Visiting the Learning Garden

A small peek at the Learning Garden

A small peek at the Learning Garden

This year I made my first visit to the Learning Garden Plant Sale in Yorktown, VA.  It was a fun experience for many reasons.  First off I showed up early as advised by my blogging buddy Janet who was one of the Master Gardeners working the sale.  This sale is quite popular with the locals and the line to get in was already quite long an hour before they let us in.  Some of these passionate gardeners not only enjoy the bargains to be had but the social interaction of catching up with each other each year.  I felt quite comfortable chit-chatting with several of them.  When they cut the tape to let us in, it was a mad rush to grab carts & boxes.  lol  Everyone seemed to have a list in hand of plants they were looking to take home. 

(Blue Star, Ostrich Fern, Fire Pink, Money Plant, Beautyberry, Columbine & Yorktown Onion)

(Blue Star, Ostrich Fern, Fire Pink, Money Plant, Beautyberry, Columbine & Yorktown Onion)

One of the best finds of the day was the Yorktown Onion or Allium ampeloprasum which is a non native allium that was brought over accidentally to this country during the Revolutionary War according to legend.  It blooms on the Yorktown Battlefield every June and is protected by law.   They had such a small amount of these available for sale that one pot was limited per customer.  But Janet informed me that each container holds at least 3-5 plants.  The Ostrich Fern pot has a bonus bit of another plant which Janet pointed out to me.  (upper photo) It’s the Acanthus mollis or commonly called Bear’s Britches.  It can get quite large & some say it is invasive in their zones.  If anyone has any personal experience with this perennial I’d appreciate it.  So all & all it was nice meeting a fellow garden blogger for the first time and getting some new additions for my garden was icing on the cake.  🙂


17 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks so much for coming!! It was great to meet you and I hope all your finds are successful in your garden! We didn’t get a chance to exchange numbers….we will have to do that. I am beat, going to put my feet up and have lunch….or midafternoon snack.

    It was my pleasure. I enjoyed it very much. This will definitely be on my must do list every spring. 🙂 I’ve gotten everything planted so far except the Amsonia/Blue Star. I’m hoping we get this rain they’ve been predicting. Just sent you an email a minute ago. Take care & get some rest. 🙂


  2. Sounds as though it ws a fun time. Wonderful plants you bought and it will be fun watching them grow in your gardens. Especially the Yorktown Onion. This is a new plant to me, but interesting history. Isn’t it lovely to be around others with like interests!

    It really was Beckie. 🙂 I’m hoping my new additions do well this year, cross your fingers! Janet had mentioned this plant (Yorktown Onion) to me awhile back so I was thrilled to be able to bring some of it home for my own garden. A historical plant in my own garden, imagine that. Yes it is always nice to be around other obsessed plant lovers, lol. My family humors me when I talk gardening with them. 🙂


  3. Posted by jellyfishbay on May 2, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    I originally bought me bear’s britches plant at a nursery that specializes in shade gardening. However, I saw some absolutely huge specimens at the Chicago Botanic garden. Much bigger than mine. I haven’t had a problem with invasiveness and the plant gives and nice vertical element. Some of the cultivars are a bit prickly.

    Thanks for the info Jelly! I’ve heard it will do well in sun or shade and prefers a well drained spot. I made sure to put it at the back of my border since it can get quite large & the prickly thing. 🙂


  4. This sounds like my kind of fun! And a blogging buddy!

    It was a great day Brenda. Making new friends & getting new plants. What more could a person want from life. 😉


  5. What a pretty area. And you got plants, then met a blogging friend–sound like a perfect day to me! 🙂

    It really is a nice garden and I hope to go back soon to explore it further. All and all a perfect day! 🙂


  6. Glad you had a good day, and new goodies for your garden 🙂

    Thanks Mom, it really was a good day. And all my new babies made it into the garden just in time for a downpour! Perfect timing! 🙂


  7. What fun! Meeting a fellow blogger AND buying new plants? A perfect day indeed. I hope no rain for you all. About 6 inches here so far and no let up. Janet, rest your feet, I know you are sore!

    It really was a fun morning, other than getting up early. Of course we stopped for coffee on the way for the burst of caffeine. 🙂 Actually we got a nice downpour about 10 minutes after I put my last new addition into the ground. Couldn’t of asked for better timing. Yep she was a busy bee today & we plan on getting together again real soon.


  8. Sounds like you had a good time. I have acanthus and it has not been invasive at all. In fact I’m surprised it is still alive. It does not like sun and in the middle of the summer it will often disappear only to come back in the fall with cooler temps. Mine does not go dormant until the worst of the cold gets here, usually after the first of the year.

