Exotic plants, expert advice will highlight sale


Desert-adapted plant species can be yours for a song at our semiannual sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd. Springs Preserve members enjoy a special early morning preview sale from 7 to 8 a.m.

Admission is free, although regular admission prices will apply for the museums and galleries. The sale also will feature booths, food and beverages. For more information, visit www.springspreserve.org.

Expect to find plants nurseries don’t carry, plus get tips from the preserve experts. You’ll be able to purchase plants sold in 1- and 5-gallon sizes, along with a handful of larger specimen plants.

The preserve only has limited quantities of carts, so bring your own wagon or cart to make your shopping pleasant.

All the plants at the sale offer numerous advantages for your landscape. Of course, they help conserve water which, in turn, helps you save money. Meanwhile, their low maintenance means you can spend less time caring for them, compared with other plants not indigenous to our environment. They also provide habitat and feeding grounds for wildlife and birds.

While at the sale, visit the preserve’s beautiful gardens. You’ll see many plants in their mature stages. This will give you ideas on how they’ll size up in your yard. You’ll also get ideas for how to use them in your landscape.

Here are some of the plants that caught my attention that will be available at the sale.

■ SUMMER SNOW TEXAS RANGER: This magnificent evergreen shrub has a loose, spiky form with small olive-green leaves. Its casual form makes it an ideal addition to any landscape. In the summer, during periods of high humidity, it explodes with refreshing snow-white flowers. It’s truly a low maintenance plant requiring minor shaping in the spring.

■ SUMMERTIME BLUE EMU BUSH: This selection came from Down Under, and has been a stellar performer in the preserve trial garden. This large, spreading evergreen shrub grows to about 6 feet tall and 10 feet wide. The narrow light green leaves occur on arching branches, giving the shrub a fountainlike appearance. Summertime Blue sprinkles itself with tubular-lilac-blue flowers from spring into fall. It’s very drought-tolerant, and handles full sun and reflected heat like a champ. Hardy to frost and extended dry periods, this gem will be a great addition to your landscape.

■ SIERRA RED OR FIRECRACKER BUSH: We call this native of tropical Florida and South America fire bush or firecracker bush. Its rich red flowers show off in the each spring and continue well into fall, followed by small black fruit. Hummingbirds love its tubular flowers. Mountain States Wholesale Nursery selected it for its intense red flowers. Other clones may range in color from orange to red. It’s an evergreen, producing whorls of 6-inch-long glossy green leaves to set off the flowers even more. As the weather cools, the leaves develop a nice burnished-orange color and defoliate if temperatures dip below freezing. It is easy to maintain at a 3 to 4 foot size. It does require good drainage and ample water during the blooming stage.

■ DESERT FOUR O’CLOCK: It’s a low-growing, colorful, native perennial that can function as ground cover. It shows off in cactus beds, near agaves and other woody shrubs. If you want great bursts of magenta color through the summer and into fall, include this plant in your yard. It’s termed “Desert Four O’clock” as its flowers open in the late afternoon and stay open into the evening.

■ SILVER DICHONDRA: This Texas native ground cover produces silky, silvery leaves from spring into fall. It makes a great color contrast when planted among darker-colored plants. It also adds great color and texture to container plants or in hanging baskets due to its cascading effect when used this way. Dichondra can die back during the winter, but rebounds again in the spring if it didn’t get too cold.

■ FALL VEGETABLE GARDENING: Let me show you how to have a successful “Falling Garden” at 8:30 a.m. today at the Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd. Also, Master Gardener Don Fabbi will also be teaching “Fall Vegetable Gardening” at 2 p.m. today at the West Charleston Library, 6301 W. Charleston Blvd.

Linn Mills writes a garden column each Sunday. You can reach him at linnmillslv@gmail.com or call him at 526-1495.