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Shoppers, vendors flock to plant festival

The 16th annual USF Fall Plant Festival took root this past weekend at the Botanical Gardens. Sponsored by the Tampa Tribune, the event had more than 60 vendors, a children’s activity area and several workshops.

“I always come to the USF Spring and Fall Plant Festivals and the tropical festival,” attendee Robin Reed said. “I don’t have much room in my garden, so I’m always looking for unusual things, and I usually have to replenish indoor plants.”

Vendors included societies, clubs, local farmers and nurseries. Some vendors have been attending for years, while for others it was the first time.

“This is our first year,” said Matthew Henson, senior account executive for Momentum SM Gardening Tools. “We will definitely do it again; the USF Botanical Gardens are beautiful.”

Plant shoppers, many of whom brought along their dogs, had the vendors and plant shop to look through, their buying options varying from local and exotic plants to books and garden decorations. For the first time, shoppers also had the option to purchase gardening tools.

At noon on Saturday, there was a Plant Autopsy and Carnivorous Plant Workshop in which Tanja Diederich discussed easy carnivorous plant care. She explained that the plants eat insects until the stalk is completely filled, after which it dies. She brought in dead stalks for attendees to open and view the dead insects inside.

Colorfield Farms, a wholesale nursery that supplies Busch Gardens, was on hand to sell herbs and butterfly plants.

“This is my second year,” said Anne Pidgeon of Colorfield Farms. Pidgeon answered questions about why plants die and explained the proper way to plant in the future.

Pidgeon said the butterfly garden plants were a very successful product in past years, so this year she decided to make all-in-one baskets for butterfly gardens that only require watering.

“This is a good place to meet people,” said Cliff Brown, a horticulturist and volunteer with the Native Plant Club. “Anybody that’s anybody in horticulture is going to be here.”