The Association for Garden Communicators 2017 Conference

I’ve not posted in a long time. I’ll tell you why in a minute, but first I want to tell you my favorite story about what happened at this year’s The Association for Garden Communicators Conference, formerly known as the Garden Writers Association. It amuses me that the tale starts with the classic line, “Two guys were sitting at a bar.” I bellied-up next to the two thirty-somethings, and we struck up a conversation. Since it was the Hyatt hotel bar, I assumed they were from out of town, and I asked, “What brings you to Buffalo?” With an adorably flirty smile, the cute one answered, “We’re here to pick up middle-aged women.” I wiggled my ring finger at him and said he would need to look elsewhere. He asked me if I got my wedding band in a box of Cracker Jack. I started to like this guy. I decided to help him in his quest for middle-aged women, so I told him my favorite pickup line. I’m not 100% sure where I first heard it, but I think that I once read this as a plant description in a Plant Delights catalog. The line is, “Did you get a speeding ticket on your way here? …. Because you’ve got FINE written all over you.”

He replied, “Do you like my shirt?” with Vanna-White hands, he stroked his shirt, “It’s made from something veeeeery special…..boyfriend material.”

That was the beginning of a fabulous conference. I’ve been to four GWA conferences, and I think this one was the best. Buffalo has a delightful story about how gardening improved the residents and the city itself.

While I’m talking about the conference, I’d like to thank a few people, starting with those who bought me a glass of wine. Proven Winners sponsored the final dinner, and American Meadows and High Country Gardens sponsored the afterparty which was super fun! I don’t know how wine affects the other Garden Writers, but this is what it does for me.

This wine is making me awesome

Proven Winners also gave me these pretty plants to take home:

PW Plants

Landscape roses, Proven Winners

Supertunia Vista Bubblegum

Lemon Coral™ Sedum

Primo™ ‘Black Pearl’ Coral Bells

Primo™ ‘Wild Rose’ Coral Bells

Oso Easy® Urban Legend® Landscape Rose

Oso Easy® Italian Ice® Landscape Rose

Southern Living Plant Collection said the words every Plant Ho longs to hear, “Take a look at our catalog, let me know what plants you like, and I’ll send you whatever you want.” They have some fantastic plants. Two favorites that I’ve grown for a while are Evercolor® ‘Everillo’ Carex and ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia. I’m planning to write a Hot Plant article Southern Living Plant Collectionon both of them in a 2018 issue of Alabama Gardener magazine.

I have the Hot Plant article assignment again for all of 2018, so if you are a plant person, and you have something cool that you want me to try, leave a comment.

Bloomin’ Easy gave me a Date Night™ Strobe™ Weigela, and a Lavalamp™ Moonrock™ Hydrangea.

Bloomin Easy


J Berry Nursery gave me a Black Diamond® Crapemyrtle Best Red™, and a Fuchsia Parasol™ Déjà Bloom® AzaleaLasting Dreams Daylilies gave me a Ruby Spider daylily.

Among the non-living items I received were these nice clippers from Corona, and a Dramm watering wand.

The Floral Classics Cocktail Kit was a special present from Maria and the Floral Elixir folks. Most people didn’t get this. I told Maria that I bought a large bottle of the Lavender Elixir for my husband last Christmas, and he liked it so well, that I want to get him more this year. I said, “It sure would be nice to sample some other flavors before I place my order.” I don’t know Maria well enough to actually wink at her, but it was implied.

Floral Cocktail Mix, Floral Classis

Pat Stone of GreenPrints magazine gave me one of their garden coloring books last year, and I’ve enjoyed it very much. I’m bringing it up now because I neglected to thank him publicly last year, and I owe him a favor for explaining the punchline of an inappropriate joke that I told at dinner during this year’s conference. That was the second funniest thing that happened this year.

Chris Link, who is co-owner of the new company Plant Addicts, gave me some good advice about my blog. He said that I should include keywords in my URLs, but last time I tried to do that I accidentally deleted everything on my website and spent two hours on the phone with support to get it all fixed. I don’t think Chris realizes the level of my technical incompetence.

To everyone who gave me some swag, and to all the other sponsors, exhibitors, and individuals who worked hard to make The Association for Garden Communicators 2017 Conference a roaring success, Thank You!!!

I mentioned at the beginning that I haven’t posted on this blog for a long time; the reason is that my old computer blew up, and I lost Picasso, the software I used to resize my pictures and add the watermark. I bought new photo editing software, but I don’t know how to use it yet!

