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Let's Argue About Plants

Let's Argue About Plants

The podcast for people who love plants?but not always the same ones. Brought to you by the editors of Fine Gardening, this fun, informative podcast tackles all things topical in gardening. You?ll listen to the insights (and arguments) of Editor-in-Chief Steve Aitken and Senior Editor Danielle Sherry as they discuss various horticultural subjects on a deeper level. You will also hear from today?s leading horticultural minds who will offer their wisdom and opinions about what you might want to grow in your garden. We guarantee you?ll be entertained and feel like a better gardener.


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Episode 78: Best Clematis

Truth be told, Steve and Danielle don?t grow many clematis. But, over their many, many years at Fine Gardening, they?ve researched and written a lot about this genus. In doing so, they?ve formed strong opinions about the species and cultivars that are truly top-notch. Their picks may not include the huge, in-your-face star flower-types folks first think of when they hear ?clematis.? Instead, our podcasting duo offers insight into selections that have unique habits or interesting flower colors and shapes. By the end of this episode you?ll come away wanting to try at least one of these gorgeous vines and wondering why you haven?t planted them before.


Expert testimony: Dan Long is the owner of Brushwood Nursery, which specializes in vines and climbers in Athens, Georgia.

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Episode 77: Year in Review

What can we say about 2020 that hasn?t already been said? With all the bad that occurred, one positive for the staffers at FG was more time spent in our gardens. This enabled us to truly monitor what plants did well and which ones did not?sometimes by no fault of their own. We are ending the year by taking stock of our plant successes and failures. There were some surprises from little-known native plants that appeared to enjoy the drought this summer, while other plants that we had coveted, struggled. Steve even talks about plants that made it through an entire year (or three) in a pot, on the side of his driveway, and lived. If those selections can survive those conditions, just think how well they?d do in your garden with a little more attention! We asked Associate Editor Carol Collins to join in the reminiscing and she shares an amusing story about growing an annual she longed for, only to have uninvited garden guests spoil everything.  

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Episode 76: Wish List Plants for 2021

It?s that time of year when we dream of all the plants we?d buy if a blank check showed up in our stockings. Some are weird, some are workhorses we never got around to purchasing, and some are brand new offerings that will only become available in 2021. Danielle brought out her infamous jingle bells to up the festiveness (much to Steve?s chagrin) and the entire conversation was filled with cheer and goodwill?well, most of it anyway. Whether you?ve been naughty or nice, these plants will surely give you a reason to celebrate the season.

Expert testimony: Joseph Tychonievich, horticulturist, frequent Fine Gardening contributor, and author of, Rock Gardening:  Reimagining a Classic Style.

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Episode 75: Variegated for Shade

Shade, generally speaking, can be dark, dreary and difficult to garden in. It?s hard enough finding a plant that requires not all that much sunlight, let alone one that has light coloring to its foliage. But these rare birds are essential to making a good shade garden truly great. Plants with white, silver, or even light green variegation brighten up the dimmest of spots and instantly get elevated to focal point status. Have you always thought your shade was lacking something? Chances are, it?s some variegation and this episode has plenty of options to pick from.


Expert testimony: Susan Calhoun, owner of Plantswoman Design in Bainbridge, Washington.   

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Episode 74: Short Plants are Better

Danielle was convinced that this was HER episode, considering she?s shorter than Steve. But turns out Steve had a lot of great short plants to talk about on this episode, too. The pair discusses why short plants are important to good design and exactly what dimensions qualify a plant as ?short.? The list includes some shrubs, some perennials, and plenty of options for multiple seasons of interest. After all, if you put a plant front-and-center, don?t you want it to look good for as long as possible?


Expert Testimony: Susan Morrison owner of Creative Exteriors Landscape Design in the East Bay region of Northern California.

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Episode 73: Unusual Bulbs

The leaves are falling, the temperatures are cooling and that can only mean one thing: It?s time to talk bulbs. We?re sick of talking about the same old yellow daffodils and pink hybrid tulips though, so Steve and Danielle decided to wade into the world of rarer?or at least lesser-known?fall planted bulbs. You will hear us talk about a tulip or two on this episode, but likely not ones you?re familiar with, instead focusing on species tulips that are more likely to come back year after year?which is only one of their awesome attributes. You?ll also hear about a garlic that is grown only for its beautiful bloom and a few other bulb options that seem to be ignored by voles!  This episode proves weirder sometimes is better.

