Heeeeeerrrrre’s Allan! Our new contributing Ranter



We’re very pleased and proud to announce that someone whom most of you know and respect is joining us as an intermittent Ranter.

Horticulturalist, author, lecturer, and plant developer/seller Allan Armitage became intrigued by the idea of ranting after talking to both Susan and me about how Garden Rant works. I had interviewed him about the third edition of his Herbaceous Perennial Plants, and Susan had fun hanging out with him at the Garden Writers Association conference in Portland in late summer.

You all know Allan Armitage as “the perennial guy,” just as Michael Dirr is “the tree guy.” Some of the most well-known Armitage titles (there are 11) are Herbaceous Perennial Plants, Armitage’s Garden Perennials, and Armitage’s Native Plants for North American Gardens. If you have any of these books, you also know that he’s an entertaining and opinionated writer as well as an expert plantsman.

Allan Armitage has an endowed professorship at the University of Georgia at Athens, where he runs the research gardens, co-founded with Michael Dirr in 1982. As a teacher and speaker, “Dr. A” is in constant demand, and has won numerous honors, including the The Kiplinger Chair at Ohio State University, the Brooks Award for Teaching, the Alex Laurie Award for outstanding research in horticulture, and the Golden Trowel from the Garden Writers Association for Allan Armitage on Perennials, just to name a very few of his awards. He has a B.Sc from MacDonald College, a Quebec, M.Sc. from University of Guelph, Ontario and his Ph.D. from Michigan State, and has lectured in all 50 states, as well as in New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Greece.

I’m not done. There is also Athens Select, a line of heat and humidity tolerant plants for the American market. Plants introduced by Armitage include Ipomea “Marguerita,” Cleome “Linde Armstrong,” Verbena “Homestead Purple” (with Michael Dirr), and Ruellia “Rajin’ Cajun.”

On a more personal level, Allan was born in Montreal, lives most of the year in Athens, and has two daughters; I mention them because you’ll be hearing about them.

So yeah. We’re flattered that “Dr. A” would want to rant with us (at least twice a month and maybe more). Readers, what would YOU like to hear Allan rant about? Let me know in comments. In the meantime, expect his first rant bright and early tomorrow morning!

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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 yahoo.com


  1. I’ll bet he has some good rants about research grants and other funding sources for science and horticulture at the University of Georgia and universities in general. Diplomatically presented of course.

  2. I’ve not read any of Mr. Armitage’s books but won’t say I wouldn’t. I’m thinkin I may have met him at one of the GWA Region II meetings. I’ll be sure to read what he has to say here.

  3. Wonderful news! My local PBS station carries the Gardening in Georgia program, an excellent gardening show which often features Allan and his sage advice. He should stir up some interesting conversations/rants/ideas!

  4. Does he have a rant about nurseries that sell a lot of invasive perennials to uninformed gardeners? How does he feel about how perennials are marketed today (branding, fancy containers, etc.)? Is there still a place for growers who don’t have “name brand” plants? How long does it take for a new variety to get to the home gardener and is it too long? How has the university training for horticulturists changed in the years he has been teaching? By the way, I’ve grown Cleome ‘Linde Armstrong’ before and loved it.

  5. When I heard Allan speak, I was impressed that — while based in Georgia — he had a good idea about how particular plants performed over a wide variety of conditions. For a national (heck, global) audience like yours, that’s valuable information.

  6. Thanks Craig. Though Allan is based in Georgia, he has spent time in Canada and I think Alaska. He knows the colder zones. Also, he does a residency in Niagara on the Lake in the summer and often visits Buffalo.

  7. This is great news for us Garden Rant fans! I’d love to hear any of his wisdom on using natives – particularly on
    incorporating them into the more traditional gardens of exotics and tropicals. His book on native plants for gardeners is a gem of a resource.

  8. Doesn’t his inclusion smack of respectability? Does it add a certain level of credibility? Won’t he lend an air of credence?

    He’s a researcher, he’s won awards, he’s Canadian (they’re extremely pleasant and generally polite) – he’s a PhD for God’s sake!

    Don’t get me wrong, I think you could always use a bit more testosterone (not that there’s a lack of testosterone between the four of you).

    I look forward to reading Allan’s contributions.

  9. Welcome!

    My cousin Colleen in Wilmington, NC is a devotee so I will be paying attention! Ah, memories of a Lilburn GA veggie garden, Tamarack pines, and ice storms!

  10. I hope he knows what he is getting into!

    Sounds like a winner. It will be nice to see someone from “inside” the business and posts from the other side of the garden path

    the TROLL

  11. I love Athens Select Heliotropium ‘Azure Skies’™

    I live in gardening hell (Ft. Worth, TX) and I planted one four-inch pot that has become a nice three-foot wide mat for several years by my driveway. It has bloomed like gangbusters with zero care and very little water. In addition, my wife literally runs over it at least twice a week backing down the driveway and it keeps on shining.

    Allan – anybody who facilitates / participates getting a great plant like that available should be allowed to jump in anywhere.

    As an aside, I beg you (and others) not to discuss marketing too often. I am sure it is relevant to most of this audience (except me, so I am talking out of school at this point). I am a dirt gardener so the subject causes me to react like I sat naked on a fire ant mound for two minutes.

    Yes, sadly I realize as a topic it is hard to leave alone since it is so invasive (I mean pervasive) in all commercial undertakings and it is so rich in fodder for writers they can’t leave it alone.

  12. One question: Where did Allen get that hat? I’m retiring this January and expect to spend a lot more time out in the garden and could use one of those hats, especially if it comes in “huge”.

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