You might be wondering what happened to my old computer. Well so am I. It is a mystery. The computer was working fine when I loaned it to my daughter Monica last Christmas Eve, and when I went to use it on Christmas morning, it was dead. TOTALLY DEAD. I would have been more upset, but I presumed the computer was fixable. – Wrong, but I didn’t know it then. – The main reason why I stuffed my anger down was my firm belief that God has a special place in hell for mamas who kill their children on Baby Jesus’s birthday. I’m proud to say that I didn’t let it ruin the day. And I’ve never blamed Monica for something that was obviously her fault. (HAHAHA Monica proofreads my blog, so I added that last sentence for her benefit.)

I might start posting again on a regular basis once I learn the new software, which I clearly don’t want to do, or I would have done it by now. I don’t know. We’ll see.

Posted in I love this plant, Plant Ho | 2 Comments

Huntsville Botanical Garden

I’m doing a series of blog posts about Dan’s Amazing Alabama Adventure, which is the story of when Dan Heims, President of Terra Nova Nurseries, visited me. This post concentrates on the morning we spent at Huntsville Botanical Garden (HBG). I’m working on an article about HBG, and sometimes writing a blog post helps me organize my thoughts. HBG was originally going to be one paragraph in an article about Dan’s visit, but I was so impressed by what’s going on there, and I so loved all the stories, that I decided it should be a stand-alone article for the February issue of Alabama Gardener magazine. I have more than enough material, but I’m not sure how I want to organize the article, so I’m going to recap the day in hopes that it helps me.

When we arrived at HBG there was already a group waiting to greet us. Standing outside was Paula Steigerwald, President & CEO; Harvey Cotton, former Vice President; and Niki Sothers, Director of Horticulture. We watched a short film about the new guest center that is under construction. I’m so excited to see it when it’s finished in spring of 2017! Paula told us that previously HBG had a different plan for the new building, but they wanted more “WOW!” so they scrapped the first plan and started over. I’m certain it was an excellent decision because what they are building now is going to be amazing!

We headed into the garden, and Harvey told us a story that is going in the article. It happened in the early years of the garden. There was a man who volunteered for years on a regular basis. It was only after the bonsai society built the garden with the miniature railroad that the man brought his grandson to the garden for the first time. That event inspired the garden to add more kid-friendly attractions.

Huntsville Botanical Garden

From the bonsai garden, we loaded into a long golf cart. We drove by the new guest center that’s under construction. I commented that it still had a long way to go, and I asked if it was really going to be finished by spring. Paula said that her daughter is getting married this spring, and the wedding will be in the new building. She said it in such a matter-of-fact way that I believe her, and I feel sorry for any construction worker who slows progress. Do not mess with a determined mother-of-the-bride!

Huntsville Botanical Garden

I’m certain that the visitor’s center is further along now, but this is what it looked like on September 14, 2016.

We drove around the children’s garden and entered the butterfly house.

From left to right is Niki, Dan, Paula and Harvey.

From left to right is Niki, Dan, Paula and Harvey.

Huntsville Botanical Gardens butterfly house

Here I learned that Paula is a turtle-whisperer. She can pat the water and call the turtles to her.


Turtle whisperer

No one else has permission to do this, only Paula. If you visit HBG, DO NOT touch the turtles.

Huntsville Botanical Gardens

The flowers in this picture are pentas, and butterflies love them.

We got back in the cart, and Paula continued the tour.

Huntsville Botanical Garden

The fern garden has 150 – 170 species and cultivars, about half are natives.

Huntsville Botanical Garden

Paula entertained us with stories about the garden’s wonderful volunteers and how they contributed to the garden’s growth. I heard about the Vernon Bush azalea trail and the Herb Lewis birding trail. My favorite story was about Harold Holmes and HBG’s trillium collection. You are going to have to get a copy of the magazine if you want to hear that story.

Harold and Vernon were both volunteering on the day we visited. They gave us a tour of the propagation areas. Dan and Harvey went with Harold to see the trillium seedlings, while Vernon showed Paula and me the native azaleas. Dan loves spending time with fellow plant nerds and said that was his favorite part of the day.

Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Azalea seedlings, Vernon Bush

Vernon shows Paula some seedlings.

After the tour, we all had lunch and Paula asked if we had any advice for HBG. Dan considered the question for several moments and said, “Be unique.” Good advice, but I think they have that covered. We saw example after example of unusual stuff.

Bottle tree, Huntsville Botanical Garden

This bottle tree at Huntsville Botanical Garden is the largest bottle tree in any public garden.

Huntsville Botanical Gardens, patriot missle

A lot of missile defense work goes on in Huntsville. That is an actual unarmed Patriot missile. You don’t see that every day.

