I look forward to this time of year all winter long, the Spring Garden Tour season and annual plant sales sponsored by some of the local non profit horticulture groups.
For many years now, my favorite plant sale has been the Long Beach City College Horticulture Department’s annual spring plant sale and fundraiser. This is their 42nd year and the sale falls on April 16th -18th, 2014, the week before LBCC has their Spring Break. If you are a local gardener and plan to attend, come early and don’t forget to bring a wagon. Its open from 9 to 6. I always manage to buy more than I planned on at this one sale. In past years, I have bought some great plants here I might not have tried or found otherwise like a dwarf variety of ‘lion’s tail’ Leonotis menthifolia, Psidium cattleianum ‘strawberry guava,’ Lobelia laxiflora ‘mexican bush lobelia’, ‘garden mister’ fuchsia, correa ‘dusky bells’ australian fuchsia, and gallaridia. Here is another post I did about it last year that describes what to expect.
There are many other sales and tours I don’t want to miss out on including the following:
- The Fullerton City College Horticulture Department is holding their annual spring plant fundraiser on Sat. May 4, Sunday May 5, and Sat. May 11. When I was at their tomato sale I noticed they already had a nice selection of perennials in the growing areas. I was delighted to find my favorite red cherry tomato for sale at the tomato sale. It is called Sugar Snack. It used to be availble from Burbee, but in recent years I have not been able to find the seed from any reputable garden retailers.
- Fullerton Arboretum Green Scene is a regional garden fair with hundreds of small local nurseries and garden vendors setting up booths for the weekend of April 12th and 13th, 2014. Before going to the LBCC plant sale, this was always my favorite garden event. I marked it on my calendar almost a year in advance to not have any conflicts. If you go, don’t forget to bring your wagon to this one! In my opinion, the best booth is always the California Rare Fruit Growers fundraising booth. They always have it well staffed with volunteers and members to help with questions. Some of my most loved rare fruiting plants have been propagated by their members, including Bababerry, Strawberry Verte Fig, Big Jim Loquat, Triple Crown Blackberry, Jupiter Grape, Neptune Grape, and Niabell grape. I also bought other berries ( Josphine, Caroline, Rosanna, Anne, and Kiwi Gold raspberries) from the CRFG booth, but none of them thrived more than a few years in my Southern California garden, unlike the Baba raspberries and the Triple Crown blackberry. My neighbor across the street bought most of her exotic tropical cherries from them as well, including Cherry of the Rio Grande, Red Surinam Cherry, Black Surinam Cherry, and Capulin Cherry. Every year the CRFG booth has a few new and different plants, depending on what the members donate. This year I am hoping to find a new grafted loquat. I am specifically looking for Vista White or Strawberry, but they haven’t had either one the last few years when I looked. There is a arboretum members only pre-sale the hour before it opens, and some of the best stuff gets sold during that time. I also used to always attend the Fullerton Arboretum’s Monster Tomato sale, but after last year’s disappointing, not so great looking, but pretty expensive tiny tomato plants, I am no longer acquiring my tomatoes from their sale. Plus the crowds just got worse every year. Hmmm. Instead this year, my mom and I grow some of the hard to find tomatoes, like Super Marzano, First Prize, Sun Sugar, and Big Zac, and we bought the rest, including sugar snack and Matt’s Wild Cherry from the Fullerton City College Horticulture department’s tomato sale this past weekend.
- Theodore Payne Foundation Native Plant Garden Tour is April 5th and 6th. It is a big tour of drought tolerant gardens throughout Southern California. The Westside and Southbay gardens are on Saturday and the inland gardens are open on Sunday.
- Fullerton Beautiful Tour is an excellent tour of 10 different private gardens each year, but I am bummed because once again I have a conflict and can’t attend. It is on April 27th, 2014.
- Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour was not held in Spring 2013, but this year it is scheduled for Saturday, May 3rd and Sunday, May 4th from 10 am to 5 pm. It is a diverse tour of private gardens opened for the public to tour with the proceeds going to local charities. This one features urban homesteads, fancy formal gardens, Japanese inspired gardens, formal gardens, cottage gardens, and more. It has something for everyone’s taste. Some years I only visit one or two gardens, but in other years I stop in at all the gardens within my local area. The gardens go as far South as the Southern end of coastal Orange County and as far North as Long Beach. Most of the independent Southern California coastal nurseries will be getting a tour newsletter with times and addresses sometime in April.
- Long Beach 3rd Annual Lawn to Garden Tour is also on May 3rd, 2014 from 10-2:PM so I will hopefully be stopping in at some of these gardens on the same day as the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Tour. This is a tour that highlights local front yards that have recently transitioned over to more waterwise and drought tolerant designs and that have eliminated or greatly reduced their lawns.
I have been wanting to take out our front lawn for more than a decade, but between my kids, the dog, and the other neighborhood kids, my lawn is still actively used and does serve its purpose. However, it is not a beautiful show piece. It only gets enough water to not die and often has brown patches and bare spots. Other houses on my block have participated in the lawn to garden program, and now their kids play on my lawn instead. Have I ever mentioned, on this little culdusac of 19 houses, there are 26 kids!? That is one reason we stay here on our little postage stamp sized urban lot. Once most of these kids have outgrown the need for a big lawn with a shady play area my maple creates, that lawn will be history. I have dreams of expanding my iris, alstromeria, and salvia collections and putting in either pomegranates, loquats, persimmons, figs, and/ or pineapple guavas out there, all of of which are drought tolerant fruit choices.