Garden Photo of the Day

Favs From the 2019 Garden

The GPOD editor's favorite plants of the year

Hi, this is Joseph, your GPOD editor!

A recent GPOD contributor mentioned that they’d love to see some of my gardens, so I thought today I’d look back over the 2019 gardening season and share some of my favorite plants from my Williamsburg, Virginia, garden.

moonflowerMy favorite plant of the year may just be this moonflower (Ipomoea alba, annual). My husband and I bought a house back in April, so I’ve been very busy with a lot of new gardening projects. And this vine has been a very satisfyingly cheap and easy one to grow. It is an annual, and the packet of seeds cost a couple of dollars. I sowed them directly in the garden, and then they scrambled up and covered the pergola over our deck with these huge, fragrant white flowers that open up every evening and then fade in the morning. So easy, so inexpensive, and such a huge payoff.

pink-spotted hawkmothEven better, every evening the flowers were visited by a pink-spotted hawkmoth. This moth flies like a hummingbird and was a beautiful perk to the lovely flowers.

old-fashioned rosesSomething I always love: cut flowers. I’m not much of a flower arranger, but I love cutting bunches of blooms from the garden. The secret I learned this year is to use lots of small vases. The short vases work great with my old-fashioned roses, which have very short stems, and then I can make an arrangement by grouping the little vases together. Here roses are joined by snapdragons (Antirrhinum hybrid, cool season annual) and sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus, annual) that I grew from seeds.

Phytolacca americana ‘Sunny Side Up’Another favorite plant this year is Phytolacca americana ‘Sunny Side Up’. This is a yellow-leaved version of our native—and often weedy—pokeweed. Pokeweed can indeed be a weed, but I’ve always loved its bright purple berries and how huge it gets. This version is just as huge, but with bright yellow foliage! Although the berries are poisonous to humans, they are beloved by birds.

Tradescantia zebrinaTradescantia zebrina, sometimes called inch plant or wandering Jew, is something I’ve grown as a houseplant since I was a little kid. But this year I stuck cuttings all over my shady beds, anywhere there was a blank space, and it has done wonderfully! It creeps around, covering the soil; smothers weeds; and generally looks terrific. When frost threatens, I’ll take a bunch of cuttings so I can reuse it next year.

hummingbird trumpetThis plant, Zauscheneria garrettii (hummingbird trumpet, Zones 5–9), surprised me. I’ve seen this plant in dry, Western gardens, but I thought it would hate my rainy, humid Virginia climate. I was wrong! It has done great, and at the end of summer it exploded into these bright scarlet blooms.

I love growing plants from seed, but I hesitated a little before trying to grow an agave. This is, I think, Agave gentryi (Zones 6–9). I say “I think” because the darn squirrels carried off the label. But this plant was a tiny seed about 18 months ago, and I’m thrilled with how fast it has grown. It should survive the winter here, but I might dig up a couple of the seedlings and bring them inside just to be sure.

Those are some of my favorite plants of the season. What did great for you in 2019?


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    simplesue 11/08/2019

    Good to learn about the cold hardy Agave, I had no idea! I was also very interested in your Hummingbird Trumpet plant, I have not seen those before and I like attracting them to my garden. What a fabulous photo of the Hawk Moth in the Moon Flower Vine! I planted some this year and you are so right about the heavy scent of purfume, but I was never lucky enough to see this anything feeding on the nectar. I saved that photo to my Pinterest! And that photo convinced me to plant them again. And your indoor cut flowers are gorgeous, thanks for sharing!

  2. user-7525974 11/08/2019

    Joseph, I love seeing your plants! I too keep lots of small vases on hand for short stemmed flowers, and I too have moonflower - and inch plant both in the beds and as fillers in containers. What intrigues me most though is the yellow leaf poke plant. Did you plant it from seed? I must search it out and try it here in Dallas.

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 11/08/2019

    Your photos show that you have a fun and adventurous spirit in your plant selections...I love your philosophy of "Hey, why not give it a try". And, ooh, la-la about the hummingbird trumpet and, wow, so cool that it has thrived in your VA growing zone. That give me some encouragement and inspiration for trying it in my east TN garden.

  4. btucker9675 11/08/2019

    Now I can't wait to plant moonflower seeds next spring! Thank you for sharing your lovely plants!

  5. Meelianthus 11/08/2019

    Thank you for sharing your love of plants Joseph, they are all most interesting and I love your floral arrangements too!

  6. cheryl_c 11/08/2019

    Hi, Joe, I loved your sharing of your favs - and that you are also using tradescantia as a ground cover. I've used it that way for several years, especially liking it under beautyberry (calicarpa) in the fall when the colors coordinate so well. Since you have new gardens, I think it would be great for you to share some before and after pictures, when you have a chance! So glad you risked trying the hummingbird trumpet - now all of us 'humid summer' gardeners are emboldened!

  7. sophieedwards 10/26/2020

    You may surprise to know that most of these GPOD editor's favorite plants are already present in my garden. I am quite fond of gardening. The matter of fact is that I spend most of my time raising beautiful plants in my garden. But sadly in these days, I am busy writing my assignments with the collaboration of an online writer that I hired after reading reviews about EduBirdie source on website hopefully, soon I will be able to complete my assignments and then I will do gardening.

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