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Watch the Club’s members as they dig, divide and pot up plants
at one of their “plant digs.”

 

The Club's Mother's Day Plant Sale: 78 Years and Still Going Strong

Every year in May, on the Friday and Saturday before Mother’s Day, the Club holds its annual Plant Sale. This is the Club’s major fund-raiser which supports all of the Club’s activities, as well as its philanthropic contributions and numerous Civic endeavors throughout town.  

The Plant Sale has been held in various forms for more than seven decades. The first was held in 1939 at Old Town Hall and featured plants hand-dug from members’ gardens.  In subsequent years, it was not uncommon to find used garden furniture alongside the plants for sale to the public.  Club lore has it that the plants generally sold out within an hour.  Over the years, the Plant Sale expanded in size until eventually it outgrew its location at Old Town Hall and moved to Center School in 1978.  The scope of the Plant Sale also began to grow with the introduction of specific plant sections the following year.  At Judy Glattstein’s suggestion, the Club established a section dedicated to the sale of Rock Garden plants.  Similarly, Ellie Palmer and Barbara Osterholm introduced a Designer’s Nook for specialty plants.  Another novel concept initiated that year enabled customers to purchase flower arrangements made of plant material that they selected from the Plant Sale.  Club members would arrange the plants in a container, which the customer could then take home that day. 

In 1979, Jane Micati came up with the idea of organizing “plant digs” in members’ gardens.  At these digs, a group of Club members would meet at someone’s home to help them dig, divide, and pot up plants to be donated to the Plant Sale.  Since then, these plant digs have become a staple of the Club, serving as a hugely popular bonding experience for members.  Newer members get to know fellow Club members better as they work side-by-side in the garden.  It is also a great opportunity to learn valuable gardening techniques and inside tips from more experienced members.  More often than not, members go home with a new plant to try out in their own garden. 

Ever willing to try out new ideas, Lila Griswold, in her capacity as Plant Sale Chairperson in 1981, introduced a pre-ordering program that enabled customers to pick up one flat of annuals (geraniums) and two flats of perennials.  In 1983, the location of the Plant Sale was moved once again to the corner of School Road and Route 7, where the Club split the space with the Minks to Sinks sale.  Its location would change one last time in 1988 to the Town Green, in the center of town, where it remains to this day with the Gazebo as its focal point.  

Perhaps no other event had a more profound impact on the Plant Sale than the opening of the Club’s fully automated Greenhouse in 1986. At last, the Club could grow a large percentage of the plants it sold at the Plant Sale. Beginning in early autumn, the Club accepts cuttings and plant donations from members, which are then nurtured and propagated by member volunteers to create additional plants.  Club members also start hundreds of plants from seed.  To date, well more than a thousand greenhouse-grown plants supplement the hand-dug plants from members’ gardens.  By the time the date of the Plant Sale approaches, the greenhouse literally bursts at the seams with an enormous variety of plant material, most of which is used to create the many hanging baskets, patio planters, and decorative containers offered to the public at the Plant Sale. 

For the 2013 Plant Sale, Suzanne Knutson introduced a selection of very special plants, called “Members’ Choice” plants, as a means of providing customers with very helpful and valuable information. The idea originated from an informal poll of the Club’s most experienced members (a group comprised of master gardeners, landscape designers and horticultural experts) to develop a list of the “must-have” plants that these experts relied upon, again and again, to form the backbone of their gardens.  The list includes time-tested, low-maintenance, largely deer-resistant garden gems that look great before, during and after they bloom.  Some are familiar favorites, but many are lesser-known varieties cherished by discerning, knowledgeable gardeners. Featuring both sun-loving and shade-tolerant plants, the hard-working “Members’ Choice” plants were an instant sell-out as customers gained an appreciation for their winning features.

In 2014, the Club achieved a remarkable milestone when it celebrated its 75th annual Mother’s Day Plant Sale.  More than 1,400 perennials were dug from members’ gardens and sold to the public.  In addition to these perennials and the many hanging baskets, patio planters, and decorative containers sold at the Plant Sale, the Club also offered a very impressive range of herbs, vegetables, grasses, groundcovers, annuals, wildflowers, ferns, trees, shrubs, and garden-related tag sale goodies.  

 

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