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Plant Sale / Garden Fair March 1999

The new concept of a Botanical Society Garden Fair to replace the Plant Sale was a great success. The two-day format was greatly appreciated and lots of people came on the Sunday. Two problems, however, arose: Firstly, it was a bad year for protea propagation and lots of orders could not be delivered due to fungal diseases decimating available stocks. Secondly, many people expected – as in previous years – unusual proteas and proteas not generally available. The production of novelty and unusual species is no longer possible as plants are now all being bought from nurseries. Excess Kirstenbosch plants are no longer being used for the plant sale, and fewer new collections are being added to the gardens than previously. This means that new species must be carefully evaluated and ordered – nurseries are unwilling to do too small orders and do not want to be left with excess stock. However, the rapid sale of Mimetes illustrates that some demand is there. It may be useful to order some really unusual species (say Sorocephalus or Spatalla or Vexatorella) to determine demand. Lastly, the organizers had no idea of the level of interest – ordering plants was a hit and miss affair. If you have any plants you would like for sale in 2000, please contact the organizers before July 1999 – they need to be planted now.

It is important that plants for sale be advertized somewhere. Lots of people came with 1998 catalogues and asked for those plants. People like to look up the plants in books beforehand, make notes and then come to the sale looking for specific items advertized.

If helpers are to gauge demand, it would help to supply stock lists to interested helpers for them to record rates of sale – a rough stock taking at midday and late afternoon would be sufficient to identify leaders.

The biggest problem people have is matching proteas to their gardens. A display dealing with the soils of Cape Town and plants that grow best there is sorely needed. Colour discs could be placed on labels relating to this poster (e.g. Brown for shales, Black for granites, Yellow for acid sands, Green for alkaline sands, Blue for water gardens).

The number that appears after the species was the number of plants for sale

Aulax: Few people knew the Featherbushes and demand was low.

Au cancellata 15

Au umbellata 30

Paranomus: Few people know the Scepters, and demand was low. There were requests for sceptrum-gustavianus and bracteolaris.

Pa reflexus 85

Serruria: Spiderheads are poorly known, except for the Blushing Bride that sold out in a few hours. Some people, however, did ask for species sold in 1998.

Se florida 99

The following smaller genera should be procured

Mimetes cucullatus and fimbriifolius as bird plants

Mimetes chrysanthus, hottentoticus, argenteus as specialist plants

Diastella buekii and proteoides and others as a rare ground covers

Se aemula, linearis, phylicoides, trilopha, rosea; perhaps the cultivar Bridesmaid (rosea X florida)

Marsh Roses on "spike" rootstocks would sell like bombs!

Is there really no demand more Wild Almonds (Brabejum) ?

Leucadendron: Conebushes

Conebushes are not as popular as Pincushions and Sugarbushes. Yet they are generally more hardy in gardens. People have specific colour needs, usually red flowers (very popular), silver leaves and yellow leaves. Many grow too big for most gardens, but as these are often bought in bulk - by those wanting screens or hedges, it is difficult to make an assessment of demand. What was missing from this sale were the Red Data Book species, where people can contribute to conservation by planting rare species.

Ld ‘Candles’ 50

Ld ‘Duet’ 50

Ld ‘Petite’ 50

Ld ‘Safari sunset’ 50 Very popular.

Ld argenteum 200 The Silver Tree sold well – could have sold > X2.

Ld discolor (not supplied) Heavily requested.

Ld eucalyptifolium 35 Went in batches for hedges

Ld gandogeri 50

Ld laureolum 10

Ld plattyspermum 40 Surprizingly unknown.

Ld Pom Pom red 50 Popular

Ld Pom Pom yellow 50

Ld rubrum (not supplied)

Ld salignum 75 Red requested, especially after Safari Sunset gone.

Ld tinctum 40

Ld ulignosum 10

Ld xanthoconus 20

Pincushions had all sold out during the first morning. There is a heavy demand for Red and Yellow forms, but with early sell-outs it is difficult to estimate demand. We could probably have sold three times as much on the first day. People seemed ignorant and more interested in colour (red and yellow, rather than orange or pink) and size (about 1 m tall, rather than taller) than in species or cultivars. Pictures are essential for cultivars. However, people took second best when their choices were sold out. Ground covers and creepers were often requested but gauging demand is difficult. We had many requests for last-years plants (including some unavailable cultivars).

Ls ‘Tango’ 50

Ls ‘Ballerina’ 50

Ls ‘Pisa’ 50

Ls ‘Scarlet Ribbon’ 100

Ls ‘Starlight’ (not supplied)

Ls ‘Sunrise’ 25

Ls ‘Veld Fire’ 50

Ls cord ‘Caroline’ (not supplied)

Ls cord ‘Fire Dance’ 50

Ls cord ‘Flame Spike’ 61

Ls cord ‘High Gold’ 50

Ls cord ‘Vlam’ 50

Ls cord ‘Yellow Bird’ 80

Ls cordifolium 56 In demand by the purists.

Ls conocarpodendron 25

Ls cuneiforme 6

Ls heterophyllum 10

Ls oleifolium (not supplied) Frequently requested.

Ls reflexum var luteum 50

Ls reflexum 52 Popular.

Ls tottum 35

Protea: Sugarbushes were very much in demand. People know the King, Bot River, Queen and a few others, which are highly sought after. Colour and size are important, people were more interested in healthy-looking plants with proteas than with the other genera (some looked quite tatty). Whereas some people were strongly against any cultivars, others welcomed them. More non-cultivars should be procured. Pictures are essential for cultivars.

Pr ‘Atlantic Queen’ 50

Pr ‘Brenda’ 50

Pr ‘Embers’ 50

Pr ‘Guerna’ 50

Pr ‘Pink Ice’ 50

Pr ‘Red Baron’ 50

Pr ‘Riana’ 50

Pr ‘Rita’ 50

Pr ‘Satin Pink’ 50

Pr ‘Sneyd’ 50

Pr ‘Susara’ 50

Pr ‘Sylvia’ 50

Pr aurea 40

Pr burchellii 20 Surprizingly poorly known – good for shales.

Pr compacta 60 Known

Pr cynaroides 130 Known, very popular

Pr eximia 50

Pr longifolia 10

Pr magnifica 50 Known

Pr mundii 30 Sold slowly – hedge or screen plant.

Pr nana 30 Popular, sold well, but lots of tales of no success

Pr nerifolia (pink) 50

Pr pudens (not supplied)

Pr repens 20 Very popular

Pr repens (white) 10

Pr scolymocephala 39

Tony Rebelo, June 1999

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