How Does Your Garden Grow?

Bay Weekly’s Ephemeral Guide to Spring Plant Sales

A young tomato lover at Greenstreet Garden's Tomatomania.

The flowers that bloom in spring are often ephemerals, their precious blooms here one day and gone the next.
    So, too, is the season for plant sales. Starting this weekend and continuing to mid-May, local garden clubs, historical and horticultural societies and nurseries bring out their abundance.
    These small, often one-day-only affairs offer hundreds of plants at bargain prices, including unusual and rare varieties that you won’t find elsewhere — like the camellia selection at London Town.
    All are locally grown, typically by club members whose gardens have more than enough to share, so all are seasoned to the Chesapeake’s climate and should settle in well. Many of the proven, green-thumb gardeners are on-hand to help you plan, choose and buy the right plants. At some sales, they’ll even diagnose your plant problems.
    Now’s the time, and it’s quick passing, so don’t miss these fleeting opportunities.

Historic London Town and Garden

When: Saturday, April 28, 8am-noon
What: Wander through London Town’s garden to see native woodland perennials, succulent shade plants, crested irises, bleeding hearts, plus a large selection of peonies, camellias and more.
    Make your kitchen garden historic with heirloom vegetables — including more than 40 varieties of heirloom tomatoes — plus hard-to-find heirloom scarlet runner beans, flowering sweet peas and other old-fashioned plants.
Why: Acquire hard-to-find varieties of popular plants. Camellia fans will enjoy cold-hardy camellias bred onsite by Dr. William Ackerman. Your dollars help irrigate London Town’s gardens and keep them growing.
Where: Historic London Town and Gardens, 839 Londontown Rd., ­Edgewater: 410-222-1919; ­www.historiclondontown.org.

Bowie-Crofton Garden Club Annual Plant Sale

When: Saturday, April 28, 8am-1pm
What: Among homegrown stock, you’ll find a large variety of daylilies, herbs, tomato seedlings, ground covers like sedum, local perennials and a few exotics from members’ private gardens. Three local nurseries fill out the botanical offerings: Cardinal Creek Nursery brings hanging baskets, annuals and starter vegetable plants. Davidsonville Nursery brings herbs and vegetable starter plants. Patuxent Nurseries sells shrubs (featuring Lacecap Hydrangeas), Knock-Out Roses (in multiple colors), bagged mulch, bagged LeafGro and Chickity Doo Doo organic fertilizer.
    Please bring canned goods to support the Bowie Food Pantry. 
    Master gardeners aid you in selecting the right plant and solving plant or pest mysteries. 
Why: Beginning gardeners get plenty of help and great prices, too. Sales benefit the garden club’s scholarship fund for a University of Maryland student, local gardening projects and the Bowie Food Pantry.
Where: In front of Bowie Library, off Rt. 450 & Belair Dr., Bowie: 301-262-8676.

Calvert Garden Club

When: Saturday, April 28, 9am-noon
What: Reasonably priced trees, shrubs, perennials, bedding plants, bulbs, herbs, ground covers, hanging baskets and fresh flowers locally grown in members’ gardens; plus White Elephant booth; hot dogs, sodas and baked goods for sale.
Why: Increase your garden and your goodwill at the same time: sales help the Calvert Garden Club fund its charitable donations and service projects in Calvert County.
Where: Historic Linden House, Church St., Prince Frederick: 410-586-9353.

Montpelier Festival of Herbs, Tea and Arts

When: Saturday, April 28, 10am-4pm
What: Shopping for herbs is only the beginning. You’ll stroll among vendors of fragrant teas, fine arts, handmade baskets, garden accessories, jewelry and more. Hear live music. Enjoy tea and scones in the mansion. Visit artists in their studios and see exhibits. Tour Montpelier, take in a lecture, enjoy a tasty lunch. Kids play old-fashioned games, see live animals at an exhibit and dress in colonial costumes.
Why: Combine your herb shopping with a festival and history lesson.
Where: Montpelier Mansion, 9650 Muirkirk Rd., Laurel: 301-377-7817.

