Monday, April 4, 2011

A Heckuva Plant Party

I took a day off work Friday to drive down to Sarasota to attend my first Tropiflora Spring Plant Festival. Tropiflora is the independent nursery from which I've been mail ordering miniature plants for dish gardens and a few tillandsias (air plants).

Orchid lover's paradise!
 OMG! This festival was to a plant lover what being locked in a Godiva chocolate shop overnight would be to a chocoholic. Tropiflora sells exotics and tropicals from all over the world. I had no idea how big the nursery is, or the tremendous variety of plants they offer. Plus, an additional two dozen or so vendors were there selling plants as well as garden art, garden supplies and even garden furniture.

The "Bargain Tents," where I picked up some
plants for my dish gardens for as little as $1

Orchids, ferns, bromeliads, succulents. It was fascinating just to browse the incredible assortment of plants.

Racks of bromeliads

This is a huge sale and very well-known in the Sarasota area, apparently, but it was all new and wonderful to me. 

I knew I was in trouble when a nice lady leaving the sale gave me the large garden cart she had been using to haul her treasures to her car.

Actually, I managed to restrain myself. I am really trying to utilize more natives in my yard, so I kept the plant buying to a minimum because I am saving my money for the USF Plant Fair this weekend. 

The angel wing begonia in its new home

But I couldn't resist a huge, gorgeous potted angel wing begonia with delicate white flowers, and a trio of eyecatching compact bromeliads called Neoregilia 'Orange Crush" -- with striking green striped foliage with a vivid flame-red center. Red is the primary color in my front yard landscape, and I knew these would provide a nice splash of color underneath my very shady oak tree. I checked with the bromeliad experts (Tropiflora had very knowledgeable staff and volunteers stationed in each plant tent ) and sure enough, this brom is supposed to hold its color in shade and stay fairly compact with minimal spreading. That is important to me because Rick and I removed about 100 bromeliads from our yard during the Great Landscape Makeover last year to reduce pockets of standing water that could harbor mosquito larvae. Those 100 bromeliads came from just two plants I put in the yard about 12 years ago! Naturally, my husband reminded me of this when I returned home with the three adorable little Orange Crush broms.

Who could resist these showy little bromeliads?

I also bought a few miniature plants for my dish garden, and some new tillandsias to replace the ones the squirrels ate after Rick and I created an elaborate framework of fishing line and eye hooks to artistically place them along the trunk of our majestic oak tree in the front yard. The very next day the tillandsias were gone. Not scattered on the ground around the tree, but gone! disappeared! and the fishing line severed. A wildlife biologist friend told me placing those tillandsias on that oak was like giving those tree rats a meal at a 4-star French bistro.

I've learned my lesson. My new tiilandsias are going to be anchored to driftwood and suspended from the side of our detached shed, where the squirrels can't get them. Theoretically.

Even though I really don't need many more plants in my landscape, the Tropiflora excursion reminded me of how inspiring and just plan fun it can be to spend a day with beautiful plants and like-minded plant lovers. I'm already getting excited about the USF Plant Sale -- my wish list is ready!

Who else is going to the USF Fest?


  1. "Even though I really don't NEED many more plants..."
    It's hard to think along these lines when you are surrounded by so much potential! Looks like a fun time!
    I wish I could go to the USF plant sale! Hope you post about it!

  2. Gee, maybe I was the nice lady who gave you the cart. I ♥ Tropiflora. I can go there anytime and wander around the grounds. The plant sales are can get some great plants at reduced prices and they bring in some good venders. My problem is that I wish I had a BIG budget when I go.

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  4. I LOVE Tropiflora! I did not go this year, but there is no place better to find spectacular bromeliads. And - the orchids! Glad you enjoyed the trip. I have had squirrels eat my Tillandsias - what a bummer. I hope you have better luck with the new location.

  5. I've always wanted to attend the Tropiflora sale. It looks like so much fun, and you got some really nice broms. Sorry to hear about your tillandias...I can't believe the squirrels would eat them. I wish they'd eat the ball moss.

  6. Daisy, NEED versus is always a paradox, isn't it?

    I'l keep all informed of my ongoing war of wills over the tillandsias with the squirrels.

    Now I'm looking at those three LONELY little Orange Crush broms and wishing I'd purchased about four more for bigger impact. Perhaps another trip south is in my future?

  7. Daisy, NEED versus WANT is always a paradox, isn't it?

    I'll keep all informed of my ongoing war of wills over the tillandsias with the squirrels.

    Now I'm looking at those three LONELY little Orange Crush broms and wishing I'd purchased about four more for bigger impact. Perhaps another trip south is in my future?

  8. Nanette,
    Tropiflora IS a fascinating place to shop. Sensory overload in the brom and tillandsia tents... the first time I went I was stammering trying to take it all in. I didn't go this year but I've been to the sale in the past and bought two of the prettiest neos I have... for $3. It's a hard thing to resist. Never knew squirrels eat tillandsia... hmmm... one more irritation from those pesky critters.

    Glad you got to go and have fun with all the other gardeners excited about plants. I probably won't be going to the USF sale... have babysitting duty all weekend and I've been spending all my allotted $$$ since January for the big project in the front garden. Have fun there... you should find some good natives.