Expert testimony: Erin Presley is a horticulturist at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin.

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Episode 72: Blooms for Fall

When it comes to autumnal color in the garden, most of us probably think of leaves changing from green, to perhaps yellow, orange, or even red. This foliage show is a staple of the season in many parts of the country. Plants that actually bloom in fall get less attention, perhaps it?s because they have a hard time competing with the fiery foliage of their neighbors. On today?s show, Steve and Danielle give several plants that bloom in fall their due. This array of perennials and shrubs save their best for last, highlighting the landscape with vibrant pinks and cool blues?hues not often associated with October.


Expert testimony: Karen Beaty, horticulturist for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. 

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Episode 71: Better Versions of Old Favorites

Why would you ever want the shinier version of a beloved plant? In this episode Steve and Danielle talk about all the reasons including better disease resistance, better habits, or perhaps a more exciting foliage color. Disclaimer: we?re not dissing the classic favorites, just recommending some improvements, if you?re in the market for new plants. Author Andy Keys is our expert, who is the perfect choice, given he wrote the popular Fine Gardening article, Improved Varieties of Classic Favorites, which you can read here (KARA?insert hyperlink please).


Expert testimony: Andrew Keys is a Massachusetts-based horticulturist and author of several gardening books, including Why Grow That When You Can Grow This? and Growing the Northeast Garden.

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Episode 70: Plants That Made it Through Summer?s Worst

Here in the Northeast, we experienced one of the hottest summers on record. In Connecticut (where we make this wonderful podcast), we broke a 38-year record for most consecutive days over 90°F. Add to these steamy temps a record low rainfall and this summer turned out to be pretty miserable?and not just for Steve, who always likes to have something to complain about, but for our plants. Therefore, we thought it was a good time to take stock and see which plants of ours simply made it through. Our selections include species we never expected to be drought-tolerant and cultivars that seemed to fair better than others. Given the topic, we had to reach out to David Salman a renowned horticulturist from New Mexico, to see what plants made it through a decade old high intensity drought (after a year's respite in 2019) in his backyard. Surprisingly, he says, quite a few.


Expert testimony: David Salman, chief horticulturist for High Country Gardens in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Episode 69: See-through Plants

Why on earth would you ever put a tall plant in the front of your garden-- even in the middle?  You?d block whatever is behind it, right? Not necessarily.  Enter the amazingly versatile category of see-through plants. Many of these unsung heroes have a bulk of tufted foliage that stays under a foot, but from that mass shoots a plethora of delicate flowers which allow the garden beyond to be seen. Other options include incredibly fine textured plants with leaves resembling smoke. We even talk about an ornamental grass that shoots off its own bottle rockets just in time for the 4th of July. Listen to the interesting options in this episode and you?re sure to put a few tall plants at the front of you garden ASAP.

Expert testimony: Leslie Harris owner of LH Gardens, a landscape design and maintenance firm in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Episode 68: Plants for Nooks and Crannies

What good is a cake without the frosting? Sure, it still tastes good, but it isn?t giving you its full potential. That?s sort of what a garden is like without nooks and crannies plants: Good, but not as great as it could be. These tiny treasures fill in all the gaps and cracks of a landscape. They?re great for planting between stepping stones or along the edges of walls. Often they?re considered alpine plants, thriving in rocky soils and less than hospitable conditions?but not always. Steve and Danielle do their best at giving options for nooks and crannies plants for sun, shade, and for various different soil types in this episode. Much to Steve?s disappointment, there was no baked goods sampling during taping.   

Expert testimony: Rebecca Sweet, owner of Harmony in the Garden, a landscape design  company in the Bay Area of California.

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Episode 67: Plants for Kids

This episode was inspired by a loyal listener, Elizabeth, who reached out to us and asked for help. She has a 10-month old son and she wanted recommendations for plants that might foster a love and curiosity for the outdoors in her child (once he can walk, of course). So, we accepted the challenge and dug deep into our own childhood memories?and more recent experiences from the kids in our lives?to come up with a list of plants that are sure to delight little ones.  Some of our picks smell good, some taste good, and some are great host plants that will attract caterpillars?and who doesn?t love discovering a cool-looking caterpillar? Listen now and you?re sure to come away with a few plants that kids of all ages (even 60-year-old kids) will enjoy.

