Let's Argue About Plants

By Fine Gardening Magazine

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Subscribers: 209
Reviews: 3

 Apr 11, 2022

 Mar 31, 2021

 Apr 4, 2019
this is my favorite gardening podcast by far! I just love it and have listened to all of the episodes at least three times. I only wish the episodes came out more often.


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 Date
Episode 114: Drought Tolerant Woodies

According to NASA Earth Observatory, one-third of the United States experienced some level of drought in 2020 and 2021 was much the same. This pattern of extended dry weather is sadly becoming more and more of the norm. We recently did a feature in Fine Gardening magazine highlighting a series of drought tolerant woody plants from around the country in our regional pages and that got Carol and Danielle thinking about which trees and shrubs are their favorite water-wise selections. Listen to today’s episode for ideas on these backbone plants that won’t require much, if any, intervention from the hose.

Special guest: Amy Galloway is a horticulturist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.

Jul 01, 2022
Episode: 113 Big and Bold Plants

The original title of this episode was, Big and Bold Plants for the Back of the Border. But between the length and the tongue-twister alliteration, we shorted it a bit for promotional purposes. However, on today’s program you’ll hear all about plants that really stand out in the last row of the garden choir. These perennials and shrubs are tall, yes. But they have so much more going for them than simply their towering presence. The featured plants offer a grounding and bold backdrop for your garden beds, but don’t flop all over the place. Some have excellent texture, others bodacious blooms, and a few even provide that beefiness during all four seasons. If you’re looking for something to enhance—not just fill in—the back of the border, give this episode a listen.

Special guest: Courtney Olander, landscape designer from Seattle, Washington.

Jun 17, 2022
Episode 112: Best Cutting Garden Flowers
When late May and June hits, we can’t help wandering out into the garden with a pair of shears in hand. Bringing fresh flowers into the house seems like a seasonal rite of passage for most gardeners (at least those that don’t have allergies). But it can be a hard to cut those precious blooms and take them away from the landscape. That’s why today we’re talking about plants (perennials, annuals, and even shrubs) that we grow specifically for their flower-power. These options provide plenty of blooms for the garden AND the vase, and that’s why they’re our favorites. We span the color spectrum as well, with recommendations for every hue imaginable. And, we even have several selections that are deliciously fragrant. If you’re looking to add some cutting garden oomph to your beds and borders, give this episode a listen.  

Special guest: Christine  Alexander, digital content editor for Fine Gardening.com

Jun 03, 2022
Episode 111: Weed Suppressing Ground Covers

Is there anything ground covers can’t do? They are useful in problem areas like steep slopes, under trees and shrubs, and in spaces that need erosion control. They also reduce maintenance by enveloping areas that would ordinarily need a boatload of mulch to keep weeds at bay. Now, not all ground covers play nice. Some species will not only cover bare ground, but they will choke out neighboring plants. But that’s not the plants we’re talking about today. We’re focusing on ground covers that will spread out thickly, but politely, and smother out any potential weeds in the process. We discuss options for sun, shade, and even drought tolerant selections for those truly hellish spots. And in case you think we’re too East Coast centric, today’s expert calls in from California to offer up some plants that thrive in the Western half of the country.

Expert testimony: Fionuala Campion is the owner and manager of Cottage Gardens of Petaluma in Petaluma, California.

May 20, 2022
Episode 110: Best Gift Plants

Always give a gift that you yourself would like to receive. That’s excellent advice when it comes to life-- and as gardeners, we can extend that sentiment to giving plants as gifts. Ask yourself: what plants would I like to get as a gift? We had a lot of fun on today’s episode, imagining the scenarios in which we’d give our friends, neighbors, or even strangers particular plants that would convey our feelings of happiness, sympathy, or just pure joy. Need a wedding present that’s truly unique this season? Well give a listen to our suggestion for a perfect small tree that will grow right along with the love that the couple has for one another. OK, we promise, the other suggestions aren’t nearly as sappy.  

Special guest: Scott Endres is a designer and horticulturist at Tangletown Gardens in Minneapolis.

May 06, 2022
Episode 109: Shopping List Plants

Little kids have Christmas. Gardeners have spring. To us, this is the most wonderful time of the year. And with the start of the season, comes those inevitable trips to the nursery. In an effort to not max out their credit cards, this spring Carol and Danielle are making shopping lists of plants that they will be on the hunt for. These species are going to fill a particular need or want in their gardens, and they might do the same for you. Listen today to see what our hosts are dreaming of adding to their beds and borders.

