May 9, 2010

$EED money

Garden-mad Mainers make plant sales their fundraisers of choice.

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

To Jane Wellehan, having a plant sale as a fundraiser for a public school is a no-brainer.

click image to enlarge

Plants are prepared for customers at the annual Bowdoinham Library Plant Sale. This year’s sale is planned for 9 a.m. to 3p.m. Saturday at the Town Hall, 13 School St., Bowdoinham.

Telegram file photo


PLANT SALES are a local tradition. Starting this weekend and lasting about a month or so, dozens of groups will be holding plant sales across the state. Many are held by garden clubs, but school groups, churches, libraries and other groups have found they are popular and effective fundraisers for just about any cause.

BELOW ARE SOME – but by no means all – of the plant sales scheduled for southern Maine in the coming weeks. For more, check the websites of your town or school, or just occasionally search online for “plant sale” and “Maine” and see what you get.


SPRING PLANT AND PIE SALE by the Longfellow Garden Club, 8 a.m. to noon, North Deering Congregational Church, 1364 Washington Ave., Portland. Perennials from members’ gardens, plus geraniums and baked goods. 797-8880.

BOWDOINHAM PUBLIC LIBRARY PLANT SALE, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Bowdoinham Town Hall, 13 School St., Bowdoinham.

BATH GARDEN CLUB PLANT SALE, 8 a.m. to noon, Library Park, Patten Free Library, 33 Summer St.

BELFAST GARDEN CLUB 2010 GREEN THUMB PLANT SALE, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Belfast Boathouse, Commercial Street. Annuals, perennials, vines, herbs, vegetables and gardening-related items for sale. 338-3105 or

FALMOUTH FOOTBALL BOOSTERS PLANT SALE, 8 a.m. to noon, Falmouth Middle School, 52 Woodville Road. Lilacs, flowering almonds, wisteria, hydrangea divisions, perennials, herbs and more. Master gardeners will be on hand to answer questions. The Falmouth Education Foundation will hold a rummage sale in the middle school gym at the same time. E-mail

MAY 22

CUMBERLAND COUNTY MASTER GARDENERS PLANT SALE, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Barron Center, 1145 Brighton Ave., Portland. Herbs, geraniums, dahlias, vegetable seedlings, perennials, annuals, gardening books and red wiggler worms. Master Gardeners certified through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer advice and tips. (800) 287-1471.

KING MIDDLE SCHOOL PLANT SALE, 9 a.m. to noon, King Middle School, 92 Deering Ave., Portland. Perennials, hostas, Siberian iris, daisies, autumn sedum, ladies mantle, lilies, bee balm, forget-me-nots and coreopsis. Knowledgeable gardeners on hand to help. 871-7103;

SOUTH PORTLAND LAND TRUST ANNUAL PLANT AND BAKE SALE, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., American Legion Hall, 413 Broadway. Variety of annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, wildflowers and ground covers as well as baked goods and coffee.

SOUTHERN MAINE DAYLILY AND HOSTA SOCIETY PLANT SALE, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., Horticulture Building, Southern Maine Community College, 2 Fort Road, South Portland. Daylilies, hostas and other perennials from members’ gardens.

SACO BAY GARDENING CLUB PLANT SALE, 8 a.m. to noon or until sold out, Saco Museum and Dyer Library, 371 Main St.

OLD YORK GARDEN CLUB ANNUAL PLANT SALE, 9 a.m. to noon, Grant House in Goodrich Park, 200 U.S. Route 1, York. Perennial flowering plants grown in club members’ gardens, select garden ornamentals and plants from local nurseries at bargain prices. The club’s book, “In the Garden with Old York Garden Club,” will be on sale for $25, and an auction of rare and unusual plants will be held. E-mail:

NATIVE PLANT SALE, noon to 4 p.m., Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Barters Island Road, Boothbay. Woodland wildflowers, perennials, woody plants and other plants that thrive in New England, all selected by William Cullina, plant and garden curator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Sale will also be held noon to 4 p.m. May 23. 633-4333;

ST. MARK’S INDOOR/OUTDOOR PLANT SALE, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 9 Summer St., Augusta. Seeds, bulbs, seedlings, plant divisions, indoor and outdoor plants. E-mail:

MERRYSPRING’S ANNUAL PLANT SALE, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Merryspring Nature Center,
30 Conway Road, Camden. Perennials, herbs, rosemaries, various used tools and equipment and divisions from Merryspring’s gardens as well as other local gardens. 236-2239. A rhododendron auction will be held at noon, sponsored by the American Rhododendron Society’s Maine Chapter.

