The Mother’s Day Plant Sale at the Carroll County Agricultural Education Center is expected to draw even more people this year as many beginner gardeners are trying their hands at growing gardens this year for the first time.
Shelly Murphy, cochair of the event, said she expected even more people and plants than last year, which sold more than 36,000 plants. The fundraising event is aimed at raising money to provide grants to schools, community gardens and other projects in the county.
The agricultural center for one day is transferred into a nursery filled with rows of green plants, native azaleas, azaleas, shrubs, peppers, basil and flowering varieties. For those not horticulturally savvy, signs have been placed above the tables indicating what plants require full sun, partial shade or shade.
Carole Ozier, Carroll County Master Gardener, has been growing plants in her home - including many pepper varieties - for the sale since February.
“I started from seed on my glass den back porch and moved them outside when the weather got warmer,” she said. “This is a hobby for me. I grew up gardening and working in the yard. I started my vegetable garden last year, and I wanted to grow different types this year then what you can find in the catalog. It’s amazing to see the plant you started from seed knowing it came from such a tiny seed.”
Ozier said she has grown some of the more unusual varieties of peppers this year, which include the Ancho Gigantea that is used in chili relleno and A.J. Crystal that tastes good in salsa.
“The plant sale gives people an opportunity to find things that are not in a nursery,” she said. “Someone without a lot of money can get plants here without spending a lot. So many of these plants are ‘pass-along’ plants, where they have been passed along by neighbors and friends.”
Murphy said prices at the plant sale are less than what one could expect to pay at a commercial retailer, and all of the proceeds benefit the non-profit organization.
Carroll County Master Gardener W.H. Smith has grown several of the plants that are for sale in the event. He has a small greenhouse on his Carrollton property that has been home to this year’s blooming flowers such as the “Angel Trumpet.”
“I grow many by taking semi-hardwood cutting in June and root the plants to transfer them into pots,” he said. “Sometimes it takes two years before they are ready for the sale. Most of the plants I have grown for this have been from my backyard.”
Smith said he has a weakness for plants, and every time he sees one he finds interesting he has to have it in the garden.
“I guess you could say I have a hodge-podge of plants in my yard,” he said. “I love being at the sale and answering questions, and occasionally I’ll run into someone who has bought one of my plants. That’s really fun.”
Carroll County Master Gardener Carol Hight’s list of plants she has grown for the event included everything from a Creeping Jimmy to a Spider Wort to Nandina.
“I dig the plants for the sale out of my yard and split the roots or grow them from seeds,” she said. “This is very special. Maybe we’re growing a plant that someone will love and inspire them to become a gardener.”
Hight said she planted her first seed - from a pumpkin - inside a milk carton in her third-grade classroom. She has been planting ever since - although she has advanced from the milk carton into a nursery on the edge of her Carrollton property.
“If this is someone’s first time gardening, I would encourage them to start small,” she said. “You can always get bigger, but if it’s too big then you could get frustrated and quit.”
Murphy said those planning to attend the sale should arrive early since lines have started outside the doors as early as 7 a.m. in previous years.
“We get very, very busy inside here on the day of the sale,” she said.
The sale runs from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday.