They asked for it!


A few weeks ago, the Ranters were asked by’s Money publication to supply a list of good and bad ways to spend money in the garden.

I’ll be honest; I usually hate this kind of crap. However, this time, the writer, Brad Tuttle, did a fantastic job. He took what could have been a boring how-to and made it into a sassy, challenging list of basic gardening beliefs—things that the Ranters feel very strongly about.

Check it out.

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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 regular 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. That was a pretty good list, though (mild yet benign sarcasm here) I’m not sure how he managed to make you all sound sassy.

  2. Dear Ranters:

    It truly pains me to see negative, blanket statements about entire groups of plants.

    “Licata cautions against the fancy hybrids of tried-and-true perennials: “Those glow-in-the-dark, double Echinacea (coneflower) may look great for one season, but they are not as hardy and reliable as the original pink varieties.” The biggest difference between the hybrids and their native forebears, she ways, is in price.”

    This may have been the case 10 years ago when the fancy cultivars of echinacea hybrids started coming onto the market, but believe me when I say I have had many of the Plants Nouveau hybrids, bred by Arie Blom, an amazing breeder, in my garden (in several gardens actually ) for more than 5 years. They come back year after year and they ARE hardy. Hardiness is NOT an issue with echinacea. Most of the hybrids used in modern breeding are super hardy and they come from very cold parts of the US.

    Poor placement and garden clean up practices have killed many plants. If you would like to educate your readers on the proper placement and the hardiness of the species that have been used in modern breeding, I hope you will read my article on echinacea hardiness., and proper growing techniques.

    I have grown just about all of the species and many of the cultivars from many breeders and had great success with lots of them. They are not all created equal. There are many wonderful, long lasting hybrids on the market today.

    Echinacea are not long lived perennials to begin with. Many times, gardeners think they live a long time because they are quite promiscuous and seed all over gardens and the seedlings are very similar to the original purple coneflower seedling. When you have hybrids, any seedlings will be pink or white or maybe another color, but most likely not double. And for this reason, when the mother plant dies after 6 or 7 years, they realize the plant has died. When gardeners are only growing the species purple coneflowers, the seedlings are the same color and shape as the original plant – no one realizes they’ve lost their original plant.

    I explain all of that in my article.

    Here is a link to the article.

    Please try not to make such harsh generalizations about groups of plants in the future. We (the perennial sector of the nursery industry in the US) are having a hard enough time promoting our plants to gardeners. These kinds of statements don’t help and they just aren’t true.


    Angela Treadwell-Palmer
    Co-Owner of Plants Nouveau

    • Angela, we Ranters are a diverse group with a variety of opinions, but I agree with you that Echinacea purpurea are best treated as short-lived (3 to 6 yrs) perennials, which can be allowed to self-sow in order to sustain their presence in a garden if desired. Have not grown the hybrids myself, but have seen them in other people’s gardens, and would not expect any more of individual plants than of the species from which they derive.

      Having said all that, I admit that their ability to self-propagate and continue in the garden makes the species more appealing to me personally, and I also prefer species (if we are talking native plants) in order to ensure nectar for pollinators.

      Thanks for the link to your article — a very useful set of tips for both growers and gardeners.

      • Should have qualified that last preference: I prefer species over double-flowered cultivars for the pollinator habitat. I know the single-flowered cultivars may or may not have differences that affect their value to pollinators, and I do choose them sometimes if they are a lot prettier than the species.

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