purple hyssop

Purple hyssop

Now that the calendar has turned over to 2016, gardeners are looking forward to next year.

Thus I was delighted to receive in the mail information about the Scott County Soil and Water Conservation District's annual native plant sale. The district has really stepped it up this year with new plants that weren't available before and two new pot size options.

Among the newbies is purple hyssop, something I've been aching to try. I never pass by someone else's blooming hyssop without running my fingers over the bumpy blooms and then sniffing. "Look, Dave," I'll say to my husband if we're walking together. "Doesn't this smell great?" I ask, holding my fingers to his reluctant nose.

Also new is swamp milkweed (in addition to "butterfly"), spiderwort, two kinds of irises, two goldenrods, lanceleaf coreopsis and — oh, wonderful — Jack in the Pulpit, a hard-to-find woodland plant.

The district also has made it easier to plant for pollinators in a fairly substantial way by offering three garden trays for $99.

"I'm hoping this goes over well," Jan McClurg, of the conservation district, said. "They're pricey, but you're getting 32 pots of 10 different species."

The trays are called Bee Bonanza, Majestic Monarch and Happy Hummer. The latter contains two plants I've not encountered before — royal catchfly and blue star.

Another change is the option of buying a single type of plant in individual, 2¼-inch by 3¼-inch pots for $6 each. Previously only six-packs of a single type were offered. The latter are still available, though, too, and the price has gone down — $10 instead of $12.

The district also is selling native shrubs, deciduous trees and conifers.

And it is planning, for the second year in a row, a monarch butterfly release, this year in September. Butterflies may be "sponsored" for $20 each or $50 for three.

Proceeds go to support conservation programs.

For details on the plants available and how to order, turn to Page D2.

Other groups sell native plants, too. I'll write about those offerings as I learn about them.