Special guest: Kim Toscano is a horticulturalist based in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She previously hosted Oklahoma Gardening, a weekly PBS television program produced by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.

Apr 22, 2022
Episode 108: Problem Solving Perennials

Yes, that’s right: plants can solve problems. Maybe not problems like those noisy neighbors next door or your husband failing to replace the toilet paper roll, time and time again. But plants can solve problems like a barren patch of garden under a shallow-rooted tree, or a lack of pollinators in your yard. Today’s array of fantastic perennials are plants that can address conditional or pest problems that you may be struggling with. Need a vole-proof, pollinator magnet? We’ve got one. Need a plant that will deter teenagers from driving on your lawn? We have that too. Listen now for more plants that you’ll need to add to your list of must-haves this year.

Special guest: Sabrena Schweyer and her husband, Samuel Salsbury, own and manage Salsbury-Schweyer Inc., a sustainable landscape design and development group based in Akron, Ohio.

Apr 08, 2022
Episode 107: Skinny Plants

They’re often called the “exclamation points” of the landscape, drawing attention in a not-so-subtle way. Of course, we’re talking about columnar (AKA fastigiate) plants and today we’re highlighting some of the best options. Skinny plants are invaluable for several reasons other than their ability to catch the eye. They also have a small footprint which makes them ideal for siting in narrow places including along the side of a house or in a tight spot between established plants in a border. Their habit is clear, concise, and always intriguing. Along with our guest, Richie Steffen from the Elizabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden, we’re discussing skinny trees, shrubs, and even a few perennials that will give your garden an instant focal point like no other.

Special guest: Richie Steffen is executive director for the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle, Washington.

Mar 25, 2022
Episode 106: Spring Natives
Even though there’s still snow on the ground for many of us, warmer weather is most definitely on our brains. So today we’re going to be talking about native plants that put on a spectacular show in spring. And, although we’re a podcast based out of New England, the plants we decided to talk about have an extensive native range (even into Texas!). There is an exquisitely fragrant perennial, a self-sowing ephemeral, a delicious edible, and several trees and shrubs that bloom so prolifically in April, May, and June you’d think it was their only job. Want a list of nearly a dozen native plants that are show-stoppers? Then press play now! 

Special guest: Nancy J. Ondra is a garden photographer, author, freelance editor, and licensed seed seller who lives and gardens on four acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Mar 11, 2022
Episode 105: Underappreciated Veggies

There’s no reason to tell everyone how great ‘Brandywine’ tomatoes are because everyone already knows! And the same goes for ‘Blue Lake’ green beans or ‘Hot Wax’ peppers. We all know these names because they are great varieties that vegetable gardeners have relied on for decades. Yet, there are a bunch of lesser-known veggies that deserve the same praise, but their PR agents aren’t the best. On this episode Carol and Danielle are taking the time to call out some of the unsung heroes of their veggie gardens. These are varieties that have proven themselves over and over, but their names aren’t generally well-known in edible circles. We’re hoping to change that after today!

Special guest:

Steve Bellavia conducts vegetable research as a product manager for Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Winslow, Maine.

Feb 25, 2022
Episode 104: Plants for Winter Interest

If you live in the Northeast, Mountain West, or Midwest your idea of winter interest is certainly different than say, a gardener living in the South. Those of us who live in cooler locales are often satisfied with calling any plant that sticks its head above a snowbank “a winter stunner.” But in today’s episode we’re holding the bar a bit higher and talking about plants that really do save their best for the months of December, January, and February. We discuss shrubs that flower in winter, perennials that are evergreen, and even a few trees that every garden (regardless of geographic location) would benefit from. Our special guest is from Montana, so if she can find plants for winter interest, you know that anyone can.

Special guest:

Kielian DeWitt lives and gardens on a horse ranch in the Bitterroot Valley in Montana.

Feb 11, 2022
Episode 103: Seeds We’re Starting

Is there a better time of year than seed-ordering season? You may shop for seeds online, or perhaps you prefer the analog version (like us) of paper catalogs. Regardless, ordering and starting seeds is an act of defiance against the winter conditions outside. Starting seeds says, “Hey snow and ice--you don’t scare me! I know spring is right around the corner.” Today we’ll talk about the seeds that have made it into our virtual shopping carts this year and tell you a little bit about what a particular variety was deemed a must-have. Carol, being the resident seed-starting expert offers up some ornamental and edible options, while Danielle sticks to tried-and-true veggies. Joining the hosts on this episode is digital content manager for FG, Christine Alexander who has some extra insight to share after she started a slew of seeds last year to grow her own wedding flowers. What did well--and what didn’t? Tune in to find out.

