The third annual Carroll County Master Gardener plant sale will be held from 8 a.m. to noon May 23. For many, the event, which will be held under the pavilion in the Carroll County Agriculture Center parking lot in Westminster, will serve as an opportunity to welcome spring in style.
The event is organized and held by the Carroll County Master Gardeners, who operate under the umbrella of the University of Maryland Extension, Carroll County.
"This is the third year for the sale," said Master Gardener Joan Epler, of Gamber, noting that visitors to the sale tend to look for unusual plants, herbs, day lilies and heirloom tomatoes.
Master Gardener Joan Epler, of Gamber, said visitors can expect unusual plants, herbs, day lilies and heirloom tomatoes.
Epler said plants for the sale come from the gardens of Master Gardener members as well as a few donated by local garden centers. Because this is the time of year perennials usually need dividing, she said members contribute a variety of perennials, natives and hard-to-find plants to the sale.
"The thing with perennials is that they live for years and can be divided easily, so one gets a good bang for the buck," Epler said. "We quickly learn what is worth the effort and what is not. So the good thing about our sale is that what you find there is tried and true."
Allison Stiles, of Finksburg, said she loves gardening, and has shopped at the sale for the past two years.
"It's a wonderful past time," she said. "I love getting my hands in the dirt and trying new plants. It's about getting out there on a beautiful day, and even on a day that is not so beautiful, to work in the yard. It's my therapy. You try new plants and colors and get creative. There are so many varieties of yellow, orange and purple."
Stiles said she looks for perennials because she wants plants that come back every year. She said she bought a variety of bushes and plants at last year's sale.
"I always find something," she said. "I like that they are labeled really well with growing instructions. And there are Master Gardeners around for questions and advice."
Master Gardener Jeanette Gilmore, of Eldersburg, said she enjoys meeting other people who are interested in gardening at the sale.
"We are there to give advice and share our plants," Gilmore said. "We have plants organized by sun or shade, ground covers, native plants and such. People want to know if a plant grows in sun or shade, how much water, how big will they get, how much attention they need."
Gilmore said the Master Gardeners hold a tomato festival annually at the Carroll County extension building, next to the Agriculture Center, in August and it has stirred up a big interest in tomato plants. At the tomato festival, visitors get to taste different varieties, including many kinds of heirlooms. Heirloom tomatoes are often not available in stores
"People always look for the tomato plants we have," said Master Gardener Sharon Row, of New Windsor. "They are all plants our members have started from seeds and grown. The main goal of Master Gardeners is education, and our tomato festival has really helped people become aware of the heirloom varieties. They are unique because seeds are passed along, saved from one year to the next."
Row said many visitors at the plant sale look for plants that are difficult to find at stores like Lowes or Home Depot.
"We have things like celandine poppies," she said. "They are woodland plants that bloom in the spring and are considered a native plant. The foliage on the poppies is kind of ferny, but in the spring they get pretty yellow flowers. In the heat of summer they die down, but they come right back in the spring. They will fill an area, but they don't spread quickly."
Row said she lives on a wooded lot so the plants she grows include ferns, hosta and hydrangeas.
"I have one sunny area that I put my blooming plants in," she said. "There I have lambs ear and turtle head. The turtle head is a native plant, as well. They grow about 18-inches tall. One variety is white and one is pink. When the blossoms open, they look like a turtle head, similar to a snapdragon blossom.
Gilmore said she likes to keep a lot of native plants and shrubs on her property.
"Native plants are plants that were in Maryland when the settlers first came over, and people look for them at the sale," she said.
Gilmore said funds raised by the plant sale go back into the three gardens the Master Gardeners have at the Carroll County Agriculture Center, including the butterfly garden called the Shirley Garden, the Gillette Garden, which has shrubs and native plants, and the Grow it Eat it Garden, which has vegetables and fruit trees.
"Some of the food grown [in the Grow it Eat it garden] is given to local food banks," she said.
Gilmore said the Master Gardeners are also now involved with the Sykesville Community Garden, supported by the city of Sykesville, and they maintain a garden at the Carroll County Public Library in Eldersburg, which has native plants, shrubs and flowers.
Gently used garden flea market items will be available for purchase, too, and they'll hold a silent auction for a nearly new Troy-Bilt shredder and a raffle for a high quality garden shovel, valued at $60.
"The flea market items are a variety of things which our folks no longer use," Epler said. "It could be tools, books, pots — you name it — and all in salable condition at good prices."
Payment at the plant sale must be by cash or check. No credit cards will be accepted.
"People like the relaxed atmosphere of our sale. Come out, enjoy the sale and look for bargains," Gilmore said. "We are reasonably priced, less expensive than most garden centers and we have a lot to offer."
The Carroll County Agriculture Extension office in the Carroll County Agriculture Center is located off Gist Road in Westminster.
If You Go:
What: Third annual Master Gardener plant sale
When: 8 a.m. to noon May 23
Where: Under the pavilion in the Carroll County Agriculture Center parking lot, off Gist Road in Westminster
Cost: Admission is free
For more information: Visit http://carrollcountymastergardeners.org