Thursday, May 9, 2013

Nursery Tour 2013

"This one? Or this one? Hmmm."
Many years ago, a dear friend and I began a tradition of visiting a new nursery each spring. We would spend hours at our chosen business, looking at demonstration gardens and debating the merits of this plant versus that plant. I would soak up her plant knowledge.

We had children in tow (her youngest is 15, mine 11) until they started school. Luckily, many nurseries supply little red wagons just for entertaining small children. Oh, those are for hauling plants? That works, too.

Over the years, we have visited every nursery we could get to during the school day.

On our trips, we talk about all manner of things:  children (our oldest sons are best friends and have been since kindergarten – they are men now), careers (she is a fine artist, and you can see her work here), and husbands (no comment).

And of course, we discuss and admire lovely plants. We are not landscapers, but plant collectors. Usually we discover some new plant to add to our collection. Because we are frugal, each plant choice requires much thoughtful debate and consideration.

Audra made us feel welcome at Bloom.
Yesterday we visited two nurseries, beginning with Bloom in nearby Dripping Springs. I had been there many years ago; this was Lona’s first visit. The nursery surrounds an old house. As is practical in a small town, the business has two sides: the house holds a bakery and lunch place called Thyme and Dough. We found some plants we needed that we hadn't seen elsewhere. We also found some sweets. We give the nursery and bakery our seal of approval.

Wildflower meadow at The Natural Gardener.
Next, we headed north to The Natural Gardener, one of the premier nurseries in Austin. We visited here last when my daughter was young. Truth be told, we did not love this nursery. It sold plants mostly in 1-gallon containers – too pricey for us. But it had some nice demonstration gardens. This made it the perfect destination for this year’s excursion:  a place with things to look at, but not to buy.

Or so we thought.

I was wowed by this garden art at The Natural Gardener. I am standing under a cedar gazebo.
This is a good use of a water feature
for a drought-prone area!

We spent quite a bit of time wandering through the demonstration gardens, much expanded since our last visit. We saw a labyrinth, a ground guitar surrounded by grass plots and a wildflower meadow, a kitchen/medicinal garden, animals (chickens and goats), a vegetable garden, and much more.

Then we headed over to the sales area. This nursery offers lots of xeric plants, with a wide selection of yuccas, agaves and succulents, as well as some of the usual annuals. Soon we came to those perennials sold in one-gallon pots.

Look at all the lovelies!
But wait, what was this?  A whole row of perennials in 4” pots – oh nooooooooo!

Overall, we were proud of our restraint. We came home with a reasonable amount of plants to fill existing holes in the garden. I have already put most of mine into their holes (supposedly rain is on its way!).

More importantly, we enjoyed a lovely day catching up on each other’s news and admiring beautiful plants and gardens. I think we should continue this tradition. What do you think, Lona?

Kitchen/medicinal garden designed by Austin designer Lucinda Hutson.


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  2. It is lovely to have a friend who is as nutty about plants as you are-- I speak totally from experience here! We call such excursions as you describe a 'road trip' and include lunch out (or a nursery picnic) and the plants we buy become souvenirs of the occasion.

    1. Oh yes, I forgot to mention lunch! We, too, usually eat out. This year we were short on time, so we ate a picnic in the car between nurseries. This year's favorite find was the moonshine yarrow, which Lona bought but I did not (yet). I'm glad you enjoy such special days, also!

  3. Great blog as usual!Except I'm pretty sure that's not me comparing Scabiosa, because I'm a redhead! Or I was when the kids were in the wagons.
    We discovered a new part of the fun this year, by seeing a nursery change and improve over time. In the past we've mostly tried to go somewhere we had never been.
    Like linniew we end up with souvenirs and call the one that strikes a chord with us the plant of the year. For instance, I can't remember what year we got our white potato vines, but I know it was a sunny, sticky, beautiful morning at Barton Springs Nursery.
    Yes, let's continue!

    1. You are a redhead - I'm sure it was just a trick of light! I knew I should have bought that yarrow . . .

  4. Looks like fun. I know these two nurseries, too. And, the food is good at Thyme and Dough.

    Catching up with each other, amid lots of plants....Sounds like a great day.

  5. Bloom looks like a fun stop in Dripping Springs, I'll have to check it out sometime.

    I visited The Natural Gardener for the first time in February and, of course, it looks much better now. The circle garden looks so much fuller and I do need to try to get another trip up there in warmer weather some time.

    1. It was beautiful, and we left feeling much better about it than we did after that long ago visit.

  6. Wow, that guitar garden at the Natural Gardener! When did that go in?! I need to stop by for a look -- very cool. I'm glad you found the 4" pots there. I always look through those myself. And I've visited the Thyme and Dough nursery in Dripping Springs as well. Did you stop by Solstice too? Lots of fun!