    I really did Les. Thanks for the info about Acanthus, I might have to move it to a shadier location though. Just a wait and see thing I guess. 🙂


  9. Racquel I planted some small Bear’s Breeches last year and none returned. So I don’t know about that invasive thing! lol

    lol, Susie. Did you plant them in full sun? According to Les they don’t like too much sun. I planted mine in the wrong spot I bet, oh well guess I’ll be finding them a new home soon. 🙂


  10. Raquel~~ I diddo Les’ comments. My Acanthus has never been invasive. It’s slow to get established and doesn’t like dry soil. It will wilt in full, afternoon sun but recover if the soil is moist. Mine have never bloomed because they’re planted in mostly shade but the blooms are spectacular. Good luck with yours. I was at a plant sale today also. Mayhem is a good way to describe it but for the cheap and cool plants, very much worth it.

    Thanks Grace, well that’s too comments that verified I planted it in the wrong spot. 😉 Dry & sunny, oops! lol I don’t have full shade but maybe it will be happy with morning sun & afternoon shade? Hope you found some great plants at your sale today. 🙂


  11. Wow having a piece of history is really exciting! The onion will be great to see growing in your garden! I think I have an ostrich fern. Not sure it was unmarked when I got it.
    My GP has the Acanthus in his yard and its pretty but the flower spikes are sharp. So not something you want to play with(-:
    Have a great Sunday!!!!

    It really is to have something unusual in my own garden. Hope it does well for me. I’ve tried Ostrich Ferns in the past, I don’t think it was in the right place though. Ouch, maybe that means Spaz won’t be messing with it, huh? Thanks Cindee, hope your weekend was nice. 🙂


  12. Hi Racquel, what a delight, both to go to the sale and meet up with Janet. Your choices look perfect and the bonus plant is one I have been eyeing for some time. If it grows for you, we might be able to have it also, our climates are similar. I love the picture your words have painted of the mad dash in by the experienced plant hunters for boxes! Sounds exciting and fun. 🙂

    Hi Frances, it really was a great day all around. 🙂 Well here’s hoping that the Acanthus does well in my garden so you can add it to yours as well. It was an interesting experience, not having dealt with plant hunters of that caliber in the past, lol. Hope you are doing well.


  13. Looks like a wonderful day, Racquel! Not only getting some great plants, but seeing these gardens as well, not to mention meeting up with a blogging friend. I’m not one of those who lines up early on Black Friday to get a bargain, but a plant sale might be a different story:) The story of the Yorktown Onion is fascinating; I’m sure you’re going to treasure this allium.

    It really was Rose, and I hope to go back sometime soon when I can explore these gardens further. They have them set up so you can see what grows in dry shade, moist shade etc… Yep a plant sale is worth getting up early for in my opinion. Not as crazy as Black Friday shoppers either, lol. Thanks I hope the Yorktown Onion likes my garden as much as the Battlefield. 🙂


  14. That sounds like fun! If it wasn’t 2 and a half hrs. away, I would have been glad to join you;-) You got some interesting plants…things you might not normally find at a typcial store!

    It really was a fun day and I’m glad I got my plants in the ground just in time for the rains. We would of loved to meet you too Jan. That’s what nice about these types of sales, you don’t find these things in the local stores, maybe online.


  15. From the photos the garden looks very beautiful. A day well spent. And a blogger friend too. Definitely the kind of day I’d like!

    It was a great day all around Kanak! 🙂


  16. I can imagine gardeners on a mad dash for the “best” plants! How exciting. I’ve planted Bears Breeches before too (in partial shade) but it didn’t come back for me either. It was marginal in our zone tho so I bet it does better for you. Our Botanic Gardens is successful in overwintering it and it looks sensational in bloom. Sometimes I think the foliage looks a little “thistley” if you know what I mean and it also gets quite large so I hope you gave it plenty of space?

    It was alittle like Black Friday Kathleen, lol. They posted online what kinds of plants would be there so people knew what they wanted for their own gardens. Thanks for the info about Bear’s Breeches. I know it’s hardy here since other VA bloggers have it in their own gardens, just hope it likes the area I planted it.


  17. Posted by Susan Z. on June 24, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Hi, there,
    I’ve been looking to buy the Yorktown Onion to bring to my garden, but it is very difficult to find. Can anyone direct me to the appropriate place, please? Thank you from a passionate gardener! Susan

    I don’t know if there is any source out commercially where you can purchase these wonderful alliums. Mine were picked up at a local plant sale put on by the Master Gardeners in my area.


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