Expert testimony: David Vaughn, curator for ?My Big Backyard,? the children?s garden at the Memphis Botanic Garden in Tennessee. 

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Episode 66: Reliable Performers

Take a tour through Danielle?s and Steve?s garden as they point out some of their go-to plants. These options may not be the showiest or most alluring plants in their beds, but these are the dependable stalwarts that show up year after year without complaint.  This episode was also filmed to have a companion video. So, if you so choose, you can watch it to get a sneak peek into our host?s gardens. We even visit the summer cottage of expert nurseryman, Ed Gregan, where he points out two of his most reliable shrubs?and gives us a pruning lesson at the same time!


Expert testimony: Ed Gregan from Bailey Nurseries in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Episode 65: True Blue Beauties

Blue--arguably the most elusive color in gardening. If you?ve ever bought a plant that touted ?beautiful blue blooms? only to discover that when it flowered it was actually purple, you are not alone. Or, perhaps you?ve drooled for years over pictures of Himalayan blue poppies, the truest of blue flowers, and one of the most difficult plants to cultivate successfully. Well, Steve and Danielle to the rescue. In this episode the pair discuss awesome plants with blue blooms (or at least Danielle does?turns out Steve is a bit color-challenged). The topic was so inspiring, there was even some signing. We apologize for that in advance.


Expert testimony: Dan Robarts,  horticulturist and propagator at Coastal Maine Botanic Gardens in Boothbay.   

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Episode 64: Plants for Massing

Impact is created in many different ways in the garden. Sometimes you get impact from a single plant that has an interesting form or stunning color. Other times, you get visual impact from grouping several of the same plants together.  These masses are eye-catching and lend a movement to the landscape that is much needed. Not every plant is cut out for massing, however. It can?t be too big, or too overbearing. And, generally, a good massing plant puts on a show during several seasons: One hit wonders need not apply. Find out some of our favorite plants for grouping in this episode including some bullet-proof perennials and a few dwarf shrubs. In expert testimony, we?ve got a Midwest designer to weigh in with some of his favorite plants for massing?did someone say pollinator magnets?

Expert testimony: Austin Eischeid is the owner and principal designer at Austin Eischeid Garden Design based in Chicago, IL.



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Episode 63: Color in the Shade

When you think about shade do you think about various different colors of green? Maybe a white striped hosta if you?re lucky? You?re not alone. Many of us think that the term ?colorful shade plant? is a fantasy?that there isn?t an appreciable number of plants that produce vibrant reds, yellows, or purples in little to no sun. But, that?s not the case. In this episode Danielle and Steve talk about several plants that put on a colorful display in the darkest corners of their beds and borders.  From a spotted low-grower that gets a plethora of blue, pink, and purple blooms in early spring to a dogwood that will leave visitors to your space stunned by its golden hue.  And, did you know there are several lilies that bloom prolifically in the shade? It?s true, according to this week?s expert testimony. 


Expert testimony: Ed Lyon, director of the Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University.


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Episode: 62 Holy Cow?It Came Back!

With the forever changing and unpredictable winters we?ve all grown accustomed to it?s hard to know what to expect each spring. Sometimes plants we never thought had a chance in hell of coming back sail through the winter unfazed.  And then there are those occasions when you were positive a hardy, no-fail shrub would be sprouting in April without any trouble?and you were wrong. This episode celebrates those plants that Steve and Danielle were flabbergasted to see emerging this spring. These perennials and shrubs were thought to be long-shots for returning, perhaps due to neglect (Steve) or wishful zonal thinking (Danielle) but regardless, they persevered. Nothing makes us feel better than an underdog?s success story!


Expert testimony: Joseph Tychonievich, horticulturist, frequent Fine Gardening contributor, and author of, Rock Gardening:  Reimagining a Classic Style.

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Episode 61: What we?re starting from seed

It?s been a long winter and a less than stellar start to spring, so naturally we went a little overboard on the seed-starting this year. While Steve purchased and started mostly flowers/ornamentals, Danielle went to town in the edibles department. And, we couldn?t do an episode on seed-starting without our resident expert, Fine Gardening Associate Editor Carol Collins telling us all about the varieties (both edible and ornamental) she?s growing this year. We?re talking about bicolored tomatoes, flowering vines you?ve never heard of, and a variegated pepper almost too pretty to eat.

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Episode 60: Why am I not growing this?

