Saturday, April 25, 2009

Parkfairfax Native Plant sale is worth the wretched drive

Today, after pulling invasive plants for an hour in the Sligo Creek as a part of the great Garlic Mustard challenge, I headed off to Northern Virginia in search of Parkfairfax, where I had been told I'd find some of the best native plant vendors in the region, gathered together for a big plant sale.

Here's what's funny: Parkfairfax isn't a park, and it isn't in Fairfax. Its actually in Alexandria. And its a forties style housing development, with condos, townhomes, etc. Its full of trees and very pretty.

But, ah, Northern Virigina. Land of a million confusing place names and twisty roads which allow no return back to the correct highway, back to the place where you MEANT to turn... oh, wait, that WAS my exit.... no wait, that will take me to Mt. Vernon... wait, I think THAT was my turn, aw hell.... I need some gas I'm almost on empty....and hey, Guy Driving Behind Me in a Hummer, will you please stop tailgating? I'm already doing 70 and I have no idea if I need to turn on these roads coming up....

Covered in sweat from the GM pull, and horrified by the number of turns I had to make to remain on 395 before even getting close to my destination, I began to wonder if it was worth the trip.

But then, I arrived to find some of my favorite vendors, including some like Jim Plyler, who normally only sale wholesale, and Enchanter's Garden from Hinton, West Virginia, which always has these huge pots filled with my favorite native perennials. Oh, and did I mention Green and Sticky, the retail arm of American Native Plants in Baltimore? There I was able to secure two of the biggest, loveliest Blackhaw Viburnums I have ever seen for a very reasonable price. Wahoo, it was wonderful. I happily found almost everything my current clients have been looking for, plus some stuff for my own little garden.

I also had the chance to chat wit the sale's organizer, Scott Knudsen. Scot is somewhat semi-famous for his efforts to both attract vendors to this fancy little housing development, and also for being a part of the big effort to remove invasive plants from the Parkfairfax greenspaces.

So, if you are willing to brave the terror that is a Saturday drive from Montgomery County, Maryland to the heart of Alexandria once or twice a year, it is worth the trip! Send Scott an email (Sknudsen at earthlink dot net) and he'll happily put you on his email notification list.

Just be sure to pack loads of water, some snacks and a few good maps that depict what the heck you should do if you find on the return trip that 395 is a parking lot due to construction traffic and protestors shutting down streets in DC. Otherwise, prepare to suffer. Or see a lot of angles on the Pentagon, again, and again, and again.....

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