Welcome to October: Support your Independent Nursery Month. Pam at Digging started SIN Month a few years ago to show all the benefits of going to an independently owned garden center as opposed to a big-box store. Some years there are even drawings and give-aways. I'm not sure what's on the agenda for this year (as to whether there are any give-aways or not), but I figured I'd go ahead and start blogging about the local garden centers in case you're new to town and want to get a start on fall planting.
I, personally, like going to the big box stores in order to ask them for things I know they won't have...like Milkweed. Milkweed is quickly becoming the most sought after butterfly plant, and big box stores just don't carry it. A HUGE oversight on their part. But if you keep going in and asking for it, in theory, they'll eventually carry it. Of course, I think it would help if the Grow Green folks added a "Butterfly Host Plants" section to their guide since I know the big box stores by my house hand out that guide, and try to carry a decent selection of the plants in that guide. And I'm sure I have an inside track on this since I WORK WITH THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THE GUIDE. Jesus...you'd think that I'd have brilliant ideas like this more frequently, but alas and alack, I do not. [10 minutes later] Okay, I checked the guide, they do have "Mexican milkweed" as a recommended plant for the Austin area. But I still think they should have a little section on Butterfly host plants (much like they have a section on rain gardens).
Back to the issue at hand:
But you know who DOES carry milkweed? Your independent garden center.
They also have things right now like strawberries. Which you should plant now, not in January.
They also have garlic because now's the time to plant.
Anyhow, the garden center I'm highlighting this week is Barton Springs Nursery. BSN (as those of us in the Biz call it) is a quick jog from my office - I work at Barton Springs and Riverside. BSN is located on Bee Caves west of Walsh Tarlton and is usually quick and easy to get to (unless you're dealing with ACL traffic...so I'm really glad I decided to go there today at lunch instead of tomorrow at lunch). The Wild Birds Unlimited which used to be in the shopping center at Walsh Tarlton recently (like earlier this year) moved to the building adjacent to BSN, so now you can get all your plant and bird needs met with one trip.
Of course, I forgot that this is SIN Month, so I didn't take any photos while I was there...but I've highlighted them before (also no photos...damn).
Anyhow, my goal for today was to find more milkweed plants. My "Hairy Balls" plant I had through the spring and summer died and while I did just plant some plants in that area, I figure having additional milkweed isn't a bad thing*. Especially since I'm currently raising monarch caterpillars in the house and they eat a crap-ton of leaves. I found 4" pots and gallon-sized pots. Since I was looking for more leaves over more plants, I went with the gallon sized. Because it is a garden center which is in the business of trying to sell plants, they pick all the caterpillars off of their "for sale" plants and put them on their plants they have in the back which aren't for sale. Unfortunately, they had too many caterpillars and not enough plants, as in their plants were completely denuded, so they had 5th instar monarch caterpillars free to a good home. And that is how, even though I specifically got the plants to feed the ones I already had at home, I ended up with 3 more caterpillars to add to my menagerie.
*(aside: you have no idea how worried I was when I typed in "hairy balls plant" in the Google machine)