For years these plants have been on our lists of must-haves?but they have tragically never made it into the garden. Why? Truthfully it?s probably because both Steve and Danielle suffer from short term memory loss and when it comes to buying plants, they are easily distracted. But then something happens, like a visit to a botanic garden, that triggers them to say, ?Why am I not growing this?? These are amazing plants that really standout in their season of glory, but sadly, they seem to always get left of the shopping list. Apparently plant guru Andy Pulte can relate because he chimes in with some plants that he?s kicking himself for not planting. Is this a universal thing with gardeners? We think so.


Expert testimony: Andy Pulte is a faculty member in the Plant Sciences department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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Episode 59: Northwest Flower and Garden Festival Review

Over the course of the past several years, the staff of Fine Gardening has visited A LOT of flower and garden shows across North America. But one show that takes place every February in Seattle consistently rises to the top: The Northwest Flower and Garden Festival. The display gardens are more than just impressive?they?re truly inspiring and feature an incredible array of diverse plants. These are gardens that not only have the wow-factor, but also give attendees solid ideas for their own backyards that are achievable. This year was no exception. Join Steve and Danielle as they walk through the show and share what they saw, from a cottage garden with swarms of live ladybugs to a variegated daphne so fragrant, you can almost smell it through your headphones.


Expert testimony: Courtney Olander, landscape designer from Seattle, Washington.

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Episode 58: Architectural Plants

It may seem weird to talk about a garden having ?architecture?, but it?s an essential component of a good design.  Plants with stunning form?be it shockingly upright, or maybe acutely weeping?are what tends to draw the eye in a landscape.  These plants are often focal points, and we like to think our gardens can never have enough of them. In today?s episode Steve and Danielle talk about their favorite architectural plants, and surprisingly, they?re not all trees and shrubs.


Expert testimony: Susan Morrison, owner and principle designer for Creative Exteriors Landscape Design in Concord, California.

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Episode 57: Visit to Logee?s Greenhouses

We?re taking the podcast on the road again and this time we traveled to Logee?s Greenhouses in Danielson, Connecticut. Known countrywide as a mecca for houseplant and tropical plant lovers, this unique business is the ideal location to visit if you need to chase away the winter blues. Join us as we step into the 80° F, subterranean greenhouses to check out trees adorned with lemons the size of footballs and fragrant jasmines that almost anyone can grow (even Steve and Danielle).  We also get the inside scoop on caring for some of these exotic plants from Byron Martin, the co-owner of Logee?s. And, in case you?re sad that you couldn?t join us on this adventure, Logee?s ships plants across the country, so you can order any of the jewels we discovered on this visit and have them delivered to your doorstep.

Expert testimony: Byron Martin, co-owner of Logee?s Greenhouses, in Danielson, CT.

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Episode 56: Listener Q & A

Since we?ve been at this podcasting game for 2+ years now, we figured it was time we asked you guys?our loyal listeners?what pressing plant questions you have. We got questions about design, zone 4 recommendations, and one brave listener even wrote in to ask about our favorite PINK plants (yikes!) There were a handful of questions that left us clueless, so we called in a few bonafide experts to help out. After all, if there?s one thing we have figured out through the course of this show, it?s that we don?t know it all--even you, Steve.

Expert testimony #1: Richie Steffen curator of the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle, Washington.

Expert testimony #2: Ed Gregan nurseryman from Bailey Nurseries in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Ep. 55 Best Natives

Some people say plant all native plants. Some people say plant a mix of native and ornamental options. Whichever side you may be on, the plants we highlight today are some stellar selections no matter where they hail from?but they?re all North American natives that we adore. It?s hard to do a show about our experiences with native plants, because what is native here in the Northeast (where we live and make this wonderful podcast) may not be native to your region. We kept that in mind however, and selected a few options outside of our area of the country?native plants from other parts of North America that have left a lasting impression while traveling. Just to be sure we covered all our bases, we asked Andrea DeLong-Amaya, director of horticulture at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas (a premier authority on all things native plants) to weigh in and tell us about some of her favorite natives.


Expert testimony: Andrea DeLong-Amaya, director of horticulture at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas

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Episode 54: Splurge Plants

On this episode we?re daring to dream big and talking about which plants we?d be willing to spend an entire paycheck on. We?re calling these coveted gems, Splurge Plants. A hefty price tag isn?t the only way a plant can make this list, though.  It could be a plant that?s not hardy to our particular zone but we?d be willing to set up a heater by its side all winter just to have it in our gardens. Other selections made our list because we?ve seen it, drooled over it, but haven?t had the opportunity to add it to the garden lineup?yet. You get the gist. And before you start thinking this is our ?fantasy? episode, we decided these all had to be real plants. No blue roses or unicorn trees.

