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Distinctive Foliage, Activities Highlight Annual Fall Plant Sale
The Boyce Thompson Arboretum has hundreds of locally grown, desert-adapted plants and expertise to help gardeners and landscapers.
Arizona gardeners and landscapers agree that fall is the best time of year to plant in this area. Day and nighttime temperatures are cooler, while soil temperatures remain warm, encouraging vigorous root growth that primes the plant for rapid growth in the spring.
Area horticulturists also agree that the annual Fall Plant Sale at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, which starts this weekend, is a great place to stock up on plants for the home garden, backyard or patio. Two-thirds of the plants available during the event are grown by the horticultural staff in the arboretum's own plant nurseries.
Some of the featured plants for sale include potted boojums, Jushua trees, turk's cap (favored by hummingbirds), Chaco feather acacia and blue emu bush (a purple-flowered shrub from Australia), as well as a large selection of herbs.
This year's event includes extended shopping hours, from 5-7 p.m., plus live "smooth jazz" guitar by Rudy and Bob Garcia, and a wine tasting where visitors can sample vintages produced by Gila County's only winery.
The wine tasting table is hosted by Jim and Marie Petroff, owners of the Pleasant Valley Winery in Young, Ariz. Varietals they produce include Italian Amarone, Muscadine red, Pinot Grigio and House Red. They also harvest local pomegranates for a unique fruit wine and won a 2011 Gold Medal for their Summer Honey Mead, a signature wine made from honey collected locally in Young and, they say, its based on an old Viking recipe.
Other special events during the plant sale include classes on making and cooking with mesquite flour and tours of medicinal plants, trees, butterflies, plants of the Bible and the historic Picketpost Mansion.
Experienced arboretum staff and master gardeners are usually on hand to answer plant questions throughout the sale. Arboretum horticulturists not only grow the plants for the plant sale, but also maintain many of these same plants in the gardens and exhibits throughout the Boyce Thompson grounds. They really know how these plants perform, from nursery pot to maturity, in a garden or landscape.
Wondering if a particular plant would do well? All landscape-size plant containers are labeled with complete plant information including type of plant (shrub, tree, perennial, etc.), flower color, flowering time, mature width and height, hardiness, exposure and wildlife that each plant attracts.
Anyone can preview the selection online. A list of varietals that often are available during the seasonal plants sales is posted on the BTA website or call phone gift shop staff at 520-689-2723 with specific inquiries.
Oct. 7 is the BTA members-only preview day. While the arboretum grounds are open, the plant sale then is reserved for members' shopping. The sale opens to the public Oct. 8 and continues daily through Oct. 23 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Daily admission is required for a visit to BTA; adults are $9, the fee is $4.50 for children ages 5-12 and those age 5 and under are free.
A UA CatCard is good for free admission during the sale.
Besides getting first pick at the plant sale, arboretum members also receive a 20 percent discount on all plants, books and other items (except food and artwork) in the gift shop.
Visitors who become members on the day of the Member Preview will have up to two of their adult admissions credited towards their membership fee, allowing immediate access to all member benefits.