MOBILE, Alabama — Some days I feel like we’ve been cleaned out. Just as if a
couple of guys pulled up in a big truck, dug up and hauled off all our valuable
Gulf Coast heritage plants, and left us with Soviet-issue plants that resent us
and our Gulf Coast environment.
I don’t know about you, but it’s spring and I’m ready to
take back my Gulf Coast gardening heritage in a big way.
I’ve got holes in my beds ready for Deep South hydrangeas,
camellias and azaleas –shrubs that will survive any winter or summer the Gulf
can dish out.
I want flowering trees that flower consistently here — is
that too much to ask?
And I’m tired of listening to people moan about how the cold
blasted those limes and grapefruit the big box stores didn’t know any better
than to sell. I’m looking for the citrus that does well here year after year,
the Owari satsumas, the Mirasol clementines, the Kishu cuties that have proved
themselves over and over.
And that’s why we’re so fortunate to have the largest sale
of Gulf Coast adapted plants Thursday through Sunday at Mobile Botanical
In case you haven’t heard, the Spring Plantasia Plant Sale
at the gardens is a Gulf Coast tradition that is almost half a century old. In
that time, it has grown to become the single largest source of plant varieties
on the Gulf Coast.
I mean, we’re talking thousands of plants, and nearly a
thousand different varieties of plants. The reason it has become such a big
deal is that it fills a gaping hole: They provide plants that grow on the Gulf
Coast, plants that literally would not be available anywhere else.
These aren’t just esoteric, one-of-a-kind plants. These are the kind of plants
that every Gulf Coast gardener once enjoyed in their yards, like the
spectacular Southern Indian azaleas that are just beginning to bloom across the
city. These azaleas, which made the city’s reputation as one of the country’s
great garden destinations, are now almost impossible to find. Big Box stores
can’t stand them, because the Southern Indians grow on the Gulf Coast superbly
and not at all in the markets they prefer to cater to, like Ohio and New
But the Mobile Botanical Gardens has a bigger selection of these plants
than any other retail outlets.
For some cities, plant sales like these are cozy fundraisers. For cities here
along the Gulf Coast, this plant sale is a necessity, a life saver. You’ll want
to support it not just because it’s good for the Gulf Coast, but because it’s
good for you and your garden.
For a complete list of plants available, go to www.mobilebotanicalgardens.org.
The sale is free Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The preview party, with food,
drink and music and the best selection of plants, starts Thursday evening at 4,
and you can buy tickets at the gate. For more information, call 251-342-0555.
Bill Finch is chief science
adviser for Mobile Botanical Gardens, where he teaches his popular Gulf Coast
Gardening classes. Email questions to email@example.com. Speak to him directly on the Gulf Coast Sunday Morning
radio show, from 9 until 11 on 106.5 FM. Watch him cutting up with weatherman
John Nodar on the Plain Gardening segment on News 5 at Noon, every Friday on