Special guest:

Christine  Alexander, digital content manager for Fine Gardening.

Jan 28, 2022
Episode 102: Favorite Self-Sowers

What if you could have a garden that basically planted itself? The idea isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. Self-sowing plants are delightfully serendipitous plants that will happily disperse seed without any intervention from you. Yes, there are lots of plants out there that spread indiscriminately and obnoxiously--but those are not the ones we are discussing in this episode. Instead, we’re focusing on an array of perennials, annuals, and even edibles that will create offspring politely--filling in gaps and blank spots in your beds and borders. The English have embraced the idea of self-sowers more readily than gardeners stateside, but on today’s podcast we argue that opportunistic plants have a place in virtually every garden. Listen now to find out which self-sowers dance through our gardens (and driveways).

Expert testimony: Amanda Thomsen is a horticulturist, garden designer, and author based in suburban Chicago.

Jan 14, 2022
Episode 101: Berried Treasure

Perhaps it’s the winter season we’re in right now, or perhaps we’re just hungry, but regardless, we have berries on the mind. This episode highlights some plants that provide us with unexpected (but very appreciated) fruit. It could be a perennial that is grown for its foliage but puts on a late fall show with its berry-set. Or a shrub that is known for it’s berries--just not in a certain bubblegum color. We’ll give credit where credit is due for this topic: Andy Brand, who is our expert for this episode, pitched the idea of plants that have a secret talent of producing amazing berry displays. Did we surprise you with some of these plants? Our guess is yes. Spoiler alert: there is no such thing as a crunch berry tree, despite what Cap’n Crunch says.

Expert testimony: Andy Brand is the interim director of horticulture at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay.

Dec 17, 2021
Episode 100: Wish List Plants

Well loyal listeners, it’s hard to believe, but this is our 100th episode! We cannot thank everyone out there who has stuck with us from the early days of trying to figure out what a podcast about plants should sound like, and still downloads episodes to this day (when we’ve only figured out a bit more of what we’re doing). We’re not big on birthdays around here, but we did decide to kick off this anniversary episode with a question: If you could have 100 of any plant to give as gifts to friends and fellow gardeners, what would it be? Our answers may surprise you. Then we stick with the theme of gifts and launch into our annual holiday episode of plants that have made it onto our wish lists this year. Listen today and join the celebration.


Expert testimony:

Amanda Bennett is Vice President of horticulture and collections at Atlanta Botanical Garden.


Danielle’s Plants

  • 100 Plant Choice: Redbud (Cercis and cvs., Zones 4-9)

'Lemon Squeeze' fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Lemon Squeeze', Zones 4-9)

'Ragin Cajun' Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica 'Ragin Cajun', Zones 5-9)

'Boom Chocolatta' geranium (Geranium pratense 'Boom Chocolatta', Zones 4-8)

Little Hottie® panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Bailpanone', Zones 3-8)


Carol’s Plants

  • 100 Plant Choice: ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium ‘Radon’s Favorite’, Zones 3-8)

‘Gilt Edge’ toad lily (Tricyrtis formosana ‘Gilt Edge’, Zones 5-8)

Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia, annual)

‘Sango-kaku’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku', Zones 5-8)

Flowering spurge (Euphorbia corollata, Zones 5-8)


Expert’s Plants

'Gethsemane Moonlight' hardy chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum 'Gethsemane Moonlight', Zones 5-9)

Jelly palm (Butia capitata, Zones 9-11)

Bamboo muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa, Zones 8-11)

'Fragrant Pink' camellia (Camellia 'Fragrant Pink', Zones 8-10)

'Florida King' peach (Prunus persica ‘Florida King’, Zones 6-9)

Dec 03, 2021
Episode 99: Only Three Trees

The thought of restricting most gardeners to only three of any plant might sound cruel. After all, what makes us happier than heading to the nursery to fill a shopping cart? But limiting your plant palette has many advantages. Less variety means less chaos, in many cases. And, when it comes to trees, limiting yourself to just three options may also be necessary since trees take up more space and are more expensive than a perennial. It’s for these reasons that we decided to imagine ourselves on a strict three-tree diet. In this episode we answer the question: If you could only have three trees, which ones would you choose? The answers might surprise you.

