Now we know what it takes to get people in State College, PA excited about plants in the middle of winter. Just include caricatures of the major players in Penn State’s recent sex abuse scandal as part of the anarchic mash-up of headline-makers appearing on the cover of this year’s Plant Delights catalog. Apparently, the college’s powerful alumni community is in a frenzy over the depictions of Paterno (who was still alive when the drawing was commissioned) and Sandusky, who appear along with the usual cadre of political candidates and other public figures.
I like the zany cartoons Tony Avent commissions from Raleigh artist Jack Pittman for Plant Delights’ catalogs for the same reason that the irreverent plant hunter says he uses them. They’re different. The bizarre scenarios are suggestive, but never seem to make any kind of conclusive political point. Which is the point. Usually I look at them long enough to identify the major figures and get a sense of the central theme, then I turn the page to read the plant descriptions (which are usually way more entertaining than the cover drawings). Then I try to figure out if I can afford to buy anything. To be honest, this cover didn’t seem any edgier than last year’s Facebook theme or the one a few seasons back about health care.
But that is because I am not a college football fanatic. Clearly, I will never understand the fervent loyalty of those who are. I’ve never seen my alma mater the University at Buffalo’s team play, I’m not even sure what their name is, and couldn’t care less if their season is 10-0 or 0-10.
This summer, while all the football teams—college or otherwise—are at their training camps, I’ll be evaluating the performance of my own players, which I hope will include some of Tony Avent’s starting lineup. I always buy at least one hellebore, a couple colocasia, and as many interesting perennials as I can afford. Though I’m not a huge fan of all the funky new Echinacea varietals, PD is offering several unusually tall hybrids. If they get higher than 3 feet in NC, I’m guessing they’ll stretch even more in a coolor climate with a bit more shade. I also have a Patrinia scabiosifolia (Golden Lace) circled. Tall, airy stems with chrome-yellow flowers and takes light shade. Touchdown!
I will be passing by Raleigh just in time for a Plant Delights open house on the way back from the beach this year, and hope to add a few impulse purchases, as well as get another look at the ever-evolving Juniper Level botanic gardens. As some of you may know, especially if you receive the PD enewsletter, Tony Avent lost his wife Michelle a few weeks ago; she had been battling cancer for four years.
Best wishes to him. And many thanks to both him and Michelle for all the great plants.