‘Garden Guru’ to visit area

By Mary Therese Biebel - mbiebel@timesleader.com
Celebrity gardener Kent Russell stands next to his entry in the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show, where it received a ‘Best of Show’ designation. He describes his entry as is a variety of rosemary ‘that has an uusual growth pattern.’ - Submitted photo
Organizers of the Back Mountain Bloomers Garden Club Annual Fall Luncheon include, from left: Stephanie Krehely, co-chair; Bobbie Shurnicki, co-chair. Second row: Carol Sorber, president; Louise Mathis, speaker introduction; JoAnne Olejnick, reservations; Jean Kolojejchick, media; and Laura Dickson, baskets. - Submitted photo
After having mostly white and silver flowers in this planter for a wedding last year, the owners of the property requested that Kent Russell make it more colorful this year. So he did. - Submitted photo
Celebrity gardener Kent Russell, who will speak at the Back Mountain Bloomers Garden Club Fall Luncheon on Oct. 4, adds colorful flowers to an urn on a Rhode Island estate earlier this year. The urn is the same one in which he planted mostly white and silver flowers for a wedding last year. - - Submitted photo
Kent Russell’s foxtail won ‘The Edith Edelman Scott Award’ at the Philadelphia Flower Show earlier this year. - - Submitted photo
With little time to spare before a 2017 wedding, celebrity gardener Kent Russell changed the look of this outdoor planter by adding hydrangea and several other flowers. - - Submitted photo

DALLAS — One of “Garden Guru” Kent Russell’s clients owns an $8.7 million estate in Rhode Island where, two weeks before a wedding was to take place, a sizable outdoor urn happened to contain only a smattering of daisies — not enough to do the planter justice.

“They said, ‘You’ve gotta help,’ ” recalled Russell who wasn’t worried. “I work really good under pressure, really good with last-minute requests.”

Russell replaced the tiny daisies that someone else had planted in the 5-feet-tall, 4-feet-across planter with much larger white hydrangea surrounded by blue-leaf hosta, white-and-silver variegated grass and soft lamb’s ears. As a final touch, he added a rare specimen, the white variety of “a delicate little summer annual” called trailing lantana, which he alternated with bigger and bolder mandevilla flowers.

“I did my magic,” he said, taking pleasure in remembering how he had completed the project two days before the July 2017 wedding. “It’s like being able to pull a rabbit out of the hat at the last minute.”

Russell, a celebrity gardener based in Bucks County, may not be called upon to work magic when he attends the Back Mountain Bloomers Garden Club annual fall luncheon Oct. 4 at the Irem Temple Country Club, but he expects to bring gardening stories and plenty of “fat and full and healthy flowers.”

During the two or three days before he arrives in the Back Mountain, he plans to make the rounds of some of his favorite plant nurseries in Lancaster County, New Jersey and Delaware, purchasing whatever catches his eye. He’ll talk about them “show and tell-style” at the local event, and sell them to any gardeners who want to take them home.

“It’s much more satisfying for people when they can put something on their balcony an hour later,” Russell said, “rather than hearing they have to get it from a mail-order catalogue or a nursery far away.”

Earlier this week, Russell undertook his customary ritual to prepare for a talk in Connecticut, driving around and picking up such plants as a double-flowering cone flower, raspberry in color, that “looks really unusual” and a coral bells plant with leaves that remind him of burnt mahogany.

“The original coral bells always had green leaves but nowadays there’s a whole bunch of new ones,” he said. “These were like reddish copper leaves with pale pink flowers. That would go great as a fun foliage accent next to a yellow mum, for example.”

Russell, who has all sorts of ideas for pairing plants, from herbs to evergreens to “whatever it takes to look good,” expects to find similar fun accents for the Back Mountain Bloomers’ event. No doubt he’ll discuss container gardening, too, because that’s one of his specialties.

