Gardeners can't resist wholesaler's event

  • Follow Gardening

If you didn't get to attend the giant plant sale at McCorkle Nurseries in Dearing last week, you'll have another opportunity in the fall.

I took vacation to attend the sale, and will probably do the same in the fall. McCorkle is a fabulous nursery, but unfortunately it is a wholesale outlet except for the two public sales each year.

My buddy Sheila Stahl -- the only person crazier than I am about flowers -- and I have been to McCorkle's sales for several years now. We agreed that this year's crowd was the largest we've seen. We got there before the 8 a.m. opening and weren't even close to being the first at the sale.

McCorkle opened in 1942 as a family-owned business. Still family-owned, it produces millions of plants each year. It has developed many ornamentals, including one of my favorites, the Lady in Red hydrangea.

I ran into fellow Master Gardener class student Sheila Revell at the sale. She asked whether I set out with a plan, and we both hooted. (You're supposed to have a specific landscape plan before heading to nurseries.) Sheila and I agree that we're shameless impulse plant buyers.

I was intent on finding something to replace the tangled mass of overgrown nandinas, honeysuckle and unwelcome oak saplings taking over the back entrance of our house. I found the coolest Japanese maples that are absolutely perfect.

The prices at the sale are the reason smart shoppers bring wagons. The sale site on Luckey's Bridge Road is huge and packed with hard-to-find plants in addition to thousands of staples such as junipers, hydrangea, camellias, azaleas and roses.

The hot -- and I mean hot -- plant this year was the Snow-N-Summer Asiatic jasmine. People were snatching them off the tractor-trailer beds. Of course, I waded in to snag two, which is probably one more than necessary.

In addition to providing fabulous plants at great prices, the sale is like a big party for plant geeks. It's a wonderful blend of all types of folks who like to play in the dirt.

I overheard several conversations that indicated some people were unsure what to do with the plants they were wanting to buy. Sheila suggested it would be good for the master gardeners to offer their services to help folks with questions such as "Sun or shade?" "How big will this get?" and "What the heck is this?"

McCorkle will have another public sale in the fall, so watch for the ad. There's also a public sale at Layman Wholesale Nurseries in North Augusta that we've heard good reports about and intend to hit this year, too.

For all the plants I found last week, I still needed a flower fix. Because I was out anyway, I decided to hit Bedford Greenhouses on Oleander Drive on Saturday afternoon to see what was new. I found the coolest new addition for the deck -- Bonfire Dragon Wing Begonia. It is too perfect to resist.

I have had a disappointing report on one of the organic bug repellents we learned about in gardening class. A buddy reported that the squash vine borers made it through the barrier of radishes he planted around his squash. Darn.

My experiment of using coffee grounds to keep away ants isn't working very well, either. I suspect that's because we live on top of a giant ant hill.

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

Join the growing conversation with the Garden Gnome at blogs.augusta.com.

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