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Plant sale take root among county gardeners

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Carol Taylor walks through the Children's Garden at the Pitt County Arboretum on Tuesday morning.


By Janet Storm
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

About 15 years ago, a group of Master Gardener volunteers planted the seeds for an event that has been growing ever since.

The Pitt County Master Gardeners annual plant sale offers thousands of selections, dug up from the Pitt County Arboretum and their own personal plots.

Avid gardeners and beginners alike are expected to line up on Saturday morning for the chance to pore over a variety of trees, shrubs, ground covers, annuals perennials, herbs and vegetables. 

“People get very excited about the sale,” said Carol Taylor, a Master Gardener volunteer. “You never know what you’re going to get.”

One thing shoppers can count on is that the plants offered have been locally grown and therefore are suited to eastern North Carolina.

“A lot of people who live in this area have moved here from other places — many from up north where the climate is quite different,” Taylor said. “It’s useful to find out what plants do well here.”

Because so many of the plants come from the Master Gardeners’ home turf, those attending the sale have a ready resource if they need to ask questions or get advice about a particular plant.

“They can chat with someone who has actually grown that plant,” Taylor said. “I like to think that allows them to try something new.”

The annual sale started when a local extension agent and Master Gardener volunteers decided to showcase the county’s arboretum gardens and building in 2004, Taylor said. The success of that event put down the roots of a blossoming venture.

One of the volunteers suggested a plant swap and it was an immediate hit.

“We continue the plant swap to this day,” Taylor said. “People are crazy about it. There’s no cost — they bring in something and they get to go pick out something else. It’s just an exciting thing to do.”

This year’s swap will begin at 11 a.m.

The plant sale was added at the suggestion of visitors, she said.

“When people were wandering around the arboretum, they asked “When are you going to start selling plants?’” Taylor said. “We had about 1,000 plants the first year of the sale; we had close to 4,000 last year.”

Through the years, the sale has become more organized and branched out, she said. For example, since many of the plants are not blooming at the time of the sale, one of the Master Gardeners has compiled a library of photos to show what they will look like in full bloom.

Taylor said the group works to keep the prices low — some plants sell for as little as $1. It’s another incentive, she said, to try growing something new.

The event provides a nice opportunity for county residents pick up some bargains and learn more about the arboretum, she said.

“We’re always disappointed when people say, “Oh, there’s an arboretum in Greenville?’” Taylor said. “It is such a resource — we have trees that were planted her 20 years ago they have done well, so people can get an idea of what they look like and how they will grow.”

Customers have come to look forward to the sale, greeting their friends and sharing tips, Taylor said. Many bring their own carts to carry plants home.

“It’s a real gardening get-together,” she said.

If You Go

■ The Pitt County Master Gardeners annual plant sale will take place from 10 a.m. to noon May 18 at the Pitt County Arboretum, 403 Government Circle.

■ A variety of plants from the arboretum and from the Master Gardeners’ collections will be on sale. Proceeds will benefit the Pitt County Arboretum.

■ Cash and checks will be accepted at the sale. Boxes and carts will be available for transporting purchases.

■ A plant swap will take place at 11 a.m. where customers may trade their own plants for others to take home. 

■ For more information, contact Jeanette Debs at 850-225-3832.