Mr. QVC has some pretty great ideas

This isn't a picture of Phillip Watson, but it's pretty eye-catching. So is Watson, the golden boy of QVC, with his March tan, perfect physique and blond hair. Very TV, and I'm sure it helps him sell a ton of plants. He spoke today at the flower show and all I can say is, too bad he can't stick around. His onetime talk, "Big Ideas for Small Spaces," was excellent, though he didn't always stick to the small spaces bit -- we saw many pictures of sprawling estates in Greenwich, Ct., where he does a lot of design work.

But who doesn't enjoy vicariously (or otherwise!) poking around those grand Greenwich estates, with their turreted guest houses, go-on-forever pools and geometric parterres? I sure do.


Phillip - may I call you Phillip? - is the author of the book Pleasure Gardens. Also the font of many great tips and suggestions for garden plants. I'll try and remember a few. Such as ...

'Amethyst Falls' - native wisteria, "like Tiffany paintings" and they won't eat your house. 'America,' an old climbing rose that blooms once but is so beautiful you'll be happy with that. Put pots in shade gardens and, to save energy, pots inside pots. No one will know the difference.

He's a fan of sweet potato vine - know anyone who isn't? - particularly 'Margarita' and 'Blackie' for their chartreuse and black foliage respectively. ("And all ornamental sweet potatoes make sweet potatoes - and they're tasty," he says.) One great container combo for shade included Persian shield and a variety of caladiums. Another - datura (angel trumpet), which comes in pastels (peach, yellow, white) and is fragrant at night, surrounded by cascading million bells. One very important thing: the container is all. 

Phillip likes 'Lady in Red,' an annual salvia that seeds itself but not in an obnoxious way. (So many people like this salvia.) 'Pink Hawaiian Coral' is his favorite peony. He likes the new, more compact varieties of agastache - they bloom into fall - and 'Twist and Shout' lacecap hydrangea. "It never quits. Boom, boom, boom, gotta get it," Mr. QVC says.

I got more practical advice and suggestions in this lecture than in many others combined. Bring this guy back next year, will ya?