It's finally warm and feels like springtime. And that also means it's time for planting.
If you're as ready as I am to start planting garden and looking forward to eating fresh Indiana tomatoes right out of the garden, then you know it's time for the Hamilton County Master Gardeners' annual plant sale.
I can always count on Master Gardner Alice Overton to remind me about the plant sale, which is three days away, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville.
The public can shop from Master Gardeners' large selection of Indiana natives, perennials, annuals, vegetables, trees and bearded irises. These plants have grown in the gardens of the county's Master Gardeners who, during more than two dozen scheduled workday digs at Master Gardeners' homes, prepare the plants for this sale.
Gardeners, free gardening information and expert planning advice will be available at the 19th annual sale. Admission is free.
But don't forget to bring your own wagon.
That's among the advice that I can offer to people shopping at the plant sale, which takes up the entire 10,000-square-foot Exhibition Center.
I've attended the event for at least a dozen years. And I'm still always amazed when I walk in the door. So many plants. So many volunteers. And so much work by Hamilton County Master Gardeners.
The early warmth and plentiful rain this year has helped to produce a lot of gorgeous plants," said Master Gardener Suzanne Stevens.
Master Gardeners have grown and will bring more than 16,000 plants for sale, "at very reasonable prices," she said. All are locally grown.
Doors open at 8 a.m. Take your shopping list. And your own wagon. While many Master Gardeners donate the use of their wagons for this sale, there aren't enough wagons to meet the demand. Customers may also use a holding area to accumulate plants without having to haul them around as they shop.
Once you're there, ask questions. The sale is about gardening education as much as selling plants. More than 100 Master Gardeners will be on hand to help customers find just the right plant and are happy to give gardening advice.
Stevens said, "a growing trend" is to "have lots and lots of plants to support pollinators." There is also "quite a large native plant selection" and an expanded selection of hostas, "one of the largest in the area, all in excellent condition." There is also more vegetable and herb inventory and hundreds of tomato plants, grown from seed by Master Gardeners.
Stevens said, "Our core inventory of perennials will offer a huge selection for your gardens."
What else? Go outside to find dug-to-order bearded iris and daylilies. Or to the adjacent O.V. Winks Building for good-sized containerized trees that are small enough to haul in an SUV.
Then buy your purchase with ease. Two express lines serve customers purchasing six plants or less. While cash and checks are eagerly accepted, plastic is accepted at all check-out lines. Then expect curbside pick-up and help loading plants into your vehicle.
Master Gardeners also wanted to make mention of "The Iron Man," a metal yard art vendor who will be set up with his metal bird houses and signs again this year in the entrance.
The best part about the sale is being assured that all of the plants are acclimated to Indiana's climate. And that all proceeds support scholarships for students in Hamilton County interested in horticulture-related careers.