Searle Brothers Nursery, Inc. & The Rainforest Collection®
The 22nd Annual Fall Extravaganza
October 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th - 9th, 10th, 11th - 2020
The Few and Far Between - A Palm Sale During the Pandemic
Unknowns. The unknown elements pertaining to having a plant sale during the pandemic created the most concern. We didn't know what the interest level would be, or if there would be any demand. I figured there would be at-least some need for landscape material, as there always is... as long as there is any urge for homeowners and gardeners to play in the dirt. As for the plant explorers, enthusiasts and collectors, I personally had no idea as to who might show up; and if they did, do they have their list or cart in hand, or would they just be browsing for eye candy? For those who may not know, South Florida has been hit especially hard by the pandemic. So to have both the desire for plants and the urge to travel during the age of Covid-19, is a particular combo.
The nursery had put every pandemic-related safety measure into place. Signs for social distancing and mask usage, a different entrance pathway for customers entering the sales area, screens and safeguards throughout the checkout process and enough hand sanitizer to sink a ship. Hand washing stations were spaced around the sales area and cleaning materials were used to clean the bathrooms and high-volume surfaces after each use. All we needed then was customers. The 'Ganza was effected by other factors as well. Due to the pandemic, we were short on volunteers that often help during the sale days. These included not only those happy to load a trailer, but those with plant knowledge. To reduce movement through the sales area we had assigned locations during the event. I was positioned at the white tent in the main shadehouse. This factor, along with the intermittent rainfall, greatly reduced the amount of photos I took during the sale.
Leading up to the sale, I was monitoring the online plant world as much as I could to try and get a feeling as to the 'mood' of plant people. I do this regularly, but I was trying to get an idea of how well the sale might be as a result. The usual amount of communication I had regarding the 'Ganza was way down and those communications I did have had represented a mix of moods, from low to high. I waited to see how this would correspond with customers attending the sale.
Thursday, October 1st
- 7:41AM - For the first time, the Extravaganza opens on a Thursday morning. This was done to try and maintain social distancing and to help alleviate the crowding that normally occurs on a Friday morning. It didn't work. Most everyone that could attend on a Friday, came Thursday. Plant fanatics follow the credo, 'If they can seek plant, they shall'. It was still early, with the sun fighting to rise among a cloudy sky. The rain was going to play a big part during this already unusual 'Ganza. I took a long gaze down the sidewalk while at the main shadehouse entrance, looking over the Palm selection and anything that might need attention; a fallen plant, a stray hose, etc. Looking to the left (B) the Croton selection was primed and ready for the oncoming onslaught. Hard to make out, but there were 144 different cultivars in there; available in varying amounts.
- On the right, the Aroid tables were packed with plants of all sorts. (B) The side road had more than its fair share of plant material ready for customers. In addition to the usual spread of Cordylines and ground orchids, there were unusual flowering shrubs, trees and vines. A botanical oddity or two was mixed in for good measure.
- 7:43AM - Under the barn, the Orchids were on display. They were arranged in their groups, most if not all had a photo of the bloom, if they were not in bloom themselves.
- 7:47AM - Red leaves everywhere. For some reason, the timing mechanism that controls the newly emerging leaves throughout the Chambeyronia macrocarpa population was in sync. In behind the sidewalk and yellow caution tape, almost every specimen of C. macrocarpa, whether it was a single or multiple, had a new red leaf. It was cool and freaky at the same time. I was not the only one to notice, as the showy leaves waved down customers throughout the first weekend, selling many of the plants in the process.
- Link to For-Sale Topic: The 22nd Annual Fall Extravaganza - For-Sale Topic
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The 22nd Annual Fall Searle Brothers Plant Extravaganza! -●●●- October 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th – 9th, 10th, 11th -●●●- S. FloridaBy Palmarum
Searle Brothers Nursery, Inc. &
The Rainforest Collection®
The 22nd Annual Fall Plant Extravaganza!
October 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th – 9th, 10th, 11th - 2020
The upcoming sale is going forward, mostly as usual... with some exceptions and additions. As mentioned on the flyer, all pandemic related conditions will be enforced, including social distancing and the use of masks. Masks will be needed to enter the nursery and need to be worn throughout the sales area. No exceptions. There will be hand sanitizer provided around the sales area, not sure where yet. The Thursday before the first weekend has been turned into a sale day.* This has been done to potentially alleviate the traffic flow on Friday and keep the sales area more spaced out. Certain other elements have been implemented to help keep people spaced apart. More changes and provisions can be made at any time.
The Searle Brothers Plant Extravaganzas have become exciting plant events and a great way for IPS Members, Palmtalk Forum Members and fellow tropical palm & plant enthusiasts to come together and meet in the South Florida area. The events have always been a great way to spend a weekend (or two) in the company of those who share your passion for gardening and collecting tropical ornamental plants. To describe the events as just mere plant sales would be an understatement; as they have become much more in the form of social events for our friends and family. Forum members, friends and fellow plant collectors have all come from far and wide to attend and we are continuously surprised in the distances they will cover to share in the event. In regards to the following details, I have tried to include as much information about the upcoming Fall 'Ganza as I could. If you see something that you know should be included and it is absent, please post the idea(s) here or contact me, Jeff Searle or the nursery with the methods listed below and let us know...
