The annual plant auction run by our local garden club has quickly become a cherished spring tradition for my husband and I. We found out about it shortly after moving into our house. We try to attend every year. It is wonderful! The garden club, mostly comprised of fabulous mature ladies, sponsors the event. It’s held in a local church’s rec. room. The garden club provides a delicious spread of sinfully fatty homemade treats that generally include liberal amounts of cheese, eggs, sugar, and/or bacon (or maybe all four!), and sherbet punch. The ladies are lovely and have wonderful names from another era, like Dixie, or Goldie, or Virginia. I’d guess there were about 100 people in attendance this year. The people-watching is awesome, and it’s always hard not to feel like I’ve stepped into the pages of a gentle read like the Mitford series. But the real attraction is the auction!
The garden clubbers dig out or divide things growing in their yards and donate them to the sale. The money raised goes towards paying for garden club activities (like supplies for when they all made concrete alpine planters). The fact that the plants at the sale were usually literally dug out earlier that morning means that everything on offer is a proven performer for our area. While some of the plants would be fairly easy to find at local nurseries or big box hardware stores, the ones at the sale tend to be exceptionally healthy and hardy. And some of the garden clubbers are serious horticulturists. One charming lady is just passionate about daylilies. She hybridizes and registers them and everything. One year the auctioneer asked her how many varieties of daylilies she thought she had. I believe she said it was somewhere over 200, maybe even 300! If they say she provided a plant, that’s pretty much all I need to know at this point, I bid on it! Another clubber, a gentleman, is really into roses and always brings a few gorgeous plants to the sale.
Whether you’re bidding on more common things like lilies-of-the-valley or echinacea, or on a hard-to-find daylily or a mystery plant, the really super fantabulous thing about the auction is that you are pretty much guaranteed to get a great deal! Bidding is in twenty-five cent increments, and it’s a tense bidding war if the bidding goes over $2.75. A really hot plant might go for $4.50. Our priciest purchase this year was a gorgeous rose bush for $5.25 that I have since found for sale through a nursery for $34.95. We’re talking some serious, major, hardcore deals here! Plus, the auctioneer presides over the event like a sassy, off-the-cuff Solomon, making sure that everyone leaves happy. Not sure who had the winning bid? Usually there’s at least 2 of any particular kind of plant being auctioned, so she’ll just give them each one and go with the lower bid as the sale price. We always find a few treasures, and we never spend much.
This year’s haul? We got two rose bushes: a floribunda variety called “Cinco de Mayo” and a hybrid tea called “Veteran’s Honor”. We also added five new daylily varieties to our growing collection of daylilies: a Mini Pearl, a South Seas, a Bayport, a Calgary Stampede, and a Forsyth Yuletide. And we won a basket in the raffle drawing, filled with goodies like pruning shears, a kneeling pad, and a pair of gardening gloves. All of this for $34.00. (The raffle tickets were the priciest thing we bought.) Plus all the deviled eggs, cheesy treats, and lemon bars we could stuff into our faces. Good stuff!