Another spring favorite: the Dawes Arboretum plant sale! In the past 9 years, I believe my husband and I have only missed the spring plant sale at Dawes Arboretum twice. Once because we were in NYC to see Leonard Cohen, and once because it was absolutely impossible to adjust our work schedules to go. It is that good. Better, even!
Dawes Arboretum is one of my favorite places. Located about 35 miles east of Columbus and covering 1,800 acres, this private, non-profit organization has grounds that are absolutely packed with gorgeous trees, shrubs, and flowers. If you are ever even remotely in the area, GO! Here’s their webpage: http://www.dawesarb.org/.
It’s a peaceful, beautiful, special place. The depth and breadth of their collection is staggering, and you’d be hard-pressed to find many of the things there anywhere else nearby. Their insanely thorough holly collection has made me a fan of hollies, the azalea glen makes me feel like I’m in a tropical paradise when everything is blooming, the tea house in the Japanese Garden is a tranquil spot to rest, and I’ve become a rabid fan of some of the trees that are in their Rare Tree collection. And at the plant sale, many of the rare cultivars that are found on the grounds are for sale, often in baby form, at very reasonable prices.
On offer was a heady mixture of trees, shrubs, and perennials. All of the plants bear information-packed tags letting prospective buyers know the background of the plant, often including where and by whom it was propagated, the conditions needed to thrive, and the eventual size. Browsing is fascinating: I always learn something new, and choosing plants to actually purchase is a challenge because there are so many fabulous options. Often I’ll be tagging around after my husband, clutching a plant in a Golem-esque fashion, explaining why we need it, and he’ll have to gently explain that it won’t fit in our yard. Equally often, this scenario plays out in reverse and I’m the voice of reason. And almost as often, we both chuck reason right out the window and add to our collection of plants.
In addition to the sale, special specimens are available at both a silent auction and at a live auction. Although we didn’t get anything at the silent auction (which ended at 3:00), we got some amazing specimens at the live auction, held at 10:30. Actually, I can’t help but feel a little guilty for how well we did: very few people attended the live auction, with most items going for their minimum bid and a few not selling at all. You could tell it was breaking the heart of one of the horticulturists acting as emcee to see these fantastic plants go for so little. We actually got several that we hadn’t been eyeballing because of his passionate explanations of what the plants were like, and we got them for the minimum bid. Insane deals. Both of the horticulturists who were acting as emcees for the live auction came up to congratulate and thank us for bidding afterwards, because the money all goes straight into the arboretum. I wish things had sold for more! If you like plants at all, come to the plant sale next year and bid on something in the live auction, you won’t be disappointed.
So what was the damage? In spite of pep-talks to each other on the way out to Dawes about how we would be very targeted and reserved in our approach this year, as with many best-laid plans, things went gang agley posthaste. We pretty much immediately abandoned that measured approach and went a little crazy. We got:
- a Ginkgo biloba ‘Jehoshaphat’ or Jehoshaphat ginkgo. The cultivar we got was actually named by one of the horticulturists who was acting as emcee at the auction. He named it after a fictional dwarf because it is a dwarf variety.
- an Enkianthus campanulatus or redvein enkianthus
- an Acer japonicum ‘Oregon Fern’ or Oregon fern full moon maple
- a Quercus robur ‘Salfast’ or Salfast English oak
- a Carpinus japonica or Japanese hornbeam
- a Quercus robur ‘General Pulaski’ or General Pulaski English oak
- a Hypericum prolificum or shrubby St. John’s-wort
- a Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Rotfuchs’ or Red Fox Katsura Tree
- a Pinus densiflora ‘Low Glow’ or Low Glow Japanese red pine
- a Cornus officinalis ‘Kintoki’ or Kintoki Japanese cornelian-cherry dogwood
- a Picea pungens ‘The Blues’ or The Blues Colorado spruce
- a Cornus mas ‘Pyramidalis’ or Pyramidalis cornelian-cherry dogwood
- a Calycanthus floridus ‘Athens’ or yellow-flower common sweetshrub or yellow-flower Carolina allspice
I’m so excited! Except maybe about all of the digging we need to do, and fast… But! We have some wonderful additions to our garden and I can’t wait to get them in and see how they play with everything else.
More about the arboretum itself in a future post…