This weekend represents the 50th anniversary of the Union Mills Homestead’s annual Flower and Plant Market, which runs Friday through Sunday and features the titular plants for sale as well as food and activities.
“This one actually started in 1969,” said Jane Sewell, executive director of the homestead. It was the first big fundraising event for the homestead, she said, launched by her predecessor, Esther Shriver.
A half-century later, the tradition continues with a collection of plants for sale through the weekend and proceeds going to support the homestead. There will be flowers, vegetables and hanging baskets, according to Sewell.
“The committee here goes to a lot of green houses. They hand-pick these flower and plants, perennials as well as annuals,” she said. “They try to get some unusual things that you can’t go to Walmart and get.”
The free event runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m Sunday — there was also an “early bird” event on Friday — at the Union Mills Homestead, at 3311 Littlestown Pike in Westminster, and the site’s regular attractions will also be open, according to Sewell.
“The house and the mill are both open for tours Saturday and Sunday, and the gift shop will be open,” she said.
The plant sale’s history as the homestead’s first fundraiser has special resonance this year, Sewell said. It represents what she hopes will be a successful run of fundraiser events throughout 2019, after heavy rains swamped out the homestead’s other major fundraisers in 2018 — the annual corn roast and microbrewery festival.
In fact, the flower and plant sale was the only major fundraiser that could be held in 2018, according to Sewell.
“It was the only one that was really able to go on and it did and it was extremely successful, it always is,” she said. “It’s a rain-or-shine event because a lot of people who want to plant don’t mind the rain, they want to see some rain.”
In recent years, especially since adding Friday as a third day to the sale, Sewell said the event attracts about 1,000 shoppers over the weekend.
And while it will be a plant-focused event, there will be other activities that could make for an outing for anyone interested in enjoying the day and the homestead grounds, according to Sewell.
“The Littlestown Garden Club, those ladies are going to be here to do a children’s activity,” she said. “It can be a family type thing — bring the kids on Saturday!”
And for those who are really most focused on the plan, there will be speakers to address questions about plants — Steve Allgeier, arborist and chairman of the Westminster Tree Commission, for instance, will be there Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon.
“The people here on site are experts in the field who can answer all kinds of questions about flowers and plants,” Sewell said.