About Marjorie


I live in Toronto with my husband Jack Batten in the same house we bought in 1967 and where our four kids (2 of his 2 of mine) grew up. We are now 13 (three grandchildren) when we all get together. Out of that mob, there are no passionate gardeners.

I have worked this same plot since then, but I really turned into an obsessive gardener in the 1980s and started to make my living as a full time garden writer in 1989.  A bit arrogant when I look back on it, but I’ve never let that stand in the way of a good plant that must be talked about.

My Favourite Plants


  • Athyrium frizellaea, fern and A. ‘Ghost’
  • Uvularia grandflora * Merrybells
  • Tulipa tarda, species tulip
  • Hosta ‘June’* H. ‘Sun Power’
  • Euphorbia: spp: any euphorbia is great.
  • Heuchera ‘Obsidian’
  • Hakonochloa macra ‘Aureola’* and a new one called ‘All Gold’ both forms of Japanese hedge grass are, to my mind, essential plants.
  • Podophyllum ‘Kaleidoscope’ Asian mayapple; and of course the native mayapple, P. peltatum, is a must-have plant.
  • Tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate’
  • Pulmonaria ‘Excalibur’, lungwort
  • Gillenia trifoliata*, Bowman’s Root
  • Cimicifuga ‘James Compton’* Snakeroot
  • Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’*, purple Joe-Pye weed

Trees Shrubs and 2 great vines:

  • Clematis ‘Betty Corning’ and C. terniflora (Sweet Autumn Clematis)
  • Cornus ‘Golden Shadows’ and C. ‘Samaritan’, variegated dogwoods Fothergilla gardenii
  • Rhus typhina ‘Tiger Eyes’ this form of sumach is not >supposed to spread and has a golden leaf
  • Disanthus cercidipholius
  • Hydrangea quercifolia oakleaf hydrangea
  • Berberis thunbergii ‘Gold Edge’ and B. t. ‘Sunsation’, Barberry
  • Amelanchier canadensis (actually all species of amelanchier are great)*
  • Serviceberry
  • Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’, purple ninebark
  • Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum Atropurpureum’ * and A. p.
  • shirasawanum ?Aureum?; ?Viridis?, ?Villa Taranto? and ?Red Pygmy? are all gorgeous Japanese maples
  • Viburnum plicatum ‘Summer Snowflake’ *
  • Sambucus ‘Black Lace’*, black leaf elder


  • Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’
  • Ipomea batatas ‘Blackie’, black potato vine
  • Phormium or Cordyline species both make great pointy statements.
  • Acalypha or Copperleaf
  • Calocasia ‘Black Magic’ Black Taro
  • Canna ‘Intrigue’
  • Alternanthera ‘Purple Knight’