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Where the garden pros shop: you too can score big at this fall's plant sales.

AUTUMN IS SALE SEASON at some of the best botanical gardens, plant societies, and horticultural schools around the West. Which is perfect timing, because many perennials, shrubs, and trees should be planted now. The cool months ahead (and, in many areas, the winter rains) will give plants a jump-start on developing strong roots, making them guaranteed crown jewels of the garden by next spring.

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Shop at plant sales and you'll often have access to a more unusual selection of plants at low prices, but they'll be a far cry from the perfect specimens packing the neat aisles at your favorite nursery. Think of these sales as the flea markets of the botanical world: lots of dinged-up merchandise that could, with a little TLC TLC total lung capacity; thin-layer chromatography.

TLC
abbr.
1. thin-layer chromatography

2.
, turn into treasures.

THE LOWDOWN low·down  
n. Slang
The whole truth: gave us the lowdown on what happened at the party.

lowdown low (inf) n he gave me the lowdown on it →
 

Set your alarm Many of these sales become mayhem by midday. Arrive early (most open around 9) to get the best plants.

Expect the unexpected You'll generally see more obscure plants than what the typical nursery stocks. Some sales post inventories online before the event, which gives you time to do a little research. Or, when you arrive, ask for a plant list, grab a cup of coffee, and take a few minutes to plan your attack.

Look beyond the surface Many of the plants for sale will look rattier than those you'd find in a nursery. It's okay: They're just slowing down for winter. Given time to spread their roots, they'll come soaring back in spring.

Cash, check, or charge? Find out before you go--there's nothing worse than having to pass on that one-of-a-kind acacia just because the sale accepts only cash and you didn't bring any. Unlike flea markets, though, these sales are usually fund-raisers--getting a bargain is fine, but bargaining itself isn't cool.

BYO BYO Build Your Own
BYO Bring Your Own
BYO Brew Your Own (beer making magazine)
BYO Buy Your Own
BYO Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (2nd largest city)
BYO British Youth Opera
 Be a pro and bring some bags or a cart to get your haul to your car.

Join the club Become a member of your favorite garden or plant society. Chances are you'll get early access to its sale.

WHERE THE SALES ARE

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Oct 1 & 2, Oakland Merritt College Fall Plant Sale Unusual edibles that you won't find at your local nursery.merrittlandhort.com

Oct 8, Santa Cruz Arboretum at UC Santa Cruz Colorful exotics and natives. arboretum.ucsc.edu

Oct 8, Walnut Creek Ruth Bancroft Garden The Ruth Bancroft Garden 2.5 acres (10,000 m²) is a dry botanical garden containing more than 2,000 cactus, succulents, trees, and shrubs native to Africa, Australia, California, Chile, and Mexico. It is located at 1500 Bancroft Road in Walnut Creek, California, USA.  Fall Plant Sale Succulents and natives.ruthbancroftgarden.org

Oct 9, Davis UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery plant sale One of the best in the whole region, including plants adapted to growing in the Central Valley.arboretum.ucdavis.edu

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Oct 1-31, Santa Barbara Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Fall Plant Sale Spectacular California natives. sbbg.org (click on "classes")

Oct 15, San Diego California Native Plant Society The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) is a California not-for-profit organization that seeks to increase understanding of California's native flora and to preserve that flora. The CNPS was formed in 1965 in the East Bay. , San Diego chapter Natives for drought-tolerant gardens.cnbssd.org

Oct 15 & 16, Encinitas San Diego Botanic Garden Annual Fall Plant Sale California natives, cactus, succulents, bromeliads, fruit trees, and subtropicals. $12 garden admission fee; sdbgarden.org

NORTHWEST

Oct 1, Beaverton, OR Tualatin Hills Nature Park Fall Native Plant Sale Trees, shrubs, and flowering plants. thprd.org

Oct 1, Seattle Washington Native Plant Society's Central Puget Sound Native Bulb, Seed & Plant Sale The name says it all. wnps.org

Oct 1, Tacoma Tacoma Nature Center's Fall Native Plant Sale Trees, shrubs, flowering plants, and bulbs. tacomanaturecenter.org

SOUTHWEST

Oct 15, Las Vegas Las Vegas State Tree Nursery plant sale Native and desert-adapted plants and pine trees. forestry.nv.gov

Oct 15 & 16, Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden Fall Plant Sale Desert-adapted plants, along with just about every low-water-use landscaping plant under the sun. abg.org/plantsale

Oct 15 & 16, Tucson Tohono Chul Park Tohono Chul Park is a 49 acre (0 m) nature preserve in Tucson, Arizona, United States. Park History
In the 1920s, the entire northwest section of Tucson was considered ideal for growing frost-sensitive citrus and date
 Fall Plant Sale Arid area--adapted plants, including many Arizona natives. tohonochulpark.org

MOUNTAIN

Sep 24, Denver Denver Botanic Gardens The Denver Botanic Gardens 23 acres (9.3 hectares) has been recognized as one of the top five botanical gardens in the United States. The Gardens are operated by the City and County of Denver, and are open to the public.  Fall Plant and Bulb Sale Rockies plant sales tend to take place in September; this 10,000-bulb spectacular is one of the month's latest. botanicgardens.org

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BEFORE & AFTER You'd never see such a sad-looking salvia salvia: see sage.
salvia

Any of about 700 species of herbaceous and woody plants that make up the genus Salvia, in the mint family. Some members (e.g., sage) are important as sources of flavouring.
 at a nursery, but plants often Look a bit bedraggled at a nonprofit's plant sale. We sunk this Salvia greggii 'San Takao' into the ground in fall, and it made an amazing comeback the next spring.

BY JOHANNA SILVER | PHOTOGRAPHS BY RACHEL WEILL
COPYRIGHT 2011 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Planting
Author:Silver, Johanna
Publication:Sunset
Date:Oct 1, 2011
Words:705
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