I’ve thought about using ‘Be unique’ as the theme for the article, but I just don’t know yet. I know that I want to say that volunteers founded the garden in a grassroots effort. I’m going to tell the stories about how the garden grew. And I’ll talk about where it is heading. I want to make the new guest center sound so exciting that people will want to contribute money, even if it’s only a small amount, because if they do, when they walk into the new guest center this spring, they’ll feel proud that they helped. I know that I will.

Huntsville Botanical Gardens Guest center

This blog post may not be inspiring, but it has helped me sort my thoughts. Here’s a link to more information about the new Guest Center and how you can contribute. If you want to see how the article turns out, pick up a copy of the February 2017 issue of Alabama Gardener magazine and flip to the back page.

Posted in Botanical Gardens | 2 Comments

Jim Scott’s Garden on Lake Martin

Well, that was fun!! I talked about Dan’s Amazing Alabama Adventure in my last post. Dan Heims, president of Terra Nova Nurseries, came to visit me. My favorite part of the adventure was Jim Scott’s garden on Lake Martin. It was phenomenal! We only had time to see about half of it, and I want to go back and see the rest. I also want to meet Mr. Jim Scott because he must be awesome. I think I kinda love him already. Look at his garden!

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

You can put your wine bottle in the slot on the table, and the water keeps it cold.

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

The garden provides many opportunities to play.

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

There’s a secret room behind the waterfall.

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

The view from the secret room.

Jim Scott garden, Lake Martin

Patrick poses in the secret room. A HUGE thank you to him for planning the day!

After seeing Jim Scott’s garden, I understand the warning Patrick gave me about this garden. He said, “Only go see Jim Scott’s garden if you want to be spoiled for every other private garden you will visit in your entire life.” It’s true. From now on, whenever I see a beautiful garden, I’ll think, ‘Well, this is nice, but it’s not as wonderful as Jim Scott’s garden on Lake Martin.’

I want to write a garden profile article for Alabama Gardener magazine about this garden. If that happens, and I actually get to meet Jim Scott, I need to dial down the crazy, or it’ll be just like when I met Dan Benarcik. Let me tell you the story.

After Dan Heims and I finished our Alabama adventure we drove to Atlanta for the GWA symposium. GWA used to be the Garden Writers Association, but they changed the name to The Association for Garden Communicators. The symposium is a mix of speakers, gardens, networking, and fun. I’d looked at the schedule, and the person I was most eager to hear was Dan Benarcik. He designed the teacup garden at Chanticleer, the place I sat in awe of this spring. – Here’s a link to the post I wrote about it. – To me, Dan is a rock star gardener, and when I met him, I acted like a teenage girl meeting Justin Bieber.

When we got to Atlanta, I set my luggage in the room and headed downstairs to register. I stepped on the elevator, and there were two men in it. One was wearing a Chanticleer shirt. Apparently, Chanticleer shirts get me excited. I pointed to his shirt and demanded, “Do you work at Chanticleer?” He said yes. I asked, “Are you the person responsible for the teacup garden? Are you Dan?” I think I was scaring him a little, but he timidly answered yes. I said, “Oh my God! Can I hug you?” I love that he said, “I don’t know.” I hugged him anyway.

On the last night of the GWA symposium, I had my picture taken with my two favorite Dans, Dan Benarcik on the left, and Dan Heims on the right.

On the last night of the GWA symposium, I got a picture with my two favorite Dans, Dan Benarcik on the left, and Dan Heims on the right.

I tell the story of how I met Dan because I think it’s funny, and I’m trying to make Jim Scott like me and invite me back to his garden. I can tell from his garden that Jim Scott likes to have fun, and I think we would get along fabulously. I promise to slow my roll, control myself and not maul Jim Scott like I did Dan.

Posted in The Big Picture | 20 Comments

Donald E. Davis Arboretum & A Horticultural Vacation

I’m planning the most awesome gardening vacation you can have in North Alabama. If you read Alabama Gardener magazine, you may remember the article I wrote titled, ‘Peggy’s Big Adventure.’ It was about my trip to California with Dan Heims, President of Terra Nova Nurseries, and how traveling with one of the kings of horticulture opened doors that are usually closed to lowly garden writers like me.

Well, Dan is coming to visit. He’s spending five days with me before we go to Atlanta for the GWA conference. If you know me, you know I’m a wee bit competitive. Dan planned the last vacation, and he might think we got VIP treatment on his vacation, but he hasn’t been on my vacation yet. I’m not a queen of horticulture, but I’m writing an article about this vacation, and so by the power of the press, I have opened all the horticultural doors that I could.