Greenstreet Garden Tomatomania

When: Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29, 8:30am-6pm
What: Find more than 175 varieties of heirloom and hybrid tomatoes grown on the Greenstreet Garden farm. Buy seedlings, pots, planters and more. Get advice from tomato experts and learn how to hone your tomato-growing skills.
Why: When store tomatoes don’t cut it, grow your own.
Where: Greenstreet Gardens, Lothian: 410-867-9500 x201; ­www.greenstreetgardens.com

Historic Sotterley ­Plantation

When: Saturday, April 28 9am-2pm and Sunday, April 29 Noon-3pm
What: Choose from a variety of annuals, perennials, shrubs, small trees and bulbs, many from private gardens of the Sotterley Garden Guild. Find cuttings from Sotterley’s historic garden — including heirloom peonies, phlox, lilacs, larkspur and poppies. Mint connoisseurs acquire descendants of mint used to make mint juleps in the plantation’s heyday.
    Saturday, 10am-noon, swap your extra herbs, perennials, vegetables, seedlings, bulbs or seeds in the free plant exchange.
Why: Find homes for extra seeds, divided plants or too-abundant seedlings; or gather new garden stock. Help keep Sotterley’s gardens growing year-round.
Where: Historic Sotterley Plantation, Hollywood, St. Mary’s County: 301-904-3439; www.sotterley.org.

Four Rivers Garden Club Flower Mart

When: Monday, April 30, 8:30am-2:30pm
What: For almost 70 years, the Four Rivers Garden Club has ushered in spring with a homegrown flower mart outside Market House. Arrive early to select pre-made May baskets and fresh-cut flowers for your May basket. Embellish your garden with locally grown natives, perennials, herbs and more, most grown by members of the Four Rivers Garden Club, the oldest garden club in Anne Arundel County. Garden items and baked goods sold.
    Come with garden questions and bagged samples of your gardening problem for a master gardener’s expert advice.
Why: Take part in a tradition while supporting Four Rivers Garden Club’s community projects.
Where: Next to Market House, Annapolis City Dock: 410-757-7837.

Historic Annapolis ­Plantasia

When: Thursday, May 3, 6-8pm
What: Plantasia, Historic Annapolis’ 3rd annual Garden Party and Plant Sale. Stroll the paths of the William Paca Garden to discover its beauty and elegance; sip signature cocktails and treat yourself to delicacies provided by Ken’s Creative Kitchen. In a silent auction like no other, bid on rare and heirloom plants, including some grown at the homes of our founding fathers.
How Much: $100 per person.
Where: William Paca Garden, 186 Prince George St., Annapolis: 410-267-8146; www.annapolis.org.

Calvert County Master Gardeners

When: Saturday, May 5, 8am-noon
What: Furnish your garden with healthy flora raised by Calvert County master gardeners. From the masters’ private collections come natives and non-natives, including shrubs, perennials, butterfly attractors, vegetables, herbs and houseplants. Shop early for spicebush, arrow-wood, sweet pepperbush and red osier dogwood.
    Bring botanical oddities or photos of your ailing specimens to the plant clinic.
    Also bring old pots and trays for reuse and recycling.
Why: Get sage advice from master gardeners, who provide detailed planting instructions and label all that’s green with names and planting conditions for easy shopping. See what plants will look like later in the season with photos of each species at peak.
Where: Community Resources Building, 30 Duke St., Prince Frederick: 410-535-3662.

Battle Creek Nature ­Center Herb Sale

When: Saturday, May 5, 9am-1pm
What: Green your gardens with 29 varieties of herbs nurtured from seed.
Why: Garner herbs to flavor summer fare while helping raise money to keep Battle Creek open year-round.
Where: Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, Gray’s Rd., Port Republic: 410-535-5327.

Alice Ferguson ­Foundation at Hard ­Bargain Farm

When: Saturday, May 5, 11am-4pm
What: The Alice Ferguson Foundation’s plant sale coincides with the spring Farm Festival. Plant sale offerings include annuals, perennials, natives and shrubs purchased fresh from local nurseries.
    Take a hayride to the Potomac River and back, try cow milking, butter churning and wool spinning. Eat barbecue and ice cream; listen to live music. Kids get their own fun: a touch tank, face painting and crafts.
Why: Make a family day of it as you shop for plants and kids play and learn; then the whole family enjoys a picnic concert. When you buy plants, you help keep the farm’s formal gardens stay green all season long.
Where: Hard Bargain Farm: Accokeek, Charles County: 301-292-5665.

