My haul across the top: Bauhinia mexicana with unique pink bloom, chocolate plant (Pseudaranthemum alatum), two native Salvia farinacea, Asclepia tuberosa milkweed, a very cute begonia with dotty leaves, and nicely variegated tradescantia.
Bottom row: Native snapdragon vine (Maurandella antirrhiniflora), a new larger blooming variety of pink turk's cap (Malvavicus arboreus), cuban oregano, native pink rock rose.
All for free? Yes, most of the plants came from the City-Wide Plant Exchange at Festival of Flowers where just over 1,750 plants were exchanged during this year's event sponsored by Gardening Volunteers of South Texas (GVST) annually.
I simply took in a cart load of extra plants, turned them in for tickets, then exchanged my tickets for new plants brought to the exchange by someone else. Just a little work on my part to dig and pot up extras from my own garden and I get to bring home new and different plants. Each year I find a few special native plants on the tables and those are the ones I scoop up first. This year I snagged a new variety of pink turk's cap, similar to Pam's Pink, except it has a larger bloom. I'm giving away a secret here, but sometimes plants from the GVST plant sale booth end up mixed in with exchange plants. GVST propagates plants for sale at gardening events throughout the year. Their plant sales booth is just visible in the back right of the photo above. The GVST propagation team works with Texas Agrilife extension service to introduce new varieties so most are plants you won't find at retail nurseries for a while. That new variety of pink turk's cap was set out on the tables to help "seed" the exchange for early arrivals. Best to arrive early anyway before the "cart park" fills up. My cart is out there on the back left of the photo. If you plan to participate next year, please read (and follow) the rules on the link.
While there is a $6 admission charge to Festival of Flowers, you will get back so much more than that in access to vendor specials and informative seminars. My new native milkweed plant was free at the door as a giveaway from our San Antonio Water System (SAWS) so if you stop by their table you've already cut your admission in half.
I volunteer a few hours of my time answering questions at the show so my admission is free. That's me on the left with Laura Rogers and between us we answered some tough questions from local gardeners. The stumpers were descriptions of plants without photos. Our advice is snap a photo and bring it with you--so much easier to ID a plant that way.
|Photo courtesy of Anne Schiller, GVST
Next up is Agave cornelius. Just look at those ruffled edges and great color. As a bonus, it's cold hardy and forms a neat rosette instead of throwing out pups on long runners like most Agave americana varieties.
That was free too? Sure was, I used a gift certificate sent as a "thank you" from GVST for volunteering at the Watersaver Landscape Tour back in early April.
Did you notice a common thread with all my new plants? It's Gardening Volunteers of South Texas (GVST). If you've been thinking about getting more involved in San Antonio gardening, joining GVST is a great way to get started. Gardening Volunteers of South Texas holds classes at The San Antonio Garden Center from noon to 3pm on the third Monday of each month. For a five dollar donation you get lunch, a lot of great information on gardening in San Antonio from two knowledgeable speakers, and a chance to win great door prizes. So come on out, I'll see you there.