I want the article to have a little ‘you can do this, but not the way Dan and I did it’ vibe. For instance, you can go to the Huntsville Botanical Garden, but you’re not getting a private tour from a person whose name I don’t want to say because it’s a surprise. You can go to the Donald E. Davis arboretum, but Patrick isn’t going to show you around and then spend the rest of the day with you, as you do even more fun things that other people cannot do. And you can shop at Petals from the Past, but only if you get there before 5 p.m. You can’t call the owner, Jason, on his cell phone, tell him you are running late and ask him to stick around and wait. – I already have that lined up.

The vacation starts with a trip to the Donald E. Davis arboretum. I chose it because it’s as if all of Alabama’s horticulture was boiled down into one garden. On one end of the garden are the native plants found in North Alabama, the other end of the garden is planted with Alabama Gulf Coast natives, and what’s in-between is in-between. – Hopefully, I will come up with a better way to describe it before I write the article. – I was there last spring and took all these pictures.

Davis Arboretum

Patrick discusses some of our native carnivorous plants.

Donald E. Davis ArboretumPitcher Plants, Davis Arboretum

Pitcher Plants, Donald E. Davis Arboretum

Pitcher Plants

Donald E. Davis Arboretum

Native azaleas

Davis Arboretum

Native wildflowers

Donald E. Davis Arboretum

I liked how some of the signs gave a lot of information.

Elliott's Blueberry, Donald E. Davis Arboretum

Elliott’s Blueberry

False Rosemary at Davis Arboretum

Davis Arboretum, False Rosemary

False Rosemary

Davis ArboretumIt should be a fun article because it’s going to be an amazing vacation! Take a look at where we’re going.

Dan's Alabama Adventure

If you’re curious about the California vacation that Dan planned, I wrote a series of blog posts about the trip, starting with one titled, ‘What’s in Peggy’s Suitcase?

Ginger flower, Hedychium gardenarianum

This is the only picture in this post that’s from my garden. It’s the ginger (Hedychium gardenarianum) that Dan encouraged me to buy, and I brought it back from California in my suitcase. It’s blooming now, and it smells fabulous!

If you want to see the article that I wrote about the California trip, you can call Alabama Gardener magazine at 888-265-3600 and order the July/Aug. 2015 issue. It really was a cute article, even if I do say so myself, but the next article might be even better!



Posted in Botanical Gardens | 1 Comment

Longwood Gardens, Toastmasters and the Book I’m Writing

I really should post more often. I was at Longwood Gardens back in the spring, and I would have posted about it earlier, but I’ve been busy. I accepted two board member positions in 2016, Secretary of Smith Lake Environmental Preservation Society and Vice President of Membership for UAB Toastmasters. As VP of membership, I want to invite you to come to our next meeting. We meet the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of every month from 5:45 to 7 p.m. in room 170 of the Bevill Research Building, located at 845 19th St. South, Birmingham. It’s really fun!

I’m enjoying Toastmasters, and it’s making me a better speaker, which is why I joined, but there’s another, unexpected benefit. It’s making me a better writer. I turned my back-page article ‘Do Whatever You Want’ into a speech and in rehearsing it, I rewrote it and improved it. I’ve also learned a few tricks about how to write a speech that apply equally well to writing an article.

As you work your way through the Toastmasters’ book, each speech focuses on a different skill. I recently gave my 5th speech, which focuses on gestures. I love the speech so much that I’m doing something I rarely do, I’m not going to talk about gardening in this post except for one short caption, instead, I’m posting my speech at the end. It’s not because I didn’t like Longwood Gardens. I enjoyed them immensely. The greenhouses were especially nice. It’s just that sometimes pictures are enough. Think your own gardening thoughts in your own heads. I want to share my speech. The main story has been on this blog before, but I reworded it, and there’s new stuff before and after. Besides, it’s never too early to start promoting my new book.

Longwood Gardens, Living wall, Bathroom

My favorite part of Longwood was the conservatory, and thank goodness I had to use the bathroom or I would have missed this hallway. I’ve seen pictures of this before, but I didn’t realize these are the bathrooms in Longwood’s conservatory. How cool is that?

Longwood Gardens, Living wall

Longwood Gardens, Conservatory

Longwood Gardens, Conservatory

Longwood Gardens, Conservatory

Longwood Gardens, Conservatory


Longwood Gardens, Conservatory

Longwood Gardens, Fountain

Longwood Gardens, Fountain

Longwood Gardens, Topiaries

Longwood Gardens, Vegetable garden

Longwood Gardens, Vegetable garden

Longwood Gardens

The Book I’m Writing

I’m writing a book. If you know me, you probably assume it’s about gardening. It’s not. It’s a book of advice for young women, and I want to write it for three reasons. 1 – After living for 55 years, I’ve learned a thing or two, and I want to share my wisdom. 2 – Young women need my advice. Most young women are stupid. I know. I was stupid too. We were all stupid when we were young. 3 – Even after I’m dead and buried, this book will continue my good work and lecture my girls for me. That is very important.

