Back then our membership was larger but it was made up of mostly novice gardeners who had little experience identifying, digging and dividing, and to save money we used too little dirt to repot the plants and lost a lot of them before the sale. I think we all wince a little when we think how many of them were probably mislabeled.
We’re a much more organized and experienced bunch now. This year we had over 1,200 plants that were in top condition. All of the plants came from local gardens and were dug by members, who then repotted and cared for them at their homes till the sale. We start the whole process in early April by advertising on the local access cable channel and in the two small newspapers that service our area, offering to visit gardens and divide or remove perennials that have outgrown their current location or are no longer wanted. The weekend following the plant sale is “Pot Collecting & Recycling Day” We will collect the used pots, wash them and store them for next year’s digs.
Plant sales are a great way to buy quality plants and support your community organization at the same time. Because the plants have been growing in a local garden and not a commercial field in another part of the US, you know that they will do well in yours.
Most of the perennials at a plant sale sell for 50 to 75 percent less than what they would cost if you bought them from a garden center or big box store. Since a lot of the plants come from the members own gardens, there’s usually helpful information available on the spot. The trade off is that you may not always be able to get as many plants of one type or variety as you need and they may be past bloom for this year. But where else can you buy a magnificent giant-leaved blue hosta or a Japanese painted fern for less than $5.00!