Chickens & sun hats & ice plants — Oh my! It’s GreenFest!


florida chickens, black, gray and white, coop, little boy, happy

I could want chickens. Heck, I could want everything. Which is my one complaint about GreenFest, the annual spring plant festival that reminds us Floridians why we put up with hurricanes, droughts, deep freezes (didn’t sign up for those!) and Eastern lubber grasshoppers.

The chickens at Holloway Feed Stores’ booth mesmerized my friend Zane, 6, his little sister, Annabelle — and lots of other kids and kids-at-heart, who got to cuddle little chicks, too. Proprietor Joey Holloway is ingeniously capitalizing on the urban chicken craze by building beautiful coops. They’re not just for your Grandma’s double-wide in Webster anymore!

GreenFest, which continues tomorrow (March 25) at the University of Tampa’s Plant Park, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, is celebrating its 15th year. It’s always Tampa’s first big spring plant festival, and the combination of 80-plus vendors, a beautiful setting (Plant Park), and a hard-working team of volunteers bent on making everyone happy makes it a hit year after year.

One plant I saw in lots of wagons was Spanish lavender, Lavandula stoeches, sold at Mitch Armstrong Nursery’s booth.

lavender blooms sprout from a scape, look like rabbit ears, soft fragrant leaves, thumb-sized bloom portion sprouts petals on top

vendor annie sprague rubs foliage of Spanish lavender to awaken aroma. bushy green plant, fern-like foliage, lavender blooms








Annie Sprague, right, says Spanish lavender is fairly new to her and Mitch. She says this non-edible variety is supposed to better tolerate our summer heat and humidity. In the photo above. she’s fondling the foliage to awaken a sweet scent tinged with a piney undertone. Beautiful! The blooms, left, last through spring, but those soft green leaves keep the fragrance going.

“Lavender’s good for the soul,” Annie says. I have to agree — I forgot everything when she started massaging the foliage, which is a pleasantly soft feel.

Annie has her Spanish lavender at home doing well in morning sun (no afternoon sun) and complete shade.

Another item that was getting a lot of buzz, and buyers, was the habanero honey, below left, at Briarwood Farm’s booth. Apparently, it’s really good on chicken — the dead kind. Below right, purple ice plant — a little something I picked up for my sunny spots. I have another “ice plant” that looks completely different. ┬áThis one is Delosperma cooperi.

lavender, daisy-type flower with yellow center, elongated succulent leaves, green











I didn’t plan to buy a sun hat — I’m a $5 kind of garden-hat girl. But I’ve gotten lots of unflattering comments about my current hat (below left), and wow, the palm frond hats at It’s Our Nature were beautiful! My new hat is 6 times $5 but, what the heck. It’s also supposed to protect me from ultraviolet rays, which should make my dermatologist happy.










Someone who wasn’t┬áhat shopping — Patsy Woodruff, president of Friends of Plant Park. She’s been wearing her “blooming’ idiot hat” since the first GreenFest 15 years ago. She’s so much braver than me!