Expert testimony: Richie Steffen, is curator of horticulture for the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle, Washington.

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Episode 53: Successes and Failures

What better to way to wrap up the year of gardening with an airing of our grievances against all those plants that never quite lived up to their potential this season? (Think of that infamous Seinfeld episode featuring the Costanzas  Festivus celebration). However, we didn?t want to end 2019 on an entirely negative note so we decided to mention those plants that exceeded our expectations, as well. There were some surprises from seemingly exotic choices that appeared to enjoy the drought this summer and some let downs from plants that are supposedly built for the unpredictable weather swings, but ended up shriveling in defeat. Steve even talks those plants that made it through an entire season in a pot, on the side of his driveway, and lived. If those selections can survive those conditions, just think how well they?d do in your garden with a little more attention! Expert Paula Gross, who previously oversaw a botanic garden, makes us all feel better by highlighting some of her triumphs (like Gloriosa superba 'Rothschildiana', Zones 8-10) and failures, too.


Expert testimony: Paula Gross, former Associate Director of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Botanical Gardens.

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Ep. 52 Holiday Wish List

Happy holidays LAAP listeners! It?s hard to believe that another gardening season is now (nearly) in the books. As we think ahead to the New Year?and spring 2020?we?re thinking about which plants are going onto our holiday wish lists. Now, we don?t expect our loved ones to buy us plants this time of year, but a nice gift certificate to a favorite nursery would be ideal?hint, hint. With those magical garden center certificates, we?d pick up a few specific treasures that we?ve been pinning for. Aside from Steve and Danielle?s wish lists, we reached out to Stacey Hirvela of Spring Meadow Nursery to see what someone who has access to acres upon acres of plants is wishing for in 2020. And be sure to stay tuned in for Peter?s end of year musings, they?re sure to give you a giggle?which we could all use while rushing around completing our pre-holiday tasks.

Happy New Year from all of us at Let?s Argue About Plants!


Expert testimony: Stacey Hirvela shrub specialist for Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, Michigan.

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Episode 51: Great Grasses

As gardeners, we love ornamental grasses for a plethora of reasons: They have great texture, they attract wildlife, many are native to North America. But, there are several options out there that give ornamental grasses a bad name. These noxious weeds spread aggressively, become invasive, and/or are just plain beasts that swallow up any garden neighbors. In this episode we discuss the stars of this category of plants?grasses that are stunning in three seasons (if not four) and don?t require a teenage back to divide. We even sing the praises of an airport authority that chose a truly wonderful grass to landscape their parking circles. Which one? You?ll have to listen to the episode to find out!


Expert testimony: Brent Horvath, owner and plant breeder at Intrinsic Perennials in Hebron, Illinois.

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Episode 50: Top 50 Plants

Wow! We done 50 episodes so far of Let?s Argue About Plants and to celebrate that achievement we decided to do two things. First, we?ll drink lots of champagne (well, at least Danielle will). Second, we?re going to give you guys a breakdown of our favorite 50 plants of all-time. These are tried-and-true varieties that never seem to let us down. They?re attractive, have multiple seasons of interest, and are low-care (after all, we?re talking about Steve here?self-proclaimed as the laziest garden on earth). This is the list that we wished we?d had when first starting out in gardening. Do you have some of these star plants in your landscape? Listen now to find out.


Expert testimony: Jared Barnes  assistant professor of horticulture in the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas.

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Episode 49: Visit to Quackin? Grass Nursery

Quackin? Grass Nursery in Brooklyn, Connecticut has some of the most unique plants imaginable. Their selection of perennials, trees, and shrubs is pretty much unrivaled in the New England area. Knowing all this, Steve and Danielle definitely had to visit. So, one day a few weeks ago the dynamic duo hopped in the car and made the trek into the Northeast corner of the state. There they met Quackin? Grass owner, Wayne Paquette and got a personal tour around the nursery/private arboretum. If you can?t get to Connecticut, don?t fret?Quackin? Grass offers mail order. And, after listening to us describe a few of the gems we stumbled upon in the greenhouses and fields of this place, you?ll be glad they do!

