I went to a plant sale hosted by our local university's horticulture department a while back and got some great finds. The plants are grown by students for their classes and then sold to keep the lab running.
If you live in a community with any institution that does plant sales (universities, public gardens, etc.) I highly recommend checking one out. Each sale I go to I find some old standby plants to add to my collection and tempting new plants to experiment with. The most expensive plant I bought at this particular sale was the $6 verbana above. The fig trees were $5 each (a steal!) and the rest of the plants were $1-$2, and all were in excellent health. I may never buy droopy, overpriced plants at a big box store or "garden center" again!
My personal favorite discovery was this "pumpkin tree" (Solanum integrifolium), an ornamental member of the eggplant family. It's an experiment but my three-year-old daughter I just about flipped when we saw it. She's desperate to eat one of the little guys so I'll have to figure out how they are typically used (apparently they are used in Asian food but are quite bitter).
There was a beautiful Devil's Trumpet that I couldn't resist. Ours is poisonous in large quantities so I'll plant it with other ornamentals instead of in our food garden.
Our deal of the day were the large fig trees we purchased for $5 apiece. We have one that has thrived on our property for 30 years, and are eagerly adding new ones, watering them when we remember to, and hoping they survive the blistering summer heat. These three are sitting out the summer in the shade of the porch, where we notice the slightest signs of wilt and can be counted on to keep them alive until cooler fall weather arrives.
Posted by Jennifer McNichols