Bustani Plant Farm in the fall

Bee on Euphorbia marginata, snow on the mountain

I was supposed to take some dear friends to Bustani Plant Farm last Saturday. Then, we discovered it was Dad’s Day at Oklahoma State University, and since I already brave Dad’s Day at Oklahoma University every year. I just couldn’t face the traffic. The weather was also chilly and raining. Our oldest daughter also requested a carrot cake for her birthday we were celebrating on Saturday night. I was burning the candle at both ends and in the middle too, and I felt a bit like the pollinator in the photo above. See the bright, gold pollen on her little legs? These are the things she carries.

Bottle tree at the OSU Botanic Garden

Then came Sunday. I had the Oklahoma Horticultural Society’s fall meeting and garden tour at the OSU Botanic Garden in Stillwater. Steve and Ruth Owens invited the members back to Bustani after the meeting. I followed Steve along the backroads until Bustani’s greenhouses came into view along with all the plants.

Steve and Ruth are able to grow this garden next to their greenhouses because they make use of several Scarecrow Motion Activated Animal Deterrants. These turn on at night and keep the deer from munching the entire place. Who could blame the deer? After all, it’s a beautiful buffet set out just for them.

Border at Bustani Plant Farm with two types of coleus, Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ (black mondo grass), Dichondra Silver Falls and Iresine (I think.) There is also salvia in back.

At least from their point of view . . . .

Another bed with Vigna caracalla, corkscrew vine, gold lantana and what I think is Manettia cordifolia, red firecracker vine. I think I need that last one.

Steve and Ruth grow the gardens so that people can envision what these plants will do in their own landscapes. Of course, it takes a certain touch to make it all come together as beautifully as it does. Someone in the family has a very good eye for design.

Passiflora ‘Inspiration,’ Inspiration passion vine that has overwintered at Bustani Plant Farm. It covers part of the barn.

They also grow plants to take cuttings in the fall. These cuttings will grow into plants we can buy next spring, but they also have plants now. I bought several, and when I go back with my friends on the 29th, I’ll probably buy more.

Here is what I brought home Sunday:

A purple heath aster, Symphyotrichum ericoides ‘Bustani Purple.’ It’s unusual because heath asters are normally white. This one will be fun.

Three Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers.’ I looked for this flower after reading about them on Gail’s blog, Clay and Limestone.

Eupatorium maculatum ‘Gateway,’ Joe pye weed. I think I need another Joe, and at five to six feet, this one is a bit smaller than the species.

Coreopsis integrifolia, Chipola river daisy.

Lespedeza thunbergii ‘Gibralter,’ Gibralter bush clover. I like anything with pea-like leaves, and I love the blooms on this plant. They are a luscious purpley-pink, and in a moist setting, it likes the heat. I have just the spot.

Three pacifica mums, Ajania pacifica. These are my latest blooming mums, and although I like the gold blooms, I enjoy the foliage even more.

Mary Nell aster. Symphyotrichum lanceolatum ‘Mary Nell.’ This is another aster native to Oklahoma, and Steve named it after his mother.

Boltonia asteroides ‘Pink Beauty,’ another plant I’ve never grown.

Vernonia lettermannii, Letterman’s ironweed. I grow one of the tall ironweeds, but this one is smaller with ferny foliage.

All of these are perennials of course, and, as you can see, many are native to the United States. I don’t grow just natives. I grow garden worthy plants that sustain my need for visual beauty along with the creatures who visit my garden.

Dark purple coleus, Pennisetum purpureum, variegated tapioca and Heteropterys glabra, red wing. About the last, Steve says, “It’s flowers are yellow and its fruits are red samaras like a maple.” I’ve got to get this one next year.

As I strolled the gardens, I listened to the horticulturalists and a botanist discuss identification of a seedling Steve found somewhere in rural Oklahoma. These guys were all in their element considering the plant from every side and top to bottom. It was fun to listen in as I snapped photos. A couple of hummingbirds buzzed me several times arguing with each other as hummingbirds do. I tried to capture a picture of them, but they were way too fast and furious to pay any attention.

It was the perfect day, and I can’t wait to go back with my friends who have never been there. Fall is a more casual time to visit Bustani. The crowds are fewer, and that’s just fine with me.




  1. Les says:

    He came to the hort. conference I volunteer for a couple of years ago, and I was very impressed with all that they grow at Bustani. So impressed that several of us at work put together an order for our own gardens. The plant I was most excited about was a small mamamllaria cactus that was very hardy temperature wise, but unfortunately met its end in an overly wet summer.

  2. I’ve viewed their online catalog and wished they shipped in the fall. I had the same coreopsis on my fall wish list but was worried it might not make it since it’s only hardy to zone 7 and I’m in 7A. I hope it does well for you. Sounds like a fun trip. :o)

  3. What a little piece of paradise they have. I’d want to protect it too. Amazing how gardeners always find a way–go away deer!

  4. I look forward to seeing more about your Letterman’s Ironweed, love Ironweed, a smaller one would be nice. I do like the black mondo coming through the Dichondra, nice contrast.
    We were at the U SC vs Mizzou game today…parent’s weekend. We went to see Mizzou…full house and was it ever loud!! Understand you not wanting to deal with the Dad’s Day crowds.

  5. I just learned about Bustani Nursery at the end of August – and I’d love to take a trip down to visit it, but that will probably have to wait until spring.

    Meanwhile, I wanted to pass along that I’ve had Letterman’s ironweed in my garden for several years now and I love it! It tops out around 2′ tall and has a wonderful, ferny texture that is rather hard to find in honest-to-goodness prairie-hardy perennials. I hope it performs as well for you as it has for me.

  6. Leslie says:

    Looks like that was such a fun trip…and you came away with such interesting plants!

  7. Gail says:

    I love visiting nurseries and this one looks like fun! Isn’t Henry E a beauty. I want more, too! “Covers part of the barn” has me worried about the Passiflora incarnata I bought last month! Must site it where it can climb! Thank you for thelinkage…xoxogail

  8. Cheryl Baker says:

    One of my favorite plants this year was from Bustani- ‘Fireworks’ Globe Amaranth. It’s beautiful!

  9. Deanne says:

    Wow, looks like a fantastic nursery. Love all your choices. That rudbeckia is a winner. One of my friends had it and places a pot of Colocasia ‘Diamond Head’ near the rudbeckias. The centers of the flowers perfectly match the color of the elephant ear.

  10. Carol says:

    Sounds like heaven on earth for a plant lover. I love garden centers run by people who love the plants as much as I do!

  11. Jason says:

    Red firecracker vine? That’s a new one on me. It’s stunning.

  12. Frances says:

    That was a fun visit, Dee, thanks for taking us along. What a fabulous nursery, to have the plants growing in beds to show customers how they perform. You got some goodies, for sure. I am interested in the mystery plant. Do tell whenever you find out what it was, please.

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