At the Master Gardener foundation fundraising auction last year I was the winning bidder on a special prize: the right to shop half an hour early on the opening day of the annual plant sale. That day was yesterday.
It was like being queen for a day. I showed up at the door and said cheerfully, “I’m the early shopper.” The master gardener who greeted me said politely, “I’m sorry, there’s no early shopping.” I said, “There is for one!” She lit up and said, “Oh! You’re the early shopper!”
She took me on a private tour of the tables. I got to swan around and cherry-pick exactly what I wanted. I picked up a lovely little cyclamen and a maroon geranium I thought was the prettiest plant in the building. I didn’t abuse the privilege, I wasn’t greedy, and only took one of the two bleeding heart plants.
I had the leisure to talk to my master gardener friends, trade notes with other clinic leads, and get advice about what tomato plants to put in this year when I’ve sworn off tomatoes forever due to late blight, which my advisor noted is quite common in these parts. (“Northwest profile – broken hearted tomato gardener, you’re one of us.”)
Then I turned and saw them – the crowd waiting to come in, filling the doorway of the sheep barn, all leaning forward with bright eyes. It was exciting and a little scary!
I pulled my wagon full of plants aside as the volunteers got their final instructions and then called the sale open. Stampede! I wasn’t the first to the checkout line, one of the shoppers raced to a plant and ran to the line before I could say “I’m ready to be tallied”.
Another great thing about shopping early was that it was early. I live five minutes from the fairgrounds so I was back at my desk for my first meeting. It was a great time! I highly recommend it and hope I have a lot of competition for the prize the next time it’s offered.
The plant sale runs today until 5 and there are still tomato plants!