Part of the fun of the Down to Earth Garden Club’s annual plant sale is the surprise element. You never know what you’ll find. Will the sale be heavy on vegetable and flower transplants? Maybe there will be some beautiful ornamental grasses. Or clumps of colorful daylilies, or elegant hostas.
Even the club members aren’t exactly sure what each other will bring. They dig, divide and share perennials, bring herbs, bulbs and native plants from their gardens, even small trees and shrubs.
One thing they can count on is Kathy Franklin to bring tomato and basil plants that she starts in February under grow lights in her basement. This year Franklin outdid herself.
“I grew six varieties of tomatoes,” she said. “There’s a beefsteak, one called Genuwine that’s pink, Kellogg, Cherokee Purple and a couple of cherry tomatoes, a yellow and an extra sweet red.”
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For good measure, she started oregano and thyme, in addition to basil.
But the sale offers more than just plants, Franklin said. There’s conviviality to the sale that brings customers back year after year.
“They like to talk about gardening. We share tales, get advice and give advice,” she said.
Club members had their first sale in 2005 and made about $500, said Anne Childress, chairwoman of the event. In recent years, the proceeds have grown to several thousand dollars each spring.
A portion of that money goes to the club’s civic project of maintaining a perennial garden at Waveland State Historic Site installed by Down to Earth in 1995. Featured are plants that would have grown in the mid-1800s when the mansion was completed and lived in by the Joseph Bryan family, who followed Daniel Boone through the Cumberland Gap, according to Waveland’s historic plaque.
Much of the plant sale money is used for grants of between $250 and $500 given for environmental, conservation, gardening and educational projects. Among the dozens of recipients have been Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, the London Ferrell Garden, Chrysalis House and the Leestown Veterans Hospital Healing Garden.
Almost $20,000 in grants have been made since 2005, Childress said. The club also gives an annual $500 scholarship to Fayette County’s Locust Trace High School.
The Down to Earth Garden Club was established in 1994. Club members are also members of the Lexington Council Garden Clubs, the Garden Club of Kentucky and the National Garden Clubs.
Beverly Fortune is a former Herald-Leader reporter. Contact her at email@example.com or (859) 948-7846.
Down to Earth Garden Club plant sale
When: 9 a.m. to noon, May 14
Where: Woodland Christian Church, 530 E. High St., Lexington
More info.: Downtoearthky.com
Also on May 14, the Capital Area Extension Master Gardener plant sale will take place on the Old Capitol grounds, 300 West Broadway in Frankfort. The sale will include a variety of heirloom plants and new varieties of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables and flower starts for containers or butterfly gardens and native plant gardens. The sale takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m
Also on May 14, Liberty Hall in Frankfort will have a plant sale at 202 Wilkinson St., that includes cuttings from the historic plants in the garden including the Catalpa tree, hardy begonias and peonies. The Liberty Hall Historic Site gardens will be open and tours of the house will be available. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.