Expert testimony: Ed Gregan works for Bailey Nurseries in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Nov 19, 2021
Episode 98: Upgraded Classics

Everyone likes an upgrade. Whether it’s a faster car or a more efficient cell phone, it’s hard to turn down a better version of something you already like. Plants are much the same. If you already love that gorgeous catmint that flowers all season long, what not try one that not only has all the same great attributes but also has an improved habit.  Today we’re talking about plants we have a great affinity for, but that plant breeders have made just that much better. Perhaps it’s a longer bloom time, or stronger winter hardiness, or even a different color to the foliage. Whatever the change may be, it’s an improvement that has made us fall even more in love with these classic plants.

Expert testimony: Irvin Etienne is Curator of Herbaceous Plants and Seasonal Garden Design for The Garden at Newfields in Indianapolis.

Nov 05, 2021
Episode 97: Native Alternatives to Common Plants

Here at Let’s Argue About Plants we’re big fans of native plants. Our gardens are filled with them and for good reason: native plants are essential to the preservation and health of the local ecology. Aside from their benefits to the environment, many native plants are built to thrive in the conditions where you live, too. Today, we’re talking about native alternatives to certain less-desirable plants. These undesirables might be invasive, or spread obnoxiously, or perhaps they are just prone to certain insects and diseases.  Instead, we’ll give you a native plant that is a far superior option.  And, don’t be fooled by our Connecticut location, we feature plants suitable for locales outside of the Northeast.

Expert testimony: Ulrich Lorimer is the director of horticulture for the Native Plant Trust in Framingham, MA.


Oct 22, 2021
Episode 96: Favorite Ornamental Grasses

Nothing says fall in the garden more than the sight of ornamental grasses pluming. It goes right along with all other things that signal the season change—the kids going back to school, pumpkin spice everything, and turning the heat on for the first time. Gardeners seem to have a love/hate relationship with ornamental grasses. They have great texture, they give life to the late-season landscape, and many are native to North America. But, some spread like noxious weeds, become invasive, or are maintenance nightmares that need frequent division. In this episode we discuss some of our favorites from this category of plants—grasses that are stunning in three seasons (if not four) and don’t require a plethora of care to look their best. We even talk about a few newbie grasses that you might not have heard of before!

Expert testimony: Paul Zammit lives and gardens in Toronto’s West End, and is a professor of horticulture at Niagara College in Southern Ontario.

Oct 08, 2021
Episode 95: Unexpected Fall Color

Since the Let’s Argue About Plants podcast is based in New England, we know all about fall color. This time of year is a favorite for most of our staffers with the native sugar maples turning bright red and the birch trees shifting to brilliant yellow. But this episode is all about the unsung heroes of fall—plants that don’t immediately pop to mind when you think of vibrant autumnal color. And, we’re not just talking about trees. There are some select perennials (even some that bloom in fall) and a couple shrubs that no one ever seems to mention as late-season stars. Tune in to find out what underdogs made our lists.

Expert testimony: Jason Reeves is a horticulturist and curator of the University of Tennessee Gardens at the West Tennessee Research and Education Center in Jackson.

Sep 17, 2021
Episode 94: Bulbs On Our Shopping List

Fall is a wonderful time of year for gardeners for so many reasons. It finally cools down so you can actually weed and prune without breaking a sweat. Many of us get to experience the color change of many perennials and woodies as the temps start to drop. And, of course, this is the time of year that we get to start shopping for fall bulbs. If you are one of those people who always kicks yourself in spring for not planting enough—or any—fall bulbs, you’re not alone. This year we’re here to inspire you to get out those catalogs and computers and seek out some truly unique options. We’re celebrating a new season and the introduction of a new cohost on this episode, so join us to find out about a crocus that looks like a monarch butterfly and an iris that is bluer than any sapphire.

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

Sep 03, 2021
Episode 93: Tropicals We Wish We Grew

You know you’re a hardcore gardener when you dream about moving to the tropics--not for the beaches and tiki drinks--but because that would enable you to grow so many more cool plants. In this episode we discuss tropical plants we wish we could grow in our cooler climates, or even ones that we are looking forward to trying to grow in the future (and overwintering them like our agaves). There are some selections you’ll recognize, but there are also a couple plants we are 99% sure you’ve never heard of before. So, grab your grass skirt (and a glass of rum punch) and meet us South of the equator for this tropical themed chat.


Expert testimony: Jim Kincannon is a horticulturist who previously worked at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (now called Newfields) gardens.

