How to Find Great Plants, Issue #1

The best plants I’ve ever grown were recommended to me by other gardeners, and this blog carnival seeks to collect posts about exemplary food and ornamental plants.

*Edit: I’m still experimenting with the best format for this carnival. Expect improvements in future issues.

CLICK ON THE PHOTOS to visit the blog article on each plant!

Photo Caption: FOOD, Onion ‘Rouge de Florence’ @ Mas du Diable

More gardeners should grow onions! Even if you are crunched for space you can use them as a lovely edging for your other crops. I’m certainly going to be trying out ‘Rouge de Florence’ after reading such a glowing review and seeing these tantalizing photographs (I hope it bulbs for me — I usually need short day varieties). You can purchase a packet of this medium/long day onion at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds or Seeds From Italy.

Photo Caption: ORNAMENTAL, Geranium ‘Rozanne’ @ Rhone Street Garden

When most people think of beautiful plants they usually don’t focus on disease resistance and toughness. However, that’s just what a plant has to be to look its best in an organic garden. True geraniums are one of my favorites in the flower border and Scott Weber’s review on ‘Rozanne’ makes me think it could be the cream of the genus. Check for it at local garden centers, Bluestone Perennials, and White Flower Farm.

Photo Caption: FOOD, Strawberries @ My Little Garden in Japan

Depending on which hemisphere you reside on, you are either planting your spring garden or daydreaming about next year’s. Strawberries are a delicious addition and though I don’t know where to find the delightful looking Japanese varieties in this post, I’m inspired to check out other sources like The Strawberry Store for my own garden.

Photo Caption: ORNAMENTAL, Astrantia maxima (Masterwort) @ Aberdeen Gardening

I think “Astrantia” is much more dignified than “Masterwort” as a name for this stunning flower — though I do like old-timey names for garden plants. I’ve grown this species, so apparently it does as well in the south of the U.S. as it does in Scotland! Aberdeen Gardening’s review makes me want to find a fresh specimen. Here it is in seed form from Plant World Seeds.

Photo Caption: FOOD, Kale @ Garden Girl

Yum! About 5 years ago I told my daughter she could choose any treat she wanted to take with us on our camping trip (thinking along the lines of marshmallows or hot dogs). She exclaimed, “Oooh! can we take kale salad?!” This is an under-appreciated vegetable and I’m glad to see Garden Girl touting it’s tastiness and easy cold weather growing habits! Get seeds at Pinetree Garden Seeds, Heirloom Seeds, or John Scheeper’s Kitchen Garden Seeds.

Photo Caption: ORNAMENTAL, Lilies & Hostas @ The Suburban Gardener

Lilies and hostas are the epitome of garden luxury — The Suburban Gardener seems to live in an absolute paradise! There’s so many named varieties (and species) that an avid collector (or blogger) can expect to be occupied for a lifetime. Find hostas at Plant Delights Nursery (or find lilies @ PDN too). Other great lily sources are B & D Lilies,, The Lily Nook, Brent & Becky’s Bulbs, or Old House Gardens.

Photo Caption: FOOD, Cilantro @ Arugula Too

It took me a long time to realize that the best way for me to plant cilantro was to leave the seeds out in winter and let them come up when they felt ready. I agree with Arugula Too’s suggestion to sow thickly. After that initial planting, I’ve had luck with my cilantro reseeding itself on its own most years. Look for cilantro at Richter’s Herbs, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and most other seed catalogs.

Photo Caption: ORNAMENTAL, Viola ‘Sorbet Black Duet’ @ Diane’s Texas Garden

I almost hesitated and listed Diane’s beautiful post as a food — I love to eat these flowers in salads! But most people grow their violas and pansies with the intention of looking at (and smelling) them as a bedding annual. I think they are one of the best things about cool weather gardening, and they always make me think of my great-grandmother’s house. Your local garden center should carry them, but the best selection I ever saw was at Thompson Morgan Seeds.

Photo Caption: FOOD, Sage @ Digging Rhode Island

Towards the beginning of October I start to get stingy with my sage plant — I don’t want to use too much of it before Thanksgiving Day! I don’t know why I do this, the plant is always big enough for my family’s feast as well as most of our neighbors. I loved reading about sage at Digging Rhode Island just before the holidays. For a wide variety of sages check out Richter’s Herbs or Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Photo Caption: FOOD, ‘Golden Delicious’ Apple @ Everything in the Garden’s Rosy

Growing organic apples turns many people off because they are trying to get fruit that looks waxed and shined for the common supermarket. Why can’t you eat apples if they have a few spots? Buy yourself an apple peeler instead of that arsenal of insecticides and just relax! I’m impressed with these ‘Golden Delicious’ and Everything in the Garden’s Rosy’s method used to grow them, but you can also choose from the heirloom varieties at Trees of Antiquity.