The title is, ‘Stand up, put your hands on your hips, and…’ “Stand up” means stand tall; be proud; be strong. “Put your hands on your hips” means never be intimidated; feel your power, and be confident. The last part of the title, “and…”? Well, that depends on the situation.

The title comes from one of my favorite stories. It was July 4th weekend of 2014. My husband, Dale, and I were hosting three other couples, some of their children and the children’s boyfriends/girlfriends at our lake house. Only a few of us were on the dock to witness the first part of my story. One of the World Cup soccer games was about to start, so twenty-something-year-old Dustin told his girlfriend, Ally, “We need to go up to the house and watch the game.” As Ally was gathering her things, Dustin barked, “Hurry up!”

After they left, my friend Bill turned to me and said, “I don’t like the way he talked to her.” I’d been thinking the same thing. I heartily agreed and explained how I would have handled the situation. He told me that I should give her my advice.

As luck would have it, Ally forgot something on the dock and showed up ten minutes later without Dustin. Bill started doing the little head nod towards Ally while looking at me thing. So I said, “Ally, it’s not any of my business, but you shouldn’t let Dustin talk to you like that. Next time he uses that tone and tells you to hurry up, this is what you should do: stand up, put your hands on your hips and say, ‘I’ll come when I’m Fucking ready!’” Ally answered, “Oh Ms. Hill, I don’t think I could say that.” I replied with great conviction and emphasis, “Oh yes you can!”

The next day I came down to the dock later than everyone else. Most people were off on the boat, but Bill and my husband, Dale, were there swimming in the water. As I got closer, I saw enormous grins on their faces. I asked what happened. Bill said, “You would be so proud of Ally. Dustin yelled at her when they were leaving. She flipped him off and said, ‘Don’t talk to me like that.’”  –  I was proud.

Looking back at the whole situation, when I gave Ally my advice, I probably should have mentioned that if my approach seemed too harsh, she could have discussed Dustin’s behavior with him in private. Either way, the important thing is not to let him treat her that way. I will make that clear in the book. I’ll also emphasize that this is only an acceptable response to shitty behavior from a significant other. With other people, unless it borders on abuse when they act shitily, be the bigger person; ignore it. For instance, as a gracious hostess, if Dustin had said something rude like, “Why are you still at the lake? Shouldn’t you be cooking dinner? I’m hungry.” I would have answered sweetly, “Dinner’s going to be a while. Why don’t you run up to the house and get a snack? And if you want to speed things up, you can start peeling those potatoes on the counter.”

Yes, it’ll be a fabulous book I can almost see the cover now, ‘Stand up. Put Your Hands on Your Hips and…’ by Peggy Hill and Monica Buergler. I almost forgot to tell you that I’m coauthoring the book with my mom. She died years ago, but I still have her voice in my head, and I still have her letters. I’m talking about solid-gold advice that young women need to hear. For instance, the book includes the sage words she wrote in the months leading up to my wedding.

“Incidentally, are you going to promise to love, honor and obey? If you do, be sure to have your fingers crossed. That OBEY BUSINESS is out. I told Dad that if it was in our ceremony when we married, I wouldn’t make a fuss, but he could just forget that stuff. I hate having somebody boss me around. Enough nonsense. Oh yes, the rest is ok. Love and honor I mean.”

Who wouldn’t want to read fabulous advice like that? The book is mom’s advice to me mixed with my advice to anyone who wants to listen. The more I work on this book, the more excited I get. It’s going to be great. It might even wind up on the best seller list.

Posted in Botanical Gardens | Leave a comment

Swing Bar

I’m not sure if I should be posting this or not. My goal is to write an article for a nationally-published magazine about my new swing bar. Fine Gardening is my first choice, but beggars can’t be choosers, so I’m open to other publications. Actually, I already pitched it to Fine Gardening. I called and emailed the second the swing bar was finished. But it was a bad pitch, done hastily with a lot of enthusiasm and little thought. They replied, “Thank you for sharing your photos with us, Peggy! May I suggest once it’s in bloom and at its peak for photos you send them to We highlight a garden each day! I’m sure our readers would love to see it! Good luck and Happy Spring!”

