Hot Heirlooms and Popping Perennials: Celebrity Gardens

P. Allen Smith, Ghada Dergham, Chris Lambton and more gardening royalty dish about what they're planting this fall.

French breakfast radishes

French breakfast radishes

White-hot tip: French Breakfast radishes are among the lucky veggies going in author Jeanne Nolan's fall garden.

Photo by: Image courtesy of High Mowing Organic Seeds

Image courtesy of High Mowing Organic Seeds

White-hot tip: French Breakfast radishes are among the lucky veggies going in author Jeanne Nolan's fall garden.

Celebrity gardeners may have more experience — plus their own books and TV shows — but Mother Nature doesn't make those distinctions. 

Just like you, celebrity gardeners are planning their fall gardens, trying to remember what worked last year, what didn't and where they put their favorite pair of work gloves.

HGTV did some field research to find out what they're planting this season and why. Here's the scoop on The Outdoor Room star Jamie Durie's favorite figs; designer-to-the-stars Ghada Dergham's Mexican tarragon; Sunset magazine garden editor Kathleen Brenzel's penchant for kangaroo paw; and much more.

Jamie Durie

Jamie Durie

Jamie Durie

Photo by: Image courtesy of Tonya McCahon

Image courtesy of Tonya McCahon

Jamie Durie

Jamie Durie

International award-winning landscape designer, horticulturist, author and host of HGTV's The Outdoor Room

"Great fall-planted bulbs add a lot of interest and color to the spring landscape," he says. "You can even intersperse them in your containers between deciduous or evergreen plants so you can move them around your yard or terrace."

Blueberries are ideally planted in the fall or spring so they can get established before they bear fruit. 'Bountiful Blue' and 'Peach Sorbet' offer year-round interest with not only delicious fruit but also interesting foliage. They're great for urban areas and well suited for containers. 

Gingko 'Jade Butterflies' is my favorite tree in the fall. It's the most vibrant shade of yellow and is used for many medicinal purposes in Asia. 

'Brown Turkey' figs are a great addition to the fall garden. They're wonderful grilled with a balsamic drizzle to add to a lamb dinner or on top of vanilla ice cream for a sweet treat. 

Dinosaur kale is a great way to get kids involved in the garden and eating their vegetables. Use it in salads, soups or sautéed — it's nutrient-rich and full of fiber. 

Kathy Brenzel

Kathy Brenzel

Kathy Brenzel

Photo by: Image courtesy of Kathleen Brenzel

Image courtesy of Kathleen Brenzel

Kathy Brenzel

Kathleen Brenzel

Garden editor, Sunset magazine

"In the mild climate West, fall is the very best time to plant trees, shrubs, perennials, spring bulbs and more," Brenzel says. "That's because the soil is still warm but air temperatures are cooling and (hopefully) some winter rain can help irrigate them. Because much of the West is arid, I'm focusing my fall planting on waterwise plants and cool-season greens." 

Euphorbia characia wulfenii I love this Mediterranean native perennial for its clusters of vivid chartreuse flowers that appear in the spring, spritzing the garden with that cooling touch of lime. This plant pairs really well with blue 'Wedgewood' Dutch iris or purple Spanish lavender. Both are drought resistant. 

Kangaroo paw As you can tell from the name, these striking perennials come from Australia. Fuzzy blooms, which top their tall spikes, are curved at the top like real kangaroo paws. They come in many colors, from vivid orange and red to pink and yellow, and make great cut flowers for bouquets. While they do tolerate drought, they do best with some water during summer bloom time. 

Foothill penstemon It's one of the few plants whose flowers open sky blue before fading to purple. This little beauty grows to 2 feet tall, blooms spring and summer and its flowers attract bees. 

Salvia 'Amistad' is tough to beat. It grows fast to 6 feet tall, spreads into a big, fluffy mound of green leaves, and hummingbirds go crazy for its deep purple flowers. Takes full sun or part shade and needs little water. 

Smoke bush has rounded leaves of rich brownish-purple and dramatic puffs of "smoke" that come from their fading flowers. You can keep it as a multistemmed shrub or prune it to form a small tree. 

Butterhead lettuces have loose heads with green smooth outer leaves and lighter green inner leaves. 'Merveille des Quatre Saisons' has red-tinged leaves and 'Speckles' has green leaves with red speckles. 

Arugula may be a weedy Mediterranean native, but this little green adds a tangy bite to salads. I grow it in low bowls on the patio. 

Bok choy For stir-fries or hearty fall soups, I'll be planting this Asian green whose flavor is mild with a hint of mustard. It's also high in nutrition, low in calories and gorgeous in containers. 

P. Allen Smith

P. Allen Smith

P. Allen Smith

Photo by: Image courtesy of Mark Fonville

Image courtesy of Mark Fonville

P. Allen Smith

Award-wining designer, gardening and lifestyle expert, author, TV and radio personality

Daffodils When it comes to daffodils, my motto is too much is just enough. My addiction to them has driven me to plant over 280,000 on my farm — and I'm still planting. Wonderful harbingers of spring, all the hard work is done as autumn is winding down. 'Ice Follies' is one of my favorites, but there isn’t a daffodil I wouldn’t like in my garden. I enjoy getting creative each spring with the abundance of blooms.

