We went to the 2010 Spring Plant Festival today. It’s a two day annual event at the USF Botanical Gardens. It was a wonderfully warm day for the outdoor festival. With over 50 vendors on the list, there were plenty of plants to examine. Now, these were not the kind of plants that you run down to the big box stores and pick up a dozen. With names like orchids, succulents, bamboo, tropical fruit, carnivorous plants, and heirlooms, you might think “I know those plants”. But the varieties of these plants are usually only found at this type of event. There are more than a few that make you stop and think…. “what the heck is that?”
The vendors comprise small, medium and large growers from around the state. With that variety, you get to experience the blend of exotic and tropical plants that are available to those of us here in zone 9. The mood of the folks there was very calm. People were just strolling along, with no one rushing, no hurrying around trying to get the “best deal”. Lots of conversations were to be heard. If you stopped and listened, you could hear customers and vendors talking up a storm about their favorite plants, what worked for them, what could spell disaster. A few good tips were picked along the way.
Every year some of our favorite vendors always have unique plants that we simply cannot leave at the show. And this year was no different. We walked away with some rare plants from around the world. We’re taking on the responsibly of caring for them, knowing that when we got into collecting your not so run-of-the-mill plants, we would never quite know what that particular plant was going to like or….hate. (I think that’s part of the challenge of gardening.)
Parched, we just had to sample the Italian ice…and……..yes, it was tasty. (We forgot and missed out on the hot dogs.) I got a new USFBG t-shirt. And our visit would not have been complete without checking out the garden’s bonsai collection and the bamboos.
I walked in to the festival thinking that I might find one or 2 keepers. Trish was thinking the same. (We think that every year.) At the end of the day, we needed to get the golf cart shuttle guy to load up all the plants and haul it to our truck. We bought a lot beautiful new additions for our own little “botanical garden” at home.
The USF Botanical Gardens is one of many fantastic natural resource for this area. If you want to spend a day enjoying the company of like-minded, plant-loving individuals, then I recommend that you make a point to attend one of these plant festivals. Check their schedule because they have other events throughout the year. Each plant sale has a different theme. Also, if you just want to spend a few hours with even more opportunity to relax and take in the beauty that fills this place, visit on one of the non-festival days.
The University of South Florida Botanical Gardens can be found on the web at: http://www.cas.usf.edu/garden