South Florida Location:
Searle Brothers Nursery, Inc.
6640 SW 172nd Avenue
Southwest Ranches, Florida 33331
Western Broward County
*see Map below...
Fall 2020 Schedule:
Thursday*, October 1st - 8:00AM - 5:00PM
Friday, October 2nd - 8:00AM - 5:00PM
Saturday, October 3rd - 8:00AM - 5:00PM
Sunday, October 4th - 9:00AM - 4:00PM
also, the following weekend...
Friday, October 9th - 8:00AM - 5:00PM
Saturday, October 10th - 8:00AM - 5:00PM
Sunday, October 11th - 9:00AM - 4:00PM
Nursery Office #: (954) 658-4319 Nursery Fax #: (954) 680-2750
Jeff Searle: phone #: (954) 658-4317 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryan (Palmarum) Email: email@example.com or PM me a message through the Forum
The map below is a general street map of western Broward County, Florida showing the location of the nursery (Palm tree symbol). Using Sheridan Street would be the best option to get to the nursery if you are heading west through the area. If you are taking the Florida Turnpike, use the Griffin Road exit from the north, or the Pines Blvd. exit from the south. If you need any additional directions, please contact the nursery, Jeff or I (Ryan). When you get close to the nursery, look for large power lines as they run east and west above the nursery. Parking is along the shoulder of 172nd Avenue in front of, and down the street from, the nursery entrance. If you intend to arrive early before sunrise (and many usually do) be wary of hard-to-see speed bumps along 172nd Avenue and there is a possibility of a speed trap as well. There has been considerable construction along I-75 so the exits near Sheridan Street and Griffin Road have been changed slightly compared to previous years. Express lanes have been added to I-75, they may or may not make the trip faster.
Plant Availability, Photo Requests:
For plant availability including a copy of the ever-growing list of palms, cycads and other information regarding which plants and species will be for sale, please contact the nursery, Jeff Searle or I (Ryan). The plant selection process has already begun and will continue right up to the last day before the first morning of the Extravaganza, (sometimes even on the mornings of each event day if the need applies.) The sale lists for palms, cycads and crotons will be made available as soon as they are completed. Special selections might be pulled for sale as requests, but only if the plants are available. There will be certain species, varieties and cultivars that will only be available in limited quantities. These rarer plants will likely sell out quickly in the morning hours, so be sure to arrange your wish list accordingly. Plant groups may have been moved around the sales area, relocated or added in with others. In order to speed your way to your favorite plants please ask a nearby staff member or volunteer as to their location.
Each plant will be priced with either a lavender tag or will have the price written on the pot and/or on the display card or sign.
Featured Plant Groups:
The plant selection at the Extravaganza is constantly growing and changing. The largest and most diverse group is by far the Palms, of which there will be over 300 species available in various different sizes. The plant selection will include genera, species, hybrids, cultivars and varieties representing various plant families from around the world. A large number of Croton cultivars will also be on display as their demand has increased production to new levels. There are always new plants to be added to the selection, as the demand for new, exotic and unusual material remains constant...
Aroids: - Bromeliads:
Butterfly Plants: - Cycads: - Crotons:
Cordylines: - Ferns: - Orchids:
Heliconias, Gingers and other Zingiber order members: -
Tropical Flowering Trees, Shrubs, & Vines:
Succulents & Sansevierias:
Landscape Ornamentals: - Tropical Fruit Trees:
Rare and Unusual Exotic Species:
One-of-a-Kind and Hard-to-Find wonders of the plant world: - … and much more:
There is always a chance a newly cultivated & recently discovered species of tropical plant will make its way into the sales area.
The Sale Flyer:
The nursery will soon mail out sale flyers to everyone on our mailing list. If you are on the mailing list and do not receive one, please let Jeff or myself know. In addition, if you would like to be placed on the mailing list for future Extravaganza flyers, please send a message to Jeff or myself with your address.
We do provide a limited number of carts for customers to use, but it is recommended that you bring your own plant shopping conveyance. The carts do go quickly in the morning of each day, soon after the gates open and during busy periods. During the day when they are returned from the holding area or from the parking lot, they are placed back on the concrete pad across from the register area or near the holding area along the main road.
Information and Invitation:
If you need any more details regarding plants, directions, or anything that I have not included above, feel free to contact the nursery, Jeff Searle or myself by the methods listed above. Feel free to post any messages, questions, etc. in this topic. Jeff Searle, I and all the family members and volunteers look forward to meeting everyone including new and familiar Palmtalk Forum members and IPS members at the upcoming Extravaganza. Be sure to find one of us and introduce yourself. You will be sure to find other Forum members at the event as well, possibly walking right past you down an aisle or grabbing for the same plant. The entire Searle family and the mass of volunteers will be waiting to help you find that perfect plant.
