Gardening expert will share expertise Oct. 10


MANNING - Do your beautiful, thriving, seemingly healthy plants begin to droop and die within days of planting them in your garden or placing them inside your home?

The answer could be as simple as the soil surrounding your plants.

"The No. 1 key to healthy plants starts with the soil," said Tony Avent, a renowned gardening expert and co-owner of Plant Delights Nursery Inc., home of one of the largest plant collections in the country. "Prepare the soil well, and everything will grow."

Avent will be sharing his expertise and ideas with local gardeners and plant enthusiasts as well as those folks who want to see their plants thrive for more than a couple of days at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, at Weldon Auditorium, 7 Maple St., Manning. The event is hosted by The Manning Council of Garden Clubs.

Because of such a large response to Avent's visit to Manning, council president Sara Ann Aycock said the event has been moved to Weldon Auditorium in order to accommodate a larger crowd.

"We are thrilled with the response that we're having for this event," Aycock said. "The event is open to the public, and everyone is invited to attend."

Avent's presentation will focus on "My Favorite 100 Perennials."

"My favorite plant changes each day," Avent said with a laugh. "It's really hard to pick out a favorite when we have 24,000 different types of perennials."

Avent said that while the wrong soil might be the main problem people have with dying plants, a failure to consider the conditions where they want their plants to grow is also a vital factor in whether a plant will thrive.

"You need to have the right plant for the right place," he added. "So many people fail to consider that when they purchase their plants in those big box stores. They see a plant and don't realize how big the plant will become. The plant's tag will list how big a plant will be at maturity, but that number is far off. Usually you can triple that number to come up with the right size."

Too often people see beautiful, blooming plants in stores never realizing that those plants have already reached maturity and will not live much longer, he added.

Avent said gardeners and home landscapers need to research what plants grow well in their soil conditions and what they can grow successfully.

"We try every single plant that we sell," Avent said. "We have more than 60,000 different plants, and we've tested each one."

Along with Plant Delights Nursery, Avent owns Juniper Level Botanic Garden. Established in 1988, Juniper Level Botanic Garden was established on a 2.2-acre abandoned tobacco field just 20 miles south of Raleigh. The garden borrowed its name from Juniper Branch, where its namesakes grew along the banks. Today, the garden and nursery rest on 28 acres surrounded by more than 60,000 plants. While many are centuries-old plants, the garden and nursery has an abundance of hybrids that were bred on the grounds.

Designed using the philosophy of "drifts of one," the garden showcases a diverse collection of ornamental plants in an "aesthetic and relaxed setting." There are no formal designs for the garden. Instead, the Avents, Anita and Tony, chose to allow the essence and soil of the garden to shine. Although the garden can be viewed year-round, its peak season runs from late April through mid-October. The garden is located at 9241 Sauls Road in Raleigh, North Carolina. For more information on the garden, visit or call (919) 772-4794.

Founded in 1988 as a source for unique, unusual perennial plants, Plant Delights Nursery is also a funding source for the garden. The nursery provides plant research, breeding and garden maintenance.

In 2018, the nursery is offering a variety of plants for its dryland gardeners with the addition of 16 amazing new agaves, including six "ridiculously rare, variegated forms such as the Misashibo, Snow Devil, Leaping Lizards, Red Skylines, Killer and Sea Star." Along with these rare plants, the nursery also offers a variety of hardy plant hybrids.

The nursery is also introducing new varieties of surprise lilies, baptisias, pitcher plants and a new large floriferous sinningias hybrid as well as new hostas and new larger coral bells, hybrids introduced by Hans Hansen. The nursery's catalog is teeming with page after page of colorful perennials, perfect for every landscape d cor. Seasoned gardeners as well as newbies will be able to find the right plant for their gardens.

For a catalog or more information on the nursery, log onto or call (919) 772-4794.