Garden Club Plant Sale Returns to Westward Orchards | The Harvard Press | Features | Feature Articles

Flowers … are a proud affirmation that a ray of beauty surpasses all worldly utility.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

After a two-year absence, the Harvard Garden Club’s annual plant sale will return on Saturday, May 14, from 9 a.m. to noon. There is another important event on this day: the first session of the Annual Municipal Assembly of 2022, starting at noon. But there is no need to miss either. Spend time in the morning stocking up on vegetables, herbs, and flowers; have lunch; play your role in city government; then plant your garden in the cool of the late afternoon. What could be more perfect on Saturday?

The plant sale takes place at Westward Orchards, 178 Mass. Ave., where she moved in 2018 after decades on the Common, starting in 1958. In Westward, there is plenty of parking, with Lions Club members directing traffic. The Girl Scouts help with the setup and will be on hand to help transport the plants to people’s cars. The co-chairs of this year’s plant sale are Claudia Wesley and Bill Loehfelm, and almost every member of the club works in the sale in one way or another.

Prices are generally lower than what you’ll find at nurseries – you’ll need cash or checks for your purchases. The best deal, however, is the friendly service and the invaluable insights and advice that Garden Club members will gladly share with you.

The Garden Club is a non-profit organization, and proceeds from sales go to landscaping projects and seasonal plantings around the city, a garden therapy program, book donations to the library, educational programs, flowers for Bromfield graduation, an education grant, and donations to local horticultural or conservation organizations.

The Harvard Garden Club spent a perfect morning at Westward Orchards preparing for its plant sale, which will take place at the orchard on Saturday, May 14, from 9 a.m. to noon. (Photo by Thomas Kilian)

Perennials likely to thrive

Garden Club members have been working behind the Westward Orchards farm shop, repotting shrubs and perennials since mid-April, often in chilly winds. Because all the plants were excavated in Harvard Gardens, you can be sure they will thrive in yours too. Most of the perennials aren’t in bloom yet, but club members will be on hand to describe what they’ll look like and how to care for them. You will find workhorses such as bleeding heart, astilbe, hosta, Shasta daisy, sundrops, grasses, black-eyed Susan, iris, phlox, daylilies and many more. ‘others. Some rarer plants will be at a specialized table.

If you’re impatient for color right now, you can buy your dose of annuals to go straight to the garden. All danger of frost should be ruled out. But then, this is New England, so have a cloth ready to cover them, just in case. The wide selection of flowering plants comes from Lancaster Gardens. Geraniums and petunias are always popular, but there will also be more unusual offerings.

For cooking, medicine and fragrance, choose from a variety of herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme and, less lyrical but equally dignified, basil, cilantro, dill and oregano. These and others are grown specifically for the Garden Club by Herbs & Harvest of Groton.

Vegetables, like herbs, are grown from seed, also grown to order at Herbs & Harvest. There will be a variety of tomatoes, chosen for their taste and resistance to disease, early green vegetables, several choices of peppers, eggplant, cucumbers and varieties of squash. Nasturtiums, classified as both a herb and a vegetable, will be back. Cheerful flowers in shades of yellow and orange, they make an attractive, spicy addition to salads and can be used to repel insects.

New for sale: Indoor plants

New this year are indoor plants, grown by a knowledgeable club member who will be on hand all morning to guide buyers on how to care for each plant. There will be a variety of plants such as jade, schefflera, dracaena, cactus, philodendron selloum, etc. Sizes vary from babies taken from clippings to plant divisions over 50 years old.

It’s easy to navigate between the tables when selling plants. Perennials are divided into shade and sun and listed alphabetically. Each perennial will have two sticks in it. A white stick will identify the plant with a clear label showing the name and growing conditions. The color stick is a price stick and is a color-coded price list displayed in three or four places around the sales area. Shrubs, annuals, herbs, vegetables, and houseplants have their separate locations and are priced more evenly.

When you can’t transport any more plants, you will head to the tally table, located just before the checkouts at the exit of the sale. A club member will add the prices for your plants and give you a slip with the total amount you owe. Pay this to the cashier – cash or check payable to GCH – take your purchases to your car and return for another round of sales.

Before you leave for good, you might want to pamper your shopping with a bag of “magic beans” produced from the happy alpacas at Harvard Alpaca Ranch. Manure is weed free and requires no aging. In addition to providing plant nutrients, it improves soil texture and helps with water retention.

Garden Club members are tough – the sale takes place, sun, rain, fog, snow or hail.

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