Let's Argue About Plants
Let's Argue About Plants
Fine Gardening Magazine
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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.
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. 
Oct 2
59 min
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.
Sep 18
1 hr 9 min
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.
Sep 4
1 hr 5 min
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.
Aug 21
58 min
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.
Aug 7
58 min
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. 
Jul 24
57 min
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.
Jul 10
48 min
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.   
Jun 19
53 min
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.    
Jun 5
58 min
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.  
May 22
42 min
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