October 9th, 2009
Wildflower Center Plant Sale

Too often I ignore the riches on my doorstep.

I’ve been a passive fan of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for years. It’s high on my list of favorite destinations to take out-of-town visitors. However, I’ve never gone there just on my own or taken advantage of their many online resources.

After meeting some of the staff recently, I decided I needed to become a member. The real carrot in front of my nose was their fall plant sale this weekend. Members get in a day early, all the better to find just the plants we are looking for.

The Wildflower Center makes it easy to put together a shopping list by providing complete online and printable versions of all the plants on sale. The people standing in line behind me were consulting their list and comparing notes with their landscaper.

I know some of you think I’m little Ms. Organization but I came to the sale completely unprepared. Despite my general mania for lists and plans, often the first time I try something, I like to just go and scope it out. I do need new plants to replace a lot of what died over the last two years of drought. I do want to use more native plants. And I do want to try new things. But when it comes to the garden I don’t have a master plan. I just can’t (or don’t know how) to design and fill in with plants. I always buy plants because I fall in love with them and then take them home and figure out what to do with them.

When the opening ribbon was cut the sale area became a crush of gardeners pulling wagons and loading them up as fast as they could. These were purposeful buyers. They were also polite and friendly.

The sale area was extremely well-organized with volunteers answering questions and directing people to the plants they were looking for. The plants were categorized by type (shade, sun, succulents, grasses) and within each category alphabetized by botanical name. (I love these people!) All the plants were labeled. The plants had signs with detailed descriptions and often a photograph of what they looked like in flower.

I wandered around just picking up anything that struck my fancy. I had two limits that simplified my decision-making: I couldn’t buy more than I could carry and it had to fit into my Miata. I bought:

It’s not too late to take advantage of this great resource. The Wildflower Center plant sale is open to everyone this weekend, October 10 and 11, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

by M Sinclair Stevens

8 Responses to post “Wildflower Center Plant Sale”

  1. From Meredith:

    It amazes me that three Austin garden bloggers were there, and we all bought different plants. One of these days we’ll meet each other — we might have been right next to each other and not known it! I wanted to get the lovegrass, just for the name, and I saw the gaura — it was beautiful.

  2. From RyanM:

    Yes, it is a great resource. I always ending up buying a few things I didn’t plan on just to try them out. Occasionally the deer don’t eat them, like the heartleaf skullcap I bought from one of the NPSOT chapters there last year and which bloomed beautifully last spring.

  3. From Deb Wilson - Austin:

    You are so right to encourage support of the Center. I don’t know what I’d do without their online support and Ask Mr. Smarty Plants. I just can’t handle crowds so always have kept away from the sale. Maybe (deep breath) next year!

  4. From Jenny Austin:

    I’ll just have to make do with you all blogging about what you bought and feel envious. I planned to go yesterday but discovered I had something else on my calendar. I think I would have been tempted by that Hechtia too.

  5. From Linda Lehmusvirta Austin Texas:

    Great choices! We are so very lucky to have this fabulous resource. Happy planting!

  6. From Diana - Austin:

    I’m with Meredith–You and I bought none of the same plants. They had such a wide variety. I could have bought more, but my friend and I each filled 1/2 the wagon, so I had to quit! (Thank goodness 😉

    One of the things that interests me the more Austin gardeners I meet is how different our gardens are. People think about the differences in terms of regional gardens (English cottage, Japanese, Italianate) and climate (southwest xeric, Pacific northwest, New England, midwest)–yet within a 20-mile radius we have a stupendous diversity of garden styles and plant choices. I love it! — mss

  7. From Eric Hegwer:

    I would have loved to go to this. Unfortunately I had to work both saturday and sunday at some weddings. Next time, I promise!

  8. From Steve Mudge(Fort Worth):

    Those Hechtia are beautiful…first saw them in Big Bend last year, and was surprised to see such a subtropical looking plant growing there. Just be careful of the thorns!