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From the Curator

Dear Friends,

Plants available at the Spring Plant Sale

An assortment of heirloom tomatoes
Courtesy of Tomatomania

Helleborus x sternii flower
Helleborus x sternii flower

42nd Annual Spring Plant Sale

Spring Plant Sale >>

May 2nd, 10am – 2pm

Members-Only Preview Sale >>

May 1st, 5 – 9pm

  • Northern California's Largest Plant Sale
  • Rare and Unusual Plants from the Garden's own Collection!
  • Featuring Drought Tolerant and Food Plants


Plenty to choose from at Botanical Garden sale >>
From SF Gate's Gardening blog, "The Dirt" about Don Mahoney's home garden.

Clemaholic >>
Our very own, "Clemaholic" SFBG Nursery volunteer, Lori Winning, writes a beautiful blog showcasing a complete selection, with pictures and descriptions, of all of the Clematis vines available at SFBG plant sales.

Plant Sale Floor Plan >>
Map out your route (PDF 480k)

Plant Sale Survival Guide >>
Tips for getting the most out of the sale

Banksia collina flower
Banksia spinulosa var. collina flower

Rhododendron occidentale, flower
Rhododendron occidentale, flower

Protea repens
Protea repens

Spring is here, and it's plant sale season. This year's Annual Plant Sale, Friday May 1st and Saturday May 2nd, is just around the corner. In addition to the normal array of plants in full bloom, we will be including edibles and additional drought tolerant plants for those who this year may want to remove a little watered lawn or border and replace it with a more water-wise landscape.

Even the Obama's are starting a vegetable and herb garden on the White House lawn this year, and we are hoping a lot of people follow their lead. We are encouraging our members to do their part by offering vegie starts at our sales this year. Our volunteers have raised from seed various heirloom and hybrid tomatoes including yellow Brandywine, Sungold, and black cherry tomatoes. These and others that are suitable for our cooler coastal climates are easy to grow and are a great way also to introduce children to the world of gardening. Other unusual edibles and herbs will be available at the spring sale and at future summer sales.

California native plants are well adapted to drought with the exception of a few waterside perennials. Since this is our third dry year in a row, for those of you with water shortages, this might be the year to begin replacing water lovers with water-wise plants such as natives. Ceanothus varieties are always much in demand and rightfully so as they bloom in beautiful shades of blue, come in many different heights and widths, are drought tolerant, and are important providers for the bees and butterflies of your garden. Many Ceanothus are repeat bloomers in the fall, especially along the coast.

We will also have drought tolerant native shrubs for shade such as Vaccinium ovatum, our native huckleberry, which is a great edible for jams and jellies, and Rhododendron occidentale, our native azalea which has a delicious scent.

Even our fern department is getting into the drought tolerant act by growing a large supply of drought tolerant, fuzzy-leaved rock garden ferns that take heat, drought, and need low water. Most are in the genus Cheilanthes. The fern department of course will also carry numerous species of tree ferns, including the black Cyathea medullaris. The shrub department will offer an exceptional group of South African Protea and Protea relatives, all of which are low water users. We will also have various Australian Banksia this year as our volunteers have been growing many species from seed. All these shrubs are showy, need little water, and are well adapted to poor soils. In fact, they prefer lean or rocky soils and do not do well in irrigated or fertilized gardens.

Our perennial department also has plants that can be surprisingly low water users. These include Hellebore and Epimedium for shade and some hardy Geranium and Salvia for sun. Other plants to consider for the low water garden are roses, trees such as Pittosporum and Podocarpus, and succulents of all kinds, especially Agave, Aloe, and Aeonium.

This is a great year to consider removing a little of your water intensive lawn or border and replacing it with some beautiful and interesting water-wise plants that you can get at this year’s Annual Spring Sale.

Happy Gardening,

Don Mahoney

Back to May 2009 newsletter >>