Gardening author Linda Copeland to speak about Legends in the Garden this month

If you’re starving for gardening and have all the back issues of the gardening magazines memorized by now, don’t despair. Several upcoming gardening events should help you pull through this month, including a talk by Linda Copeland.


My gardening hero Sharyn Altman was her typical gracious self and let me borrow her treasured copy of Legends in the Garden that Copeland wrote with Allan Armitage, one of the leading horticulture authors in the country.

Copeland will speak at 10 a.m. Feb. 26 in Augusta, thanks to the Nolan M. Falcone speaker series of the Sacred Heart Garden Festival.

The subtitle to the book Copeland and Armitage wrote is Who in the World is Nellie Stevens?, a question overheard one day at a nursery.

Thanks to Copeland and Armitage, Stevens and many others will not remain strangers or be forgotten. The book, as the title says, tells the stories of the real people behind the names attached to certain plants.

It’s fascinating reading if you’re crazy about plants, besides easing your guilt over your own collection.

Those hydrangeas with the giant, gorgeous white blooms that will stop you in your tracks – the Annabelle hydrangeas – are named after a town, Anna, Ill. It was Joseph C. McDaniel, bless him, who introduced the plant to the International Plant Propagators Society in 1962. He traced it back to Anna, Ill., and the woman who spotted it growing in the woods in 1910 and knew a special plant when she saw it in bloom.

Although there are several Northerners featured in the book, it is especially interesting reading because of the local connections. Like Kim Hawks whose name graces Echinacea purpurea, Kim’s Knee-High, or for some of us – the shorter coneflowers that you don’t have to stake. She found a version of the flower growing in Decatur and took seeds back to her nursery, Niche Gardens. If you look at the small ads in Georgia’s State by State Gardening magazine you’ll find rather intriguing ads for her nursery.

Goodness Grows nursery over in Crawford comes up in a couple of the stories. Owners Marc Richardson and Rick Berry are due much credit for making native plants of the southeast available through propagation. Veronica Goodness Grows is their baby, and thank you very much.

Copeland will talk about the stories and hopefully bring copies of the book, too. Copeland went back to school to indulge her passion for plants in 1992 when she studied horticulture at the University of Georgia. She lives in the Atlanta area where she is on the board of trustees for the Southeastern Flower Show, and the Gardens for Peace (what a great name and idea.)

Tickets are $30 per person. Call (706) 826-4700 for reservations. You can read more about Copeland and all about the upcoming Sacred Heart Garden Festival, which is one of my favorite volunteer activities, at