Gardeners can get in a twofer this weekend by shopping at the Master Gardener fall plant sale knowing that their purchases are helping to pay for the Master Gardener demonstration garden going in at Folsom Lake College, El Dorado Center in Placerville.
More than 3,500 items, including a large number of fall starter vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, greens, chard and bok choy, will be available at Saturday’s sale. All of them will make nutritious additions to stews and soups this winter.
With fall being the ideal time to plant perennials and trees, shoppers can also pick up ideas on what perennials, trees, shrubs and ornamental grasses would enhance their yard.
Native plants such as emerald carpet manzanita, monkey flower and ceanothus can be purchased. There will also be a wide selection of succulents and herbs such as scented geraniums, lavender, rosemary, chives, salvia and oregano.
A premium booth will be on display for plants that are more difficult to get started or grow such as red buds, Pacific dogwood and Japanese maple.
There will be gardening calendars and books for sale as well as free information on pest management, weed control and composting.
Representatives from the bee society and the herb society will be on site to answer questions and don’t forget the bonsai demonstration at 11 a.m.
With such great bargains on hand, it’s easy for shoppers to forget that their purchases have also made them stakeholders in the Master Gardener demonstration garden that is taking shape.
In fact the entire reason for the plant sale, which is in its fifth year, is to pay for the demonstration garden.
Located on a little under 2 acres just below the Cameron Park Rotary Observatory, the site has undergone a noticeable transformation in the last 19 months since work began.
Under the guidance of Master Gardener Bob Sherwood, who is chairman of the demonstration garden steering committee, grading of the site began in January 2012. Much of the infrastructure has been put in including an electrical and irrigation system along with laying out walkways that meander throughout the site.
Sherwood said one of the more unique aspects of the garden is they are putting in a four kilowatt solar system so the garden will totally run on solar power.
Eventually there are plans for 14 different gardens including ones devoted to vegetables/herbs, native plants, a children’s garden, butterfly garden, bog garden, orchard/tree area and Mediterranean garden.
Sherwood estimated so far the cost of the demonstration garden has been $30,000 to $35,000. He said when it’s all finished and all the plants and buildings are in, it will have cost between $60,000 and $70,000 — all of it coming from plant sales with almost all of the plants raised or donated by Master Gardeners like Sue McDavid and others.
Most of the labor has been donated by Master Gardeners as well. Sherwood estimated close to 6,000 hours have gone into the demonstration garden so far, with his contribution being about 1,900 hours a year just on the demonstration garden alone.
There is still a lot of work to be done including erecting a deer fence, more retaining walls and steps around the orchard, erecting a greenhouse for the vegetable garden, finishing the walkways, putting in drip lines for the plants, a kiosk at the entry point to the demonstration garden, and last, actually planting the gardens. Also planned are trees throughout the site for shade as well picnic tables for those who want to eat lunch while visiting.
Sherwood said they hope to open the demonstration garden to the public in the spring of next year; however, realistically it may not be until next spring that the gardens actually get planted.
“The demonstration garden and plant sale are tightly integrated. The focus of our fundraising is outreach and the thrust of that is the demonstration garden. It would have taken much longer to build this without our plant sales,” said Master Gardener Merry Campbell, coordinator of the plant sale.
Discussing the purpose of the demonstration garden, she said it is “an educational opportunity for gardeners so people can see the benefit of gardening. It’s tied in with the Master Food Preservers and 4-H. It links the aesthetics of gardening with the food we consume. The demonstration garden will provide more educational opportunities that tie all this together.”
The plant sale is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 28 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Building parking lot, 130 Placerville Drive, Placerville.
Cash and checks are accepted but not credit card payments. Carry out service is available and there will be plenty of Master Gardeners on hand to answer gardening questions.
Come early for the best selection and to help plow your purchases back into the demonstration garden.
For more information about the demonstration garden, the plant sale or about Master Gardeners, call 530-621-5512 Tuesday through Friday or go to the Website at ucanr.org/sites/EDC_Master_Gardeners/. The master gardener program is part of the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.