Every year, the Wharton Garden Club (of which I am a member of long standing) holds a Members Grown Plant Sale. We started doing it 10, 12 years ago as a fundraiser and it has been very popular. The primary reason for its popularity? Well, the plants are pretty inexpensive, there’s a wide variety of choices, and there are always people there that know a little about a lot of plants.
It’s big work to hold this sale. I’ve been chair before – it involves reminding, polite nagging, begging, mild threatening, pleading, and then figuring out the where’s, when’s, and how’s. This year I showed up at 8:30am to help with set up. While others brought out armloads of donated plants, I tried to figure out what went where – topicals together, annuals, perennials, trees, roses, camellias. My sister said I was being anal – not me! – well, maybe just a little.
Members are not allowed to purchase any plants until an hour before we close. Boo hoo. Customers started arriving by 930 and the sale opened at 10am. Once open, my job was to stand around and look knowledgeable. Hahahahahahahahaha!
I had staked out a couple of plants I wanted and put an invisible wall around each with the thought that if they were invisible, they wouldn’t sell. Worked pretty well – I got the ones I really wanted.
When all was said and done, I helped gather up all the plants not purchased (poor babies) and brought home a truck full. They’ll be going to the meeting this Thursday so the members that couldn’t/didn’t attend might have a go at giving some of them a forever home.
And what, you ask, did I buy???
Yep – a cactus. Don’t know its name yet but I really like the variegated coloring and its general warty look.
And a succulent. I do know this one – Crassula ovata, otherwise known as ET Fingers, Skinny Fingers or (and I like this one best) Gollum Fingers. A member of the jade family, it is happiest in a dry hot climate. Well, we got the hot part. As for the dry – it will sit on my porch and hope for the best with the humidity.
Toothache plant (Spilanthes acmella). I’ve grown this one before and like the unusual blooms. This one earned its name from the mouth numbing sensation caused by chewing on the plants’ flowers. It’s also called Buzz Buttons and Electric Daisy. This is a tender perennial, and according to one expert, likes full sun though my experience says not our sun – morning ok, afternoon not so much. It likes regular watering and will probably die in cold weather. Die as in not come back in the spring. It can be grown in a container, which is my plan this time.
The petal-less flowers are the thing, though. They are antiviral, antibiotic and antifungal, have a numbing sensation when chewed or rubbed on wounds, and are sialagogue (it makes you salivate – not mouth water – full on drooling). A tincture can be made of the leaves and flowers to help with mouth pain. For numbing effect, swish several drops in the mouth for a minute or so then spit out. For localized pain, a drop or two can be applied directly, or to a cotton ball and held on the area. For throat pain you can also gargle with a tincture mixed with water, or with a tea made with a few of the flowers.
Balsam, a member of the Impatiens family is also called Jumping Betty, Tough-me-not, and Lady’s Slipper. The plant blooms from summer through the fall with trumpet-shaped flowers that produce seed pods that explode when they ripen. It likes morning sun and protection from afternoon sun. This is a cheerful reseeder so plant it where you want many. It attracts butterflies and sphinx moths, grows well in containers, and will bloom all summer provided it gets enough water.
Once upon a time, the juice extracted from its leaves was used for treating snakebites and crushed flowers applied on burns and arthritic joints. An infusion of the flowers makes a good general tonic that is an effective emetic and laxative plus it promotes the flow of urine.
And, so far, that’s all I got. However, tomorrow may be another thing – don’t want any homeless plants!
8 May 2019