Photo Caption: ORNAMENTAL, Tagetes lemmonii (Lemmon’s Marigold) @ Sierra Foothill Garden

Sierra Foothill Garden’s 4′ tall marigold that blooms its head off in November sounds great to me! I like species marigolds better than most of the bred & named varieties, anyway. If you live in the right areas you may be able to find it at local native plant society sales. Otherwise the only online place I found selling it is Mountain Valley Growers.

Photo Caption: FOOD, Garlic @ Curbstone Valley Farm

Because I’m moving gardens this year and am unable to put in any overwintering crops, there was a tinge of jealousy when I read this beautiful article at Curbstone Valley Farm. Garlic is another space-saving crop that makes a lovely border around larger beds of other veggies. Seeds of Change, Territorial Seeds, and The Garlic Store are all great sources.

Photo Caption: ORNAMENTAL, Brugmansia @ Garden Adventures

That pink bloom of Grower Jim’s looks like a sea creature, I love his photographs! Once upon a time I had a few of these shrubs growing near the sidewalk in front of my house. When I learned how poisonous they are, I moved them into the backyard where children would be less likely to pick them. Plant Delights Nursery is a great place to find the hardiest Brugmansias, though many of us still have to grow them in pots for overwintering indoors.

Photo Caption: FOOD, Kumquats @ Las Adventuras

I was so happy to read this post on Kumquats at Las Adventuras! They’re some of the easiest pot-culture citrus that I’ve ever grown. I think the smaller fruits make it easier for a potted plant to still produce a sizeable crop. Kudos to you if you live in a place where you can grow them outside! For kumquat plant sources try Four Winds Growers or Mckenzie Farms.

Photo Caption: ORNAMENTAL, Peonies @ PlantPostings

Peonies are frequently my favorite flower (until something else is in season). Passalong heirloom ‘Festiva Maxima’ will always be the most special to me, but I’ve grown about 15 newer varieties at this point. Lots of people complain about ants on their blooms, but PlantPostings’ article tells you how to remove them before you bring cut flowers indoors! Look for peonies at Klehm’s Song Sparrow or Van Bourgondien Bulbs.

Photo Caption: FOOD, Ginger @ AfricanAussie

This sliced ginger photo makes me want to run to the kitchen and make some spicy holiday cookies. Like AfricanAussie’s post, I’ve also had excellent luck purchasing grocery store rhizomes and planting them like garlic or Irish potatoes (but without hilling up) in the spring. Before the following frost, I lifted the expanded roots with a pitchfork and froze most of the harvest (I find ginger grates easier when it is frozen because it shatters the fibrous bits). If you can’t find ginger at your regular grocery, look for Asian grocers in your area.

Photo Caption: ORNAMENTAL, Orchids @ Thailand Breeze

I have 2 indoor orchid plants that rebloom if I’ve got a sunny enough window for them. They look so good on the plant that I’ve never tried using them for cut flowers, but these tips from Thailand Breeze sound very helpful. Most grocery stores carry inexpensive orchid plants these days, but you can also find plenty of source options at The Orchid Mall.

Photo Caption: FOOD, Amaranth Greens @ Appalachian Feet

This veggie deserves as many plugs as I can give it! Whether you’re already planting out for spring or you’re browsing for this year’s seeds, it isn’t too late to include this in your garden plans. I’ve found seeds at my local Asian groceries, but I also like to purchase them from Evergreen Asian Seeds.


That’s it for “How to Find Great Plants,” Issue #1! Thank you everyone for the fantastic food & ornamental posts! Be sure to visit these contributors’ blog articles by clicking on the photo or their highlighted blog name in the caption.

The next deadline for submissions is Friday, December 31st (with the issue printed on January 3rd). If you have a plant that you’d like to recommend for the next issue, please submit it any time before December 31st. Once all the links are in on December 31st, I will prepare an issue that highlights some of the nicest entries. Here’s where you should submit the entries for issue #2:

Eliza Lord

I'm a Greenville, SC native (the Appalachian foothills) who wears the hats of Greenville Master Gardener & Upstate Master Naturalist. I love to write about food and sustainability.

