Mercer’s East Side Gardens may be closed for now, but volunteers and staff are working diligently behind the scenes to bring you plenty of exciting new plants to browse during March Mart, The Mercer Society’s largest plant sale of the year.
This year’s March Mart will also serve as a grand reopening celebration of Mercer’s East Side Gardens, which has been closed since sustaining severe flood damage during Hurricane Harvey.
Public shopping begins Saturday, March 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Mercer’s East Side Gardens.
VIP early access is available to qualifying TMS membership levels Friday, March 16 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Early entry for all other TMS members starts Saturday, March 17 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
While return shoppers may notice a few differences this year, TMS will still provide a variety of rare and hard-to-find plants, including those propagated from Mercer’s own stock, such as the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) or the rare white candles (Whitifieldia elongata).
“Both plants are very rare in the traditional nursery trade,” said March Mart chair Kitt Burnsides. “Our native growing group has been busy rescuing plants from the woods and growing more from seeds, so we will have a good selection of native Texas plants.
“Many of our rare gingers were salvaged and other unique ones have been acquired.
Orders are also going in to our wholesale growers to bring the best quality unique plants to March Mart.”
TMS’s shade plant collection received the least damage from floodwaters and is flourishing. Shoppers with shady spots to fill will find giant leopard plants (Farfugium japonica), a justicia hybrid called 'Thelma's Pink,' named for Thelma Mercer, and Brazilian red cloaks (Megaskepasma erythrochlamys).
In the Perennial section, butterfly lovers will enjoy plants such as tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), one of the best non-native plants for the monarch butterfly caterpillar. Several varieties of cuphea and salvia will also be available.
In the Tree and Shrub section, shoppers can find a number of different hydrangeas as well as a new series of buddleia, which is a compact butterfly bush with large spikes of blooms, dark leafed crape myrtles, a selection of spring flowering saucer magnolias, and other smaller ornamental trees.
New plants this year include bullhorn acacia (Vachellia cornigera) and Chinese croton (Excoecaria cochinchinesis). TMS will also offer a selection of edibles, including specialty herbs and vegetables.
“Shoppers can expect to see the same wide variety of plants this year, just in limited quantities,” said Burnsides. “The biggest change is that March Mart will only be open to general shoppers for one day instead of two. However, anyone can purchase an upgraded TMS membership to participate in our VIP shopping event.”
Shoppers who would like to participate in March Mart early shopping can visit the TMS website to purchase a membership or upgrade their membership level for VIP access. Participants are encouraged to arrive early and bring their own wagon. For more information, visit themercersociety.org/.
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