This past Friday, I was fortunate enough to attend the Wildflower Center Fall sale not necessarily because I needed more plants (which I don’t) but more for the fun and the atmosphere that the event seems to conjure up. I have attended most of their sales in the last few years and have never been disappointed both by the plant selection, the helpful and willing staff and volunteers and the friendly people who attend this event.
There is something about people who like the outdoors and nature and all things native. On the whole, they are an easy-going bunch and many of them are only too willing to share their knowledge and give advice to those that may be mystified by the immense selection of plants, trees and succulents on hand. On the whole, we, and I include myself in this grouping, are generally older folks who have more time to spend in the garden. For many of us, gone are the days of working, running a home and bringing up babies. Not to say that the people who attended were all old. On the contrary, there were many younger faces there most of whom appeared to be female which bodes hope that given time, they will be the older people at the event looking at the younger ones and remembering days gone by when they were at that point of their lives.
As usual, the event was superbly organized with everything laid out and labelled. There was always someone to answer any questions that the visitors may have. Others were pushing barrows and replenishing the stock on the tables as it swiftly disappeared. Every now and then, there would be a sold out sign for that particular plant which of course is good for the Center but not so good for the other shoppers who would be coming in on Saturday and Sunday. For those that didn’t bring their own cart, there was always a line at the pick up point where the Wildflower Centers own carts were made available. The volunteers whose job it was to get the carts from the transportation pick up point to the actual sale, a distance of a couple of hundred yards, were hard at it pulling two at a time in an effort to keep things moving. They had to be the fittest albeit the most tired of all of the volunteers who were working except maybe for the ones pushing the barrows to replenish the tables as they too were moving at a pretty good clip.
Did I mention that it was Friday when I was there? Those of us who are members of the Wildflower Center, get to have our own special day before the general public is turned loose. This is the Wildflower Centers way of saying thank you to all of those who have taken the time and trouble and have enough interest to pay yearly fees to help support the place. Being a member has its own rewards besides getting first pick at the goodies on sale. There are events going on throughout the year that we can attend for free and for most of us, just being able to walk around this beautiful place is reward in itself.
Besides the Center holding its sale, there were three other organizations all connected with native plantings. The first one that I came to was the Native American Seed and they were out of Junction, Texas. As the name implies, they had seed for every conceivable variety of native grasses in an attempt to wean people away from the water hogs like Bermuda plus all kinds of other seed packages with things like Prairie selection and Wildflower selection and many, many more. It was an interesting tent to walk around and I had to push my way through the gathered crowd inside. Politely, of course.
The next two tents were for basically the same organization except one was based in Williamson County and the other in Travis County. The name of the organization is the Native Plant Society of Texas. They too offered many plants, shrubs and trees for sale and all three appeared to be doing a brisk business. For anyone interested in finding out more information about these last two, you can contact http://www.npsot.org/austin for the Austin chapter and http://www.NPSOTWilco.org for the Williamson County Chapter.
I had planned on combining buying a few plants with taking as many pictures as I could but no sooner had I got started and had taken my first picture when my camera went dead. In a mild panic, thinking that somehow I had managed to break this wonderfully complicated piece of equipment, I examined the thing only to discover that it was a case of a dead battery. Normally. like all good photographers, I carry a fully charged up spare but then I remembered that I had made a decision not to bring my camera bag. Stupid me. At least I learned another lesson.
I was waiting in line to complete buying my plants and there was plenty of time to chat to others around me as there was some sort of delay in the front of the line. I found myself standing next to a very nice lady and we got into a conversation about pond building. Turns out, she was in the process of building a pond so we had a lot in common to talk about. It’s a small world.
Not to be deterred by the battery fiasco, I drove home and grabbed my trusty camera bag and headed back to the Center. Luckily for me, I only live about 6 miles away so it took no time at all, probably less than half an hour, but in that time the early rush of eager buyers had dropped to a relatively comfortable flow as the early birds had completed their purchasing.
I spent an hour or more taking pictures and talking to people before grabbing a latte at the small cafe just to sit in the shade and watch the comings and goings before heading home.
As usual, if you click on the bottom right hand diagonal arrows, the video becomes full size. Hit Esc to get it back to normal size.