PLANT SALE ENCOURAGES FALL GARDENING
Victoria County Master Gardener annual event is this weekend

September 10, 2009

by Mary McCurdy, Victoria County Master Gardener Intern

edited by Charla Borchers Leon, Victoria County Master Gardener
PHOTO BY BRYNN LEE/VICTORIA COUNTY MASTER GARDENER INTERN
Master Gardeners arrange and price plants for a full day prior to plant sales. The fall sale this Saturday promises new items including plants in pots ready for a patio or home and distinctly different plants adapted for the Texas Gulf coast.
Why should you come to the Victoria County Master Gardener Association fall plant sale? Here are a few good reasons.

Plants for the Yard

It's been a long, hot, dry summer. The idea of buying more plants to water may not, at first thought, appeal to you, but really this is the perfect time for a cooler idea to add some plants to your yard.

Fall is a good time to take a walk around your yard to see where you might like to make some changes. Make sketches as you plan, both of what is there and also of what you would like to see.

This is a great time of year to plant container grown trees and shrubs, said Doug Welsh, author of "Texas Garden Almanac." The restricted root systems of these plants will have plenty of time to recover from transplanting and grow new roots before spring growth begins. Also, the cooler days of fall will reduce plant stress.
PHOTO BY EDNA LAFOUR/VCMGA MEMBER
The Brazilian red cloak is a tropical shrub that has large, upright blooms of pink to bright red flowers with very large, heavy leaves that fill in a landscape area. It grows in sun or shade and while it prefers moist soil, it will survive in drier settings. This plant will be available at Saturday's sale.
You might want to replace plants that summer has not been kind to with a xeriscape plant. These plants require less water than other plants, which is a real plus during the kind of summer that we have just endured. If you're not familiar with xeriscape plants, that's just one more good reason to come to the fall plant sale.

We will have an area set up with Internet access to answer plant questions. Even better, we'll have Master Gardeners there to visit with you and share knowledge.

Master Gardeners will be everywhere at the plant sale. We'll all be wearing name tags so you can easily locate us. If one of us doesn't have an answer for you, we'll find someone who does.

We may not offer every plant you want at this sale, but we can certainly give you information about it, or perhaps suggest an alternative.
Plants in Pots for the Patio or Yard

Maybe you want a plant for your patio or home for the fall and winter seasons. Come check out the plants that we have in pots ready for the home or patio.

Next spring, you could repot them into something larger or transplant them into the yard. Don't forget those sketches you made. See how the plants will fit into your plans.


Adapted Plants

This sale will also offer plants that are especially adapted to the Texas Gulf Coast, like the Brazilian red cloak, aluminum plant, Lepedeza little volcano, musical notes cleodendrum and others from TreeSearch Farms in Houston.

Additionally, we'll have specially-ordered plants that will add much color and aesthetics to your landscape. Several of these that could interest you from Greenleaf Nursery in El Campo include black knight butterfly bush in purple, tangerine beauty cross vine, Little John dwarf bottlebrush and dwarf crape myrtles in pink, purple, white and red.

Plants that have flourished in the Master Gardener greenhouse this summer include the brugmansia, datura, red bird cactus and crown of thorns.
PHOTO BY ROY COOK, VCMGA MEMBER
Red bird cactus is not a cactus at all, is a succulent shrub with white and pink mottled leaves and exotic bract-cups that will be available on Saturday from the Master Gardener greenhouse. An excellent border shrub that will grow outdoors in hot, humid regions, the variegated form takes on a pinkish tint during cooler weather. It gets its name from the small red flowers, appearing in summer, that resemble the heads and wings of tiny cardinals. It is also known as Devil's backbone, slipper flower and Jacob's ladder.
Much More than Plants

Perhaps you would like to buy something other than a plant. Recent addition of vendors to our plant sales increases your chances of finding that special item that you've been wanting as well as something that you didn't even know you wanted. We'll also be selling some great books, "Texas Garden Almanac" by Doug Welsh and "Insects of Texas" by David Kattes. Both books are from Texas A&M University Press.

Don't miss the wildflower seed balls and water garden equipment that includes frog, fish and turtle spitters, a complete small pond kit, bamboo fountains and small pottery fountains.

Support VCMGA

Another reason to come to the sale is that our profits benefit our educational efforts and Victoria Educational Gardens, which some people say is the best-kept secret in Victoria. The gardens, located across from the control tower near the airport terminal, are open free of charge daily from dawn to dusk. In the gardens, you can see many labeled plants growing and blooming in their natural habitats. This gives you a chance to see how they will fit into your plans and especially what size they will be when fully grown. You can also see plants already in pots or simply sit by the pond and watch the koi swim. The gardens can be rented as part of several packages offered along with the adjoining Officer's Club.

VCMGA is in the process of adding a pavilion with restrooms to the gardens, which will increase overall capacity to provide educational opportunities to the public.

Past spring tours were given to more than 1,200 adults and schoolchildren in the Victoria area.

So, come to the sale and support the horticultural educational efforts of Texas AgriLife Extension Service through our non-profit organization. Your support allows us to continue to help share our knowledge with the people of Victoria as well as surrounding counties.

When and Where

VCMGA continues its practice of a plant sale each spring and fall. We sell plants that have been propagated in our greenhouse, plants that have been purchased for the sale, as well as plants that have been grown at home by our own Master Gardeners. There may be a large number of some plants while others may be one-of-a-kind. Come early for best selection.

The sale will begin promptly at 8 a.m. Saturday in the Victoria County 4-H Activity Center, 259 Bachelor Drive at the Victoria County Regional Airport. The sale ends at 2 p.m. unless it is sold out before then.
PHOTO BY BRYNN LEE/VCMGA INTERN
Fall garden décor will be available for sale along with water garden equipment, wildflower seed balls, and two books on Texas gardening and insects by Texas A&M experts.
VCMGA FALL PLANT SALE

When: Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. or sold out, whichever comes first

Where: Victoria County 4-H Activity Center, 259 Bachelor Drive, Victoria Regional Airport

THINGS TO LOOK FOR AT THE SALE

Plants for fall season

Plants in pots

Plants adapted for the Texas Gulf Coast

Garden décor

Wildflower seed balls

Water garden equipment
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.