May is a prime time to buy plants for the garden, and local plant sales offer hardy stock, reasonable prices, and sometimes plants that you cannot purchase commercially. Years of gardening have taught me that the plants that thrive best in my garden are grown close to home. Commercially produced plants are propagated and grown in highly controlled conditions, in greenhouses hundreds of miles away, and forced for early bloom. They are often pot-bound, with roots compacted in a soilless mix that dries out quickly and is difficult to rehydrate. I have had the best success with perennials, trees and shrubs that are grown locally in a climate and soil that is similar to my own. These plants are generally hardy, reliable, and quickly adjust to their new home in my garden.
I try to attend several horticultural society and garden club sales every year, and am always pleased with my new finds. So mark your calendars and make some room in your beds!
The Massachusetts Horticultural Society is hosting its annual Gardeners’ Fair on Sunday, May 16 from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm at Elm Bank in Wellesley. The “Society Row Sale” features plants sold by fifteen local plant society chapters including the Daylily, Hosta, Conifer, Rose, Herb, Lilac and Cactus societies. Dozens of heirloom and hybrid tomato varieties will also be available for purchase from Allendale Farm. www.masshort.org.
The American Rhododendron Society will be participating in the Gardener’s Fair with its plants for sale from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. You can admire the wide array of beautiful rhododendron blooms at the Society’s truss show, which opens after completion of judging at about 11:00 am.
Thousands of outstanding plants of all kinds are offered by Tower Hill, premier vendors and plant societies at the Tower Hill Plant & Garden Accessory Sale. Saturday, May 30, open to members 9:00 -11:00 am, opens to the public at 11:00. 11 French Drive, Boylston, MA. www.towerhillbg.org
Gardeners looking to expand their epimedium collection can visit Garden Vision Epimediums in Phillipston on two May weekends in 2015: May 8-10, and May 15-17, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, rain or shine. Garden Vision is primarily a mail order nursery, normally closed to the public except for the May sale weekends. On Saturday, May 16, nursery founder and epimedium expert Darrell Probst will be on hand at the nursery to answer your plant questions. Many of the hybrids are his introductions, and many of the plants sold at the nursery are clones of wild plants collected by him in China, Japan and Korea. www.epimediums.com
Native plants can be found at New England Wildflower Society’s Garden in the Woods in Framingham, which offers the largest selection of native trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, ferns, and perennials in New England. Garden in the Woods is open daily, and plants are available for sale throughout the season. www.newfs.org
For four days only, Sister Plants, a collaborative of passionate perennial growers, holds its yearly spring plant sale in Reading, Massachusetts. New England plant lovers can choose from hundreds of varieties of lovingly nurtured perennials, shrubs, trees, and herbs. The majority of the plants are grown in local garden plots and are sold at a fraction of catalog and garden center prices, starting at just $3. May 16-17, Reading, MA, www.sisterplants.com
Most garden clubs hold plant sales in May to fund their operations. Below is a partial listing, and others may be found on the Garden Club Federation of Mass. website calendar pages (gcfm.org)
Holliston Garden Club, Saturday, May 16, 9:00 – 12:00, Congregational Church Green, Holliston, www.hollistongardenclub.org
Ashland Garden Club, Saturday, May 9, 9:00 – 12:00, Montenegro Square, Front St., Ashland, www.ashlandgardenclub.org
Hopkinton Garden Club, Saturday, May 16, 8:00 – 11:00 am, Hopkinton Town Common, www.hopkintongardenclub.org
Framingham Garden Club, Saturday, May 18, 9:00 – 12:00, Cushing Park, Winter Street, Framingham, www.framinghamgardenclub.com.
Fairbanks Garden Club, Saturday, May 16, 9:00 – 12:00, historic Fairbanks House, 511 East St, Dedham
Greenleaf Garden Club of Milford, Saturday, May 16 8:00 – 12:00, Louisa Lake parking lot, Dilla St., Milford
Groton Garden Club, Saturday May 9, 8:30 – 12:00, Main Street (Rt. 119), in front of Town Hall
Foxboro Garden Club, Saturday, May 16, 9:00 – 12:00, Foxboro Common