The Winners Are Only on the Garden Rant

Rose Cooper a.k.a. Rose Bush judges the contest.

The I-Must-Have-This-Plant contest, that was begun a week ago, has been a huge success. There was not one clinker among 11 entries.

i asked my one and only Rose Bush to be the unbiased judge. I wanted to plant all of these wonderful real and make-believe plants in my Salvisa garden this year after reading the descriptions.

Linus had me early on. We are Comrades in Spurge, it turns out.  Be proud and say it loud: “Submit to this spurge; purge the urge to exclude this spurge.” Here’s to more Allegheny spurges.

I will not be able to resist Teresa’s Ardisia japonica ‘Chrimen’ that grows into “a delightful ankle-high forest…”  I’m going to find one…

I have no idea how Ann Rausch’s Hydrangea ‘Ruby Red Slippers’ escaped notice until now. Where have I been?  I will be keeping my eyes peeled for the “large, cone-shaped blossoms that arrive white and advance to a dazzling ruby red.”

I had to stop for a minute when Beth wrote about “a charming Hazel.” I went out with Hazel one time, but she wasn’t a nut with “twisty-turn stems.” It has been a few years. Bravo for Corylus ‘Contorta’.

I’m in total agreement with Anne Young on the red buckeye. It is a perfectly wonderful small tree that “checks all the boxes.”

Jenny, of course, I want a “darling deciduous coral berry with a dash of pizzazz.”

Diane, you read my mind. I love the tall and elegant daylily ‘Autumn Minaret.’ The more the merrier.

Jennifer, how dare you write about promiscuous plant sluts on the wholesome family-oriented Garden Rant? (I’m glad you did!) Perilla…Oh, my god.  “Thought it’d be a great filler. Now she’s struggling to find her hand tiller.”

My good friend, Guest Ranter and former Jelitto Perennial Seeds colleague had a good one, too.  I feared a revolt if I showed any favoritism. “Growing in cracks… (a damn petunia) gone wild. A dry rocky slope… (or open meadow) can be trialed. Humilis humble…(submissive?) not a chance. Born in North America….. (not England) not France.” I immediately made a note to order seeds of Ruellia humilis from Jelitto.

The Japanese roof iris is one of my all-time favorite go-to perennials. Eric S. rode a sweet wave with the white blooming Iris tectorum ‘Alba’. “Its wide strappy leaf blades continue to grow with clumps forming arching fountains of celery green in places where deeper green foliage add contrast to make them pop.”

Dee Cee’s entry for hoary puccoon (Lithospermum canescens) was an impassioned plea for a lovely native that is seldom planted—and should be planted more. “Get ready to brighten up the border or that difficult spot with this cheerful yellow fellow!

Rose said it was a tough call to choose between the top two winners, but the contestants above shouldn’t be disappointed. All of the contestants have earned a catfish dinner with cole slaw and spicy fries at the Family Affair, in Salvisa, KY, whenever you’re passing this way. Let me know. Lunch is on my dime.”

Joe Schmitt is our esteemed runner-up. I don’t know anyone else who could have concocted a hybrid between a Penstemon and a Eucalyptus, but we never had a glimpse inside Joe’s tool shed until he cracked the door open this week. Heaven’s knows what else lurks inside there.

The grand winner was Anne’s “purple prose.” (Her grand prize is a copy of Planting in a Post-Wild World.)  Rose and I blushed at Anne’s audacity to unleash the galloping spearmint, but then we like a good mint julep during the Kentucky Derby weekend, so there are exceptions.  “I can’t walk past my spearmint without stroking his copious emerald, spear-headed leaves to inhale his refreshing, rejuvenating fragrance… He propagates wantonly, spreading his roots wherever he goes…I share a piece of him wherever friends are willing to take him into their beds. It’s hard to imagine a garden without him.”

Only on the Garden Rant.

Congratulations everyone.


  1. Congrat’s to Anne and Joe! I agree it was fun and interesting to see everyone’s “pet” plant choices. Also great to actually see a pic of the famous Rose Bush, whose name I’ve envied ever since I started reading Garden Rant. Now I see, in addition to having one of the world’s most whimsical names, she’s pretty and smart to boot! Well I guess if one feels green with envy, no better place to blend right in than Garden Rant lol.

  2. My great aunt Anne Bruce Haldeman first gave me Japanese roof iris— so dependable, uncomplaining, adaptable to sun or part shade, wet or dry.

  3. I was going to write something about hoary puccoon but didn’t get a chance to do it. DeeCee’s entry was a pleasant surprise. The name alone is irresistible and those cheerful orangey-yellow flowers would brighten anyone’s day. Every spring we watch for them to bloom along with shooting star, blue-eyed grass, and prairie smoke in the nano sand prairie we planted in our garden. I used to pass a patch on Interstate 94 in Wisconsin. Sitting on the far side of the highway near the base of a roadcut through St. Peter’s Sandstone, that 3 foot wide splash of pure sunshine was impossible to miss even at 70 miles an hour.

    Thanks, Alan, for the contest and to all the rant readers who participated. All sorts of great plants to consider. I have (and have read cover to cover and taken notes on) Rainer and West’s excellent book but don’t have any Allegheny spurge. I will have to add that to my garden.

  4. Hi Allen,. I have some Ardisia for you. Beautiful pots have done their holiday/winter duty and need to be divided. Let me know.

    • Elizabeth! Good to hear from you.I’d love to receive a piece from you. I’m traveling this week but will contact you next week via email. Thank you.


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