Aug 20, 2021
Episode 92 : Favorite Plant Pairings

Peas and carrots. Peanut butter and jelly. Batman and Robin. If this was Jeopardy  the correct answer would be, “What are perfect pairings.” On this episode we’re talking about two plants that just seem to belong together. It could be that they have complimentary textures, or they bloom in unison, or perhaps their habits fit together like puzzle pieces. String a few of these perfect plant pairs together and you’re sure to get a garden that is pleasing to the eye.

Expert testimony: Amy Galloway is a horticulturist at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, in Austin, Texas.

Aug 06, 2021
Episode 91: Drought-Tolerant Plants

It pretty much seems like drought is the norm these days.  No matter where you live—East Coast, West Coast, or anywhere in between—periods of no rain are commonplace. Some gardeners out there have been dealing with droughty conditions for decades while others are just starting to learn what a “real” drought-tolerant plant is. After a record-breaking dry spell last summer (and it looks like we’re shaping up to have much of the same this year), Steve and Danielle decided to highlight some of their favorite plants for dry conditions. Some are East Coast favorites (after all, that’s where we garden) but others are West Coast stunners and there’s even a Colorado native plant that has proven itself useful in gardens around the country.

Expert testimony: Leslie Harris is the owner of LH Gardens, a firm in Charlottesville, Virginia, that designs, installs, and maintains gardens.

Jul 15, 2021
Episode 90: Favorite Workhorses

Right about now you might be asking yourself, “What exactly is a workhorse plant?” In our minds it is a plant that asks little from us but delivers a whole lot to the garden. These are tough plants, capable of fitting into an array of spots and producing multiple seasons of interest. They aren’t the stars (aka focal points), and they aren’t the supporting cast (aka reliable performers). They are more like stage managers, ensuring that the garden always looks decent. We thought it was high time that these unsung garden heroes got some praise, since rarely are awards given to plants that are simply defined as “solid.” Saddle up for a long list of perennials—and a few shrubs—you’ll be happy to have ride into your garden.

Jul 09, 2021
Episode 89: Just Four Perennials

Do you ever find yourself recommending the same handful of plants to friends and neighbors? We do. These might not being the splashiest of plants, or even the ones that you’d base an entire design around. But, these are fantastic herbaceous perennials—the meat and potatoes of the garden. To make things even more interesting, we limited ourselves down to choosing just four of these go-to plants. Our choices have multiple seasons of interest, thrive under less-than-ideal conditions, and in our minds, are essential in any great garden.


Expert testimony: Susan Morrison is a garden designer in Concord, California.

Jun 18, 2021
Episode 88: Memory Plants
Jun 04, 2021
Episode 88: Memory Plants
Jun 04, 2021
Episode 87: Plants to Build a Bed Around

For those who are a little confused by this episode’s theme let us try to explain. Yes, all garden beds are built with plants. But, there are certain plants that are such solid performers that they are the perfect jumping off point for building a bed. These are not the dramatic focal points that catch everyone’s attention, nor are they the stoic bones of the garden that just play a background role. These are the perfectly chicken tenders, around which the rest of the meal comes together. Steve would’ve preferred a baked goods analogy here, but you don’t always get what you want. Looking to start a new garden and need ideas of where to start? Or, need more solid performers to round out a bed that is lacking something, but you don’t know what? These plants could help. 


Expert testimony: Richie Steffen is executive director of the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle.

May 21, 2021
Episode 86: Favorite Container Plants

Spring has long ago sprung and now that all the pruning, dividing, and mulching is done we’re ready to plant up our containers. Like many of you, we are tempted to try something new every year and sometimes end up with a plant that is worthwhile. But we always make sure to incorporate a few tried-and–true container plants. These are selections that never let us down, and if you were to show up on our doorstep tomorrow, you’d likely see them filling in our pots (just call ahead, we want to be sure to pick up a little bit before your arrival). We’ve got fillers, thrillers, and even some spillers on the list, so be sure to listen for some sure-fire options.

Expert testimony: Riz Reyes, a horticulturist and floral designer based in Seattle, Washington.

May 07, 2021
Episode 85: Fragrant Plants

Alternate titles for this episode: Plants That Stink or Smell This Episode. Kidding aside, lovely smelling plants are a bonus that every garden deserves. We all spend so much time on making sure our gardens look good, we seldom think about how they smell. And we’re not just talking roses here people. On today’s episode we feature a plethora of perennials and even a couple of shrubs that make us think of root beer, vanilla, and all sorts of sugary confections. Steve got hungry halfway through, so please forgive the few minutes of dead air while he tracked down the nearest donut.