We hope to see you there!
Searle Brothers Nursery, Inc. & The Rainforest Collection® presented (barely)...
The 22nd Annual Spring Plant Extravaganza!
March 6th, 7th, 8th, - 13th, 14th, 15th - 2020
It is amazing how much of a difference a few weeks can make. A month ago, most of us behind the organization of the Spring 'Ganza were busy pulling plants, setting up sale stuff and otherwise had our noses buried deep in palms. News of the outbreak was still scantly covered in South Florida, with reports stating that it was mostly going on elsewhere, with the activity level at the south end of the state, and of the sale, seemingly unaffected. This was slowly changing during the week leading up to the first sale weekend. We kept one eye on the news and the other on the plants.
Prior to the Spring Extravaganza, the nursery had attended two very successful plant sales, one in Key West, the other in Ft. Myers. Both events drew heavily on the plant selection and both depleted the selection just as heavily. There were more than enough Palms available for the Spring 'Ganza, but the prior two sales did make a dent in quantity across the Palm family and other plant groups -- namely Crotons, which were a target of many during the two sales (especially in Ft. Myers, which is a Croton haven). There were over 315 Palm taxa (species, varieties, hybrids) available at the opening 'bell' on Friday morning. Some were represented by one size, others as many as five different sizes; from 4-inch to 200 gallon and most sizes in between. Certain taxa were present in the sales area in large numbers or blocks, while others had only a single plant residing on a table, with the duty to hold up its sign by itself. There were of course, a few unlisted specials that didn't make the sale list, but not many. Throughout the sales area, the different sections were packed with material. Every section had new species or varieties. I lost track of how many cards (or signs) were put out, but it was a lot. I ran out of stakes and almost ran out of clips. The total content of material was just about record-breaking for a Spring 'Ganza (except for Crotons).
Friday, March 6th
- 7:55AM - The morning of the first Friday was a mess from my point of view. I was running way behind schedule by the time I made it to the nursery. I had to make a stop beforehand, which I usually never do, so I was rushing through everything after I squeezed through the gate. As a bonus, as I was heading out the door on my way to the early stop, the news announced that the first cases of COVID-19 had been reported in Florida, at this time it was two cases near Central Florida. The sense of "Oh crap" was carried to the nursery. On my way west through Broward County, I noticed a thick line of dark clouds further to the west, seeming to heading right for the nursery (and the 'Ganza). The sense of "Oh crap" had strengthened to "Oh shit" as I drove faster hoping to beat the rain to the nursery. I had a lot of material with me that could not get wet. I managed to get to the nursery and to the shadehouse's white tent without getting rained upon, as it seemed the rain had shifted to the north somewhat. I rushed to set up the pre-sale stuff the best I could and grabbed my camera to head to the gate. I took a few 'bookend' photos of the area in front of the tent to start the process...
- Normally, when I have the time, I like to photograph the sidewalk area in the main shadehouse to get an overall look of the Palm selection before it gets attacked. Clean sidewalk, all the Palms in their spots, signs all ready, etc. But this time I had to defer as the sale opening was upon me. I took one shot in front of the tent, showing the Dwarf Betel Nut Palms, Areca catechu var. 'Dwarf', on the left and the Red Sealing Wax Palms, Cyrtostachys renda, on the right. (B) I did an immediate 180º turn, took another photo looking back up the sidewalk and then headed that way. Those red spots in the distance are red shirts belonging to volunteers Judy & Jim Glock. They were going ahead of me to the sales area entrance to greet customers.
- 7:57AM - I knew I was going to be late to catch the crowd coming in, but I had to try. As I exited the shadehouse and made the turn, Kylie Searle was heading towards me, letting everyone know the customers were coming. We were both moving fast as I took the photo. I kept this shot as it gives an idea of how dark the skies were. They were much darker just ten minutes earlier. (B,C) I reached the holding area and caught a partial crowd making their way to the sales area. Shooting from the hip, I photographed through golf carts to capture Jim Glock greeting customers. The initial crowd through the gate was smaller than usual, but there were a lot of cars parked outside. I figured the dark clouds either kept some in their vehicles or delayed those making their way to the nursery.
- Like usual, the first group of arriving customers dispersed and headed off in all directions. I turned around and followed a few of the initial customers to the shadehouse entrance. Judy Glock was following them in as well, heading to the Croton section to assist collectors in finding their most wanted cultivars. (B) The shadehouse entrance became a parking lot in seconds. The cloud cover was still apparent as it cut the light to low levels, making a speedy customer, croton-in-hand, blur as he moved to his cart.
A link back to the Spring 'Ganza topic in the For-Sale sub-forum: Spring Extravaganza - For-Sale Topic