Sep 13th, 2016

Fall PlantFest Features Natives

Buckeye Butterfly and milkweed

Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a must for any butterfly garden Not only will it attract all kinds of pollinators like this native buckeye butterfly, but it is also the host plant for the Monarch butterfly.

Plant fans in Richmond have been looking forward to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s plant sale since 1987, the year of our first plant sale. This year they are just as excited as ever, 29 years later we are still one of the most popular plant sales in Central Virginia.  Our plant sale is still volunteer-run with proceeds from the sale going to support the Garden’s educational mission. But a lot has changed too.  For starters, we now call our plant sale PlantFest.  We offer more varieties and a wider selection of plants than we had back then. Plus, you’ll find dozens of specialty vendors and live music at this year’s sale.

Bee on Asclepias tuberosa (milkweed).

A bumblebee on native milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa).

Laurel Matthews, Ginter’s greenhouse horticulturist, has been helping garden volunteers grow starts for the sale. I asked her  what plants she’s most excited about this year: “Colorful fall blooming natives that can turn your garden into a beautiful oasis,” she says. It’s easy to see why. Matthew has a sweet spot for Asclepias — a plant you’re more likely to know as milkweed or the host plant for the Monarch butterfly.  She wanted to make sure I told you about the added value “surprises” that you might also get when you buy your milkweed from us: Monarch butterfly eggs, ladybugs, and other beneficial insects. Enjoy the photos too!

ladybug on milkweed plant

A ladybug enjoying the aphids on our Asclepias incarnata. Will your plant sale milkweed have any beneficial insects on it?

Monarch Butterfly Egg

Have you ever seen a Monarch butterfly egg? This is what it looks like!

A monarch caterpillar on milkweed at PlantFest.

A Monarch caterpillar on milkweed.

We will have several different types of  native Asclepeias at the plant sale including Asclepeias tuberosa ‘Gay Butterflies’ (Butterfly Weed) and Asclepeias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed). Do yourself (and the Monarchs) a favor and plant this beauty in your home garden!

Perennials Galore at Fall PlantFest

Perennials (plants that come back year after year) are a great investment for your home garden and we’ll be selling many of our favorite perennials at this year’s plant sale. Unlike annuals, which you have to plant every year, perennials come back year after year, and won’t require much work from you.  If they are native perennials, they’ll be suited to the climate here and once established, won’t require  watering. Personally, I love perennials because they happily surprise me each year. I tend to be a somewhat forgetful gardener and so when a perennial dies back in winter I forget about it, until it happily surprises me the following spring.

Here are a few you’ll see at the sale:

Helenium autumnale Mariachi(TM) 'Salsa' - Flaming Sneezeweed one of the many perennials for sale at Fall PlantFest.

Helenium autumnale Mariachi(TM) ‘Salsa’ – Flaming Sneezeweed is one of the many perennials for sale at Fall PlantFest.

Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa) ‘Fireworks’with pollinator one of the many perennials for sale at Fall PlantFest.

Goldenrod ‘Fireworks’, a native blooming perennial, that attracts pollinators. By the way, goldenrod pollen isn’t responsible for your fall allergies — the pollen is too heavy to be carried on the wind. Sometimes goldenrod is confused with ragweed because they comes into bloom at the same time.

A skipper butterfly on Verbena bonarensis, another perennial you'll find at Fall PlantFest.

A skipper butterfly on Verbena bonarensis, another perennial you’ll find at Fall PlantFest.

Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Summer Nights' - False Sunflower

Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Summer Nights’ another gorgeous perennial with prolific blooms.

Toad lily or Tricyrtis sinonome.

Look for a lush beautiful batch of toad lilies (Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’) just coming into bloom at Fall PlantFest.

Salvia guarantica 'Black and Bloom PPAF'

Salvia guarantica ‘Black and Bloom’ features fabulous black-green foliage and brilliant blue blooms.

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

Leadwort, plumbago or Ceratostigma plumbaginoides is a favorite perennial that can thrive even in part shade.

Chelone glabra

Chelone glabra or turtlehead about to come into bloom. Yes, the blooms really do look like little turtle heads!

Did you know that fall (not spring) is actually the best time to plant? Plants have a chance to get established before the long winter ahead and are less likely to suffer from lack of water, especially if you put them in the ground after a soaking rain. “Stick them in the ground now and they’ll be so beautiful in spring and early summer,” says longtime Garden volunteer Betsy Slade. Longtime gardeners know that all the fall planting really pays off next spring and summer.

Longtime volunteers Betsy Slade and Nancy Penick in the high tunnel.

Longtime volunteers Betsy Slade (left) and Nancy Penick preparing for this year’s fall plant sale.

For a full list of the plants we’ll have be sure to see our Fall PlantFest plant sale list (PDF).

If you’ve never been to our fall plant sale, we hope you’ll come. Here’s a 2-minute video to give you an idea of what  Fall PlantFest is all about.

Fall PlantFest, Sept. 16-17, 2016

Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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