It’s year-end round-up time, so let’s check in with our good friend Don Engebretson at the Renegade Gardener, who recently held his seventh annual award show.  I wish I could have been there for the big event, podcast live from the “newly re-paneled basement rec hall of the St. Francis Lutheran Church in beautiful downtown Red Wing, Minnesota.”  You can tell from this photo that Don went all out to make it a special event – with those chic set decorations, fine champagne, and the wearing of his best, possibly only, tie.  Yes, no expense was spared in presenting awards he calls the “single most nugatory merit of achievement in our grand industry.” (Don, you already had me  as a reader but nugatory clinched it.)  Some highlights:

  • The Best Shrub Award went to a 5-ft-tall willow, Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’.  Don tells us that encountering it is “like waking up and seeing Dakota Fanning standing silently in your garden.  It’s just gorgeous, somehow emitting depth and meaning.”  Uh-huh.
  • The Best News is that the Big Boxes are raising their plant prices to levels that the indies can compete with.  So a little good news from an unexpected source.
  • A High Spot Award and GardenRant High-Five to the nonprofit that’s formed to preserve the botanical garden and plant collection at Heronswood.
  • Now about Don’s awarding of a Black Spot to the AHS Encyclopedia of Perennials.  Hey, I gave it a favorable review – as a gardener – and I’m sticking by it.  Sorry, but this just seems like another volley in the on-going pissing match between garden writers on opposite sides of the pond. (The complaint is that the book is too English.)
  • His praise for Green Roof Plants by the Snodgrasses I, of course, agree with.
  • Don’s at his best and funniest in his description of the “utter horror show” that are the new Roll-Out Flowers, the 5-minute gardens that are nothing more than annual flower seeds stuck on rolls of paper – very expensive paper.  No gardening involved! 
  • More Renegade-style exposes of scheming and deceiving in the plant biz.

So Don, thanks for delivering good gardening information in a way that’s fun to read. (Note to gardening magazine editors – It can be done.) Now stay away from those corporate lawyers and keep delivering to your hungry readers.

[Note to Don’s webmaster:  We can’t send our readers to any of the cool things on Don’s site because there are no permalinks. That’s a hint.]