Mother’s Day is planting day here at Horsefeathers Farm in East Olympia, everything from vegetables in the garden to annual flowers in hanging baskets, flower pots and flower boxes on the deck.
Based on the plant sales I attended this week at Black Hills High School and South Puget Sound Community College to prepare for today’s planting activity, this is a tradition shared by many here in South Sound.
Students, instructors and alumni volunteers of the horticulture program at SPSCC were doing brisk business Friday morning as they kicked off their annual plant sale, which has been taking place the Friday and Saturday before Mother’s Day for 35 years.
“We get a lot of repeat customers,” horticulture instructor Deb Glidden said. “A lot of people wait for our sale.”
I can see why. The variety of showy annuals and hanging baskets, complemented by a large variety of native and non-native perennials, was impressive.
It does help to be an early bird at the popular plant sales. I arrived about one hour after the nursery opened, and the ivy geraniums I was looking for to anchor a hanging basket already were sold out.
So I turned to Plan B, which consists of three butterfly impatiens plants, surrounded by three white lobelia and three blue lobelia plants.
I also left the college sale with two mimulus plants, commonly called monkey plants. The bright, colorful bloomers will sit well in a container with an ornamental millet plant – purple majesty – towering over them in a vertical, stately display. Seeds produced by the millet plant attract birds and butterflies, and hummingbirds like the monkey plants, so that container should be a happening place.
The 11 plants I purchased at the SPSCC sale came to a total of $25.71, which seems like a bargain.
Pattison Lake-area resident Barbara Miklos attended the college plant sale for the first time Friday and was equally impressed.
“They have beautiful plants and good prices,” she said. “I think it’s a great sale.”
Earlier in the week, I visited the first day of the Black Hills High School annual Mother’s Day plant sale as a “VIP” guest of horticulture instructor Roger Bessey, whom I’ve known since my college days at the University of Washington and Western Washington University.
I loaded up on zonal geraniums and petunias for my larger flower boxes, more impatiens, marigolds for insect control in the garden and two African daisy plants destined for another hanging basket.
As with the college sale, the hanging baskets were flying out of the high school greenhouse on the opening day of the sale.
“The kids do just a beautiful job,” said Marvis Barclift as her husband, Tumwater School Board member Bob Barclift, wrote a check for $109 to cover their purchase.
All profits from the sale go back into the program, Bessey said.
Several of the students were beaming as they watched customers pick out the hanging baskets and container arrangements they grew and made.
“I love how we planted all this stuff, and I love to watch the people admire what we’ve done,” horticulture class member Montessa Rideout said.
My high school plant sale total came to $30. That means I’ve decorated my deck with high-quality, colorful annuals for a little less than $56.
I think I’ve saved some money in a year when I’ve had to think twice about a lot of my discretionary spending habits. But more important, I’ve contributed to some worthwhile programs at Black Hills High School and SPSCC.
Mother’s Day also is a day to tend to the garden. I have 16 dahlia tubers to plant, all survivors from our harsh winter and wet spring. They should be popping back out of the ground in no time.
Lettuce needs to be replanted after the first planing in early April apparently succumbed to cold, wet weather. Everything is at least two or three weeks behind schedule. Even the peas and spinach seem stunted in their growth.
On the other hand, the pear and apple trees and blueberry plants have full sets of blossoms, and I’ve seen a lot of pollinating bees buzzing around on the warmer days.
Since my toddler days, Mother’s Day always has been a planting day for the Dodge family. This year will be no exception.
John Dodge is a senior reporter and Sunday columnist for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-754-5444 or firstname.lastname@example.org.