Friday, May 04, 2012

Plants For Sale

The last weekend of every April, the Chihuahuan Desert Garden at the University of Texas at El Paso has a plant sale, to fund the following year's garden operations and maintenance.

I've attended several times, as a volunteer to help educate and sell plants, as well as to simply buy something and see the gardens.

A quick tour, starting in the cacti section, all grown by Rio Grande Cacti, 80 minutes south of Albuquerque. What's the rush?
Cacti and succulents, many native to our Chihuahuan Desert, of course! Plants of the Southwest in ABQ sells their plants retail.
For us mortals outside uber-mild, Sunset Zone 23-24 San Diego, Laguna Beach, etc., many non-natives are for summer pots, going inside in winter. But not all. And no problema with our native, spiky treasures.

Especially nice to accompany softer and flowering plants. Both need each other in many gardens.

The owners - Socorro Perez above, and Daniel Perry in the hat below
Some great smaller cacti finds, that I have some of (Echinocereus spp.)

More onlookers and shoppers

I guess she wants to see the rest, and so do you

The rush is on!

Many plants are sold under the shade cloth, so they don't dehydrate in those small containers. By mid-afternoon, it was 90F and 5% relative humidity, but only moderate breezes.
I believe the woman in blue is the new horticulture extension agent for El Paso County, whom I just met - Denise Rodriquez.

With the same initials as her predesessor? But I digress...

Isn't it great this sale with the gardens as a background, desert sun shining down? It showcases many of the attractive, regionally-native plants for sale. Acacias and Agave havardiana just beyond:

And some familiar owner and conservationist, Jim Tolbert:

Oscar Mestas, west Texas urban forester for the Texas Forest Service, assists a person in his tree purchase...the most important garden plant for many of us:

Especially when it is one of the mighty, native broadleaf evergreens...

Oh yeah! If these were grown by Mountain States in AZ, they are likely from seed I collected. If not, just as good.

That stunning tree is often everyone's favorite oak, in the foothills along the upper edges of the Chihuahuan Desert region.

Busy, busy. But someone stands out... 

A large Opuntia for each arm. Maybe he moved from Oregon??

At day's end, I took one last walk in the garden and met up with a few desert plant compadres. And the familiar Desert Willow / Chilopsis linearis

Already in bloom. These gardens are 250 miles S, almost 2000' lower in elevation, than my house. 4 weeks to look like that here.

Mormon Tea / Ephedra aspera? (behind Datil Yucca)

Prayer flags ala Bhutan, architectural inspiration for much of UTEP's campus...
and native honey mesquites.

But I got something, anyway. It's spring, and 500+ miles of driving, even in the desert, means bugs to clean off my shiny car.

I visited Oscar Mestas on the way back. Not only did he show me some of his great tree plantings on he and his wife's property in the valley, he even gave me some eggs from their chickens. MMMM! 

Dr. Bill Wood, director of the UTEP Centennial Museum - which includes the Chihuahuan Desert Garden - noted the funding for the gardens. He simply ended that introduction to the Friday night speaker - "thank you."

No, thank you. Something else I picked up...I bought (7) Rock Penstemon and (1) Superb Penstemon. All planted, now.
Music to pair with this plant sale and road trip? The closest thing I can find, "Love for Sale", by Billie Holiday!


  1. Plant sales, fundraisers, are the only source now for many things.

    One in particular is so incredible it's known to have created 'aggressive' shoppers. They will snitch plants in your wagon if you aren't looking. That's the code. If you are looking, no stealing.

    But if you look after the fact, they smile and walk off with your booty.

    No kidding.

    XO T

    1. I forgot to add that this sale was started in hopes local nurseries would start growing / selling natives...still no luck! Your account is scary, like cabbage patch doll fights on black Friday.

      Code of the plant sale!

  2. Oh maaaannn, why'd you have to post all those pics ? I mean how kool are events like that.

    I really like the cactus 4-sale. I really miss the desert. I've finally just put my Tenerife Prickly Pear Cactus pad outside in it's little pot three days ago.


    1. I should post something from a past Seattle trip for you. Glad it finally warmed up enough to put some potted cacti outside!

  3. Wow, that does look like an awesome sale! The penstemons look like a great acquistion for your landscape.

    I found some nice plants at the MG sale here in SA yesterday.

    1. Already planted...I plan to post on that penstemon, and it might really do well in your area, too. Yes, I heard about your have a sale here in August or September (monsoon season), as they decided to cancel the April one (too windy).

  4. Wow! I'm pretty sure I would go plant crazy! I especially love the opuntia man. You are soo right!!! That would be me if I were there!

    1. Many good choices there! And there's another plant sale on the same day in Fort Davis - about 3-1/2 hours SE. Many of their plants are grown by local growers or at the Sul Ross State Univ. greenhouse.

      But good choices even from the big AZ grower that even local nurseries just do not get they should supply.

  5. We have a plant sale tomorrow in Tucson.....oh bad bad bad....I always spend way too much money at these events. Love your tour. Have a great weekend. Chris

    1. Sounds like fun...just take only so much $, and you might be safe! Tell how it goes, where, etc.

  6. Here's a question:

    When or where is your article on Southwest Trees and Turf going to show up ? I looked for it on Helen's latest May issue from May 6 2012, but didn't find your mention anywhere and she published on here Facebook that you would be published in the May/June issue.

    Congrats - Kevin

    I've known Helen Stone almost from the beginning when she started publishing that journal out of her house in Las Vegas around 1998 when I was doing promotional work for Visa at the time.

    1. Not really sure...I'll let you know via e-mail. Maybe it is a matter of my article fitting with everything else that month?

      I've contributed a few other articles to SWTT over the last 8 years. I wish I could do one article every's such an informative publication, and Helen's a great woman.


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