Guide to Using the Catalog Correctly

Before you begin, let us again warn you about the addictive nature of this catalog...the owners or operators of Plant Delights Nursery have no responsibility for any loss of control, resulting in forfeiture of life savings, job, or family, which may result from viewing this catalog! If you need your catalog sent in a plain brown envelope to hide it from your therapist or spouse, we would be delighted to oblige.

New Plant Listings: Plants which are new to our catalog, or which have been absent for at least 6 years, are indicated throughout the catalog by a NEW! There is a condensed listing of a few of these in the front of the catalog and a complete list on the website.

Plant Group Listings/Common Name Index: We have prepared a list of plant groups by common name, with the genera of plants that are available in each group. The genera can then be looked up in alphabetical order in the catalog. Keep in mind that many common names are regional...good luck.

Plant Descriptions: The description for each plant is based on growing conditions in Raleigh, North Carolina (USDA Zone 7b). We devote the utmost care and attention to the accuracy of our descriptions. They may change as our plants mature, or as more information becomes available.

Below the name of each plant is also the mature height of the plant. If the blooms extend much higher than the foliage, we have included the bloom height in the description. In different climates and differing growing conditions, plants guessed it...differently. In general, moist conditions and rich soil produce taller plants, while dry weather and poor soils produce shorter, tighter plants.

We have indicated the sun/shade requirements based on our trials. Sun, of course means full sun, while shade means deep shade. Part sun means that the plant will get sun for about half of the day...usually morning sun is the best, since the temperature is cooler. Part shade means filtered shade, where branches have been limbed high, so that plenty of light still reaches the plants. Where we indicate shade, this means dense shade for the entire day.

We have indicated the botanical origin of each plant we offer. Many folks are looking for plants from particular regions of the world, while many others are looking for US natives. If a selection or hybrid is offered from a region other than where the plant was native, we have opted to include that information in the description.

Hardiness Map: Once again, we have included the 1990 USDA Hardiness Zone map at the back of the catalog. Do not make a mistake and use the inaccurate 2003 draft version which used only a warm 11-year stretch of time and eliminated 10 temperate zones (the a/b system). We have also included a basic outline of how to use the map and the factors affecting plant hardiness. Please use this information to help determine your target ship date.

We have provided an alphabetical listing by botanical name, with the common name in parentheses. Every plant has a botanical or "given" name consisting of at least two words, a first and a last name...sort of like people, except plants put their last name first, and their first name last. Just as you don't like to be called "Shorty" or "Blondie," plants prefer to be called by their given names, not some nickname that we invent. Plant names are actually quite simple. The first name is the genus (always capitalized), while the second is the specific epithet (lower case). If one plant of a species is selected for a particular quality that makes it different from the norm, it is given a cultivar name (always capitalized).

This third name (the cultivar) is always written with single quotes (' '). In some cases, the cultivar is not a selection of a single species, but a hybrid of two or more species. In this case, the genus name is followed immediately by the 'Cultivar'. For example, with Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus', Miscanthus is the genus, while sinensis (which means "from China") is the specific epithet. 'Variegatus' is the name of a particular cultivar with striped leaves that was selected and named. Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus' translated means Chinese striped miscanthus. When the plants are propagated vegetatively from cuttings or divisions, the selections are called clones.

Another exception to the third name being the cultivar name is when a species of plant has naturally occurring distinct forms. These are referred to as varieties, subspecies, or forms. In this case, the plant will have two lower case names after the genus. An example is Amsonia ciliata var. filifolia.

Some cultivars are grown from seed. The most common example is columbine. Although individuals within a cultivar are fairly similar, there is always a small degree of genetic variation. Pronunciation is another matter. If you are worried about pronouncing the Latin names wrong, don't worry...the person you are talking to probably can't pronounce them right either. After all, we live in the South, where we don't pronounce nothin' right, so make something up!

Unfortunately, plant names are often less stable than we would like. Just like people change their names, plants do also. People who cause plant names to change are called taxonomists...although I have heard them called worse. Taxonomists' (high-dollar botanists) sole purpose in life is to give headaches to garden writers and nurserymen by changing plant names...we call it job security.

It seems as soon as we learn the old names, they change. There are several reasons behind the seeming madness of plant name changing. First of all, a taxonomist may discover that someone had previously published a name for the plant, prior to the currently accepted name.

In the nomenclature code, the first published name takes precedent. For example, if it were discovered that someone had named hostas as funkias earlier, the name would have to be changed. Interestingly, the International Botanical Congress adopted a provision that will allow the conservation of the more popular name (although published later), which actually was the case with the example above.

Another part of the problem comes from two divisions of taxonomists...the lumpers and the splitters.

The lumpers believe that a species range is large, and that many different looking individual plants can comprise a large species. The splitters, on the other hand, believe that each minute difference warrants making up a new species. Mother Nature, not being one to always cater to our wishes, has not provided clear dividing lines, which makes the taxonomists' task often one of guesswork and opinion.

The new field of genetic fingerprinting promises to make a dramatic impact on the field of taxonomy, and promises a plethora of name changes in the years to come. It is our policy to use name changes that were legitimately published earlier, but we are slow to make those lumper/splitter changes, since many of these are often invalidated only a few years later, as the prevailing thinking changes.

If this kind of thing fascinates you, I strongly recommend a copy of the 2004 International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants. This easy-to-read and fascinating book is a must for anyone who is seriously interested in, or involved in any aspect of the plant business. To obtain a copy, contact the:

International Society for Horticultural Science

Patents and Trademarks
PPAF or PP x,xxx indicates that the owner of the plant has applied for or received a US Patent. A patent prevents propagation of the plant for sale without a license for 20 years. Trademarks indicate the origin of the plant but cannot restrict propagation. A single trademark can be used by its owner to market hundreds of different plants, but cannot legally be used to represent a single plant. In an attempt to circumvent US Patent Law, some greedy nurseries have used trademarks to illegally try and protect plant varieties. Trademarks can never be part of a plant name, and those who give new plants non-sensical names and then trademark good names should be ashamed of their corruption of our nomenclatural system.

For more details, see our article The Trademark Myth.

[Home] [Catalog] [What's New] [About PDN] [Education Center] [Tony on the Road]

Copyright © 1997-2024 Plant Delights Nursery.Inc.
Graphic Art Copyright © 1998-2024 Jack Pittman
Site Designed and Maintained by Cyberlily Webdesign.
Questions? Contact

Page last updated August 01 2009 23:42:01.