17 thoughts on “How to Find Great Plants, Issue #1”

  1. Pingback: How to Join the New Blog Carnival (Called How to Find Great Plants) | Appalachian Feet

  2. Curbstone Valley Farm - November 29, 2010 10:17 pm

    How fun, I think the blog carnival is a great way to find other posts on similar topics I might otherwise miss. I must admit though, AfricanAussie’s sliced ginger has me seriously thinking about Thai food for dinner…would go great with our garlic! 😉
    .-= Curbstone Valley Farm´s last blog ..Arbutus menziesii =-.

    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - November 30, 2010 8:29 am

      I know! I’ve actually drawn a spot on my garden plan for next season so that I won’t forget to try growing ginger again. And a huge section for garlic… and a chicken coop (you have lots of things growing at your place that I admire!)
      .-= Sustainahillbilly´s last blog ..How to Find Great Plants- Issue 1 =-.

  3. Janet - November 29, 2010 11:49 pm

    Interesting post. Lots of fun and I will check out the other posts. Especially want to read more about orchids….have an orchid place near me and am interested in having one (and being sucessful with it!)
    .-= Janet´s last blog ..Odds and Ends- Bits and Pieces- This and That =-.

    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - November 30, 2010 8:31 am

      Great! I don’t think we have a store that specializes in orchids near me, though one of my local garden centers has a pretty decent collection. I’m always amazed at how tolerant the two potted specimens I have are to what I would consider abuse and neglect in any other houseplant. :)
      .-= Sustainahillbilly´s last blog ..How to Find Great Plants- Issue 1 =-.

  4. fer
    Twitter: mygardeninjapan
    - November 30, 2010 4:13 am

    Hi! don’t worry it was just a mishap. This one is the one I like to have here, since is the one you told me would be nice. Thank you very much for adding my entry. I noticed I have many of the plants recommended, I must be doing good. Still, there is a lot more to learn and plants to try for me.

    Keep the good work!
    .-= fer´s last blog ..Blueberries and autumn color in my garden =-.

    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - November 30, 2010 8:33 am

      You’re welcome! I really enjoy the photos on your strawberry post… but then I enjoy the photos on all of your posts! I’m also glad the plants listed here are making you feel like a satisfied gardener. :)
      .-= Sustainahillbilly´s last blog ..How to Find Great Plants- Issue 1 =-.

  5. Alistair - November 30, 2010 10:30 am

    A really great idea Sue

    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - November 30, 2010 10:37 am

      Thanks! I’m an Eliza, though. But one of my great-grandmothers wanted to name me Melissa Priscilla Sue, so maybe you sensed that. :)
      .-= Sustainahillbilly´s last blog ..How to Find Great Plants- Issue 1 =-.

  6. Judith - November 30, 2010 11:01 am

    Thanks for including me in this wonderful selection. It feels great to belong to a world wide partnership of people who want to and indeed, do grow, exemplary plants. Those beautiful violas have caught my eye…
    As an update to the apple post-we have an early snow covering here and the last apples falling from the tree are now feeding the birds.
    .-= Judith´s last blog ..late autumn =-.

    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - December 1, 2010 8:20 am

      I bet it is a lot more fun watching birds eating fallen apples in the snow (compared to yellow jackets eating fallen apples when it is warm out). Thanks for contributing such a great article!
      .-= Sustainahillbilly´s last blog ..How to Submit Entries for How to Find Great Plants- Issue 2 =-.

  7. lifeshighway
    Twitter: lifeshighway
    - November 30, 2010 12:23 pm

    I’m sold on the Masterwort. If it can grow in the South count me on on this plant because I love it.
    .-= lifeshighway´s last blog ..Decide the Fate of the Pink Flamingo =-.

    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - December 1, 2010 8:22 am

      I’m hoping my local garden center will have it next spring. It’s hard to know because nurseries tend to carry what is in fashion, so they are often less helpful when you’re looking for old-timey plants. We should breed a showy masterwort and name the variety ‘Yard Art.’ Then everyone would carry it!
      .-= Sustainahillbilly´s last blog ..How to Submit Entries for How to Find Great Plants- Issue 2 =-.

  8. Pingback: How to Submit Entries for How to Find Great Plants, Issue #2 | Appalachian Feet

  9. Pingback: sharing | everything in the garden's rosy

  10. Diana - December 1, 2010 1:39 am

    All the plant that I wish I can grow in our place if we have enough space for it. We do have some of them though. I need many extra hands now to help me with picking cilantro seeds when they are properly dried as spice.
    .-= Diana´s last blog ..UP UP UP!!! =-.

    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - December 1, 2010 8:23 am

      Wow, you have enough cilantro seeds to need assistance harvesting them? That sounds really impressive!
      .-= Sustainahillbilly´s last blog ..How to Submit Entries for How to Find Great Plants- Issue 2 =-.

Comments are closed.