Unusually Clever People

Heeeeeerrrrre’s Allan! Our new contributing Ranter


We’re very pleased and proud to announce that someone whom most of you know and respect is joining us as an intermittent Ranter.

Horticulturalist, author, lecturer, and plant developer/seller Allan Armitage became intrigued by the idea of ranting after talking to both Susan and me about how Garden Rant works. I had interviewed him about the third edition of his Herbaceous Perennial Plants, and Susan had fun hanging out with him at the Garden Writers Association conference in Portland in late summer.

You all know Allan Armitage as “the perennial guy,” just as Michael Dirr is “the tree guy.” Some of the most well-known Armitage titles (there are 11) are Herbaceous Perennial Plants, Armitage’s Garden Perennials, and Armitage’s Native Plants for North American Gardens. If you have any of these books, you also know that he’s an entertaining and opinionated writer as well as an expert plantsman.

Allan Armitage has an endowed professorship at the University of Georgia at Athens, where he runs the research gardens, co-founded with Michael Dirr in 1982. As a teacher and speaker, “Dr. A” is in constant demand, and has won numerous honors, including the The Kiplinger Chair at Ohio State University, the Brooks Award for Teaching, the Alex Laurie Award for outstanding research in horticulture, and the Golden Trowel from the Garden Writers Association for Allan Armitage on Perennials, just to name a very few of his awards. He has a B.Sc from MacDonald College, a Quebec, M.Sc. from University of Guelph, Ontario and his Ph.D. from Michigan State, and has lectured in all 50 states, as well as in New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Greece.

I’m not done. There is also Athens Select, a line of heat and humidity tolerant plants for the American market. Plants introduced by Armitage include Ipomea “Marguerita,” Cleome “Linde Armstrong,” Verbena “Homestead Purple” (with Michael Dirr), and Ruellia “Rajin’ Cajun.”

On a more personal level, Allan was born in Montreal, lives most of the year in Athens, and has two daughters; I mention them because you’ll be hearing about them.

So yeah. We’re flattered that “Dr. A” would want to rant with us (at least twice a month and maybe more). Readers, what would YOU like to hear Allan rant about? Let me know in comments. In the meantime, expect his first rant bright and early tomorrow morning!

Posted by on October 29, 2008 at 11:00 am, in the category Unusually Clever People.
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20 responses to “Heeeeeerrrrre’s Allan! Our new contributing Ranter”

  1. I’ll bet he has some good rants about research grants and other funding sources for science and horticulture at the University of Georgia and universities in general. Diplomatically presented of course.

  2. TC says:

    I’ve not read any of Mr. Armitage’s books but won’t say I wouldn’t. I’m thinkin I may have met him at one of the GWA Region II meetings. I’ll be sure to read what he has to say here.

  3. lawremc says:

    Would love to hear more about the Athens Select line since I live in the Deep South!

    Welcome Dr. A and Go Dawgs!

  4. nandina says:

    Wonderful news! My local PBS station carries the Gardening in Georgia program, an excellent gardening show which often features Allan and his sage advice. He should stir up some interesting conversations/rants/ideas!

  5. Dave says:

    Very cool! I’d love to learn anything he is willing to teach.

  6. Does he have a rant about nurseries that sell a lot of invasive perennials to uninformed gardeners? How does he feel about how perennials are marketed today (branding, fancy containers, etc.)? Is there still a place for growers who don’t have “name brand” plants? How long does it take for a new variety to get to the home gardener and is it too long? How has the university training for horticulturists changed in the years he has been teaching? By the way, I’ve grown Cleome ‘Linde Armstrong’ before and loved it.

  7. I always wondered who was responsible for the Verbena Homestead Purple introduction.
    I use this plant as a moderately short lived flowering ground cover of the work horse variety.

    Thanks for the information that Mr. Armitage was responsible for this great horticultural find.

    Link – Verbena H.P. in a CA. garden :

  8. eliz says:

    Wow, Michelle!! That is an amazing presentation of that plant.

  9. Michele Owens says:

    Michelle, gorgeous!

    Welcome, Allan!

  10. When I heard Allan speak, I was impressed that — while based in Georgia — he had a good idea about how particular plants performed over a wide variety of conditions. For a national (heck, global) audience like yours, that’s valuable information.

  11. eliz says:

    Thanks Craig. Though Allan is based in Georgia, he has spent time in Canada and I think Alaska. He knows the colder zones. Also, he does a residency in Niagara on the Lake in the summer and often visits Buffalo.

  12. Katherine says:

    This is great news for us Garden Rant fans! I’d love to hear any of his wisdom on using natives – particularly on
    incorporating them into the more traditional gardens of exotics and tropicals. His book on native plants for gardeners is a gem of a resource.

  13. Layanee says:

    I know he will add another dimension to the ‘Rant’ and look forward to his knowledgeable posts.

  14. Doesn’t his inclusion smack of respectability? Does it add a certain level of credibility? Won’t he lend an air of credence?

    He’s a researcher, he’s won awards, he’s Canadian (they’re extremely pleasant and generally polite) – he’s a PhD for God’s sake!

    Don’t get me wrong, I think you could always use a bit more testosterone (not that there’s a lack of testosterone between the four of you).

    I look forward to reading Allan’s contributions.

  15. Gail says:

    Fantastic! Looking forward to hearing what he brings to the forum!

  16. Barbara says:


    My cousin Colleen in Wilmington, NC is a devotee so I will be paying attention! Ah, memories of a Lilburn GA veggie garden, Tamarack pines, and ice storms!

  17. greg draiss says:

    I hope he knows what he is getting into!

    Sounds like a winner. It will be nice to see someone from “inside” the business and posts from the other side of the garden path

    the TROLL

  18. Barry Prince says:

    I love Athens Select Heliotropium ‘Azure Skies’™

    I live in gardening hell (Ft. Worth, TX) and I planted one four-inch pot that has become a nice three-foot wide mat for several years by my driveway. It has bloomed like gangbusters with zero care and very little water. In addition, my wife literally runs over it at least twice a week backing down the driveway and it keeps on shining.

    Allan – anybody who facilitates / participates getting a great plant like that available should be allowed to jump in anywhere.

    As an aside, I beg you (and others) not to discuss marketing too often. I am sure it is relevant to most of this audience (except me, so I am talking out of school at this point). I am a dirt gardener so the subject causes me to react like I sat naked on a fire ant mound for two minutes.

    Yes, sadly I realize as a topic it is hard to leave alone since it is so invasive (I mean pervasive) in all commercial undertakings and it is so rich in fodder for writers they can’t leave it alone.

  19. Dale says:

    One question: Where did Allen get that hat? I’m retiring this January and expect to spend a lot more time out in the garden and could use one of those hats, especially if it comes in “huge”.