Master Gardeners plan annual sale

By Lori Dunn

The Faulkner County Master Gardeners is looking forward to its annual plant sale on Saturday, May 14. It’s the first time in two years for the popular sale that helps plant lovers find new flowers every spring. The sale will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Conway Expo Center, 205 E. Oak St., Conway. Admission and parking are free.

“As with so many other groups, we came to a screeching halt in Spring 2020 due to COVID-19. We were actively planning for the 2020 plant sale but had to cancel that one as well as the 2021 FCMG Plant Sale,” said sale coordinator Celia Harkey.

Getting back into planting was easy, she said, since the arrival of spring automatically means digging in the dirt and planting for Master Gardeners. “We are very excited to have the sale again. We are up and going, and members have been doing a lot of work. This is our largest community event,” she said.

The Faulkner County 4-H Club will help with children’s activities during the sale. Proceeds benefit scholarships, horticulture education, and operating costs for Faulkner County beautification and gardening education. Thousands of plants known to thrive in Central Arkansas will be for sale. 

Plants will include sun and shade annuals, sun and shade perennials, pollinator plants, irises, lilies, daylilies, Hosta’s, ferns, house plants, succulents, herbs, shrubs, vegetables, and some trees.

“We usually have some of everything,” Harkey said. “If you don’t know much about native plants, we will have members there to educate you. They can answer questions about which plants do better in the sun and which ones in the shade.”

Education never ends, even for the Master Gardeners. “Most of us love plants and want to learn about them. This is for us to learn about plants too,” she said.

Prices vary but are reasonable, starting at $3. “We want to make them affordable,” she said. Plant prices are based on two variables: 

One is the size of the plant. Plant pot sizes start at 4 inches and many of these plants will be $3. However, unique characteristics of the plant also affect price. Less common plants and harder-to-grow plants will likely cost more no matter the pot size, Harkey said.

Master Gardeners are hoping to see regular shoppers at the sale plus new ones. There will be interactive education for all ages with special activities for children.  Most of the plants for sale are from the lawns and gardens of members, and digging up the plants is always an enjoyable part of the sale for members.

Faulkner County Cooperative Extension has always been focused on providing education to Master Gardeners and to the community, according to Harkey. A special focus this spring has been to provide opportunities to learn more about propagating plants. Members and the community have participated in seed-starting training, plus a workshop to encourage growing plants by seed.

Training to be a Master Gardener utilizes the resources of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Extension at unex.uada.ed.  They also  mentor and train  with experienced FCMG members while working on projects to improve the community’s landscape. Master Gardeners get involved to learn more about horticulture and also work with others who love plants. The annual dues are $15. In 2021, FCMG had 222 members. Members logged more than 8,000 volunteer community service hours and more than 5,000 continuing education hours.

“Most members don’t have trouble meeting the education hours. We even have advanced training for members,” Harkey said. “We are about educating members as much as we are educating the community.”

The group has also given $4,000 in scholarships to local college students. The FCMG has worked on 10 community landscape projects this year at five Faulkner County Library branches, the Legacy Gardens at Antioch Church, the Faulkner County Courthouse, the County Museum, and the County Extension office.

Harkey encourages anyone wanting to attend the sale to bring the entire family. “We want them to bring their kids. It makes them think about growing plants and where food comes from,” she said. 

Members are excited for the event and more excited to share their enthusiasm about everything green. “Our hearts are in plants. It’s a plant party.”