Plant Lust


It puts out copious sprays of these gorgeous, pendulous flowers, which can remain on the plant all Oregano2_1winter long until new growth appears in the spring.  It loves dry summers, needs a little drainage,  and you can probably already imagine how happy it would make the bees and hummingbirds in your garden.

There just aren’t words to describe what a plant like this does to me.  This, I believe, is what the garden industry ought to be doing:  growing out sturdy, beautiful, undemanding plants that will please gardeners and pollinators alike.  Customers, and bumblebees, will flock to them.

And on a related note:  a column in GreenProfit, a garden industry magazine, reflects back on what garden writer L.H. Bailey had to say about the desire to garden over a century ago.  Bailey wrote:

One does not begin to make a garden, until he wants a garden. To want a garden is to be interested in plants, in the winds and rains, in birds and insects, in the warm-smelling earth. Without this desire a man might better buy his vegetable, fruits, and flowers.

The column goes on to speculate as to how one might manufacture this desire in a few million potential customers.  I’m just not sure you can.  We all know people who would rather have a root canal than go outside with a pitchfork and turn a worm-ridden compost pile. 

Manolo Some people have a shoe fetish; I could care less what I put on my feet, as long as they don’t give me a blister.  Should Manolo Blahnik spend any time trying to figure out how to make a customer out of me?  Please.  No.  But should they take the mildly shoe-obsessed and turn them into Manolo addicts.  Absolutely. Carrie  How do you do that?  Fabulous, lust-worthy shoes.

Oh, and I guess it helps if Carrie Bradshaw wears them.  Is that what we need?  A diva?


  1. That is one sexy oregano.

    As for shoes… my primary requirement is that they have exceedingly exquisite arch support, not squish my toes, and go well with jeans.

    Nearly all the women I know like “a little heel.” Some like a lotta heel. They look at me… in my Earth shoes… and accuse me of having lesbian feet. I like to say, “Ooh, look at my sexy negative-heeled shoes” just to taunt them.

    But see what we’re up against? Just because we don’t want to impair our ability to walk or run, and want to avoid corns, bunions and spinal mis-alignment, we’re accused of being un-sexy.

    Sure, I have a hard time scrounging up something fancy to wear out at night, but man do I feel sexy at Home Depot in my kick-ass breathable, waterproof low hikers with an arch support made by angels and a toe box most girls can only dream of.

  2. Wow. Plant lust for sure! I’m telling our local growers in Charleston (Pete’s Herbs) to get on this one…see? That’s all it takes – one, two, a dozen – plants that we haven’t grown. It’s an obsession.

  3. Lesbian feet – suppose that explains my closet? Well, something I never knew.
    But on Amy’s excellent point – hell, yes, we’re responsive to good products and good marketing, so seduce us!

  4. I love it but I can’t have it. It is for Zones 6 – 9!! I am zone 5!! Just right out of my reach. Ugh!! But I want it, so how to make it happen without moving?! Must I settle for a long-distance relationship? Will someone please grow it and send me pictures of it? You can all my shoes in exchange.

  5. I’ve been told by my local herb folks ( that there are a couple of other varieties of oregano with similar flowers – I’m not sure of their zone Carol, but check out ‘Barbara Tingley’ and ‘Dittany of Crete’ – I haven’t looked into them yet, but these guys know what they’re talking about!

  6. I want to thank you for such a rich, informative blog. But thank you for opening our eyes to the different companies out there — especially High Country Gardens. They are exactly what I’ve been searching for, but haven’t found. Until today, that is.

    Keep up the great work and interesting blogs.

  7. Helena’s blush pretty, very pretty. I love a blushing plant or flower, don’t you? For people blushing seems to have gone out of fashion for some reason, more’s the pity.

    And this lovely Euphorbia is available everywhere you say? Oh, the horror of it! To actually like a plant, wanting it and being able to buy it too. I think I need to lay down now.

  8. Proven Winners plants may be branded and processed like cattle, but they are super cool! I think they must have some passionate employees in the breeding division. Plant nuts, just like us. 😉

  9. I don’t have a problem with seeing a plant tag with the growing company’s name and other beneficial educational information.

    If any company has re-invested its financial resourses into acquiring and propagating new plants for the green industry they deserve and retain the right to advertise and market their investment under any name they choose within the limits of the law.

    Proven Winners doesn’t seem to be over charging their wholesale customers or the retail buying public for their products and I haven’t heard or read of any unfair business practices or poor workers rights, so until then, they can proclaim their plants as ‘Proven Winners’ until they prove themselves as proven losers.

    At this point, better it be “Proven Winners” than ” Burpee”, who has demonstrated their poor business acumen.

  10. Speaking of brand-name plants, how about those Wave petunias? YOu can’t beat its carefree performance, something I’m willing to sacrifice my garden’s uniqueness for.
    I have the E. amygdaloides species and it’s just as fabulous. I was given one as a passalong plant and the next year there were exactly 10 – and that’s in the shade. It’s an amazing evergreen perennial for shade that always gets noticed.

  11. You are going to find more and more branded plants at garden centers. It’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The public loves brands and the nursery industry is one of the last that hasn’t embraced it, yet. We are about to see that change. Monrovia nursery is one of the biggest brands and they are putting their name right on the can. They also want us to group their plants by themselves, much like you would see Ralph Loren or Polo brands displayed at Macys. A shirt by Ralph Loren is not found in the shirt section but in the Ralph Loren section. I am not sure if this is good or bad but it’s happening.

  12. Apologies to Ralph Lauren, which I spelled Loren, also I find that Polo is a Ralph Lauren Brand. Obviously I am not too hip on clothing brands.

  13. I am so with you on the Big Read/If Everyone Read the Same Book programs. Why? Why does everyone need to read the same book? And they’re always books that are supposed to be uplifting or good for you or whatever. It makes me sick. Really. This is not something that should be imposed on people.

    Now, as for Proven Winners, they do tend to come out with new plants that I have not seen anywhere else, so I buy them, and, for the most part, like them.

  14. Amy, I finally got a chance to read your book, Flower Confidential. It was an awesome and chock full of info read. I loved it. Thank you.

    I dislike euphorbias. I hate what they do to natural areas, which is what I volunteer restoring. They don’t play well with others, they don’t share. Frankly, I wish they’d outlaw the dang things.

    Don’t worry, soon enough you’ll be living in a field of them.

  15. Somebody correct me, but I thought Proven Winners was some sort of consortium of growers, such that a small grower who maybe couldn’t make it on his own could succeed when banded together with others? Am I thinking of a different brand name?
    If my memory is correct, then we should support them rather than dissing them. (I admit I’m too lazy to find the answer myself right now…)

  16. I have to throw something in here… a bit of a tangent, but nonetheless: kudos to Proven Winners for their website. Great search function, multiple pictures of most plants–including some that show the plant (gasp) within context, instead of just focusing on the flower, and even container/combo “recipes.”

    I admit that I play on their website throughout the winter when we’re in Grey Season here. I can’t tell you whether it’s more or less dangerous than the Bluestone Perennials “save a cart” feature until I’ve gone through a full summer buying season.

  17. There are a few things that I know. First, Proven Winners are grown only by 4-5 greenhouses in the country (slight monopoly?) Second, I’ve worked in the retail garden center business and carried PW’s since they came out, and never once had someone ask for a particular plant by using the “proven winner” name. They just like the plant and could give a damn about the brand. Third, if you think that you are in the minority concerning wanting plants that “no one else” has, think again. The biggest phrase I’ve heard used this spring is “I want something DIFFERENT” I’ll say that the newest trend is to be a trendsetter. You can bet that PW is catching on to that and has been for a while.
    And for the fouth observation, PW’s tags are horrible. Try to find the actual latin name for “Diamond Frost’ Its not even on the tag, or THEIR WHOLESALE CATALOG? And they never tell you on the Osteospermum tag that the suckers will stop blooming when it gets hot.

  18. I am right there with you. When I lived in CA, i hated oleander, agapanthus, and other plants everybody had.

    I still don’t like plants that everyone has. To me, having a garden is partly about showing creativity and individuality…..

    if everyone runs out and plants the same bush in the same maner and shape it the same way…thats not creativity. Its the same mentality that makes lawns so poppular. Everyone has to have one…

  19. Keep in mind that we’re different from most gardeners. I often suggest to newbies to go to a Master Gardener plant sale or some other fund-raiser where the plants are divisions from people’s gardens. You can bet that most of what ends up in those pots are well-adapted to the area and prolific growers.

    I’ve been meaning to writing about gender bias with plants, too. When I was first getting into gardening, other gardeners (mostly women) would warn me: That plant is aggressive. It gets really big. It elbows out neighboring plants. It spreads all over and covers a lot of ground in a hurry.

    As a guy, those qualities resonated with me. They described most of the qualities you’d look for in a middle linebacker or a power forward. I also grow plants that are slow, weak and polite — because they’re pretty or just for the challenge. But they aren’t big selling points. I’ll elaborate on this sometime in the future, I’m sure.

  20. Wow, Craig, you’re the first person I’ve ever heard who admires the qualities of kudzu. Must have been a man who brought it over. Maybe Joe Namath. Oh no, he wore pantyhose, right? Couldn’t have been him, then.

    With all due respect, this kind of “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” logic is just silly. If women didn’t value (and reproduce with) men with aggressive qualities (whether or not they are genetically based), that sort of thing would have disappeared from the human line a long time ago.

    There are plenty of aggressive females out there too, and I suggest if you launch this argument at a party (especially if you imply females are “weak” and “polite”), you’ll soon find out who they are.

  21. I’ve been having outbreaks of plantlust too, as I’ve confessed on my blog…first it was Magnolia ‘Betty’ (not Anne as I had first written). I haven’t seen this one yet, but I did get Euphorbia ‘Bonfire’ and ‘Efanthia’…and my latest lustful fling is with Physocarpus ‘Coppertina’, another PW. The plants I’ve purchased with PW on the label have done very very well here in my sometimes cranky climate, and that’s been better than some overpriced things from a company out of Ontario.

  22. Hi firefly: I’m on record somewhere as saying that if you plot any characteristic by gender you’ll get two bell-shaped curves with the peaks closer together than most folks think and considerable overlap of the two curves. I’ve gotten in trouble for that belief many times — mostly with the strong women who in my life, which is just about all of them. I really don’t think I’m a knuckle-dragger. I didn’t mean to come across that way, though maybe I’m revealing some deep-rooted problems in my inner psyche. I think that people get into real trouble when they focus more on the small gap between the peaks and not enough on the overlap. Maybe my comment came across that way. Oh well.

    I want to go on the record that I think Joe Namath was a drunkard and womanizer (and one hell of a quarterback) who I don’t much like. (I did like that he bucked the system to some extent, but I was young and didn’t know how right away how shallow he was. What was Janis thinking?)

    And similarly, I’m not in favor of invasive plants like kudzu. I’m certainly not going to rush to its defense. My recollection is that kudzu was important because men (mostly) raped the soils of the Southeast. The same men (metaphorically) imported kudzu to try to repair the soil and provide some forage for their skinny cattle. Boy did they — in their hubris and ignorance — get more than they bargained for.

    One of our most troubling invasives in this area is purple loosestrife, imported because it was a pretty garden plant. Oh well. So I guess my point is that invasive plant qualities don’t know ‘gender’ boundaries — air quotes because I don’t necessarily think that prettiness or big, stupid solutions to avoidable problems are limited strictly to one particular sex.

  23. Anyone who’s been to Tennessee and has seen miles and miles of kudzu will agree that invasive plants are not to be celebrated. As for wanting to have plants no one else has, I hate to say it, that’s being a bit hypocritical. We plant nerds smile smugly whenever we see people leaving the local garden center with flats full of begonias and marigolds, and then complain about the lack of diversity in the american homeowner’s landscape. Proven Winners, or any company that makes more interesting and improved varieties of plants more widely available should be celebrated. After all, the average homeowner is a bit clueless about how to plant a garden, so any help they can get to make their garden suck less is a good thing. (As for the Euphorbia, most people are going to pass it by because they don’t understand the value of interesting foliage — they just want to know what color a plant’s bloom will be.)

  24. girlgonegardening, California is pretty much oleander free now, thanks to an imported wilt disease. They were never my favorite plants either, but now that they are gone they do leave a whole in the (man-made) landscape. Few plants grew as large on as little water. Sometimes the thing everybody has, everybody has because it works.

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