What Would Don Draper Plant?
Since they can’t be drunk or romanced, plants aren’t a priority to Don Draper, the star of AMC’s hit TV show Mad Men, which aired its last episode in May of 2015.
Back in Don’s day, men mowed the lawn and left the pansy planting to the ladies. “In many ways, the American ideal hasn’t changed [since the '50s]. We still want an attractive landscape around our home,” says Justin Hancock, consumer marketing and digital specialist at Costa Farms. “Gardening was often seen as a woman’s hobby, but there were men’s garden clubs and many of the more ‘hardcore’ hobbyists.”
But here’s the thing about Don Draper: You never know what he’s going to do next. At the end of season 6, Don was given a mandatory leave of absence by the management at Sterling Cooper & Partners. Will he fill that time planting peonies on his New York City balcony? Doubtful.
If Don did decide to get in touch with his greener side, he’d likely lean towards something fleshy and even a bit prickly. “I can see him having a collection of cacti and succulents. They have such a stark, architectural feel—a boldness that suits his style,” Hancock says. “The odd varieties are seen as collectors’ plants, something the general hobbyist wouldn’t get into, lending him a sense of status.”
He'd also likely look for the following plants, which were extremely popular in the mid-century modern garden. Like Don, they're icons in their own right:
Sweet Alyssum In the 1950s, a variety of sweet alyssum called ‘Royal Carpet’ was an All-America Selections winner. “I suspect its popularity was driven by the fact that it’s one of those plants that looks good with pretty much anything you plant it with,” Hancock says. “It offers fragrant flowers and has a spilling habit that makes it wonderful for containers and groundcover in the garden. It’s a natural for lining sidewalks and driveways, too.”
Petunias “put on a big show,” Hancock says. “They were so popular you could find them in pretty much every sunny garden. The varieties then needed more tending than today’s, but they were well worth the effort.”
Annual Vinca “was perhaps more popular then than it is today, though we have more varieties now,” Hancock says. “It offers richly colored blooms and good heat/humidity tolerance.”
Marigolds "were favored for their easy-care nature and bright orange, yellow and red flowers,” he says. “The same reason they’re still grown today.”
Zinnias “have a delightfully old-fashioned feel about them,” Hancock says. “The tall, cut flower varieties were more popular in that era—they bloomed all summer, attracted butterflies and had wonderful flowers that were perfect for bouquets and displaying at the county fair.”
Peonies The lush look of peonies has stood the test of time. “These no-fail spring flowers are delightfully fragrant and offer blooms in red, pink and white,” Hancock says.
Roses The lovely ladies of Sterling Cooper & Partners receive many a bouquet of these beauties. “America’s favorite flower were popular for their regal look and fragrance,” Hancock says.
“All of these flowers are still popular today,” Hancock says. “Their ease of growth—both for home gardeners and professional plant producers—and the abundance of flowers have essentially made them some of the most iconic garden plants we have."