Pittsburgh Botanic Garden plant sale has something for everyone
March 18, 2016 10:34 AM
'Coral Charm' peony.
By Susan Banks / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
For the novice, choosing hardy plants for the garden can be overwhelming. For the experienced gardener, the trick is finding a special plant. The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden’s annual plant sale can make their lives easier.
Each year, the non-profit offers a selection of hardy trees, shrubs and perennials, with a couple of tender plants thrown in. In the past, paper catalogs were sent out, but this year, in the interest of being environmentally friendly, go on line to http://pittsburghbotanicgarden.org/ and click on the plant sale tab. It has full information on all the plants offered and a digital order form. Orders must be placed by midnight April 15. The plants can be picked up May 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, 799 Pinkerton Run Road, Oakdale,
Susan Washburn, sale chairperson of the plant selection committee for the botanic garden says that 100 percent of all sales benefit garden programs. The committee is tasked with finding a list of plants that will appeal to all levels of gardeners.
”The group (that selects the plants) has been together for a long time, and they have a lot of resources and a lot of experience,” she said. It’s “a bunch of plants geeks” getting together with long lists, then winnowing the choices down to a few. This year, they have chosen 26 plants to mark the 26th year of the event.
The plants that make the cut are mostly things the group has had personal experience with. It’s a mix of old and new, and some newer cultivars of old varieties. So along with ‘Mohawk’ viburnum, a Michael Dirr favorite first introduced in 1966, is a new helleborus,‘HGC Pink Frost,’ an early-blooming perennial described as “a flowering machine.”
“My absolute favorite is the peony (‘Coral Charm’ Peonia lactiflora). It’s a gorgeous peony,” said Ms. Washburn, who has had it in her garden for several years.
“Another one is Iris cristata (’Powder Blue Giant’ dwarf crested iris). These don’t require as much sun. They are native and they are outstanding.”
A tender perennial that will not overwinter here but can be taken indoors is ‘Illumination Flame’ foxglove.
“We are offering it again this year because it was so outstanding,” she said. “It bloomed all summer and fall for me in a container on the porch.”
Even if you don’t purchase from the plant list, you may want to visit the botanic garden on May 21 during sale hours. They will be selling trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and extras of the plants on the pre-order sale. Food trucks will be on hand, music is scheduled and master gardeners will be available to answer plant questions.
“We will also have our favorite tools and soil test kits from Penn State,” Ms. Washburn said.
Garden tours will be ongoing, and, as an added bonus, everyone who has a presale order will get free admission.
Post-Gazette garden editor Susan Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1516.
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