Friday, September 27, 2013

Plant sales are the way to go

Last week I attended my first plant sale, held at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond.  They hold these every spring and fall.  I was impressed by how easy it was to purchase native plants.  For convenience, this certainly beats growing everything myself from seeds that I've scavenged.  There were a couple dozen vendors, about two of which specialized in native plants, but many of which carried a mix of natives and non-natives.

The haul:  Plants from the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden fall plant sale.
For about $120, I purchased the plants pictured here (no, not the holly or pine tree), plus a packet of daffodil bulbs.  The majority are native perennials.  I wouldn't outfit an entire large garden this way, but since I could spend this amount on a similar number of non-native perennials from Lowe's, it was a reasonably economical choice.

Here are a few tips based on my experience:
  • Know what you want.  The time I spent on the internet planning and drooling over interesting plants was not actually wasted, since I found most of the things I wanted.  Without a plan for my garden's next steps, I would have been overwhelmed by the selection and had difficulty deciding which were worthwhile purchases.
  • Arrive early in the sale.  A passerby told me that all the "good stuff" would be gone by the end of the day.
  • Realize that plants can be mislabeled.  This goes back to knowing what you want.  A few things were being sold as natives even though they weren't, and a couple of the plants I bought were labeled with the correct genus but incorrect species.  I knew ahead of time that I wanted a solid green Heuchera and didn't have a strong preference for which variety, so I'm not too upset that the Heuchera americana I bought turns out to be probably Heuchera villosa.
Now that I've seen how convenient plant sales are, I'll keep an eye out for them.  Tomorrow I'm going to the Williamsburg Botanical Garden plant sale, which I think should have some native plants.  This page lists several other fall plant sales around the state.

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