Another visit to the coolest plant geek I know


I think it’s awesome. I don’t have the time myself, anymore. I’m not sure it will be a long-term trend, but it’s fashionable now. I like to see people get passionate about any kind of gardening.

How’s business this year?

It’s not a great selling year. When gas is this high and the market is bad, gardening money is being used somewhere else. It’s a tough year for everyone in mail order, but I don’t see it creating a price increase for us yet

What about your election season catalog cover?

Sometimes we’ll avoid the political just when people expect us to be political, Avent hints.

What do you think about the Canadian pesticide ban?

That’s unfortunate. I prefer to use an educational approach, rather than banning things.


Finally, we discussed the new 36-acre section of the Juniper Level botanical gardens, and he sighed “oh, man,” when I told him I was taking home a colocasia Thailand Giant. He assured Alan (seen with Avent, above) that it could grow taller than 8 feet, discussed global warming with him, and gave me advice on how to overwinter my Giant. Wish me luck!

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Gardens and Guns?

    Sounds like hoticulturists with deer and animal problems!

    Only someone studying econometrics (the precursor to Freakonomics)could put a combination like that together!

    Kind of like a bass fisherman going home to soak in a tub full of lavender oil and rose petals.

    Hey…a new publication maybe entitled : “Bass and Bathrooms” or “Large Mouth and Lingerie”

    The (I know! Cut the comedy) TROLL

  2. It’s Garden & Gun. Not Guns. You can read a lot of the content on line, enough to see that it has good writing and interesting topics. It’s simply a regional magazine of rather high quality. The only surprising thing about it is the name, which is a hoot.

  3. If I knew you were coming I’d a baked a cake!! I live down the street and around the corner from Plant Delights. I used to work there. Shop there often. Know Tony well. Its great to see Raleigh represented in the press.

    The part that few people get to see is the gardens in the dead of winter – I know, it ain’t Buffalo, but still. When its below freezing and those monster agaves look like crap and you think you’ll have to help Tony scrape them out of the ice and snow only to come back on the first warm day and they have sprung back to life! Tis amazing, and a truly inspirational garden.

  4. Sorry for the extra “s”…………
    but most gardeners carry two guns. I know I do!

    1) A water gun to soak the kids when they shoot at me.

    2) A pistol nozzle for the hose.

    The (Cowboy wannabe) TROLL

  5. OK – I bit – looked at their website and it LOOKS like Vogue did a photo shoot in Beacon Hill! Sad…that such stereotypes are being touted as a (YIKES) lifestyle: “…a magazine that truly embodies 21st Century Southern America.”

  6. Just between you and me, I have the HUGEST crush on Tony Avent. My husband groans whenever he sees me perusing the Plant Delights website – he knows I’ll get that dreamy look on my face and start talking about things that “Tony wrote”… I can’t wait to make my first pilgrimage to the nursery, but I don’t think I can meet him. I’m too uncool.

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