Nursery is plant bonanza

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You have two days left to explore and gather native and exotic plants at Woodlanders Nursery in Aiken.

I learned about the annual open house at Woodlanders from fellow members of the 2009 Master Gardeners' class. After checking out the nursery's Web site, woodlanders.net, I was drooling.

Woodlanders is open for on-site shopping only one week each year. The rest of the year you must order the plants by mail, fax or e-mail.

On Tuesday afternoon, my buddy Sheila Stahl and I plugged in her GPS device and headed to Aiken to check out Woodlanders. We both returned with prized plants that we haven't seen elsewhere. (I finally have variegated Solomon's seal.)

The list of plants available for sale runs for nine pages. You are given the printout on arrival. There are even more plants listed on the Web site: a truly amazing number of plants.

The nursery is operated by Bob McCartney and George Mitchell. If you think you're wowed by the plants for sale, ask them to show you a few things in the garden -- such as the giant magnolia (umbrella magnolia, I believe) whose leaves will grow out to 2 feet or more.

The nursery's history is interesting, too. Robert and Julia Mackintosh bought the site in the 1970s. Both are experienced in architecture, landscape architecture and biology.

According to the company's Web site, they were enthralled by the area's botanical diversity and began collecting and propagating native plants.

Since the 1980s, Woodlanders has grown into an international source of more than 1,000 varieties of rare and hard-to-find plants. The nursery's focus on plants that will thrive in Southern landscapes is especially welcomed.

Even if you're on a flower budget, as some of us these days, a trip to this nursery will do your soul good. Woodlanders is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Saturday.

Woodlanders is at 1128 Colleton Ave. It can be a little confusing when you get there, because it looks like a normal residence.

From Augusta, take Gordon Highway (U.S. Highway 1) across the river and stay on Highway 1 (it becomes Richland Avenue) through downtown Aiken. Turn right onto Williamsburg Street. Pass the farmers market area, cross Park Avenue and turn left onto Colleton Avenue.

You will know you're in the right place when you see signs about how not to park.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

JOIN THE GARDENING conversation with the Garden Gnome at blogs.augusta.com.


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