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Episode 48: Best Small Trees

It?s said that every great garden should have at least one tree. They serve as focal points, give the garden structure, and generally just help a landscape look more mature. But many of us don?t have the room to plant a 70-foot sugar maple on our property. Fortunately, there are lots of small trees out there that come in an array of shapes and sizes?perfect for sneaking into any hospitable nook. With these small-scale wonders you?ll never have to worry about the tree falling on your house, growing into your foundation with an extensive root system, or getting too big for the space. Regardless of whether you have a tiny courtyard or a shady alleyway between you and the neighbors, there?s a small tree out there for your situation.  

Expert testimony: Paul Cappiello, executive director of the Yew Dell Gardens in Crestwood, KY.

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Episode 47: Plants for Wet Areas

Mucky, soggy, squishy when it rains: All of these describe the ideal conditions for the plants we talk about on this episode. Not everyone has a pond edge to deal with, but many of us have a spot that stays wet after a rainfall, or just never seems to properly drain. This can mean instant death for many plants that prefer well-drained soils, but not for these perennials and trees that soak up that moisture with gusto. Steve even discusses a plant that most think of as a full-sun plant that prefers well-drained soil but turns out, it thrives in wetter areas. Not everyone has a soggy spot, but almost everyone has a downspout?and now you?ll know the perfect plant to put under it!


Expert testimony: Kelly Norris  director of horticulture and education at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden in Iowa.

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Episode 46: Lesser-known Fall Stars

The temperatures have started to drop here in New England, so we thought it was the perfect time to highlight some of our favorite fall plants. These are options that you may not be familiar with, or perhaps cultivars of common plants that are new and exciting (and way better than the straight species). For instance, you may like toad lilies?but what if you could get one with shocking yellow foliage? In some cases, we even call attention to a plant that is known has a spring stunner, but puts on an equally impressive show in fall. With plants like these in the mix, there?s no reason for your garden to ever wind down in October.


Expert testimony: Andy Pulte is a faculty member in the Plant Sciences department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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Episode 45: Plants for Wildlife

When we sat down to plan out this episode Steve asked, ?So what kind of wildlife are we talking about here?? Good question. As it turned out we decided to focus mainly on plants that attract a plethora of birds to your landscape. So rest assured?this isn?t a podcast about how to get more deer and voles to show up.  We?ll briefly touch on some general principles for attracting feathered friends before launching into descriptions of specific plants that are loved by birds of all sorts.  Holly Scoggins then shares a hilarious story in expert testimony about her battle (and eventual peace) with birds in her blueberry farm in Virginia. Listen now to be educated?but mostly amused! 

Expert testimony: Holly Scoggins is an associate professor of horticulture at Virginia Tech University.


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Episode 44: Great Groundcovers

There isn?t much a great ground cover can?t do. It can crowd out weeds, stop erosion, fill in the gaps between larger perennials, and even soften the edges of walls and curbs. However, not all ground covers are created equal. The best ones require little care, look great in multiple seasons, and mass out quickly. Steve and Danielle discuss some of their favorite candidates for this laundry list of objectives in this LAAP episode. Their recommendations include perennials and shrubs that fit the bill. Horticulturist Joann Vieira weighs in with several ground cover options that she has used in the past at botanic gardens and private gardens alike. This episode starts off with Danielle *finally* gifting Steve with a few plants that he?s been wanting for years. Listen now to find out which ones.


Expert testimony: Joann Vieira, is the director of horticulture for the Trustees of Reservations in Massachusetts. 


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Episode 43: Plant Delights Field Trip

For any bonafide plant nerd, visiting Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, North Carolina is a bucket list trip. Home to countless unheard of genera and cultivars of common plants that you?d be hard pressed to find anywhere else on the planet, this place is, in a word, unbelievable. So, of course Steve and Danielle had to take the show on the road and record a live episode on the grounds of Plant Delights (and while wandering around their display beds which form Juniper Level Botanic Garden). The duo found a plethora of amazing plants to talk about, and even had owner Tony Avent weigh-in on their personal shopping choices from the greenhouses. In this episode you?re guaranteed to hear about some plants that you never knew you wanted, much less even knew existed.