Friends of Helen ­Avalynne at Tawes ­Garden

Friends of Tawes Garden members Nancy Weber, Norma Coulter and Don Myers.

When: Wednesday, May 9, & Thursday, May 10, 10am-4pm
What: Just days before Mother’s Day, Tawes Garden fills with flora for your home. Find annuals, perennials, aromatic herbs and ready-made hanging baskets. Help your mother get her vegetable garden growing with tomato, pepper and squash plants, all ready to transplant. Plus, amplify your maternal tribute with non-plant gifts.
Why: Mother will ooh and ahh over blossoming hanging baskets and vibrant flowers; you’ll get satisfaction from helping raise funds for Tawes Garden — Maryland in Miniature — which depends on volunteer efforts.
Where: Tawes Garden, off Rowe Blvd., Annapolis: 410-260-8189.

Chesapeake Beach Garden Club

When: Saturday, May 12, 9am-noon
What: The Chesapeake Beach Garden Club’s event is part plant sale and part flea market. For your garden, members dig and divide their own collections to bring you colorful and healthy flora. It’s a casual, relaxed atmosphere where members typically sell bargain-priced tomato plants, irises of all colors, houseplants, pansies, petunias and more. You’ll also find herbs, bulbs and seeds, including bromeliads plus lovely hanging baskets and containers for Mother’s Day.
Why: Proceeds benefit the Garden Club, which keeps town planters and gardens brimming with color, as well as giving donations and advice to the elementary school’s reading garden.
Where: Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum: 301-855-0116.

Summerseat Farm

When: Saturday, May 12, 8am-3pm
What: The 10th Anniversary Summerseat Plant Sale lays out a huge assortment of shrubs, trees, grasses, hanging baskets, crafts and Mother’s Day gifts. There’s plenty of parking and help carrying purchases to your vehicle. The Courtyard Café serves breakfast and lunch, including buffalo burgers.
Why: Visit and tour the peaceful setting of a farm dating from 1678 with a manor house built in 1884. See farm animals, including American buffalo and Barbados sheep. Learn at educational exhibits. Entertain kids.
Where: Summerseat Farm, Mechanicsville, St. Mary’s County: 301-373-6607 or 301-373-5858.

Historic Annapolis Mother’s Day Plant Sale

When: Saturday, May 12, 10am-4pm & Sunday, May 13, noon-4pm
What: Gardeners browse a variety of heirloom flowers, vegetables, herbs, native trees and shrubs and flowering vines, including purple hyacinth bean. Historic Annapolis Foundation volunteers have nurtured the plants in their greenhouses.
    Plant sale catalogs go up one week in advance on the Historic Annapolis website, www.annapolis.org.
Why: Find diverse plant selections while getting advice on garden design and maintenance from experienced William Paca garden staff; help Historic Annapolis maintain the blossoming 18th-century William Paca Garden.
Where: William Paca Garden, special event entrance at 1 Martin St., Annapolis: 410-267-8146; www.annapolis.org.

Environmental Concern 40th Anniversary Plant Sale & Open House

When: Friday, May 18, 9am-4pm & Saturday, May 19, 9am-2pm
What: Semi-annual native plant sale.
Why: Gardens that use native plants speak to us because they don’t just mimic nature: They are a part of it. Environmental Concern has been growing native plants for 40 years, each year inviting customers to share in the love of nature.
Where: 201 Boundary Lane., St. Michaels; 410-745-9620; www.wetland.org/nursery_news_plantsale.htm.

Annapolis Horticulture Society

Debi Mallonee with plants at the Annapolis Horticulture Society sale.

When: Saturday, May 19, 7am-noon
What: The Annapolis Horticulture Society offers botanical excess from members’ collections. Native and nonnative plants on sale, including perennials, annuals, tropicals, vegetables, herbs, shrubs and trees. Early birds scoop up many between 7 and 9am.
    Also on sale: Bay Gardener Dr. Francis Gouin’s book Enough Said, a collection of his columns for the Society’s newsletter.
Why: Shop for fresh local bounty, and plan your garden in one shopping trip with guidance from knowledgeable garden enthusiasts.
Where: Anne Arundel Farmers ­Market, corner of Riva Rd. & Truman Pkwy., Annapolis:
www.annapolis­horticulture.org.