In the weeks before the popular Mother’s Day weekend plant sale, the dozen greenhouses at the 78th Street Heritage Farm start to swell with growing plants.
There’s something different in each greenhouse. Fifty-two tomato varieties in one, herbs and veggies in another, hardy fuchsias, hanging baskets, shade plants, house plants. Flowers for the Welcome to Washington sign are housed here, too.
Behind the scenes, volunteers tend to thousands of plants, ensuring they’re ready to be sold at the annual Master Gardener Foundation of Clark County’s sale. The sale supports the Washington State University Clark County Master Gardener program and the foundation’s grant program. It’s one of several springtime plant sales happening around Clark County to benefit nonprofits and schools.
The Master Gardener Foundation supports some of the smaller garden programs around town, giving out $35,000 in horticulture grants each year.
“That’s what all this is for — to give back to the community,” said Nancy Funk, a Master Gardener Foundation board member.
Have a gardening question?
Contact the Master Gardener answer clinic at 564-397-5711 or MGanswerclinic@clark.wa.gov. Otherwise, visit the clinic at 78th Street Heritage Farm, 1919 N.E. 78th St., between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, or 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays.
Looking for inspiration?
Visit a demonstration garden.
• Pacific Community Park at Northeast 18th Street and Northeast 172nd Avenue, Vancouver.
• NatureScaping Wildlife Botanical Gardens at 11000 N.E. 149th St., Brush Prairie.
• Water Resources Education Center’s backyard wildlife garden at 4600 S.E. Columbia Way, Vancouver.
Want to volunteer?
• Plant summer flowers at Propstra Square in Esther Short Park, 605 Esther St., from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 18. Volunteers should bring gloves, kneeling pads and hand tools. Lunch will be provided. Volunteers will meet at the southeast corner of the park.
• Plant fruit trees from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 27 in the pumpkin patch garden at Washougal City Hall, 1701 C St. Water and snacks are provided. Volunteers must sign a waiver and bring their own gloves.
• Take part in a floral beautification day from 1 to 4 p.m. April 28 in downtown Camas. Meet at Journey Community Church, 304 N.E. Fourth Ave., for a free burger and hot dog lunch at 12:30 p.m. Volunteers should bring gardening tools such as gloves, shovels and buckets to help weed, plant, sweep and spread bark dust.
Master Gardener Foundation 2019 grants
• Washington State University Clark County Master Gardener program endowment contribution and coordinator support.
• 4-H Restorative Community Service Food Bank.
• Farm to Fork Field Day events.
• Hazel Dell Elementary School and Community Garden.
• River HomeLink family gardening classes.
• Bethel Community Garden.
• Fort Vancouver Historic Site Interpretive Garden.
• 78th Street Heritage Farm organic demonstration field.
• Minnie Stromgren Memorial Garden.
• NatureScaping of Southwest Washington.
• Veterans Community Garden work program.• Washougal City Community Garden.
Funk said the Master Gardener Foundation distributes grants in January and then visits sites in the summer to see how their projects are coming along.
“And how we can help them, too,” she said.
Cultivating history at fort
One such site that reapplies for a grant each year is the interpretive garden in front of Fort Vancouver. Funk said the grant is used to purchase seeds, starts, organic compost and fertilizer.
The garden is supposed to reflect the fort’s agricultural history, so only specific plants can be grown there. Funk said it’s about 90 percent accurate to what the garden would’ve been like in 1845. Produce harvested in the garden is used in cooking demonstrations at the fort; visitors are shown what would’ve been cooked over a brick oven or hearth in 1845.
But the grants also go to smaller, lesser-known demonstration gardens, youth programs and classes. So, gardening enthusiasts can rest assured their purchases at the Mother’s Day weekend sale support community horticulture. The plants themselves often come from people’s yards. Volunteers dig up unwanted plants and then propagate them in the greenhouses. Frequently, it’s Master Gardeners who have plants in their yards that they want to pass on to the sale. Some plants and supplies are donated by area nurseries.
At the end of the weekend sale, which this year is May 11 and 12, there are usually not many plants left.
“The prices are so amazing here. I know that’s one reason we get people coming back,” said Master Gardener Marie Ogier.
While the Master Gardener Foundation is one of the better-known and more popular sales, other groups are hosting sales throughout April, May and early June. Fort Vancouver High School is selling plants to help build its own tranquility garden. Money raised from Columbia River High School’s sale will help students attend the 2019 FFA Convention at Washington State University in Pullman. And, Two Rivers Heritage Museum in Washougal uses its proceeds to preserve local history.
Guide to garden sales
All school sales accept cash or checks only.
Battle Ground High School
What: More than 15,000 plants for sale, including hanging baskets, perennial flowers, bedding plants, vegetables, berry plants and nursery stock. Sales benefit the district’s horticulture, welding and FFA programs. Customers can also check out the school’s demonstration garden that includes aquaculture, tissue culture, hydroponics, trellised fruit trees and several uncommon perennial fruits.
When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 4-5.