Expert testimony: Julie Lane Gay is a garden designer and former nursery owner in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Apr 16, 2021
Episode 84: Underappreciated Plants for Spring

It’s easy to get excited about the first tulip or even the first dandelion in the yard (OK—that might be a stretch). But what about those plants that don’t get all the love and attention, yet still brighten up those first few months of the gardening season? Today we’re honoring those unsung heroes of the spring garden—plants that need a better PR agent because they’re marvelous, but not very well-known. We’ve got a few native dark horses and even a shrub that Steve thought he’d never like. To get you really laughing we revisit some childhood memories of using spring plants in mischievous ways. Finally, we debut a new segment where we give a brief look into what’s going on (good, bad, and ugly) in our gardens right now.


Expert testimony: Bill Cullina is the executive director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Morris Arboretum.

Apr 02, 2021
Episode 83: Shrubs for Shade

Finding interesting plants for shade can be a struggle but when you add in the desire for that plant to be a woody shrub, the list narrows even more. But these structural wonders are essential in giving our shady beds and borders depth and real presence. In this episode we feature shrubs that will tolerant a range of low-light situations. Some flower beautifully in spring or winter, other save their best show for fall. Regardless, the list is robust, especially because associate editor Carol Collins joins us to highlight an impressive native plant she adores and a peony (yes, that’s right a woody tree peony counts as a shrub) that everyone will want to save their pennies to purchase.


Expert testimony: Andrew Bunting Vice President of Public Horticulture at the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society.


Mar 19, 2021
Episode 82: Spring Trees

Despite there still being snow on the ground here in the Northeast, we’re thinking spring. Yes there are daffodils and tulips to look forward to, but perhaps even more impressive is the show of spring flowering trees. It’s an incredible sight to see a woody plant that was nothing but bare brown branches a few weeks earlier, explode into a flurry of pastel blooms. Our selections today are impressive, and most are moderately sized so they are easy to include in the smallest of properties. Are you suffering from the winter doldrums still? Then give this episode a listen and you’ll soon be dreaming of more colorful days to come.

Expert testimony:

Matt Lobdell is the curator at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois.

Mar 05, 2021
Episode 81: Disco in-FERN-oh

If that title doesn’t grab you, nothing will! We’re talking all things ferns including East Coast natives, West Coast natives, selections that are from prehistoric times, and even a climbing fern. Yep—that’s right, a climbing fern! And in case all of that excitement isn’t enough for you, the entire episode is filled with 70s soft rock and disco references. Have you always wondered if Steve could imitate Barry Gibbs falsetto? Well, tune in to find out the answer. 

Expert testimony: Sue Milliken and Kelly Dodson, owners of Far Reaches Farm in Port Townsend, WA.

Feb 19, 2021
Episode 80: New Plants

With so many events canceled in the last year, we sure are happy that the plant breeders still decided to unveil a healthy crop of new plants for us to drool over. Of course there were a handful of new huecheras and more phlox than we ever knew could exist, but there were also some interesting options that no one (including us) saw coming. And now, we want them all. In this episode we discuss some noteworthy candidates in every category: perennials, annuals, shrubs, and even a couple fruiting plants. What’s the one thing that could stop these plants from all landing in our shopping carts? Not enough space in the garden.

Expert testimony: Visit FineGardening.com to see Richard Hawke’s recent webinar, New Plants Showing Promise.

Feb 05, 2021
Episode 79: Listener Q & A

Asking listeners to submit questions for our annual Q & A episode is a bit like sending out party invitations (in pre-COVID) and hoping that someone shows up. Thankfully, you guys not only showed up but you brought snacks and drinks too! We got an overwhelming numbers of questions submitted for this episode, so we weren’t able to answer them all. But, we did pick out a handful to tackle to the best of our ability. We cover evergreen percentages, garden design tips, and why your water may be killing your houseplant. Even our faithful sidekick Peter got in on the action and had a few questions of his own. Whether you sent us a question that we didn’t get a chance to answer or didn’t ask a question at all, hopefully you’ll glean some insight from our answers. Or at least be amused by our best attempt to offer advice! We like to think of ourselves as the garden equivalent of Dear Abby, but sadly we’re not.

Listener audio question: Elizabeth Haller, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Jan 22, 2021
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.

Jan 08, 2021
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.  

Dec 18, 2020
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.

Dec 10, 2020
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.   

Nov 20, 2020
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.

Nov 06, 2020
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.

