Hunt for treasures at the master gardeners' plant sale

May 17, 2007




A treasure hunt! Doesn't that sound exciting? I have always enjoyed the fun of a treasure hunt, finding clues and then following the trail to get to the prize. As a child living in the country, my brothers, sister and I would hide things and then give clues to each other in order to find the prize. What was the prize? Well it might be toys, candy or money (even pennies were riches back then). We especially enjoyed finding the Easter eggs and then would spend the rest of the afternoon taking turns hiding the eggs again and again for each other.


As I have "matured" I don't go treasure hunting quite as often; however, I hope to provide some treasure hunts for my grandchildren when they get a little older.


Although I do not have my husband, children or siblings go out and hide things with the express purpose of finding them, there are treasures hidden in our yards to find and explore. There are bugs, birds, butterflies, wildlife and even plants and trees that we take for granted or don't know the name of. I have always enjoyed being outdoors and squatting down to look at a bug going along at its work. These things are very relaxing and pleasurable to me.


So are you ready for that treasure hunt? You start at your home - and on Saturday, May 19, you will get into your car, truck, van - or whatever - and get on U.S. Highway 59 going towards Houston from Victoria. Head over to the Victoria County Airport complex and drive around the maze to get to where you are two blocks north of the airport terminal. Find Bachelor Drive. Find the green and white 4-H Activity Center sign and building. At the 4-H Activity Center, 259 Bachelor Drive, you will find "the green stuff."


OK, so I'm not talking about money. But there will be loads of green and other colors as we, the Victoria County Master Gardeners, will be having our annual spring plant sale. There you'll find the treasure.


The sale begins at 8 a.m. and will conclude when all plants are gone or 2 p.m., whichever comes first. If you have some specific "treasures" in mind, come early, as we have sold out quickly in the past.


Our greenhouse at Victoria Educational Gardens is full to capacity with plants that have been started by the master gardeners. Some of the master gardeners are also propagating plants at their homes for the sale. See the accompanying list of plants that will be available.


In addition to the plant treasures, I enjoy wildlife. Many times the plants that we choose will also bring the wildlife closer to us to view.  Hummingbirds and butterflies are two of these that we can bring in with plants. Two plants that will be available in the plant sale and attract hummingbirds and butterflies are cape honeysuckle and shrimp plant.



The shrimp plant, with its bloom resembling a shrimp, is versatile in that it can be planted in full sun, part sun or partial shade.



Cape honeysuckle (tecomaria capensis) is a fast-growing evergreen shrub. The plant is not really a honeysuckle at all and does not require a trellis structure. It grows well in full sun or partial shade and will grow to 8 feet in height and 4 feet wide. It has a high heat tolerance and is a wonderful xeriscape shrubby type plant since it has low water requirements after it is established. The blooms are vivid orange, and the plant has a long blooming period.


Another plant that not only attracts hummingbirds but is deer resistant is the shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana) with its bloom resembling a shrimp. This plant is versatile in that it, too, can be planted in full sun, part sun or partial shade. This is an evergreen perennial that blooms all year with colors of pink to red. It grows to a height of 2 to 4 feet and again requires little water once established.



These plants are at Victoria Educational Gardens (VEG), so drop by and view them to see if they will fit into your garden. I have found that if there is a plant that I want to add to my garden, one of my first visits is to VEG to see how the plant looks in relationship to other plants and its size and shape. Another place you can view plants and find information about these plants is a web site, . And lastly, if you have questions about plants, ask the friendly Victoria County Master Gardeners. It's what we like to do!


For those of you who love roses, we will have a variety of antique roses from The Vintage Rosery in Needville at the sale. There has been a revival of the antique roses in recent years with people going to old homesteads and cemeteries looking for roses that have survived over the years. These old roses generally require less fertilizer, pruning and spraying than many of the hybridized roses. Many of the antique roses have the "old rose smell" that is missing from many of the newer varieties. We will have several different types of roses such as climbers, noisettes and teas all grown in an organic setting.


After browsing and buying the plants that you want at our sale, go by the gardens (VEG) and take a walk around. We are continually adding new plants - and the new expansion area has its grand opening on June 10. Proceeds of these sales go to projects such as the expansion and the upkeep of the gardens. We want to give a special thank you to Devereux Gardens for donating plants for our sale. Their support over the years has been wonderful.


So, come out this Saturday, May 19 and see what you can find. This is a treasure hunt that I think you will really love.



May 17, 2007


Aztec grass


Monkey grass

Zebra grass


Alligator plant


Angel wing begonia

Big yellow sage

Blue mist

Boston fern



Confederate Rose









Lion's tail

More Perennials
Louisiana iris

Mexican bush sage


Pavonia lasiopetala (rock rose)

Persian shield

Philippine violet

Pink crinum


Purple liatris



Shrimp plant

Society garlic


Variegated artemisia

Wandering Jew


Vegetables, Herbs and Fruit


Bell pepper

Heirloom tomato





Myrtle communis



Mexican sunflower




Palms and Trees

Chinese fan palm

Anaqua tree

Golden rain tree

Parasol tree

Texas mountain laurel

House Plants and Porch Plants


"Exotic" aloes


Night blooming cactus

Pothos ivy


Cape honeysuckle

Mexican honeysuckle



Airplane plant, spider plant

Angel trumpet

Bengal tiger canna


Crown of Thorns (red and yellow)

Dwarf banana

Dwarf pink canna

Pride of Barbados

Tropicanna canna



Asian jasmine

Creeping jenny


The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas Cooperative Extension-Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, Texas 77901; or, or comment on this column at