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Episode 42: Plants We Wish We?d Never Planted

In a perfect world, every plant we purchase would be well-behaved, pest-free, and a show-stopper 12 months a year. This is not a perfect world.  Despite our best intentions, sometimes we buy or inherit plants that are mistakes?big mistakes (we?re talking to you miscanthus). In this cathartic episode, Steve and Danielle lament and vent about all the plants that brought them nothing but headaches. Some may look pretty, but aren?t worth the troubles they bring with them. All we can say after listening is, ?You?ve been warned.?


Expert testimony: Jeff Epping, director of horticulture at the Olbrich Botanical Garden in Madison, Wisconsin.

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Episode 41: Plants We Loved from the Super Cool Plant Sale

Steve, Danielle, and special guest assistant editor Carol Collins, sit down to discuss plants that really got them fired up from the recent FG Plant Sale. Some are little-known cultivars, some are brand new varieties. There were several interesting shade plants that captured the attention of the podcast hosts including one with such cool texture, it made Danielle squeal.  Some options were so unique, none of the staff had ever heard of them, let alone seen them in person.  Find out what plants were worth the FG staff spending an entire paycheck on in this new episode.

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Episode 40: Annuals Worth Your Money

Steve and Danielle, as you know, love a trip to the nursery and in this episode we find the dynamic duo at Shakespeare?s Garden in Brookfield, Connecticut. Their mission was to find an array of annuals to fill their various pots and create incredible combinations. They found unusual options for shade including a fuchsia grown for its brilliant foliage?not flowers?and show-stopping selections for sun, too. Spoiler alert: Danielle actually admitted that certain varieties of coleus aren?t that bad after all. Taped on location at a bustling garden center in late spring, this episode is sure to inspire you to get creative this season with your annual purchases. 


Expert testimony:  Jason Reeves, curator of UT Gardens in Jackson, Tennessee . 

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Episode 39: Perfect Peonies

Ahhh, the lovely peony:  In late spring there truly is no more beautiful flower. They are all stunning, but in this episode we highlight the extraordinary cultivars that make us swoon. From the most fragrant to the largest blossom, our list of must-have peonies is wide ranging. We also highlight a few lesser-known species such as the fernleaf peony and the woodland peony that thrives in full to partial shade.  We?re happy to give a concise primer on the differences between herbaceous, tree, intersectional, and Itoh peonies, too. Join us for the most gorgeous episode of the year!

Expert testimony: Kathleen Gagan, owner of Peony's Envy in Bernardsville, New Jersey.


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Episode 38:Hard Lessons

The soundtrack of this episode might have been the classic Queen song, We are the Champions. Not because of its triumphant refrain, but because of the lyric acknowledging all the mistakes made in life. When it comes to their gardens, Steve and Danielle have definitely made mistakes?some bigger than others?yet all lessons that they?ve had to learn the hard way. In a departure from the normal plant heavy content of LAAP, this funny episode has the hosts recounting several blunders they?ve made in their gardens in the hopes of saving listeners some grief of their own. In expert testimony, we?ve got the brilliant horticulture professor Holly Scoggins recounting why perhaps a water garden isn?t all it?s cracked up to be. Listen now to laugh at us, and with us!

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Episode 37: Vines Worth Buying

 You may think you don?t have a place for vines in your garden because you don?t have a fence or arbor for them to climb. But, truth is, you don?t need a traditional support system in order to grow vines. Many of the recommendations in this episode are vines that love to scramble or politely cling to other plants, and end up being the glue that brings the landscape together. Many gardeners are fearful of incorporating vines because they?re afraid they?ll engulf or choke out everything in their path. Fortunately, there are a plethora of options?several of which we highlight here?that are not so thuggish and in fact, might just end up being the missing piece to your garden puzzle.

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Episode 36: Plants for Pathways

Most gardeners have some sort of pathway in their landscape. Planting along that walkway?or even in it?can be a challenge. In this episode we discuss low-profile plants that can truly take being stepped on and even run over by the lawnmower. But, we also offer options for plants that form polite, petite mounds, making them perfect for planting along the edges of a walkway. These guys are the ideal candidates for softening up the lines of a path, but without getting too messy and sprawling into the transit route.  The episode is rounded out with a guest appearance by  garden designer Riz Reyes who provides some super unique plant picks, many of which you may never have heard of.


Expert testimony: Riz Reyes, garden designer in Seattle, Washington.

