The Master Gardener plant sale is today (Friday, May 13), from 11:00 – 7:00 at the United Community Bank diagonally across from the McDonald’s in Blue Ridge. It’s in the back at the pavilion.
This is the place to get your beautiful native azaleas and other wonderful natives.
Unfortunately, I’m told that the natives aren’t separated from the exotics, so you’ll have to bring your field guide or trust one of the Master Gardeners to shake it out for you. Apparently, not everyone has gotten the message, including the folks at Gibbs Gardens down in Tate.
If you haven’t heard it, here it is in a nutshell: (1) All the diseases that are killing all our beautiful native trees out in the forest came in on the nursery trade. (2) Plants throw up chemical defenses against insects who want to eat them, so unless the insects have co-evolved with the plants, they can’t eat them. Which is why the aliens can out compete the natives – they have no predators. No insects, no bird food. Some of the visionary entymologists like Douglas Tallamy are beginning to say that if we don’t start redressing the balance by planting more natives, that the whole food chain – the food pyramid – might crash. That’s not the only problem, of course, because they’re beginning to see an asynchronicity between bloom and pollinator, due to global warming. Not to mention that the nice folks at the chemical companies don’t feel like stopping selling the stuff that seems to be screwing up the bees. You know, like the evidence that cigarettes cause cancer, the science is … inconclusive.
Anyway, if even you don’t buy all that, our native azaleas are very beautiful. The species that’s native to our mountains is the flame azalea, R calendulaceum. They are the bright orange azaleas you see locally. So I’m planting those, even though you often have to build a cage around them to keep the deer off, about six feet tall, until they grow higher than the deer can reach in a couple years.
In other words, this is the place to buy your plants. It’s for a worthy cause, and the prices are good.