SCHOOL AROUND US PLANT SALE, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., School Around Us, 281 Log Cabin Road, Arundel. Vegetable, herb and flower seedlings, composted alpaca droppings, perennial flowers, perennial shrubs, baked goods, kids activities, a worm composting exhibit, a used book sale and yard sale, and gardening answers from local farmers and gardeners.


SCARBOROUGH GARDEN CLUB PLANT SALE, 9 a.m. to noon, Historic Hunnewell House, Blackpoint Road, Scarborough. Basic plants as well as a selection of unusual perennials, some annuals, herbs and shrubs. Garden club members will be on hand to give help and advice. or

RHODODENDRON AUCTION AND PLANT SALE PLUS FLOWER SHOW, 10 a.m., University of Southern Maine, Route 114, Gorham. (Follow “auction” signs to parking.) Event sponsored by the American Rhododendron Society, Maine Chapter. 797-2956.

OSSIPEE MEADOWS GARDEN CLUB OF WATERBORO PLANT SALE, 9 a.m. to noon, Taylor House, Route 5, Waterboro. Perennials, vegetable and annual seedlings, herbs, vines and houseplants, all donated by members and local residents. Some perennials from Taylor House gardens will also be on sale. 247-3604.

MORRIS FARM 10TH ANNUAL PLANT SALE, 9 a.m. to noon, Morris Farm, 156 Gardiner Road (Route 27), Wiscasset. Hardy Maine-grown perennials, fragrant herbs, heirloom tomatoes and gardening tips. Refreshments and baked goods for sale. 882-4080.

"A lot of the school budgets have been cut hard, and it's hard to keep asking parents for money for field trips and other activities," said Wellehan.

"But a plant sale is money for free. People have to give of their time, but if you're a gardener, you always have something extra, you're always dividing things up."

Wellehan helped put together plant-sale fundraisers when her two children were in grammar school. Now that they're at King Middle School in Portland, she's helping put together King Middle's first plant sale, scheduled for May 22.

There was a time when plant sales were almost exclusive to garden clubs. Members had extra plants, and selling them was a way to make money for things like activities or scholarships.

But in Maine, where the short growing season has helped cultivate a huge crop of ambitious and zealous gardeners, plant sales have grown into a cultural phenomenon.

There are lots of grass-roots groups looking to raise money -- school groups, sports boosters, churches, libraries, etc. -- and everyone in those groups knows an avid gardener or two willing to help, or willing to buy.

"It was not hard at all to get people involved," Wellehan said. "There are a lot of gardeners out there."


Over the years, plant sales in Maine have grown to include baked goods, composting demonstrations, advice sessions, books and children's activities.

At the Merryspring Nature Center plant sale, scheduled for May 22 in Camden, there will be used tools and gardening equipment for sale, along with plants.

At the School Around Us Plant Sale, scheduled for May 22 at the school in Arundel, you can get composted alpaca manure for your garden, see a worm composting exhibit and browse used books and a yard sale. There will be children's activities as well at this fundraiser for School Around Us, a parent-run private school.

At the Old York Garden Club's upcoming plant sale, also scheduled for May 22, a book on gardening written by club members will be for sale for $25. It's called "In the Garden With Old York Garden Club: What to Grow and How to Do It."

The book's focus is "practical advice for local gardeners," says garden club member Heidi Lumia, and talks about Maine's climate and soil types, with a focus on what will grow in the Pine Tree state. There are also lists of local garden suppliers and the best gardening tools, and lots of advice from club members.

The book comes in a three-ring binder, so people can add magazine articles, garden designs or notes to it.

The book and plant sale will help raise money for the garden club's scholarships, which are given to second-year students studying a horticulture-related field at a university or community college.

"The plant sale has always done so well for us in York; we have people lined up way before we open," Lumia said.

"We have some amazing gardeners in York, a lot of people who let us go into their gardens and divide up their plants for this." 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:


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