Swing Bar

Swing bar

I’m going to pitch the article again because F YES readers are going to want to see pictures of my swing bar, but readers are also going to want to know the stories: The story of what inspired me. The story about my goals for the swing bar. The story about the mistakes I made. The story about the mistakes I didn’t make and how I avoided them. The story about how people react to the swing bar. All the F’ing stories that only I can tell.

The swing bar is fabulous enough for a national publication, and I’m hoping that my writing skills are up to the task. I am currently fingers crossed that I get a silver award in one of the two writing contests I entered through GWA, The Association for Garden Communicators, formerly known as Garden Writers Association. It will be a stronger pitch if I’m an AWARD-WINNING writer, speaker and plant ho.

I was trying to keep a lid on the swing bar in case its awesomeness goes viral, and a magazine thinks, ‘That’s old news. We’ve all seen it on the internet.’ But we live in a digital age, and if I don’t throw it onto the internet, a garden visitor will Instagram or Snapchat or Facebook or some such thing. I may as well do it myself so the pictures are watermarked, and they have a home. So, starting at the front of the swing bar and then traveling clockwise around it, this is what you see:

Swing Bar, Front

The front of the swing bar

Swing Bar left

The left side of the swing bar

Swing Bar

The back side of the swing bar

Swing Bar

The right side of the swing bar

Here are a couple more pictures:

Container gardenin

The view from the swing bar

The view from the swing bar

The same view without the swings

The same view without the swings


Trace helped me shop for the chandelier.

Cup and saucer vine

Cup and saucer vine

The garden surrounding the swing bar still needs some work to be nationally-published-magazine worthy. I’ve got some ideas to jazz things up for the photo shoot, and my BFF Trace, The Bitter Socialite, is going to stage it for the shoot and make it over-the-top romantic.

Please wish me luck and send me good energy. I really want the swing bar in a magazine that’s published nationwide.

Posted in I love this plant, What's Blooming? | Leave a comment

My First Radio Interview + Pictures of my Garden

In my last post, I talked about how I was going to do my first radio interview on July 3rd, and you might be wondering how it went. The first half was horrible, and the second half was bad. Overall, I’d give it a 3 on a 1-10 scale. My oldest daughter, Monica, was the first person I spoke to after the interview. She told me not to feel bad. She said that I should think about it like it was my first date with Radio, and first dates are usually awkward. I love a good analogy, and this one is perfect. The last time I had a first date was in my early twenties, but I still remember the second guessing.

Why was I so nervous around Radio? I probably shouldn’t have done Radio in the first place. Radio isn’t my usual type. I’m more comfortable with Magazines.

The Plant Ho, Peggy HillWhy did I show Radio that picture of me wearing a pink shower cap? Radio probably thinks I’m weird. Did I really tell Radio that bee balm is invasive? Bee balm is a native plant, so aggressive is a better description. Radio probably thinks I’m stupid. Radio complemented my pictures of Chanticleer TWICE, and I never said thank you. Radio probably thinks I’m rude. Why didn’t I say thank you? Radio will probably never call again.

Thank God I’m not in my twenties anymore! I’m older and wiser and happier, and no happy person ever focused on their mistakes and failures. While it is true that radio may never call again, I will still be the same awesome person regardless. I don’t need Radio to make me happy. The people I love and my garden bring me all the joy I need.

The Plant Ho's Garden

The Plant Ho's Garden

Prince Tut, Cyperus, papyrus

Radio asked me about some of the plants I’m trialing this year. I answered that Proven Winners sent me a nice clump-forming bee balm (Monarda didyma) called Pardon my Cerise, and they also sent a new papyrus called Prince Tut™. I told Radio that the thing I like best about Prince Tut™ is that it gives me huge bragging rights because almost no one else can get one. It won’t be available until 2017. Radio probably thinks I’m an ass.

Prince Tut, Cyperus, papyrus, mixed container

I planted my Prince Tut™ with a Red Strip canna and a Supertunia® Vista Fuschia Improved petunia. The petunia was another one of the free plants that Proven Winners sent this year.

Radio asked if I grew any vegetables. I answered yes, and said I planted too many peppers this year.

Gypsy peppers

Gypsy peppers mature from yellow to orange to red.


I told Radio about my beautiful okra.

Radio asked me about my Pink Lemonade blueberry plant, and I talked about how I grow 3 different types of blueberries, and Pink Lemonade is the most delicious.

Pink Lemonade blueberry

Pink Lemonade blueberry

Radio asked if I collected any particular plant. I’m not entirely certain how I answered, but I think I talked about how I want ALL the plants. Radio probably thinks I’m a spoiled brat. I mentioned Carex and Lenten roses (Helleborus) specifically. Carex was on my mind because I got 3 free Carex EverColor® Everlime and 3 free Carex EverColor® Eversheen to trial this spring. They were tiny, starter plants, and they’re still small, but they’re growing well. Here’s a link to more information on the Carex EverColor® collection.

