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Treesearch FarmsFrom time to time it is good for me as a landscape designer to go out into the field and see the plants. I am on the steering committee of the Heights Garden Club and I have mentioned in our meetings that I think a field trip to Treesearch Farms, (TSF) a local nursery and growing operation, that sells plants wholesale to the trade, would be an interesting place to go. It is owned by operated by Heidi Scheesley who has an amazing wealth of knowledge on native plants, plants that thrive in Houston and is a fellow member of the Organic Horticulture Benefits Alliance. She is a wonderful speaker and if you get a chance to hear her talk you should go. She and the staff are very knowledgeable and helpful. I look forward each Friday to the new availability list to see what is new or released. I offered to arrange this reconnaissance trip so the others in the steering committee could see if it would make a good field-trip destination.  A week ago on a very cold, drizzly and dreary day we ventured out.The retention pond that is just on the right as you drive in the long drive.

The retention pond that is just on the right as you drive in the long drive.

Looking out from the covered seating area towards more demonstration gardens.

Looking out from the covered seating area towards some of the demonstration gardens.

Treesearch Farms

A good example of winter in Houston!

The grounds are very well kept, with little planting vignettes everywhere you turn. Of course late winter it is not at its showiest but the beauty and the bones are still there.

We parked in the little lot and I checked in at the office to let them know we were going to go walk around. I also brought along a good friend of mine to see if we might find some new plants for her garden.The hub of Treesearch Farms.

The hub of Treesearch Farms.

Sitting at home looking at availability lists doesn’t always spark my imagination. If I see a new plant I do research it but there is nothing like seeing them in person.  We source plants from several places so I can have a large palate. I have come to rely on TSF because they have a larger variety of native plants and plants that you don’t see else where. We were lucky that the greenhouses were closed up so we could warm up now and again as we walked around.IMG_6977On the porch of the office they had some Flaming Torch Scadoxus that they are featuring right now! If I had a place for them I would have brought some home. IMG_6979I have some Japanese Sacred lilies I got last year that are doing very well and I am wondering about mixing a few of these in with them in my shade garden. I love trying new things and many bulbs and rhizomes do very well in our clay soil and 50 inches of rain. My yard would be much more mundane if it were not for all the fun and interesting plants that TSF features. It was fun to see some of these Flaming Torches in the ground. Flaming Torch ScadoxusNext we headed into the first row of greenhouses where I enjoyed the little masses of plants waiting for spring, like these stunning Dusty Miller. IMG_6985Back outside we walked by rows of woody perennials and shrubs.

IMG_6982In the distance you can see the bright orange of a large Abutilon ‘Marilyn’s Choice’. They are very showy especially on this gray day. I recently planted a Magic Lantern abutilon and am excited to see how it fares. Abutilon 'Marilyn's Choice'Later in one of the greenhouses we saw plenty of Magic Lantern abutilons.Flowering Maple Abutilon 'Magic Lantern'

Flowering Maple Abutilon ‘Magic Lantern’

Then we popped back into another greenhouse…sigh nice to get out of the wind and cold. You can see they have rows and rows of greenhouses filled with plants waiting to for spring. These look like Louisiana Iris to me, they usually have several varieties on offer. It is fun to mix a few colors together in a little mass planting. Louisiana iris I love the color on these Oakleaf hydrangea leaves. I cut mine back so missed the fall color this year.

I love the color on these Oakleaf hydrangea leaves. I cut mine back so missed the fall color this year.

High Fragrance Camellia I think we were in the second to the last row of greenhouses when we came upon the camellias. I tend to use sasanquas because they are more compact and shrubby and do better with our humid summers. Here are High Fragrance camellia and after smelling their scent I am absolutely going to consider them in the future. They would be wonderful in a scent garden. Japonica camellias can grow to be small trees. This one gets to 8 feet but perhaps if trained to be tree form it would work in some of our smaller urban gardens. The wonderful thing about camellias is they bloom in the winter bring color when most plants are waiting till spring or summer to bloom. Near them was a little group of shrimp plants. I think these might be the Tutti Frutti variety.Tutti Frutti Shrimp plants Below is one of my favorite colorful plants for shade. The lime green is like a neon light in a dark corner or under a giant Live Oak. Cuban Gold durantas are a very low maintenance shrub and do very well here in Houston. These look like 3 gallon Cuban Gold durantas.

These look like 3 gallon Cuban Gold durantas. I have even seen them used as a low hedge in a formal garden.

OxallisI saw these on the plant list recently and added them to our last order. They are Oxalis Climbing Pink. I see them growing all around and some might consider them weeds. I want them to go to seed and spread in our garden. They would look nice in a woodland or naturalist garden. I do wonder if they are native because I have seen them often in neglected fields. There is an oxalis native to Texas Oxalis drummondii, but the flowers look more purple and the form not quite so full and mounding.

Back outside we came upon a yaupon I am not familiar with Yaupon Holly Ilex vomitoria  ‘Saratoga Gold’. This is why I have to come walk around now and again. I can’t wait to use this beautiful yaupon in a design! I love the color of the berries.Yaupon Holly Ilex vomitoria 'Saratoga Gold'

Yaupon Holly Ilex vomitoria ‘Saratoga Gold’

I think I must have always been looking down at the plants on the ground to have missed this amazing arch in all my tours here. I had to email my go-to person at TSF, Kit, and ask her what they were and found there are 8 containers of 4 difference varieties of Dragon Fruit.  She send me some photos of them in bloom. I have to come back when they are in bloom. Treesearch FarmsCactus arch at Treesearch FarmIsn’t this amazing?Used with permission from Treesearch Farms

Used with permission from Treesearch Farms

In spite of the cold it was fun to be out and sharing a plant tour with friends!Mexican Flame vine in bloom.

Mexican Flame vine in bloom. It loves the heat and butterflies love the flowers!

Crested ligularia Before we left the last greenhouse we came upon both Giant and Crested ligularia. These both do very well in Houston, handle both frost and deep shade equally well. I love the leaves! The Giant ligularia leaves look like tractor seats. When we have a freeze their stems loose there turgor pressure and lay down, but as soon as it warms up they come back up.

The rest of our walk we stayed outside. The buildings were they propagate were shut but we could walk through the ornamental and fruit tree areas. IMG_7025You can see what a gray day it was!Around the bend there were more short greenhouses filled with fruit trees. Some even had fruit.Buddha's Hand Citron tree.

Buddha’s Hand Citron tree.

In the distance were more large metal buildings. I haven’t been out there in a couple of years and can’t remember what are in them. By then my friend and I were getting tired from the cold and decided to head back. I will save those for next time. We passed one of my favorite trees a Treesearch a beautiful Texas Mountain Laurel. Texas Mountain LaurelAs we walked we found the TSF vegetable garden. I have heard that TSF has its own well and that I am sure make their plants grow so much better than using treated city water. In the back ground you can see a giant cistern and behind that the employee parking. Treesearch Farm veg gardenI would have ended with pictures of some of the cats and dogs that reside at Treesearch Farms but they must have been snuggled away keeping warm! When you go in the office you will often find a cat on the counter and another rubbing up against your legs. Here is the link to their Facebook page so you can continue to see the goings on at this wonderful nursery! CLICK HERE : )And more plants waiting patiently for their new home.

I leave you with a picture of more plants waiting patiently for their new home.

Happy Gardening!