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|Born||August 20, 1957|
Raleigh, NC, USA
|Occupation||Plantsman, Author, Businessman|
Tony Avent is an American horticulturist and plantsman. He and wife and business partner, Anita Avent, own Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden in Raleigh, North Carolina. In addition, he is a well-known plant explorer, author and public speaker.
Avent grew up with a passion for plants and nature. Instead of playing games, he wandered the woods and fields near his home in Raleigh NC, studying wildflowers.At age five, Avent was building terrariums and dish gardens with mail-order plants, and at seven years old, his parents built a greenhouse for him. There he grew and propagated plants and sold them as a hobby.
Tony Avent attended North Carolina State University and graduated in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticultural Science.He studied under the well renowned horticulturist J. C. Raulston. Avent was inspired by Raulston who built the JC Raulston Arboretum. In 1977, he married Michelle Morgan Avent (1957–2012).
In 1978, he began working for the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh as its Landscape Director.He worked there for 16 years until 1994. In addition he worked as a volunteer curator of the Shade Garden at the J. C. Raulston Arboretum from 1985 to 1994. He also worked as a weekly garden columnist for Raleigh's News and Observer newspaper from 1987 to 1998. He established Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Gardens in 1988 and by 1994 the business had expanded enough for him to resign his state job and become a full-time nurseryman.
In addition to running the nursery, Avent is a plant breeder who is best known for his Hosta breeding program, but is actively breeding other genera as well. In addition, Tony Avent travels the world on plant hunting expeditions to search for new, rare, and unusual plants. He is also an avid plant collector with a large collection of rare variegated Agave. He is a prolific writer as well, having authored a book (So You Want to Start a Nursery – 2003, Timber Press) and dozens of newspaper articles, magazine articles, and web articles. Avent was featured in the book, Heroes of Horticulture by Barbara Paul Robinson, 2018; Beautiful Madness by James Dodson, 2006; The Plant Hunter’s Garden by Bobby Ward, Fall 2004, and The Collector’s Garden Book by Ken Druse, 1996. He is currently a contributing editor to Fine Gardening Magazine. In addition, every year travels the country, having given over 800 lectures on gardening topics. He also lectures each year at Plant Delights Nursery. In 2018, Avent was named a Distinguished Alumni at his alma mater, North Carolina State University.
Avent is married to Raleigh business woman and childhood friend Anita Avent, a B.S. and MBA graduate of Meredith College. Anita Avent is also a Mindfulness and Nonduality teacher as well as a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner. She established the Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality at Juniper Level Botanic Gardens in 2013. She is a former health insurance administrator, regulator, and director with Cigna, the State of North Carolina and a Preceptor and Faculty Associate at the Department of Health Policy and Administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and mother to three adult children. She is also an independent business strategist and healthcare industry consultant appointed by Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. in 1996 to serve as a Rules Review Commissioner on the State of North Carolina Rules Review Commission.
Tony Avent has breeding and evaluation programs for dozens of genera. He started breeding Hosta in 1984 and has been expanding his palette ever since. Avent currently holds several US Plant Patents; Baptisia 'Blonde Bombshell' PP 26,828, Baptisia 'Blue Towers' PP 27,088, Baptisia 'Ivory Towers' PP 26,827, Hosta 'Tattoo' PP 11,603, Hosta 'Sun Mouse' PP 30,033, Dianthus 'Wicked Witch' PP 19,824. His plant breeding efforts focus on the following plant groups.
Inspired by the late J. C. Raulston, Tony Avent has made over 66 plant expeditions since 1993 and has traveled extensively around the world in search of new, rare and unusual plants.
Books/Chapters Written by Tony Avent:
Web Articles Written or Co-written by Tony Avent
Avent is an active member of many gardening and plant organizations and serves on several committees including:
Horticulture is the science, art, and practice of cultivating plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables, spices, and medicinal and aromatic crops with the purpose of decoration, beauty, ornament, and fancy.
A plantsman is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable gardener, nurseryman or nurserywoman. "Plantsman" can refer to a male or female person, though the terms plantswoman, or even plantsperson, are sometimes used. The word is sometimes said to be synonymous with "botanist" or "horticulturist", but that would indicate a professional involvement, whereas "plantsman" reflects an attitude to plants. A horticulturist may be a plantsman, but a plantsman is not necessarily a horticulturist.
Baptisia australis, commonly known as blue wild indigo or blue false indigo, is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae (legumes). It is native to much of central and eastern North America and is particularly common in the Midwest, but it has also been introduced well beyond its natural range. Naturally it can be found growing wild at the borders of woods, along streams or in open meadows. It often has difficulty seeding itself in its native areas due to parasitic weevils that enter the seed pods, making the number of viable seeds very low. The plant has low toxicity levels for humans.
