When I have a driving trip ahead of me, I’m usually in a hurry. My plan is to leave early, stop as little as possible, and get the trip behind me. There’s only one exception. If I’m going to Virginia and have the flexibility to add an hour to my trip, I detour from my usual route north on I-85, swing through Raleigh, and then continue east to take I-95 to my destination.
Why? Because the best Farmers Market on the Eastern Seaboard is in Raleigh at 1201 Agriculture Street, and one of my favorite plant vendors, Urban Oasis, always makes me glad I went out of my way.
In addition to the volume buyer’s areas, the market offers more than 15,000 square feet of enclosed shops (wine, cheese, soap, etc.), 2 acres of market imports (trellises, fountains, etc.), three restaurants, and, most importantly, more than 30,000 square feet of open sheds for produce and plants.
Last Friday, I was barely able to squeeze in a visit, so I made a beeline to the plant shed. It took just a few minutes to locate Urban Oasis and proprietor Bill DeMent, who makes the search easy by hanging a stuffed parrot above his booth.
Shopping with Bill is quick and fun, especially for me, as I only take a glance at the sun-loving plants before scouring the shade area for anything I don’t already have. Here’s my latest haul…
Front row (L to R): Seemannia x hybrida (Hardy Gloxinia), Ledebouria copperi (Jessop), Asarum ‘Ling Ling’
Middle row (L to R): Speirantha convallarioides (evergreen Lily of the Valley), Ardisia ‘Hakaukan’ (Marlberry), Disporopsis jinfushaneasis (dwarf evergreen Solomon’s Seal)
Back row (L to R): Lepisorus bicolor (Ribbon Fern), Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Leadwort), and Disporum cantoniese (Fariy Bells)
The plants are always high quailty and the price is good too. Only $88 for this collection!
Thank you for the tip. The next trip to see our daughter in Richmond will include a side trip into Raleigh. Carolyn
Carolyn–It’s a great place to stop. If you make it in time for lunch, try the seafood restaurant which is just behind the plant shed.
It’s rare that I get the chance to visit a garden centre, so I can understand how squeezing it in is a treat! I also planted an Asarum last autumn, but it is slow to grow. Leadwort is great in my dry garden too, but the others are unknown exotics for me! Have fun planting!
Cathy–Bill is always on the lookout for new introductions and he frequently has plants I’ve never heard of before, that’s what makes Urban Oasis the best!
Christina–I wish I had taken time to count, but there are at least a dozen plant vendors. Some have a speciality, for example there is one who primarily sells boxwood shrubs, but some offer a mix of everything you could want or need.
Looks like it’s definitely worth the drive!
Gloria–Weather and plant availability were perfect last week, wish I could have given the whole afternoon to shopping.
I’d do the same. I used to do a lot of driving round the country and knew where all the best garden centres and nurseries were. I’d almost always come home with something green in the footwell. It’s a good way to take a break in the middle of a long drive too.
Jessica–North Carolina State University, which has a top-notch Department of Horticulture, is in Raleigh, so the area is a hot spot for outstanding plants and gardens. Every couple of years, I help organize a bus trip to visit the JC Raulston Arboretum and to shop several locations. We fill the bottom of the bus with plants and oftentimes have some in our laps on the way home:^)
Amy–Yes, and now to get them planted before the big trip to England!
Good for you! Stopping is good for the driver and stopping somewhere with such wonderful plants is a win-win situation!
Pauline–You are right, I never seem to get everything done so I push too hard and don’t take enough time for the fun stuff.
Interesting plants, some of them unfamiliar to me. Buying plants always makes a journey worthwhile. What fun.
Chloris–Bill is the one vendor I can count on to have plants I’ve never heard of, especially new species from Asia. Love his selection, now just wish I had bought a few other things I saw…
You found some great plants. Makes me wonder why I don’t get there more often. It’s so overwhelming though.
Susie–Next time I’m headed your way, we should meet at the market for lunch and shopping.
I’d love that Marian. Let’s do it.
Great selection of plants – I really like some of the choices (and had to google a couple of them as well). Likes like a great diversion for the day!
Matt-I’ve learned anything Bill has is good, so I just grab it while I can, even if I don’t know what it is. And the prices at the market are really great.
Oh Wow, Marian, I’d take the detour too, what a great place!
Julie–Yes, now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t have more time for looking around. There’s always next time, right?
Oh goodness, what fun! Very tempted to jump in the truck for a road trip! I can appreciate the intent on getting to where you’re going without stopping……but this sounds well worth the detour! Nice plants!
Denise–I know you have too much to do just now for a road trip, but it’s a great thought nonetheless. I would love to get to Maine to see your nursery; now that would be something! Especially those double trilliums!
Marian, that is a great Farmers’ Market. I miss my occasional visits in the past.