The podcast for people who love plants—but not always the same ones.
Brought to you by the editors of Fine Gardening, this fun, informative podcast tackles all things topical in gardening. You’ll listen to the insights (and arguments) of Editor-in-Chief Steve Aitken and Senior Editor Danielle Sherry as they discuss various horticultural subjects on a deeper level. You will also hear from today’s leading horticultural minds who will offer their wisdom and opinions about what you might want to grow in your garden. We guarantee you’ll be entertained and feel like a better gardener.
Episode 75: Variegated for Shade
Shade, generally speaking, can be dark, dreary and difficult to garden in. It’s hard enough finding a plant that requires not all that much sunlight, let alone one that has light coloring to its foliage. But these rare birds are essential to making a good shade garden truly great. Plants with white, silver, or even light green variegation brighten up the dimmest of spots and instantly get elevated to focal point status. Have you always thought your shade was lacking something? Chances are, it’s some variegation and this episode has plenty of options to pick from.
Expert testimony: Susan Calhoun, owner of Plantswoman Design in Bainbridge, Washington.
Episode 74: Short Plants are Better
Danielle was convinced that this was HER episode, considering she’s shorter than Steve. But turns out Steve had a lot of great short plants to talk about on this episode, too. The pair discusses why short plants are important to good design and exactly what dimensions qualify a plant as “short.” The list includes some shrubs, some perennials, and plenty of options for multiple seasons of interest. After all, if you put a plant front-and-center, don’t you want it to look good for as long as possible?
Expert Testimony: Susan Morrison owner of Creative Exteriors Landscape Design in the East Bay region of Northern California.
Episode 73: Unusual Bulbs
The leaves are falling, the temperatures are cooling and that can only mean one thing: It’s time to talk bulbs. We’re sick of talking about the same old yellow daffodils and pink hybrid tulips though, so Steve and Danielle decided to wade into the world of rarer—or at least lesser-known—fall planted bulbs. You will hear us talk about a tulip or two on this episode, but likely not ones you’re familiar with, instead focusing on species tulips that are more likely to come back year after year—which is only one of their awesome attributes. You’ll also hear about a garlic that is grown only for its beautiful bloom and a few other bulb options that seem to be ignored by voles! This episode proves weirder sometimes is better.
Expert testimony: Erin Presley is a horticulturist at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin.
Episode 72: Blooms for Fall
When it comes to autumnal color in the garden, most of us probably think of leaves changing from green, to perhaps yellow, orange, or even red. This foliage show is a staple of the season in many parts of the country. Plants that actually bloom in fall get less attention, perhaps it’s because they have a hard time competing with the fiery foliage of their neighbors. On today’s show, Steve and Danielle give several plants that bloom in fall their due. This array of perennials and shrubs save their best for last, highlighting the landscape with vibrant pinks and cool blues—hues not often associated with October.
Expert testimony: Karen Beaty, horticulturist for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.
Episode 71: Better Versions of Old Favorites
Why would you ever want the shinier version of a beloved plant? In this episode Steve and Danielle talk about all the reasons including better disease resistance, better habits, or perhaps a more exciting foliage color. Disclaimer: we’re not dissing the classic favorites, just recommending some improvements, if you’re in the market for new plants. Author Andy Keys is our expert, who is the perfect choice, given he wrote the popular Fine Gardening article, Improved Varieties of Classic Favorites, which you can read here (KARA—insert hyperlink please).
Expert testimony: Andrew Keys is a Massachusetts-based horticulturist and author of several gardening books, including Why Grow That When You Can Grow This? and Growing the Northeast Garden.
Episode 70: Plants That Made it Through Summer’s Worst
Here in the Northeast, we experienced one of the hottest summers on record. In Connecticut (where we make this wonderful podcast), we broke a 38-year record for most consecutive days over 90°F. Add to these steamy temps a record low rainfall and this summer turned out to be pretty miserable—and not just for Steve, who always likes to have something to complain about, but for our plants. Therefore, we thought it was a good time to take stock and see which plants of ours simply made it through. Our selections include species we never expected to be drought-tolerant and cultivars that seemed to fair better than others. Given the topic, we had to reach out to David Salman a renowned horticulturist from New Mexico, to see what plants made it through a decade old high intensity drought (after a year's respite in 2019) in his backyard. Surprisingly, he says, quite a few.
Expert testimony: David Salman, chief horticulturist for High Country Gardens in Santa Fe, New Mexico.