Oct 23, 2020
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 02, 2020
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, 2020
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 04, 2020
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, 2020
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 07, 2020
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, 2020
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, 2020
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, 2020
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 05, 2020
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, 2020
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.

May 08, 2020
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.

Apr 17, 2020
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.

Apr 03, 2020
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.

Mar 20, 2020
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.

Mar 06, 2020
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.

Feb 21, 2020
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.

Feb 07, 2020
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

Jan 24, 2020
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.

Jan 10, 2020
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.

Dec 27, 2019
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.

Dec 13, 2019
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.

Nov 22, 2019
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.

Nov 08, 2019
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!

Oct 25, 2019
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.

Oct 11, 2019
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.

Sep 27, 2019
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.

Sep 13, 2019
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.


Aug 23, 2019
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. 


Aug 09, 2019
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.

Jul 26, 2019
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.

Jul 12, 2019
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.

Jun 28, 2019
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 . 

Jun 10, 2019
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.


May 24, 2019
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!

May 10, 2019
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.

Apr 22, 2019
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.

Apr 05, 2019
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.


Mar 27, 2019
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.


Mar 08, 2019
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.

Feb 22, 2019
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.

Feb 01, 2019
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.

Jan 18, 2019
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.

Jan 02, 2019
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!

Dec 20, 2018
Episode 28: Best Foundation Plants

Perhaps many of us are scarred from a childhood spent staring at the houses in our neighborhoods that were all landscaped the same way: A few boring shrubs chucked against the front foundation. In this episode we challenge the notion that foundation plants have to be ugly—or have to be traditional evergreens (we’re talking about you Mr. Alberta Spruce). Find out which plants have found a home against the foundations of Steve and Danielle’s houses, and which ones they’re considering adding into the diverse mix. Then we ask designer Susan Morrison to weigh in on the dos and don’ts of a proper foundation planting.

Expert testimony: Susan Morrison, owner and principle at Creative Exteriors Landscape Design in Northern California.

Nov 30, 2018
Episode 27: Plants Worth Overwintering

So let’s just be honest: Steve and Danielle don’t overwinter a lot of plants. Since they are, admittedly, two of the lazy gardeners on the planet, the prospect of digging, hauling, and storing plants from one year to the next is not their idea of fun. But, certain pricier tropicals and a few choice annuals are definitely worth the extra effort. Find out which plants make the cut and learn some tips and tricks to make overwintering easier in this latest episode.

Expert testimony: Irvin Etienne the horticultural display coordinator for the Garden at Newfields in Indianapolis.

Nov 12, 2018
Episode 26: Broadleaf Evergreens

The bones of any successful garden are its woody plants. And, the key to any successful four-season garden is evergreens. Conifers are great, but they can be pricey and slow to bulk up. But broadleaf evergreens, on the other hand, bulk up quickly and are generally affordable. The only drawback is they can be boring. In fact, most gardeners think only of rhodies and hollies when it comes to this classification of plants. The options in this episode prove that this category of plants is anything but boring.


Expert testimony: Richie Steffen the director/curator for the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle, Washington.

Sep 24, 2018
Episode 25: Red Plants

Red. It’s a color oft debated in gardening. While some describe this hot hue as “bold” and “alluring”, others consider it “off-putting” and “difficult to work with.” In this latest episode, Steve and Danielle discuss some of their favorite red plants. Whether it is fire-engine colored blooms or flaming foliage, you’re sure to find an option with a hue that’s right for you.


Expert: David Perry, horticultural photographer and avid gardener from Seattle, Washington.


Sep 04, 2018
Episode 24: Plants new to us

Steve and Danielle 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, some interesting new ornamental grasses, and some plants that sold out so quickly, they’ll forever be known as “the ones that got away.” Find out what plants were worth spending an entire paycheck on in this new episode. (And sorry for the delay in new episodes guys! We’ve been really busy with the sale and photographing gardens around the U.S. and Canada for next year’s magazine issues. Thanks for the patience!).  

Expert Gary Lewis, owner of Phoenix Perennials in Richmond, British Columbia.

Jul 27, 2018
Episode 23: Little Gems

When we say “little gems” we’re basically talking about perennials that stay under two feet tall. These can be ground covers or, mounded plants that hide the bare legs of their taller companions or soften the edges of the border. Generally these supporting actors don’t draw much attention, but their role is vital to a well-rounded design. And don’t worry if you’re looking for sun or shade options because we suggest a variety of little gems for both conditions.


Expert: Kirsten Smith, a manager at Smith’s Acres garden center and nursery in Niantic, Connecticut. 

