Gardening: Plant Delights celebrates 30 years

Nancy Szerlag
Special to The Detroit News

If you’re a frustrated plant collector or just looking for something new and exciting to add to your garden, be sure to get a copy of Plant Delights Nursery’s 2018 Spring Sales catalog:, (919) 772-4794, celebrating its 30 years of horticulture excellence. This anniversary edition is jam packed with over 100 pages of unique, rare and native perennial plants and it’s a great read. World-renowned plant collector, horticulturist, hybridizer and plantaholic Tony Avent rewrites his catalog annually, filling it with interesting information about every plant: where it came from, its parentage, its cultural needs and more. If you’re a true plant lover, lock away your credit card before curling up with this treasure trove of collectibles.

In addition to their treasure filled catalog Plant Delights also offers hundreds of plants on their website adding new selections as they become available throughout the growing season.

While you’re on the website, do sign up for their blog/newsletter that also provides great gardening tips from Tony along with special offers.

As the steward of a volunteer garden, I’m always on the lookout for good-looking perennials that provide season-long interest, are easy care, pest resistant and thrive where they are planted.

One such plant is the perennial Amsonia, commonly called Blue Star. It’s a native that’s drought tolerant, deer resistant and sports lovely blue flowers in spring. Its needle-fine foliage adds soft lush texture to the summer garden and then takes center stage in fall by turning to a golden glow.

Plant Delights currently offers three native hybrid Amsonias that would be perfect additions to this easy-care collection, and these are not available at big boxes and most garden centers.

I fell in love with the photos of Gansevoort Woodland in Manhattan’s Highline Garden, photographed by Rick Darke in the “Gardens of the Highline” (Timber Press). Gray birch forms the canopy: redbud, serviceberry and viburnum — the understory. A collection of sedges and ferns carpet the forest floor in cool lush green.

I’m hoping to replicate this look and begin this spring by starting a collection of ferns. The Plant Delights currently features half a dozen Japanese Painted fern hybrids for me to choose from.

Penstemon “Huskers Red” thrives the sedum bed in front of our little stone house and after the blooms fade, the colorful foliage carries on through frost. PDs new Penstemon “Midnight Masquerade” with it dark black purple stems and foliage will make a dramatic addition and the start of another collection.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at