Growing Our Garden, or It’s time for Plant Sales and Auctions!

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Some of the perennials for sale at the Chadwick Arboretum Plant Sale & Auction.

It’s been an exciting couple of days for my husband and I, garden-wise. Earlier in the week, we got to enjoy the distinct pleasure that is our town’s Garden Club Plant Auction. Held in the rec. room of a church, it is an annual event we’ve come to really love over the past 7 years. (Here’s a post about it from last year: https://withthemoonontheirwings.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/the-annual-garden-club-plant-auction/) We didn’t go totally insane this time, but we picked up a few exciting new daylily varieties:

  • Bold Tiger
  • Siloam Double Classic
  • Double Minded
  • Indy Rhapsody
  • Jan Zoo

If they’re half as pretty as a fast google image search leads me to believe, we scooped up some gems!

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Scoping out the heirloom tomato options…we always try to get there during the first hour that the sale is open (early!) to get the best selection.

Yesterday we attended the plant sale and auction benefitting the Chadwick Arboretum at OSU. This is another annual tradition. Every year, we get all of our vegetables from tables sponsored by the ag. students and the Master Gardeners. This year we also picked up:

  • Royal Catchfly & Blazing Star plants from the plant pathology students (both are native varieties that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, we have some in the garden already that we picked up a few years ago. They’re so loved by our aerial garden visitors that we had to add more)
  • Several kinds of basil, 2 curry plants (super odorific without being in bloom or needing to crush any leaves, just intoxicating!), and even a Hemingway mojito mint plant from another group (I know, I know, MINT! I’ll have to pot it for sure, but I couldn’t resist the story: apparently, an enterprising gardener with a light-fingered streak pinched some springs off plants at Hemingway’s home in the Keys and was able to root it. Yep, the mint I now have is descended from the mint Papa Hemingway once made his mojitos with…or at least, so the story goes! Come on, that’s kind of awesome.)
  • a native Cardinal Flower plant. Like the catchfly and the blazing star, we had to add more because the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love it so much.
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NPR’s Ann Fisher with guest Debra Knapke broadcasting “All Sides” from the plant sale and not missing a beat while I gawked and waved at them.

This event just grows and grows a little more every year, it seems. In addition to all of the lovely plants, there were craft booths and a rummage area. I got a nifty plant stand from the rummage sale that I’ll share later. New this year? Ann Fisher, a local NPR personality, was broadcasting live from the sale. We wandered by the broadcast table and I waved like the spastic nerd that I am. Nope. Not even a little cool.

Also? There was this:

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My husband and the walking lilac flowerpot.

I’m still not actually entirely clear why this lovely lady was strolling around in the center of a giant flowerpot full of lilac stems, but really, does there need to be a why??? Somehow it was to support the Arboretum, but I just thought she looked great. She very graciously posed for a pic when we giddily asked her to.

Then it was time for the auction! We’ve picked up some unusual specimens (like our Little Woody Redbud tree) and we’ve also picked up some very cheap ones (large Prairie Fire Crabapple tree for $15, I’m looking at you!) from the Chadwick auction over the years. Sometimes we’ve even been able to get cheap unusual specimens, which is definitely the sweet spot. Our yard has little room for larger scale items at this point, so we promised ourselves to be very focused and targeted in our approach. And we actually managed it!

Looking over the plant list ahead of time, there were 2 items that really stood out to me. And those ended up being the 2 items we purchased. Sure, we bid on other stuff, but once the prices went beyond a certain point, we just shrugged at each other and let them go. Not these 2 items, though. We were determined. In the end, it was a bit of a nail-biter. You see, the auction will carry on through rain, but must stop at the first crack of thunder or flash of lightning. Both items were near the end of the 100 specimen auction, and we were racing a storm to get to them. Just one item after we won the second of the two items we really wanted, Boom! The auction was ended early because of the storm. Whew! We were lucky!

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Early portion of the auction, before the storm clouds rolled in and the sky went dark.

So what were the 2 specimens we won?

  1. a Sunrise horse chestnut tree (Aesculus x neglecta ‘Erythroblastos’). This variety of horse chestnut is apparently notable for the fact that when the leaves emerge in spring, they are a bright salmon pink. They stay a striking pink for a few weeks before turning orange and yellow and then green. How cool does that sound?!?! It’s already green, so I’ll have to wait until next year for the show. Trying to figure out where to put it, exactly…although they can get tallish, I’ve also read they can be grown as an understory tree, which, if true, opens up more options in our yard…
  2. a compact, columnar variety of Chinese Fringetree called ‘Tokyo Tower’ (Chionanthus retusus ‘Tokyo Tower’). I love fringetrees! Both the Chinese and the native varieties are quite striking when in bloom. We added a (tiny) native fringetree to our garden last year. Even though it is small and slow-growing, it’s starting to bloom now and it’s beautiful. When I saw this variety on the plant list, I was thrilled. I love columnar forms, and this one has an especially small footprint.  Supposedly it’ll get to a height of about 12-15 feet while only having a 3-5 foot diameter. Perfect for our space.
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Enjoying a spin through Chadwick Arboretum after shopping the plant sale. Pics from that to come soon, it was gorgeous. The Buckeyes were all blooming and that is a beautiful sight.

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