The fall sale is always calmer than the one in the spring, but this scene at the check-out tables at around 11:30 in the morning was shocking. I have been hearing from friends in the biz that they are just hanging on. The last couple of harsh winters could be discouraging late season splurges as well.
There were quite a few plants in the holding area, but normally there would be people three deep waiting to claim their plants. When I worked in holding, we quickly ran out of designated spaces and had to improvise. I had arrived with firm resolve to resist coming home with a bunch of stuff that would need babying through the winter. I’m going to mark my weakness up to a spirit of largesse in helping to keep these growers growing. On the bright side, there were parking spaces close by (in the shade, no less) and it was easy to chat up the vendors about plants of interest.
Case in point: this fascinating flower was in a booth selling “succulents”, a frustrating generality to those of us who are drawn to this large and varied category. Let’s back up and take a look at the whole plant.
Talking to the woman who was overseeing the booth, I learned that it is a Stepelia, and that this large, blooming specimen with the $25 price tag started a year ago as a plant this size:
for a mere $4.
So on my way home I stopped by Garden Fever to pick up a pot for it. It will be overpotted, as directed, so I am expecting some of those op art flowers to show up next year. I was sure there was more to the name, so I Googled it and found several photos that looked like the very flower, but with different names: Stapelia planiflora? Stapelia lepida?. I also learned that the common name is carrion flower or starfish flower. Then I made the connection: James, over at Lost in the Landscape had written about the stench emanating from carrion flowers…oops. I didn’t notice an odor around the booth, so maybe this is a less offensive variety. Loree has a much better picture on her blog about the sale. I promise I won’t be as long-winded about the rest of my swag.
Acca sellowiana, or Pineapple Guava is Zone 6-9, but it will live in a bigger pot on the front deck until early spring.
As will Drimys lanceolata or Mountain Pepper, a Zone 7 evergreen shrub from Dancing Oaks Nursery.
The coloring on Drimys is a lot like the Madrones, with the deep red stems.
Luzula sylvatica ‘Aurea’ is billed as Zone 5, so it is going into the ground.
And finally, a little trio of proven winners, Verbascum ariaphaenum, Selaginella krausseana ‘Aurea’ and Cornus canadensis, back there in the dark.