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News / Clark County News

Annual plant sale: Growing a Mother’s Day tradition

Fundraiser for Master Gardener Foundation popular among families and green thumbs alike

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Published: May 8, 2016, 7:21pm
6 Photos
Margaret Wendel of Hazel Dell, center, looks at hosta plants with Master Gardener Fran Hammond, right, at a plant sale Sunday at the 78th Street Heritage Farm.
Margaret Wendel of Hazel Dell, center, looks at hosta plants with Master Gardener Fran Hammond, right, at a plant sale Sunday at the 78th Street Heritage Farm. (Steve Dipaola for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Joyce Hollingsworth of Vancouver is a mother and a grandmother, but the plants her family purchased on Mother’s Day were on her.

“She likes to buy us hanging baskets for Mother’s Day,” Hollingsworth’s daughter Shannon Atchison of Tillamook, Ore., said Sunday as she stood in the checkout line with her mom at the 78th Street Heritage Farm in Hazel Dell.

The reason she was buying for her kids?

“Because they’re mothers, too,” Hollingsworth said.

Hollingsworth, her daughter Kelly Murray of Portland, Atchison and Atchison’s daughter, 14-year-old Clare Atchison, had been on their way to buy plants at a local nursery when they stumbled upon Heritage Farm and decided to stop there instead. They said they were glad they did. They praised the selection and prices and said that the master gardener volunteers on hand were helpful.

The group paused for a few photos by their red wagon full of hostas, succulents and other plants. Later, they would meet for a Mother’s Day dinner with another one of Hollingsworth’s daughters, who also is a mother.

The weekendlong plant sale is a fundraiser for the Master Gardener Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides grants for local horticulture projects and programs. The fundraiser also provides money for the coordinator position for the Washington State University Clark County Extension’s Master Gardner program.

Each year, the event puts roughly 22,000 plants up for sale and raises around $40,000, said master gardener and plant sale volunteer Maureen Humbert. The foundation also offers a smaller fall sale, but “this is our really major fundraiser,” she said.

The plants sold Mother’s Day weekend start from seeds in January; from there they grow in greenhouses with the help of volunteers.

“It takes a tremendous amount of time,” Humbert said. “We’re hoping all of these little plants find homes.”

They seemed to be well on their way Sunday afternoon, and it helped that prices were low. Veggie starts in 4-inch pots, for example, were $1 each.

“It’s the best deal in town,” Humbert said.

There were plenty of families shopping Sunday afternoon, but business was nothing like it had been the day before.

“This year, everybody came on Saturday,” Humbert said, adding that the parking lot was so packed Saturday that some customers had to be turned away. “It was crazy busy.”

Taking advantage of smaller crowds Sunday, 10-year-old Logan Bigelow navigated a wagon full of flowering plants across the farm with ease.

Did You Know?

• More than 1,600 volunteers have completed master gardener training in Clark County since the program had its first class about 40 years ago.

• In the past several years, master gardeners have planted the living Welcome to Washington flower-bed sign along Interstate 5 in Vancouver.

“Good job, buddy,” his mother, Wendy Bigelow, said.

The Bigelow family, including dad Robert and 12-year-old daughter Maddy, were out and about to celebrate the holiday. It was their first time at the Master Gardener Foundation plant sale, and they were considering a climbing clematis, eye-catching with its purple blooms, or perhaps a Japanese maple.

“We usually do a big breakfast together and church,” Wendy Bigelow said of Mother’s Day, and they also visit the Vancouver Farmers Market. “I like that I get to spend the day with my kids.”

Logan added: “It’s just a day to hang out with my mom.”

Not everyone was there to celebrate Mother’s Day. Margaret Wendel of Hazel Dell, who is working on landscaping a new home, was at the sale solely for the plants.

“I’m a lifelong, passionate gardener and florist,” she said, holding a couple of pots. “I’m always trying to find things. … These hosta leaves are perfect for greenery.”

Learn More

Read about the WSU Clark County Extension Master Gardener program: ext100.wsu.edu/clark/gardening/mg

Columbian Assistant Metro Editor