Bustani, which I’m told means garden in Swahili, is the name Steve and Ruth Owens gave to their small farm just south of Stillwater, Oklahoma. Steve is the former host of the popular PBS gardening show, Oklahoma Gardening. After he spoke at the Oklahoma Horticulture Society meeting last month, I decided I needed to make the trek north.
My garden friend, Katie, who is the brains behind Sister B.J.’s Pantry garden in Oklahoma City, came with me. There is no one more fun to travel to plant sales with. Katie is at least as enthusiastic about plants as I am. She was buying for both her own garden and that of Sister’s.
Warned by a friend to get there early, Katie arrived at my house at 7:45 a.m. We grabbed a couple of hot teas and bottled water and headed out map in hand. We got lost once, but after we called the farm, they directed us right to it. The sale opened at 9:00 a.m. and continued to 5:00 p.m. We were a little early, but they welcomed us with smiles and handed us cardboard flats to begin. Three tents were set up with tables inside covered in beautifully identified signs which also showed the plant in bloom. I felt like a kid on the first day of summer, staring at a bright blue pool ready to dive in.
According to their catalog (their first one ever,) Bustani is a specialty nursery growing “unique, uncommon, hard-to-find, rare and unusual plants not available at most garden centers and nurseries.”
I’ll second that. I bought a Variegated Tapioca (Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata,) hardy blue Passion Flower (Passiflora caerulea,) Cigar plant (Cuphea ‘David Verity’), ‘Stars and Stripes’ Pentas (Pentas lanceolata,) a variegated Kerria (Kerria japonica ‘Picta’) and so many others I can’t list. Yes, I also bought the Shower of Gold identified above. It was a last minute purchase.
At the OHS meeting, Steve said he was fond of variegated plants. Boy is he ever. I’ve never seen so many variegated varieties in one place.
There were also lots of native species and tropical plants. I bought several tropicals to enhance my garden’s look during the dog days of summer. You could argue that using tropical plants is expensive, but I know of no better way to add color. I just swallowed and thought “big, bright annuals.”
Again from the catalog, Steve writes “Our plant interests here at Bustani are highly varied, but grounded on exceptional garden performance.”
How many plants did I bring home? I had four full boxes and a couple pots on the side. Don’t even ask what I spent. HH sometimes reads this blog, and he doesn’t need to know. Let’s just say the red dirt family will eat beans and rice for the next couple of weeks.
The great thing about Bustani is that it’s north of me, but we are basically in the same zone. My garden is 7a to 6b, and they are definitely in 6b. So, if they say something will grow or is hardy here, I believe it.
All across the blogosphere, we lament the demise of the independently owned nursery in favor of the box stores. I’m not going to lie to you and say I never shop at my local boxes, but I support independents too, especially if they have something different to offer. If you want to see cool plants, plants which no one in the metro area has, get yourself over to Bustani for one of their plant sales. The sales run almost every weekend now through mid-June.
I spent the rest of the day in my garden, covered in soil and birdsong, planting. I got through two flats, and the remainder are resting under the deck where they won’t get direct sun. I am sore, but deliriously happy. It doesn’t get better than this.