I was out in the garden yesterday when the sun was actually out and having a good look around. On the deck are a good number of pots that I only use in the summer and they are all in need of a good clean and the soil changing. This is a perfect opportunity to repurpose some quite reasonable potting soil for use in doing cuttings for the garden club plant sale. This is the time of year to really get going on these as then they are really well settled by the time of the sale in May. Have a look around as most people have several perennials that could do with reducing by a quarter or even a third. The material removed would probably be enough for a couple of generous cuttings but even one would be great! This gives one an opportunity to fill the hole left behind with compost or soil enriched with manure and then the plant gets off to a great rejuvenated start when spring arrives. Lots of our perennials can easily spare enough roots for at least one cutting and in plant sale lots of variety is the name of the game for making some money!!!!
Maybe some club members are like me and not very good at remembering plant names (in my case very bad!!!) Even 20 years ago this was a problem for me so at least it is not an old age thing!! These are some of the strategies that I use to find a name and maybe they might work for you if you are stuck for a name. To start I mark the plant with the things known about it i.e. blue flowers, 2 feet tall blooms in June. The next step is to consult a gardening book as they often list “blue flowering plants out in June” and by cross referencing on the computer the name can be found fairly easily. If the plant is a common one, then it can usually be found in a book with good illustrations. Plant identifier books are very helpful as well. In my case there is a box into which I throw all my plant tags and a look through these might produce a match. If none of these strategies work, then a look around Maple Leaf Garden Shop may help as often the plant is for sale there then it is “problem solved”! The risk with that is finding one or two treasures with which one “can’t live without” and it being an expensive trip. If nothing is working and the plant is a really good one, then bring it to a club meeting and consult Wendie Kottmeier who is incredibly good at plant recognition. There are very few plants with which she and other experienced gardeners in the club are not familiar.
We do want people to be pleased with the material they purchase from our club so please do not pot up anything that you know to be invasive. Ground cover plants that are nice but spread should be clearly marked so buyers know what they might be in for. In our garden we have at least one plant that was given to us before we knew very much about gardening and they make us have negative thoughts about the giver every time we have to try and weed it out!!! I have another that I got recently when I should have known better. I just trusted the friend – a major error! It was a bulb and they are the worst for both spreading and being difficult to remove.
What sells well? Anything with good PR! A plant with a flower will usually go first and then failing that interesting leaves. One would think that rare and special would be best but often those plants finish up in members gardens after the sale is over. Often it is common things that fly off the table especially Iris but that seems to vary from year to year. There is no doubt that having a sale every year helps as people look for it if they know it is coming up. A look around the price tags at the garden shop is enough to tell you “why”. Also, garden club plants are not pumped up with loads of fertilizer and seem to thrive once they get planted out. They are also well suited to our climate as obviously they have grown enough to be divided.
The not very subtle message of this piece is “Get planting”! The garden club needs your efforts and it is fun to see treasures in pots sprouting and growing. Let’s have another year of increased sales to follow the pattern of the last two.