Spring fling: Budding gardeners can learn tips, tricks at annual plant sale

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Herbs are among many types of plants available at the benefit sale this weekend at the Hancock County Fairgrounds, hosted by the Hancock County Herb Society and Hancock County Master Gardeners.

GREENFIELD – A blooming tradition returns to the Hancock County Fairgrounds this weekend in an event that answers questions about gardening and raises money for local organizations.

The annual Plant Sale sponsored by the Hancock County Master Gardeners and Hancock County Herb Society is May 6 and 7 at the 4-H Fairgrounds Show Arena, 620 Apple St., Greenfield. Herbs, annuals, perennials, vegetables, hanging baskets and more will be available.

For organizers Carolyn Swinford and Teresa Bowlby, it’s a tradition that is well worth the effort to answer questions of budding new gardeners and raise money for scholarships and community projects.

“We see a lot of the same faces every year it’s a good time to catch up,” said Swinford of the herb society. “There are people that I may not see (elsewhere) and I’ve met through this plant sale that come every year to get their plants.”

And for good reason – the plants at the sale are often less expensive than other places, Swinford said, because many of them come from master gardeners’ own backyards. Most of the plants come from the Greenfield FFA greenhouse or from well-established Hancock County gardens that have needed to be pared back.

So you’re not only getting plants, Swinford said, but you’re getting tips and advice from the gardeners themselves.

Lavender, for example, doesn’t grow well in the area on its own but may do well in an area with lots of gravel, she said.

“We offer advice: ‘this is what you need to do to this plant, it needs to be in sun, here’s some hints,’” she said.

Master gardeners will even give demonstrations regularly at the event on how to divide plants in gardens. Hostas, for example, can become crowded and need to be pared back every so often, said Bowlby.

“We also like to educate people while they’re there, or answer questions,” said Bowlby, a master gardener.

Children are encouraged to attend and learn about gardening, and are allowed to take a free plant of their own home – something Swinford said brings excitement to their eyes.

Funds raised from the sale go to general costs for the organizations. Both groups sponsor scholarships every year; the herb society also maintains a garden at the James Whitcomb Riley Boyhood Home and master gardeners offer several educational programs in the community.

Swinford said the event is a jovial springtime community tradition for both groups.

“There’s a lot of chatting going on between members, between members and customers; it’s a lot of fun for us,” she said.

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