I love to browse plants online, but there isn’t anything like actually going to the nursery and talking “shop” with other plant devotees at the local nursery. This year I was able to top that experience, despite the pandemic, by attending the Manito spring plant sale.
The Manito Plant Sale
I’ve been going to the Manito plant sale since I moved back to the city of my birth four years ago, but the pandemic put a bit of a wrench in things. Manito is a nationally recognized public park known for 78 acres (.31 km.) of world class botanical gardens, including Japanese, rose, formal, perennial and even a conservatory.
This means that Manito has quite a selection at their plant sales, and a bonus: the sales are staffed by volunteer Master Gardeners. This year, although reservations were mandated, the sale went on as planned. My plan was to obtain some tall perennial shade lovers for an area of my mother’s garden.
I came armed with a list but I didn’t need it because the moment I entered the covered area designated for shade perennials I had not one but two extremely helpful Master Gardeners at my beck and call, not to mention a few other folks shopping who couldn’t resist adding their two cents.
I explained that Mom had the usual suspects — astilbe, Solomon’s seal, huechera, hosta, etc. –but that I was looking to add some height to her shade garden.
In no time at all we had collected an assortment of suitable plants: Ligularia or leopard plant, Cimicifuga ‘Chocoholic’ with gorgeous burgundy foliage, Tiarella cordifolia or heartleaf foamflower, and Bear’s Breeches or Acanthus mollis to name a few.
Not only was I able to enhance Mom’s shade garden with taller specimens, but I got plenty of info about caring for the new plants directly from gardeners who had actual experience growing them in their own garden.
This is the beauty of a gardening hobby. Those of us intrigued, or perhaps obsessed is a better term, with growing plants tend to gravitate towards each other to share knowledge both good and bad. Growing a garden then is anything but a solitary endeavor; it becomes a social activity; one that during these divisive times serves to remind us just how much we really do have in common.