Two big plant sales have gardeners lining up, wagons in tow _lowres

Photo provided by New Orleans Botanical Garden -- The Peggy Martin rose is a sturdy and beautiful local variety that volunteers propagate for the Pelican Greenhouse sale in City Park.

It’s the Saturday that garden groupies have anticipated for months: the first Pelican Greenhouse rose sale of the 2015 season, plus Parkway Partners’ big tree and plant sale.

Starting today and continuing through October, City Park will host a monthly greenhouse sale on the second Saturday of each month, except for April when greenhouse plants will be sold at the New Orleans Botanical Garden Spring Garden Show.

And though Parkway Partners hosts monthly sales at its Baronne Street headquarters, today’s sale, at the Department of Parks and Parkways location on Gentilly Boulevard, is their biggest sale of the year.

Both events start early, but don’t be surprised to find a line of shoppers — wagons in tow — long before the gates open.

“We do the best we can to get everyone in quickly because so many of the buyers already have their lists highlighted and know exactly where to go to look for what they plan to buy,” said Kathy McNamara, the horticultural manager of the New Orleans Botanical Garden.

“We post the plant lists on the website ( so some of the serious buyers plot out their track through the sales area ahead of time so that they have the best chance of getting what they want before we sell out of it.”

Keeping it local

Many of the plants and all of the roses offered for sale at the Pelican Greenhouse are the result of loyal volunteers, with the guidance of greenhouse manager Dionne D’mello, growing plants from seeds and cuttings throughout the year to propagate as many as they can, especially for plants they know will be in demand.

Other plants are purchased from a Louisiana nursery at a discount for resale.

Both the Pelican Greenhouse and the Parkway Partners sales are wildly popular with garden aficionados.

“We have plants, especially old roses, that are very hard to find at nurseries and big box stores in the area. Some of the roses can’t even be found online. When you can find them, they likely won’t cost just $12, which is what we charge for them,” D’mello noted. “So our low prices are a second factor.”

And both sales have a do-good bonus, as proceeds from the greenhouse sale go to support City Park and proceeds from the Parkway Partners sale support its important work in the community.

Offerings at the sales cover a full spectrum of trees, shrubs, ornamentals and edibles. At the greenhouse, many of the roses for sale are repeat bloomers, including Caldwell Pink, Champney’s Pink Cluster, Duchess de Brabant, Perle d’Or and Red Cascade. Others, such as Lady Banks White and Lady Banks Yellow, bloom only once.

Bedding plants, bulbs

You can complement your rose purchases with bedding plants such as larkspur, dianthus, viola, delphinium, nasturtium, columbine and salvia. Popular shrubs on sale include azaleas, gardenias and Indian Hawthorn.

Some of the plants that grow from bulbs or rhizomes include walking iris, Louisiana iris, crocosmia, daylilies and agapanthus. Staples such as buddleia, coneflower, rudbeckia and lantana will also be for sale. At the Parkway Partners sale, native trees including bald cypress, pond cypress and fringe tree will be available, as will citrus trees, figs, blackberry bushes and native persimmons.

Ferns and camellias will be for sale, as will trees including sweet olive, swamp red maple and vitex.

Hungry for more?

Gardeners who believe in eating what they grow will find a bounty of edibles at both sales. They can choose from a variety of herbs, plus arugula, cauliflower, banana peppers, tomatoes, Swiss chard, kohlrabi and lettuces, as well as blueberry, kiwi and passion fruit plants.

If you’re worried about buying the wrong plant, no need to fret: A band of knowledgeable greenhouse volunteers will be on hand to guide your purchases in City Park and the LSU AgCenter’s Dan Gill will broadcast his WWL-TV show live from the Parkway Partners sale.

For sales like these, a wagon is a must-have for carting prospective purchases around while you browse. A limited number of loaner wagons will be available, but it is best to bring your own to ensure glitch-free shopping.

R. Stephanie Bruno writes about houses and gardens. Contact her at rstephaniebruno