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May 10, 2010 12:33 PM CST
|This past Saturday our garden group, The Garden Club of Austin, was invited to Dallas to visit the Casa Flora Ferns facility. Naud Burnett, the owner, personally took half of us to his test garden a few miles from the main facility to show us the ferns they're testing to see which will stand up to freezing winters and hot dry Dallas summers. A couple still lives on the property. When Naud bought the land, he agreed to let the elderly couple live there the rest of their lives. |
We returned to the main building in time for a wonderful buffet lunch. He had also invited a small group from Houston, some of whom we already knew as they had attended some of the fern seminars we'd hosted in Austin. It was nice to visit over lunch.
We then divided into groups. The Houston folks and the other half of the Austin group went to the test gardens. The rest of the Austin group further divided into two groups. One group entered the "clean room" where the tissue culturing is accomplished. We all had to either remove our shoes or wear booties that were provided. The other group went to spore room, where fern spores are collected, sprayed onto soil, and wrapped in plastic wrap. Then our groups switched. It was all fascinating to see. I especially enjoyed seeing the spore process, as it was something we were encouraged to try once we got home. We were even given a handout to make sure we would be successful. Tissue culturing seemed a little more difficult for the average gardener. We saw the air filtration system, rows and rows of teeny ferns....all exactly alike, and learned a bit about what goes into making sure everything stays disease free in their growing environment.
The last part of the tour was seeing the greenhouses. The majority of the groups opted to head to the Dallas Botanical Gardens, as the rented bus had to be back in Austin by 8 PM. We had driven there and planned to follow the bus. We were offered a shortened greenhouse tour along with another Austin member, so we stayed behind. Loved seeing all the ferns, row after row. And we were shown the shipping area where they bag 'em and box 'em. The watering system was explained. All in all if was quite a tour. I was ready to continue on to the Botanical Garden, but the staff assured us we were going to only be able to be there for an hour before closing, and day before Mother's Day traffic was going to be horrible....so we opted to go home. I think the non-plant person I live with had had quite enough of ferns anyway. We were able get home before dark. It was a good day!
And we all went home with five complimentary ferns!
May 30, 2010 6:58 AM CST
|Thanks for the tour description. I want to encourage my garden club to go there. I love Japanese Painted ferns!|
How long was the regular tour and your extended one?
May 30, 2010 8:25 PM CST
|You're welcome, and thanks for taking the tour. Inviting our group was the first time Casa Flora had hosted any garden club tour. I guess you'd have to inquire as to whether they'd do it again soon. I know it was a lot of work for them. They had a crew stay there on Saturday to make sure everything ran smoothly. We started about 11AM, broke for lunch, then continued until around 2 PM. |
Our garden club sponsors the fern bed at Zilker Botanical Garden in Austin. To support it, we hold fern seminars and invite fern experts to come in for a weekend. During the seminar, we also sell hard to find ferns. Casa Flora has been a great supporter of our efforts.
May 30, 2010 8:37 PM CST
|That is really nice that you have a great relationship. Our garden club with no special "fern power" that I know of.|