Carex EverColor Everlime

Carex EverColor Everlime

Carex EverColor Eversheen

Carex EverColor Eversheen

Following is another Carex in the same collection, but I bought this Carex oshimensis ‘Everillo’ from Plant Delights Nursery. It’s my favorite.

Carex EverColor Everillo

Carex EverColor Everillo

Carex morrowii 'Silk Tassel'

Carex morrowii ‘Silk Tassel’

Carex 'Blue Zinger', Helleborus 'Mrs. Betty Ranicar'

Carex ‘Blue Zinger’ is in the lower right corner, and Helleborus ‘Mrs. Betty Ranicar’ is just behind it.

One last Carex that was a trial plant sent years ago, but I don't know its name. - Sometimes I'm a bad plant ho.

One last Carex that was a trial plant given to me by Skagit gardens years ago, but I don’t know its name.

I’m a little surprised that I’m not at all upset about how bad I did on the radio. I think one of the reasons is that the more I become a writer, the more I think about my life as a story, and stories need ups and downs. Otherwise, they are boring.

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Chanticleer Garden

I’ll tell you about Chanticleer garden in a minute, but I love this story about what happened last week.

I’m going to do a radio interview on July 3rd on the talk show Garden America. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I have exciting news, I want to share. One of the first people I called was my BFF Trace. He recently became The Bitter Socialite, and now he’s a big deal. When I wrote the article about him for the May 2016 issue of Alabama Gardener magazine, he was on one TV station. Now he’s on four stations in three cities. Trace didn’t answer the phone, so I sent him this text, “Has anyone ever asked you to do a radio interview?…….I didn’t think so.” – Like I said, Trace is my BFF, so I give him shit all the time.

Shortly after that, I was telling my daughter Monica about my radio interview and my text to Trace. She said, “You know exactly how Trace will respond. He’ll say, ‘Radio is for people who aren’t pretty enough to be on television.’” Monica knows Trace very well. That is precisely what he would say. I asked Monica what my response should be. She thought for a few seconds and said, “Radio is what people who have jobs listen to on their way to work. Morning television shows are what unemployed people watch while they shop at Walmart.”

I don’t want to insult fans of morning television, but Monica makes me laugh! Now let me tell you about Chanticleer.

Chanticleer, hanging basketChanticleer gardenMy husband Dale gave me the most wonderful birthday present this year. He took me to Pennsylvania for a long weekend, and I spent an entire day at Chanticleer garden. It was amazing!!! I have many wonderful pictures, but they don’t compare with the experience of being in the space. Every time I turned a corner, my first thought was, ‘OH MY GOD! This is unbelievable!’

Chanticleer pool

Chanticleer garden


Both bathrooms had fresh flowers, cut from the garden. It’s a nice extra touch.


Picked from a nearby area in the garden.

At one point in the day, I was sitting in the Teacup Garden, trying to soak in all the beauty, and I said to the lady next to me. “I think this might be the most beautiful garden I’ve ever visited. It’s either my favorite garden, or it’s tied with Lotusland.” The women replied, “I’ve seen better.” When I asked where, she answered Monet’s garden. I didn’t talk to her again. The point of the story is that if you have to bring out Monet to beat it, Chanticleer is one of the best gardens in the world.

From here to the end of this post, all the pictures were taken in the Teacup Garden. One of the nice things about Chanticleer is that although none of the plants are labeled, they have a plant list for each area. Here’s a link for the list of plants used in the Teacup Garden.


The entrance to the teacup garden.


I love this combination of cast iron plant and Sambucus ‘Lemony Lace’.



ChanticleerChanticleerChanticleerChanticleer gardenI posted more pictures of Chanticleer on the blog I write for Alabama Gardener magazine. Here’s a link.

A HUGE thank you to Dale for taking me there. It made me happy, and it’s going to be a hard present to beat, but if you want a suggestion, here’s a link to Monet’s garden. Hahaha!!! Another idea is to simply take me back to Chanticleer. I’m certain that it changes from year to year and season to season.

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Hollywood Hibiscus

I wanted to post sooner, but I’ve been on a mini-vacation. My husband took me to see Chanticleer and Longwood Gardens, and I’m posting about Chanticleer next time. It was amazing!!!! Before the vacation, I was busy writing for Alabama Gardener magazine.