The Victoria Medal of Honour (VMH) is awarded to British horticulturists resident in the United Kingdom whom the Royal Horticultural Society Council considers deserving of special honour by the Society.
Juniper Level Botanic Gardens was established in 1988 by Tony Avent and his late wife Michelle as a privately owned botanical garden at 9241 Sauls Road, Raleigh, North Carolina. The botanic garden is open eight weekends per year; visits at other times must be scheduled in advance with the garden's owners or garden staff. The Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality at JLBG, established by Anita Avent in 2013, offers nonduality retreats, mindfulness meditation classes, and individual and group self-inquiry sessions for those exploring and seeking a fundamental shift in perception by meditating on the deeper questions of the nature of the assumed personal self and external reality. The botanic gardens radiate a quiet wisdom which point directly to the ineffable, invisible, and intelligent aware presence that every spiritual tradition calls the Absolute.
Echinacea purpurea is a North American species of flowering plant in the sunflower family. It is native to parts of eastern North America and present to some extent in the wild in much of the eastern, southeastern and midwestern United States as well as in the Canadian Province of Ontario. It is most common in the Ozarks and in the Mississippi/Ohio Valley. Its habitats include dry open woods, prairies and barrens.
Trillium luteum, the yellow trillium or yellow wakerobin, is a species of flowering plant in the bunchflower family Melanthiaceae with native populations in the Great Smoky Mountains of the United States and surrounding areas.
The Chinese Elm cultivar Ulmus parvifolia 'Dynasty' is a United States National Arboretum introduction reputed to be very fast-growing.
The winged elm cultivar Ulmus alata 'Lace Parasol' was found by a North Carolina nurseryman growing in local woods. Removed to his yard, it remained there until his death, when it was removed again to the North Carolina State Arboretum in Raleigh by J. C. Raulston.
Daniel John Hinkley is an American plantsman, garden writer, horticulturist and nurseryman. He is best known for establishing Heronswood Nursery, in Kingston, Washington; and Windcliff, on the Kitsap Peninsula near Indianola, WA; and for collecting, propagating, and naming varieties of plants new to the North American nursery trade.
Peter D'Amato is an American author, businessman, and carnivorous plant authority. He is the owner of California Carnivores, located in Sebastopol, possibly the largest nursery of carnivorous plants in the world, and the author of The Savage Garden, a book on the cultivation of insectivorous plants. His book won the American Horticultural Society Book Award and the Quill & Trowel Award from the Garden Writers Association of America, both in 1999.
Gardening by the Yard is an American gardening show that airs weekly on HGTV and is hosted by master-gardener Paul James. It premiered in 1996.
Mt. Cuba Center is a non-profit botanical garden located in Hockessin, Delaware, near Wilmington, in the gently rolling hills of the Delaware Piedmont. Its woodland gardens produce some of the most spectacular displays of wildflowers in the mid-Atlantic region. Mt. Cuba is open to the public from April through November for general admission, guided tours and special programs. Education courses, including a Certificate in Ecological Gardening, are offered year-round.
Plant Delights Nursery is a mail order plant nursery based in Raleigh, North Carolina, specializing in herbaceous perennials, and owned by Tony Avent and partner Anita Avent. Plant Delights Nursery was established in 1988 by plantsman Tony Avent and currently operates on the 28-acre campus of Juniper Level Botanic Gardens.
Buddleja marrubiifolia, commonly known as the woolly butterflybush, is a perennial shrub which is endemic to the Chihuahuan Desert from southern Texas to San Luis Potosí in Mexico, where it grows on limestone and gypsum soils in canyons and arroyos at elevations of 600 to 2,250 m elevation. The species was first named and described by George Bentham in 1846.
Buddleja davidii 'Evil Ways' is an American cultivar cloned from a chance seedling, probably of Santana, discovered at the Cistus Nursery, Oregon in 2004, and introduced to commerce by proprietor Sean Hogan in 2006.
Mangaves are plants formerly given the nothogenus name × Mangave. They are derived from hybridizing species in the genus Agave and the former genus Manfreda. Manfreda is now included in Agave, so the scientific name is obsolete. Mangaves are often employed as ornamental plants in dry environments, as they possess traits of durability found in both parents. Around 30–40 cultivars were available as of 2020.
Tom Carruth is an American award-winning rose hybridizer, who has created more than 100 rose varieties, including eleven All-America Rose Selections (AARS). He is currently the E.L. and Ruth B. Shannon Curator of the Rose Collections at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.