Jun 01, 2018
Episode 22: Hot Hostas

Many gardeners roll their eyes when they hear the word “hosta”, and with good reason. This ubiquitous group of plants shows up more often than not in gardens—heck, we‘ve even seen them growing in Arizona! But there is a reason that they’re so well-known and loved: They’re easy to grow, easy to care for, and have a texture that’s undeniable. Aside from their proclivity to be deer food, the only other knock on hostas is that there are SO MANY varieties, many of which look the same. In this episode we shed light on some of the best varieties for size, color, and texture. Hopefully you’ll find one or two you haven’t heard of and will be excited to add to your collection. 


Expert: Daniel Robarts, horticulturist, propagator, and plant breeder at the Coastal Maine Botanic Gardens in Boothbay.

May 03, 2018
Episode 21: Hellstrip Plants

A hellstrip, more often than not, is a patch of garden located by the roadside. It generally has crappy soil, gets hammered by sun, and has to deal with the occasional dose of road salt or even getting run over by bad drivers. This could be the most challenging spot to garden, but the plants in this episode rise to the occasion. Find out which perennials and shrubs laugh in the face of these hellish conditions and look good while doing it.


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

Apr 19, 2018
Episode 20: Best Spring-flowering Bulbs


If you’re looking for information on boring, basic tulips this is not the podcast episode for you. If the idea of tulips with red striped leaves and grape hyacinths that sparkle like diamonds are more your speed, this is definitely an episode worth listening to. Steve and Danielle start the season off right with suggestions on spring-flowering bulbs that are fragrant, eye-catching or, options that are almost as odd-looking as they are alluring.



Expert: Joseph Tychonievich is a horticulturist, plant breeder, and former nursery manager at Arrowhead Alpines who currently gardens in Virginia.

Apr 05, 2018
Episode 19: Underused Shade Plants


If there were a question on the Family Feud gameshow, asking the respondents to name a shade plant, chances are the vast majority of the public would answer “hosta.” But, there is so much more to shade plants that the genus Hosta, like a creeping, evergreen-honeysuckle and an insanely cool Chinese fairy bell that looks like a black bamboo with chartreuse flowers. On this episode we shine a light on these, and some other, lesser-known heroes of the shade garden.


Expert Susan Calhoun, landscape designer from Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Mar 08, 2018
Episode 18: Focal Point Plants

Is it eye-catching? Does the sight of it leave a lasting impression? Would the garden look like it was missing something if that particular plant was removed? If the answer to all of these questions is “yes”, chances are it’s a focal point plant. These wonders may have to-die-for texture or perhaps a form that is hard to ignore—regardless, they are essential elements to any successful garden design. Find out what some of our favorites are in this episode.


Expert Stacie Crooks, landscape designer from Seattle, Washington.

Feb 23, 2018
Episode 17: Dwarf Shrubs with Big Impact

What do we mean when we say "dwarf shrubs?" After all, the dwarf version of a 75-foot tall conifer might be a cultivar that only gets 45 feet. That won't be the case in this episode where we'll focus on shrubs that stay less than 4 feet tall and wide. Plant breeders have been hard at work, developing these miniature dynamos, so you're sure to hear about something you've never planted before-like a viburnum that sounds like it would be right at home in a sushi restaurant.

Expert Ed Gregan, Northeast field representative for Carlton Plants, a wholesale bare-root grower in Dayton, Oregon.

Feb 09, 2018
Episode 16: Plant This, Not That

Are you tired of seeing the same plants over and over in nearly every garden you visit? Or perhaps you love the fall color of a certain shrub-but it's horribly invasive, so you can't in good conscious plant it. What you're looking for are reliable replacements for overused-or incredibly aggressive-plants. It's time to broaden your plant palette and ditch some of those classic staples (we're talking to you Miscanthus) for some new, soon-to-be favorites.

Expert Mae Lin Plummer, garden director for The Duke Mansion in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Jan 25, 2018
Episode 15: Plants for Pollinators

By now we’re all familiar with the plight of the declining honey bee—but did you know that there has also been a worldwide decline in all pollinators? True, parasitic wasps and hover flies might not be as sexy as honey bees, but they still play a critical role in pollination. This episode offers up tons of plants that will attract scores of “good bugs” into your garden. Turns out some of these plants are not only attractive to beneficial insects, but also pretty good-looking additions to the landscape.

Expert guests: Jeff Gillman director of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte Botanical Gardens and Paula Gross, the assistant director.

Jan 11, 2018