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Two essential plant catalogues 2: Cotswold Garden Flowers

Two essential plant catalogs 1: Plant Delights

Plant Delights,catalog,2011. Image ©Jack Pittman and Plant Delights Two of my favorite mail order plant catalogs arrived in the mailbox recently, one British and one American. They’re both great fun, and both full of great plants. First, the American one. Next, the British one.

Plant Delights Nursery, and its mail order catalog, are crucial to American horticulture. They take on added importance after the loss of two important smaller nurseries – Asiatica and Seneca Hill Perennials. Tony Avent, the boss at Plant Delights, chooses good new plants, and some old ones, and then launches them into the horticultural world with a few choice phrases – and a cartoon catalog cover by Jack Pittman… the latest featuring a Facebook parody.

But the fun and humor is an overlay above a keen eye, an astute assessment of what is, and what is not, a good garden plant, and the willingness to give anything a try. Calocasias hardy in zone 7 (colder than England), hostas and epimediums bred at the nursery, thoughtful picks from breeders of dianthus, echinaceas, heucheras, hellebores and many more, a mass of new Asian Polygonatum selections, the first yellow-leaved buddleja…

There are plants from across the Atlantic of course, including a purple-flowered hardy gladiolus: “When I first saw this in the UK at Cotswold Garden Flowers, it was not in flower, but I was intrigued at the thought of a hardy purple glad, so I bought one on faith… and MasterCard… This vigorous grower is simply superb.” The Cotswold Garden Flowers catalog will be featured here next.

Everything in the catalog is trialed at the nursery’s garden in North Carolina. Having visited the garden and nursery last fall, I can testify to the impressive set up and mass of intriguing, and not always fashionable plants being assessed. How many variegated aucubas are you trialing, Tony?

There are some oddities – “You want strange...can you handle strange? If so, we've got strange!” Tony says about a new yellow-banded Liriope – and I know some gardeners feel he’s a little optimistic about what’s hardy and what’s not. “I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it myself… at least three times,” he says.

But be assured this catalog is packed with good plants - and it’s fun to read.

Check out the Plant Deights website, order a printed catalog (and never throw it away), and take a look at the vast range of plants introduced by the nursery.

* Plant Delights will send plants to Britain – but look over all the details carefully before ordering.