A year ago, Sarah Jordan and her husband retired to the Olympia area so they could be closer to family. They bought a home and then found themselves needing to remove Scotch broom, an invasive plant, from their property.
What do you do once the Scotch broom is gone? You buy new plants.
Jordan was one of hundreds who took part Sunday in an annual sale of plants at the WSU Extension office on Harrison Avenue in northwest Olympia. The longtime event is put on by Native Plant Salvage, the nonprofit arm of the WSU Extension Water Resources Program, said Erica Guttman, senior extension educator.
Last year’s event was dampened by wet weather, she said, but this year the skies held and the buyers showed up. Guttman estimated that 500 to 800 people would buy plants Sunday.
For sale were plants native to the area, and “water-wise” plants and hard-to-find varieties such as the Pacific yew, a native conifer that grows slowly but also lives a long time, according to a description posted for prospective buyers. Pacific yews are hard to find at nurseries, so some buyers had reserved them, Guttman said.
Water-wise plants are those considered to be drought-tolerant and hardier than your typical plant, which means they don’t need to be sprayed with pesticides, said Eva Donjacour, one of several volunteers helping out on Sunday.
Donjacour, 25, of Olympia, used to be part of AmeriCorps, the federal program that gives young people work experience in exchange for helping them later with student loans or tuition. They also receive a stipend as part of their AmeriCorps service; and Sunday’s sale helped raise money to fund a stipend in the range of $6,000 to $7,000, Guttman said.
In addition to raising money for the stipend, Guttman said, the sale has three goals, which are outlined on the group’s website: “Education about sustainable plants for our climate, habitat, and protecting water resources; helping residents plant environmentally beneficial species; and raising funds for the work of the Native Plant Salvage Project, including supporting stormwater-pollution-prevention projects and habitat learning landscapes.”
Jordan, meanwhile, bought about 14 plants for $85 on Sunday and could be seen hauling all of them, as many shoppers did, to her car with a wagon.
But it wasn’t a sellout Sunday, said Guttman, which means they have leftover plants. Those interested in getting a plant can call 360-867-2167 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about the organization, go to nativeplantsalvage.org.