An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

May 11, 2015

Briefly Back in Retail

     My work colleagues and I have lately been consumed with preparing for and running this past weekend's annual plant sale at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. We began meeting shortly after last year's sale to decide which plants to carry. Some of our offerings came from cuttings or divisions taken from the garden's collections, while others we bring in as plugs or as bare-root plants to grow on. This year edible plants were chosen as our signature plant, so we grew all kinds of fruit bearing trees and shrubs, brought in strawberries, herbs, tomatoes, and a whole lot blueberry bushes. In addition to this year's edibles, we offered, as is usual, a variety of shrubs, trees, vines, tropicals, and annuals, but what we always have the most of are perennials, and almost half of them this year were native species and cultivars.

     I took the pictures in this post (hovering over the photos will give you plant names) before we opened on Friday morning, when everything was still peaceful, and the tables were fully stocked and ready for the garden's members, who were allowed entry an hour earlier than everyone else. Looking at the line of several hundred people waiting at the gate, I knew we were going to be much busier than last year, and I was right. The first few hours were so beyond busy, with plants being snapped up in a piranha-like frenzy. Fortunately no one required stitches, but at one point an all-hands-on-deck-call was made for all garden personnel to help move guests throw the checkout line, which snaked its way through the sales floor and out the back gate. Fortunately the rest of the day, and the rest of the weekend was less frenetic.
Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna'

Salvia greggii 'Raspberry'

Nepeta 'Johanna Reed'

Coreopsis 'Jethro Tull'

Coreopsis 'Cherry Lemonade'

Dahlia 'Mystic Enchantment'

Amsonia tabernaemontana and Baptisia (2)

Allium schoenoprasum 'Rising Sun' and Salvia Rhapsody in Blue'

Agave 'Cornelius'

Verbascum 'Summer Sorbet'

Tiarella cordifolia 'Oakleaf'

Thunberia battiscombei

Rhododendron 'My Mary'

Orthosiphon stamineus

Impatiens hybrida 'Fusion Glow Yellow'

Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Goblin'

Eucomis 'Leia'

Digitalis 'Foxy Hybrids'

Bletilla striata

     Today I left work early, and will be off tomorrow trying to recover from a 60 hour work week. I also need at least one day to get all of my purchases planted, and I have no idea where they will all go.
My Haul

Here is a partial list of what followed me home:
Agave 'Cornelius'
Allium 'Millenium'
Aralia cordata 'Sun King'
Asarum maximum 'Ling Ling'
Chondrosum gracile 'Blonde Ambition'
Coreopsis 'Cosmic Eye'
Crossandra infundibuliformis 'Orange Marmalade'
Dahlia 'Mystic Enchantment'
Digiplexis 'Illumination Flame' - planted as an annual, we'll see if it does anything else
Digitalis ferruginea 'Gigantea' - Rusty Foxglove
Helleborus foetidus
Impatiens 'Fusion Glow Yellow'
Impatiens omeiana - hardy impatiens
Leonotis leonurus - Lion's Ear
Odontonema cuspidatum - Firespike
Plectranthus scutellarioides - a ruffled nearly black coleus
Salvia × 'Wendy's Wish'
Veronicastrum virginicum - Culver's Root
Xanthosoma 'Lime Zinger' - Elephant's Ear


  1. Well, I can see why there was a "piranha-like frenzy." All the plants look fresh and health and many are at the peak of bloom. I'm not sure that's the best stage to buy a plant, but it certainly helps with the marketing! Your own purchases are impressive: Please share your "after" photos, too.

  2. That is quite a plant sale Les! I love plant sales like this but you will never find me at one where elbows are flying every other way into other people. It's insane! I bet you all were happy tho.

  3. Drooling. Nothing gets the juices flowing like a well stocked plant sale! You got some great plants! Love Agave 'Cornelius' and just pulled mine out of the greenhouse. Happy planting, Les!

  4. Wow, what riches! I do love a plant sale and I am very happy you got one of those gorgeous Agaves.

  5. What an incredible plant sale that was! A great reflection of all the talent and expertise within the leaders and curators at Norfolk Botanical Gardens! Job well done by all!!

  6. Looks like a really great plant selection, and a display to make more frenzy.

  7. Oh man, I should have been there!

  8. Such inviting pictures, Les and beautiful surrounding for a plant sale. I put the Mystic Enchantment Dahlia on my list immediately! I'm wondering: is it different then 'Bishop of Llandaff' ? The other plant I lust for is Verbascum, except they never comes back for me (zone 7b) and I hadn't figure out why. 'Summer Sorbet' is so beautiful I'll try it once more, if I can find it.

  9. You did well! I hope you find some free time to garden and to relax.

  10. Oh Les, I wish I lived in your climate ! What a tonic to see all those lovely flowers. The Forsythia bush on my lawn has yet to bloom ... sigh.

    Your sale looks like a marvellous event.

  11. I wish I'd been at that sale! I'm sure I would have come home with all kinds of fab plants I have no room for. :)

  12. I imagine the attendees enjoyed the sale--I certainly enjoyed the photos. I've had that Dahlia for several years, it's a good one. The Saliva 'Wendy's Wish' is a gem. The Digiplexis bloomed its heart out all spring and summer, then in October got the worst infestation of mealy bugs I've ever seen. Buh-bye.

  13. Wow, if I'd been there my vehicle would've been packed from top to bottom with those gorgeous plants. Have no experience with alliums, but seeing the Rising Sun variety makes me want to try!

  14. Nice selections. I'm curious which plants sold out.

  15. Glad the sale was a success. Some very nice plants you chose for yourself!

  16. I am glad your sale was such a huge success, but I am sure you must be exhausted. I am glad you have a little break before you return to routine occupations. I am sure you will squeeze those plant purchases in somewhere!