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Ep. 35 Live from the Boston Flower and Garden Show

A couple of weeks ago we recorded an episode in front of a live audience. This event took place at the Boston Flower and Garden show, so we thought it was appropriate to get the word ?wicked? into the title.  Most of the plants featured were hardy to at least Zone 4?some are even able to withstand the weather in Zones 2 and 3. Even if this isn?t how cold it gets in your neck of the woods, many of the plants mentioned are still contenders. Steve of course spoke passionately about his love of all things Amsonia?and Danielle certainly mentioned a tomato variety or two that made her swoon. But the duo also hit upon some lesser-known shrubs and varieties of popular perennials that are better performers. Planting just a few of these recommendations will ensure that your ?gahden? isn?t just cool?it?ll be wicked cool.


Expert testimony:  Dan Barry from Hartley Botanic greenhouses.


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Episode 34: Daylilies

Truth time: We feel pretty ?meh? about daylilies. However, there is no denying they?re tough, low-care plants that have lovely large blooms. They are also relatively disease-free and can grow in a myriad of places. But for some reason they never seem to make our heart skip a beat when shopping at the nursery. Perhaps it?s because certain cultivars (we?re talking to you ?Stella Doro? and ?Happy Returns?) have been so overused in commercial landscapes they ruined it for the whole genus. In this episode we put our preconceived notions aside and delve deeper into daylilies, revealing several cultivars that are not only beautiful, but worthy of a spot in your borders.


Expert testimony: Nikki Schmith, Past President of the American Daylily Society.


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Episode 33: Chartreuse Plants

If it?s not quite yellow, but it?s not quite green, chances are it?s a chartreuse plant. Any plant that sports this beautiful color is instantly a focal point in the landscape. Today we offer up chartreuse perennials, trees, shrubs, and even a stunning succulent to help your garden or containers glow. Then, our episode expert Courtney Olander offers some design tips for utilizing this unique color in every conceivable corner of the garden. Oh, and did we mention we pour ourselves some glasses of the French liqueur than gave the color chartreuse its name?


Expert testimony: Courtney Olander, principle designer and owner of Olander Garden Design in Seattle.

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Episode 32: Fast-growing Perennials

Every gardener has dreamed at one point or another of an ?Instant Landscape.? Unfortunately, none of the home-shopping networks sell a garden that matures quickly (trust us, we?ve checked). The next best thing is to plant an array of perennials that bulk up quickly, giving your beds a look of being full and therefore far older than they actually are. In fact, several of our recommendations can be divided within a year or two of planting so you?ll get even more bang for your buck. The options we talk about in this episode may fill out quickly, but they aren?t aggressive or invasive.


Expert: Kelly Norris, director of horticulture and education at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden in Iowa.

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Episode 31: Plants for Privacy

Many years ago, at a previous home, Danielle had neighbors who liked to use their in-plain-view hot tub, in the buff. This memory prompted this week?s podcast discussion on plants that can be used to provide privacy. We?ll explore both evergreen and deciduous options, and how each can be used to provide unobtrusive separation or, to create a wall of total exclusion. So if you?re looking for ways to block out the nosy--or nudist--neighbors, we?ve got some great recommendations.


Expert: Ed Gregan, Northeast field representative for Carlton Plants in Dayton, Oregon.

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Episode 30: Holiday Wish List

?Tis the season of making lists and checking them twice and for Steve and Danielle the list is mostly filled with plants they want and other gardening related items. Whether it?s a new thornless agave from Plant Delights Nursery or a vole eradication system, these two have some interesting ideas when it comes to stocking stuffers. Assistant editor Carol Collins joins in on the fun and offers up some of her wishes, too, including some eye-catching pollinator plants. And finally, Peter, our resident Charles Dickens, gives a heartfelt send off to the episode with his gardening wishes for you?our loyal listeners.  Join in on our end of the year episode and find out which things you may need to add to your holiday wish list.

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Episode 29: Unique Shrubs

Evergreens are great. They have a year-round presence, hide unsightly foundations, and provide clippings for holiday decorations. But many are, well, a boring green. This episode explores the world of shrubs that sport interesting or unique foliage. Whether they have intense variegation, a hue that is as fiery as a sunset, or simply just a fine texture that makes them alluring, these shrubs are standouts. Why plant a green meatball when you can plant a hydrangea that has tricolor leaves?


We also got one of the East Coast?s premier shrub experts, Andy Brand of the Coastal Maine Botanic garden, to share some of his favorite unique shrubs. Have you ever heard of ?Pucker Up? dogwood? We hadn?t either!

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