Where: 300 W. Main St., Battle Ground.
Center for Agriculture, Science and Environmental Education
What: CASEE will sell native Northwest trees and shrubs for $5, $10 and $15 in conjunction with NatureScaping of Southwest Washington’s plant sale next door.
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 27-28.
Where: 11104 N.E. 149th St., Brush Prairie.
What: Clark College’s Native Plant Center holds its annual plan sale benefiting the college’s science consortium, which provides hands-on, field-based science experiences for students. Plants include Camas lilies, elderberry, red flowering currant, nodding onion, meadow checker-mallow and piggyback plant.
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 4.
Where: 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver. (Park in orange lot 2.)
Columbia River High School
What: Sale includes annuals, perennials, baskets, vegetables and herbs grown by students using organic soil and no sprays. Proceeds go to the FFA program and will fund a trip to Washington State University in Pullman, where students will compete in the 2019 FFA Convention.
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 26, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 27, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 29-May 3.
Where: 800 N.W. 99th St., Vancouver.
Fort Vancouver High School
What: More than 1,000 heirloom and hybrid tomato plants, blooming hanging baskets, annuals, perennials, fruits, vegetables, succulents, cactuses, native plants and houseplants. All plants were grown naturally with no pesticides and “lots of Fort love.” Proceeds go toward the school’s FFA and horticulture program, which includes building a tranquility garden at the school.
When: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 1-3.
Where: 5700 E. 18th St., Vancouver.
Hudson’s Bay High School
What: Sale includes hanging baskets, veggies, fruit, native plants, tomatoes, blueberries, orchids, cactuses, succulents and house plants. All proceeds go back into the school’s horticulture program.
When: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 30, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 1-2, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 3.
Where: 1601 E. McLoughlin Blvd., Vancouver.
Prairie High School
What: Sales of hanging baskets, vegetables, flowers, grasses, herbs, trees and succulents benefit the district’s horticulture, welding and FFA programs. Visit www.facebook.com/prairieffagreenhouse to see photos of what will be available at the sale.
When: 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. May 1, 3:30 to 6 p.m. May 2, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. May 7, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 18.
Where: Greenhouse at 11311 N.E. 119th St., Brush Prairie.
Woodland High School
What: Floriculture and horticulture science students sell organically grown plants, including hanging baskets, geraniums, bedding annuals, tomatoes, veggies and color bowls.
When: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 3, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 4.
Where: 1500 Dike Access Road, Woodland.
Vancouver Flex Academy
What: Plants range from 50 cents to $10 and include herbs, veggies, flowering annuals and perennials, hanging baskets, container and basket fillers and succulents. Proceeds benefit student horticulture projects.
When: 3:30 to 5 p.m. May 2, 3 to 6 p.m. May 3, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 4.
Where: 2901 General Anderson Ave., Vancouver.
Community Garden Club of Camas-Washougal
What: Perennials, annuals, vegetable starts, ground covers, shrubs, sedums and Northwest native plants including trilliums. Proceeds promote and support local gardening education projects. Cash or checks only.
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 18.
Where: Camas United Methodist Church, 706 N.E. 14th Ave., Camas.
Master Gardener Foundation
What: Hanging baskets, ornamental trees and shrubs, edibles, perennial and annual flowers, and house plants priced between $1.25 and $20. Sales support the Master Gardener Program, horticulture education and healthy food growing grants in Clark County. MasterCard, Visa, cash and checks accepted.
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 11, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 12.
Where: 78th Street Heritage Farm, 1919 N.E. 78th St., Vancouver.
NatureScaping of Southwest Washington
What: Shrubs, bare-root trees and perennial sales support NatureScaping’s themed demonstration gardens and classes. Perennials start at $1, shrubs start at $5 and trees are $10 or more. Bee cocoons are 10 for $15. MasterCard, Visa, cash and checks accepted.
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 27, 28 and May 4.
Where: Wildlife Botanical Gardens, 11000 N.E. 149th St. and CASEE, 11104 N.E. 149th St., Brush Prairie.
Info: naturescaping.org or 360-737-1160.
Two Rivers Heritage Museum
What: The Camas-Washougal Historical Society hosts its annual plant fair, featuring plants from local homes and nurseries. This year’s sale includes Camas lilies, rhubarb, lavender, deutzia, peonies, calla lilies, strawberries, raspberries, hellebores, hosta lilies, lilac and a few small trees. Funds from the sale help preserve and make available local historical information. Cash, checks, debit or credit cards accepted.
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 18, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 9.
Where: 1 Durgan St., Washougal.
Camas Plant and Garden Fair
What: Plants, trees, garden art, furniture and supplies.
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 11.
Where: Downtown Camas.
Info: cwplantfair.org or 360-600-2334.
Clark Public Utilities Home & Garden Idea Fair
What: Plant sale, home and garden businesses, landscaping displays and farmers market vendors. Parking is $6 or take the free shuttle bus.
When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 26 and 27, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 28.
Where: Clark County Events Center at the Fairgrounds, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.