Swiss chard Who can resist beautiful edibles? Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’ is easily the most colorful vegetable in the fall garden. And you’ll always find it among my flowers as an edible ornamental and in my kitchen. It's great sautéed or used in frittatas and soups.

Blueberry Sweet and adorable, ‘Top Hat’ is a plant for every gardener. Ideal for containers and small spaces, its compact form produces loads of blueberries followed by exceptional fall leaf color. Easily used in the ornamental garden.

Nemesia Cold hardy and delightfully beautiful, this perky little autumn annual is a great bedfellow for traditional pansies and violas. ‘Bluebird’ Nemesia and ‘Menton’ tulips are a stunning combination.

Jeanne Nolan

Jeanne Nolan

Jeanne Nolan

Photo by: Image courtesy of Jill Paider

Image courtesy of Jill Paider

Jeanne Nolan

Jeanne Nolan

Educator, author and founder of the Organic Gardener Ltd.

"I chose the following crops because they tolerate cool weather well and many of them can handle temperatures near freezing," says Nolan, who lives in Glencoe, Ill. "Radishes and greens germinate quickly and so they're fun to grow with kids and in home gardens. These seed varieties are all grown organically, which is very important to me." 

'Bull's Blood' beets My preferred variety of beets is an heirloom with a very deep red color that produces beautiful dark red leaves which are great in salads. The root itself is gorgeous when sliced. 

'Napoli' carrots These carrots are wonderful for a fall harvest. The cooler weather makes the sugar in the carrot more readily available and makes for a very sweet carrot. 

Tatsoi An Asian green that looks like a baby bok choy leaf, tatsoi is great raw in salads or in stir fries. It's very cold tolerant, and I have even harvested it when it's been lightly covered in snow.

French Breakfast radish I love this variety! They have a unique icicle shape and are white at the tips. They're in the gourmet category but are easy and quick to grow. 

'Encore Mix' lettuces I like to plant a mix variety of lettuce — when harvested it makes for a beautiful freshly picked salad. This mix includes red oakleaf, green romaine, red leaf, bibb lettuces and more. 

'Hakurei' turnip This turnip matures early, very soon after radishes. It's mild flavored and delicious raw or cooked. 

Chris Lambton

Professional landscaper, gardening and lawn care expert and host of HGTV's Going Yard

Fall color I'm using sedum, Shasta daisy and burning bush for fall blooms, plus mums and ornamental cabbage for color. 

Vegetables I'm planting Double Choice spinach because you can pick it as baby spinach or let it mature, plus Winterbor kale because it's hardy for the Northeast. Lutz green leaf beets grow a lot better in cooler weather, and my wife, Peyton, and I love using them in our morning smoothies. I'm also planting Early Italian, Cuban Purple and Shilla garlic, which I've never grown before but I've heard it's easy and tastes so much better than store-bought. Georgia-variety collard greens are a staple of the fall garden because Peyton is a Southern girl, and when I married her I married into a love of Southern cooking.

Margaret Roach

Margaret Roach

Margaret Roach

Photo by: Image courtesy of Erica Berger

Image courtesy of Erica Berger

Margaret Roach

Margaret Roach

Author, public radio show host and writer at

Perennials I have a thing for statuesque perennials — either big leaves or large inscale — and gold foliage. The gold-leaf Aralia cordata 'Sun King' is earning a couple of key spots here this fall and so is Leucosceptrum japonicum 'Golden Angel,' which is also called Japanese shrub mint. Both are labeled as 3-by-3-footers and will announce themselves loudly from well-chosen spots in part shade. 

Vegetables October is garlic planting time, and I grow 75 heads of 'German Extra Hardy,' also called 'German Stiffneck.' That's enough garlic to eat all year, plus my "seed" stock and some to share. This hardneck oldtimer has great scapes.  

Ghada Dergham

Ghada Dergham

Ghada Dergham

Photo by: Image courtesy of Michael Schalk

Image courtesy of Michael Schalk

Ghada Dergham

Ghada Dergham

Landscape architect in southern Florida, New York and the Caribbean

"Planting in south Florida is wonderful year-round," says Dergham. "Fall is the best time to plant vegetables and herbs." 

Herbs This year I'm planting a variety of herbs, including mint, rosemary, Mexican tarragon, cardamom, thyme and basil. 

Vegetables Collard greens, cabbage, dandelion greens and many varieties of lettuce are going in my fall garden, plus broccoli, hot peppers and my favorites: heirloom tomatoes and eggplant. 

Annuals always brighten up my garden and landscape. This fall I'll be planting wax begonias for color along with petunias, scarlet sage, New Guinea impatiens and a beautiful white border of alyssum. 

Plants I'm always careful in choosing plants for the fall in south Florida. I plant hardy varieties of crotons for color, plus blooming plants like hibiscus and azalea. I love tiering the plant beds for curb appeal by using Green Island ficus and many types of ferns to create stunning borders. 

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