Granny’s favorites



Our local Botanical Gardens has a soft spot for old-fashioned annuals. They start them all from seed in their back greenhouses, and as a result the plants don’t really come into their own until very late in the season, when everyone else’s annuals have started to flag.


These are the plants with great common names: pearls of Opar, kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate, love lies bleeding. They’ve got them meticulously planted in patterned beds leading up to the entrance of the glasshouse.


It took me a while to figure out what this one is. Asclepias physocarpa (giant swan milkweed). It will not surprise you to learn that it also goes by “hairy balls.”

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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. Beautiful! But I thought we were the only ones with “Hairy Balls”! (We originally bought the seed for the name, of course) And I posted a picture of the flowers just this past Friday.

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