Tony Avent is an american horticulturist who resides in Raleigh, NC. He is the owner of Plant Delights Nursery and the founder of the Juniper Level Botanic Garden that is co-located on the nursery property and contains over 18,000 plants.
As well as running the nursery, Tony Avent is a plant breeder who is best known for his Hosta breeding program. Sincel 1990 he has released dozens of cultivars including Hosta 'Elvis Lives', 'White Wall Tire', 'Outhouse Delight', 'Zebra Stripes', 'Carolina Sunshine', 'Dixie Chick', 'Squash Casserole', and 'Tattoo'. Tony Avent is actively breeding other genera as well. His plant breeding efforts focus on Aroids (primarily Amorphophallus, Arisaema and Colocasia), Crinum, Cyclamen, Epimedium, Helleborus, Hosta, Polygonatum, Trillium, and Zephyranthes.
He also has extensive collections of many other temperate garden genera, for which he has some of the top collections in the world. These specialty groups include Agave (especially variegated agaves), Arum, Asarum, Asparagus, Aspidistra, Baptisia, Buddleia, Carex, Disporum, Disporopsis, Farfugium, hardy ferns, Hedychium, Hibiscus, Hosta, Hymenocallis, Liriope, Lycoris, Ophiopogon, Polygonatum, Salvia, Sinningia, Smilacina, Tricyrtis, and Yucca.
Other secondary specialty groups include Agapanthus, Alocasia, Alstroemeria, Canna, Bambusa, Borinda and Fargesia, Sabal, Trachycarpus, Butia, Chamaerops, Rhapidophyllum, Curcuma, Dasylirion, Echinacea, Eucomis, Habranthus, Cypripedium, Calanthe, Bletilla, Heuchera, Iris species, Kniphofia, Musa, Arundo, ornamental grasses, and Sarracenia.
Tony Avent travels the world on plant hunting expeditions to search for new, rare, and unusual plants. He has taken over 67 plant hunting expeditions all over the United States and also to far flung places like Argentina, the Balkans, China, Crete, Korea, Mexico, Thailand and Vietnam.
He is a prolific writer, having authored a book (So You Want to Start a Nursery - 2003, Timber Press) and dozens of articles.
He is currently a contributing editor to Horticulture Magazine and Walter Magazine - articles.
Every year he travels the country giving dozens of lectures on gardening topics. He also teaches several day-long classes per year at Plant Delights Nursery on subjects such as plant propagation and soils.