He has been giving gardening talks since he was 18 years old, when members of gardening clubs who visited his family’s nursery, Russell Gardens, noticed how knowledgeable he was.

He describes himself as being “born with a silver trowel in his hand,” and picked up the moniker “The Garden Guru” during 2 and 1/2 years of hosting garden segments for PBS.

With all his traveling to nurseries and speaking engagements, plus visiting the gardens he designs for more than a dozen clients in five different states, Russell spends a lot of time on the road.

The odometer in his fire-engine-red van, which is so often filled with flowers, offers evidence of his dedication. The vehicle is only six years old, but he’s already put 347,000 miles on it.

Celebrity gardener Kent Russell stands next to his entry in the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show, where it received a ‘Best of Show’ designation. He describes his entry as is a variety of rosemary ‘that has an uusual growth pattern.’
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_flowers.best_.in_.show_.jpgCelebrity gardener Kent Russell stands next to his entry in the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show, where it received a ‘Best of Show’ designation. He describes his entry as is a variety of rosemary ‘that has an uusual growth pattern.’ Submitted photo

Organizers of the Back Mountain Bloomers Garden Club Annual Fall Luncheon include, from left: Stephanie Krehely, co-chair; Bobbie Shurnicki, co-chair. Second row: Carol Sorber, president; Louise Mathis, speaker introduction; JoAnne Olejnick, reservations; Jean Kolojejchick, media; and Laura Dickson, baskets.
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_flowers.bloomers.jpgOrganizers of the Back Mountain Bloomers Garden Club Annual Fall Luncheon include, from left: Stephanie Krehely, co-chair; Bobbie Shurnicki, co-chair. Second row: Carol Sorber, president; Louise Mathis, speaker introduction; JoAnne Olejnick, reservations; Jean Kolojejchick, media; and Laura Dickson, baskets. Submitted photo

After having mostly white and silver flowers in this planter for a wedding last year, the owners of the property requested that Kent Russell make it more colorful this year. So he did.
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_flowers.colorful.jpgAfter having mostly white and silver flowers in this planter for a wedding last year, the owners of the property requested that Kent Russell make it more colorful this year. So he did. Submitted photo

Celebrity gardener Kent Russell, who will speak at the Back Mountain Bloomers Garden Club Fall Luncheon on Oct. 4, adds colorful flowers to an urn on a Rhode Island estate earlier this year. The urn is the same one in which he planted mostly white and silver flowers for a wedding last year.
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_flowers.colorful.with_.kent_.jpgCelebrity gardener Kent Russell, who will speak at the Back Mountain Bloomers Garden Club Fall Luncheon on Oct. 4, adds colorful flowers to an urn on a Rhode Island estate earlier this year. The urn is the same one in which he planted mostly white and silver flowers for a wedding last year. Submitted photo

Kent Russell’s foxtail won ‘The Edith Edelman Scott Award’ at the Philadelphia Flower Show earlier this year.
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_flowers.foxtail.jpgKent Russell’s foxtail won ‘The Edith Edelman Scott Award’ at the Philadelphia Flower Show earlier this year. Submitted photo

With little time to spare before a 2017 wedding, celebrity gardener Kent Russell changed the look of this outdoor planter by adding hydrangea and several other flowers.
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_flowers.wedding.urn_.jpgWith little time to spare before a 2017 wedding, celebrity gardener Kent Russell changed the look of this outdoor planter by adding hydrangea and several other flowers. Submitted photo
Celebrity gardener Kent Russell will speak at Back Mountain Bloomers event

By Mary Therese Biebel

mbiebel@timesleader.com

IF YOU GO

What: Back Mountain Bloomers Garden Club Fall Luncheon

When: 11:30 a.m. Oct. 4

Where: Irem Country Club, Dallas

Guest speaker: garden expert Kent Russell

Cost: $34. Reservation forms available at backmountainbloomers.org. Checks should be payable to Back Mountain Bloomers and received by Sept 20.

Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT

Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT