          Loved your last post, by the way! How were you able to make bronchitis funny? Neat trick!

        • Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. We have the heat for cacao trees, certainly. The humidity is a bit lacking, though. (Very seriously, if you ever have reason to get down this way, I’ll have to take you to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. The big Victorian-style conservatory has, among many other wonders, a huge cacao tree that regularly bears fruit.)

        • I’ve got two step kids who live in Dallas…maybe I’ll take you up on that sometime!

  11. I am totally obsessed with the clematis!

  12. I love that he calls Salvia ‘Black & Blue’ the “domestic violence salvia”. But then I always laugh when humor is in poor taste.

  13. Mary, I hate it when anyone tries to upsell me, as in a restaurant. No, I don’t want a side salad for $1.50 more. No, I don’t want an appetizer. No, I don’t want dessert. No, I don’t want another coffee. if I want something, I’ll order it.

    But in the case of things I love, as you do plants, I’m a pushover. Another book with free shipping? Sure! A set of strings with the guitar case? Might as well! Another Big Bang Theory T-shirt for only $ 5? Send it to me!

    Another great post!

  14. Lani Wilkinson says:

    Re my continuing battle of who will get the money first: Logee’s insists on having sales all the time; one notice just arrived today with a grouping of fragrant plants, three of which I have no choice but to purchase. The prices are right and who knows- they might run out of them. My son lives close to PDN and will be there for the first open house, scout everything out, buy at least $200 worth of plants, taunt me with pictures of what he bought, then tell me to send money so he can go back the next day and buy stuff for me. Then I’ll have to send in my order for all the plants he didn’t get me, and.. . it’s one big vicious circle. And then there’s the catalog I received from High Country Gardens with zillions of salvias; they’re the plant my kid and I collect. Between Loudoun County and Fort Bragg, we have salvias for every condition, salvias of every color, and still don’t have all of them. Does anyone know how to stop this addiction???

  15. Becca Mudge says:

    Don’t know if you all saw the note from Tony Avent about his wife’s death from breast cancer this week. She set up the office and created the systems to take them from a room in their house to the amazing catalog/nursery plant phenomenom that they’ve become. Very moving…felt that we were celebrating/honoring their creation here and so glad we were.

    • Becca,
      I heard about her death just a day or two after I posted about Plant Delights. I’m glad you saw post/comments as celebrating their nursery, because that was certainly the intent!

      Thanks,
      Mary

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