Garden experts reveal their favorite plants

If you ask a professional horticulturist what their favorite plant is, you might see their head explode. The plant kingdom is vast, and to identify their top choice is nearly impossible. “It’s like asking a parent which child is their favorite,” says Perry Mathewes, who hails from the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, where he’s the deputy director of museum operations and director of gardens. But thankfully, with a bit of bribery and arm twisting, we hit the mother lode with three of the state’s high-profile green industry professionals, including Mathewes, who gladly (OK, sort of) ID-ed their favorites in the garden. Read below and scan the QR code for additional info on their choices:

Peggy Singlemann, host and co-producer of Virginia Home Grown on VPM/PBS, garden consultant and speaker, former director of horticulture at Maymont, Richmond: Baptisia australis (aka false indigo)

Perry Mathewes, deputy director of museum operations and director of gardens, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester: Calycanthus floridus, (aka Eastern sweetshrub, Carolina allspice, or Sweet Betsy)

Patrick Morrissey, landscape manager, Botanical Garden of the Piedmont, Charlottesville: Amalanchier arborea x grandifloria (aka serviceberry or shadbush)

Click here to learn more about these tip-top plants for Virginia gardens!


This article originally appeared in the August 2024 issue. 

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