Lewis County Master Gardeners expect their tried-and-true regulars to flock to this year’s plant sale, especially after COVID-19 canceled last year’s event.
But because of the pandemic, they also expect to see quite a few new faces this year, said Charmaine Gill, vice president for resources for the Lewis County Master Gardeners and a master gardener for the last 11 years.
“I think a lot of people started gardening last year and they found they really liked it,” Gill said. “I think it’s going to be a trend that takes off.”
The Lewis County Master Gardeners Plant Sale will take place May 22-23 in the blue pavilion at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds. It is the largest fundraiser of the year for the nonprofit organization. Gill said they have a few other small fundraisers through the year, such as a few bird houses and bat boxes sold through Kaija’s each year. But the real bulk of the money to provide free education, demonstration gardens and community outreach comes from the spring sale.
“Not having one last year was really hard,” Gill said.
Gill said the plant sale will happen this year regardless of whether Lewis County is in Phase 3 or Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan. If the county were to be moved back to Phase 2 before the sale, the only thing that would impact is how many people would be able to be inside the sale building at one time, she explained. Under Phase 3, 100 people at a time are allowed while Phase 2 allows for only 50.
“I’m just trying to plan for each scenario, and the week of the event, we’ll have to fine-tune the details,” Gill said.
As is traditional, this year’s plant sale will feature thousands of plants, including annual, perennials, shrubs and trees. Vegetable starts are expected to be popular this year, as are the more than 1,000 tomato plants, including heirloom varieties. All plants at the sale are grown by local master gardeners. Gill said many other similar sales feature plants that are purchased through nurseries. Local master gardeners take pride in offering plants that are of excellent quality.
“We only want plants they would be happy to buy themselves,” Gill said.
In addition to plants, the sale also includes a crafting division section, where shoppers can find garden art and items such as bird houses, bat houses and mason bee blocks. Raffle tickets will also be available for a chance to win a new English garden bench, a restored English garden bench or a new potting bench.
“There is something for everyone,” Gill said of the sale.
Due to statewide COVID-19 requirements, all shoppers will be required to wear face masks and remain socially distanced from other shoppers while inside the sale. Another impact from the pandemic is that the 100 shopping carts usually on loan from Walmart for the plant sale will not be available. Some Master Gardeners might be bringing wagons to loan shoppers, but Gill said shoppers are strongly encouraged to bring their own wagons or wheelbarrows to carry the plants they purchase. Gill said Girl Scouts from Troop 1920 and Boy Scouts from Troop 9317, both from Rochester, will be on hand during the event to assist shoppers with hauling their plants to their vehicles.
This year’s plant sale will not offer the traditional special deals during the second day of the sale. Instead, Gill explained, the master gardeners will bring them back for a fall plant sale on Sept. 18. Last year, the small sale was offered at the green house near the Fort Borst Park demonstration garden as a way to sell plants that had been grown for the spring sale that was canceled. The event was so well attended, they decided to bring it back again this year.
“We will take the plants that don’t sell and keep them in the garden and care for them so they are big and beautiful for September,” Gill said.
Lewis County Master Gardeners Plant Sale
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 22 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 23
Where: Southwest Washington Fairgrounds Blue Pavilion
More information: Face masks and social distancing required. Debit and credit cards accepted.
Contact: 360-740-1216 or lewis-mg-mrc.org