Originally created 02/08/02

Educator perennially optimistic



With a resume that boasts horticulture articles, books, research, teaching, lecturing and awards, it is hard to imagine that Allan Armitage ever had dreams of anything other than horticulture.

But Dr. Armitage once planned to become an ecologist in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Instead, he ended up a horticulturist in the Deep South.

"The most I knew about horticulture as a kid was when my brother threw me into a barberry hedge," Dr. Armitage said. "I didn't have one of those wonderful grandmothers that sort of took you under her wing and taught you all that stuff."

Dr. Armitage taught high school for many years and is now a professor at the University of Georgia, where he teaches courses on greenhouse production, greenhouse crop management and herbaceous plant identification and use. He is also a world-renowned expert on perennials.

Dr. Armitage will present Perennials - If You Are Going to Spend Your Money, You Might as Well Get the Good Stuff at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Aldersgate United Methodist Church. Tickets cost $10 and are available at Green Thumb West, Periwinkle Cottage and Design Images & Gifts. His appearance is sponsored by the Sand Hills Garden Club.

A heavy lecturing schedule takes Dr. Armitage all over the world. The lecture he will give Wednesday will focus on Augusta's climate and on blue-ribbon and blue-collar plants - new plants and some that just work, he said.

"We have a good time because I don't take it too seriously," Dr. Armitage said in a telephone interview. "We don't want to be brain surgeons here. We just want to be gardeners. It will be a lot of pretty pictures, but hopefully, they will learn something."

Dr. Armitage is a prolific writer, having published more than 250 articles and papers in journals such as Fine Gardening, Horticulture Magazine, American Nurseryman, Greenhouse Grower, Grower Talks, Plant Physiology and journals of the American Horticultural Society. He writes a monthly column for Greenhouse Grower, a national trade journal, discussing new crops and trends in floriculture.

Of his eight books, Dr. Armitage is best known for his classroom and reference text, Herbaceous Garden Perennials, A Treatise of Identification, Culture and Garden Attributes. It was named one of the most important horticultural books written in the past 75 years by the horticultural society in 1997.

Another book, Allan Armitage on Perennials, confirms perennials as his favorite garden plant. Annuals and perennials offer color and always have something changing, Dr. Armitage said. After a barren winter, something pops up out of the ground. The next week a bud appears, then a bloom and so on. "There's always something happening," Dr. Armitage said. "There's always something to anticipate. That's what gardening is all about, anticipation."

His book Legends in the Garden: Who in the World Is Nellie Stevens? - written with Linda Copeland - provides a short history of people whose names are on treasured garden plants.

Research is another love of Dr. Armitage. He is in charge of the University of Georgia's Horticultural Gardens, produces guidelines for annuals and perennials and oversees the New Crop Program. The program has introduced six plants to the greenhouse, including the Sunlover and Solar series of coleus and the verbena Homestead.

PERENNIAL PRESENTATION

WHAT: Dr. Allan Armitage presenting Perennials - If You Are Going to Spend Your Money, You Might as Well Get the Good Stuff

WHEN: 10 a.m., Wednesday

WHERE: Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 3185 Wheeler Road

COST: $10

TICKETS: Available at Green Thumb West, 110 Davis Road, Martinez; Design Images & Gifts, 459 Highland Ave.; and Periwinkle Cottage, 393 Highland Ave.

Reach Valerie Rowell at (803) 279-6895 or valmac007@hotmail.com.