Alabama Gardener magazineI took the picture on the June cover. It went with my article about cool shrubs, and I also had a Hot Plant article and a Garden Profile article. The shrub article is what threw me so far behind. It’s a good article, full of useful information, and I think readers will enjoy it, but writing it bored me. After having such a hard time with the article, I started wondering…Why do I even do this? The answer is free plants. I love free plants sooo much that I will suffer through any article that I think might increase my Plant-Ho abilities. Can you blame me? Look at the Hot Head Hollywood® Hibiscus that J. Berry Nursery sent me this spring.

Hot Head Hollywood Hibiscus

Hot Head Hollywood Hibiscus

I could write about how much I love this hibiscus, and describe it as velvety red on the outside and patent-leather black on the inside, but instead, I want to tell you the story of the FedEx guy, and the day he delivered the box. The FedEx guy and I are friendly strangers. I’m usually outside when he drives up, so I hang out by his truck, and we chat while he hunts for my box. And then we chat longer.

Hot Head Hollywood HibiscusThe day that the hibiscus was delivered, I happened to be working inside, but since I was expecting the hibiscus, I ran outside the moment the dogs signaled the FedEx guy’s arrival.  There he was, walking down the sidewalk with a big box. I was so excited that I started clapping my hands. Not a big clap, like after a great performance, more like the excited clap of a three-year-old kid who was just given a cupcake. Smiling, he said, “Is this another plant for your collection?” I answered, “Yes! Do you want to see it?” He waited as I tore into it. When I opened the box, and he saw the plant, he clapped his hands. I don’t think he even realized that he did it. The memory still makes me smile.

 Best Friend Hollywood Hibiscus

J. Berry also sent me two of their Best Friend Hollywood Hibiscus.

And J. Berry Nursery sent me the light brown pot in this next picture.


And they sent two more pots that are perfect for a front entrance.

Welcome Home, containers

ContainerContainerThey also sent a couple of Déjá Bloom® Azaleas for me to try. So a big thank you to J. Berry Nursery and everyone else who sends me free plants!

Posted in I love this plant, Plant Ho, What's Blooming? | 3 Comments

Huntsville and Birmingham Botanical Gardens Plant Sales

It’s an exciting weekend! Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Huntsville Botanical Garden are both having their spring plant sales. And for me, the most thrilling aspect of the weekend is that I’m speaking at the Huntsville Botanical Garden’s plant sale on Friday and Saturday, April 15 & 16 at 1:00!!! My talk is ‘Hot Plants: The Rest of the Story.’ I talk about 9 of the Hot Plant articles I wrote for Alabama Gardener and give additional information: more pictures, newer cultivars, stuff that wouldn’t fit in the article, things I’ve learned since I wrote the article, etc. It’s a cute Powerpoint presentation, and I have some great pictures. I hope you can come. Here’s more info on the sales:

Huntsville Botanical Garden: April 14-17, 2016 at the Huntsville Botanical Garden. Thursday, members only, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, free public sale, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, free public sale, 2-5 p.m. Here’s a link for more information.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens: April 14-17, 2016 at Brookwood Village. Thursday, Preview Party, $50, 5-6:30 p.m., followed by members only, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Friday, free public sale, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, free public sale, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, free public sale, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Here’s a link for more information.

And if you come to the Huntsville sale, don’t leave without seeing the Bush Native Azalea Trail. I was there last weekend, and it was stunning! Take a look.

Native azalea, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Bush Azalea Trail

Native azalea, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Bush Azalea TrailNative azalea, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Bush Azalea Trail Native azalea, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Bush Azalea Trail

Native azalea, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Bush Azalea Trail

Millie Mac

Native azalea, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Bush Azalea Trail

High Tide

Native azalea, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Bush Azalea Trail

Native azalea, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Bush Azalea Trail

Tom Corley

Native azalea, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Bush Azalea Trail

Native azalea, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Bush Azalea Trail

Stonewall Jackson

Native azalea, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Bush Azalea Trail

Native azalea, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Bush Azalea Trail

Miss Dean

Native azalea, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Bush Azalea Trail

Native azalea, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Bush Azalea Trail

Vernon Bush lead the tour, and he stood next to the sign and posed for pictures. I was late for the photo opportunity because I was off taking pictures of azaleas, but I like this pic anyway.

So if you come to the Huntsville Botanical Garden’s plant sale this weekend, don’t miss the Bush azalea trail, with over 4500 azaleas, there will still be lots in bloom. The azalea I’m going to make a point to see is this one.

Native azalea, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Bush Azalea Trail

Smitty, who was a big breeder of azaleas, named this one ‘Patsy’s Pink’ after his wife. I’ll bet it’s gorgeous.

I hope to see you there!

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