Master Gardener Plant Sale is Saturday Morning

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Hamilton County Master Gardener Helen Seibel (right) of Noblesville leads a work day in the iris garden at the 4-H Fairgrounds with fellow Master Gardeners Craig Wind (front, from left), Terri Ribley and Barbara Kiernan; and Beth Alexander (standing, from left) and Mimi Merchun, in preparation for Master Gardeners’ annual Plant Sale, which this year is on Saturday. Also, attaching a photo to go with Things to do of the Peony Festival

Gardeners, it’s time to shine up your little red wagons, make your plant lists and head for this weekend’s plant sale.

If you haven’t attended Hamilton County Master Gardeners’ plant sale, you need to go, particularly if you like gardening.

The 24th annual spring Plant Sale is 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville. The sale takes up the entire 10,000-square-foot Exhibition Center.

As many times as I’ve attended, I’m still always amazed when I walk in the door. So many plants. So many volunteers. So much work by our county’s Master Gardeners.

More than 15,000 plants — all grown by Master Gardeners who, during more than two dozen scheduled workday digs at Master Gardeners’ homes — are prepared for this sale.

Most of the plants come from county Master Gardeners’ yards and are well-acclimated to thriving in this area. They pot the plants and keep them on hand at their homes, watering, weeding and encouraging them to grow.

When the doors open at 8 a.m. Saturday for the plant sale, expect a line.

And you’ll be better prepared if you bring your own wagon.

While many Master Gardeners donate the use of their own wagons for this sale, there aren’t enough wagons to meet the demand. So what’s the best way to prepare for the sale? Do an inventory of your garden. Check which plants are coming back and which plants need replacing. Also, take a moment or two and consider what additions or new garden areas would be fun for this year.

Then, make your shopping list. Some miniature plants for your fairy garden? Hostas for your shady area? An array of tomato varieties for your table? How about eggplants and herbs? Native plants, vegetables, annuals and perennials? Or small trees and shrubs? You’ll find it all at Saturday’s plant sale.

What other advice? Take your time and browse. Most all plants have a descriptive sign with a picture of the plant in bloom and good information as to proper planting.

And don’t make the mistake of just shopping in the Exhibition Center. Go outside. Find dig-to-order bearded iris and daylilies. Or the adjacent O.V. Winks Building and find good-sized containerized trees that are small enough to haul in an SUV.

Customers may also use a holding area to accumulate plants without having to haul them around as they shop.

Got a question? Then ask a trained Master Gardener. The sale is about gardening education as much as selling plants. About 100 Master Gardeners are on hand to help you find just the right plant and are happy to give gardening advice. One educational stop is the tomato plant section, where volunteers discuss nearly every variety they sell, from the size of the fruit to the expected arrival.

Usually, the Master Gardeners can find an answer to anything horticulturally related. If the Master Gardener you originally ask doesn’t have the answer, he or she will locate a long-term Master Gardener on hand for difficult questions. And if your questions stumps them all, they will take your name and phone number, research the question and get back to you.

Most of the plants come from county Master Gardeners’ yards and are well-acclimated to thriving in this area. They pot the plants and keep them on hand at their homes, watering, weeding and encouraging them to grow.

Then make your purchase with ease with an automated checkout system that’s faster and more efficient. Also, express lines usually serve customers purchasing six plants or less.

While cash and checks are eagerly accepted, plastic is also accepted. Then expect curbside pick-up and help loading plants into your vehicle.

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.

Want to become a Master Gardener? Just ask any Master Gardener who is volunteering at the sale. Most Master Gardeners love gardening, love plants and love digging in the dirt. Also, gardeners tend to be lovely people, and fun to work with and with whom to share a passion.

Once you get home with your plants, you may still have more questions. Don’t fret. Trained Master Gardener volunteers are available in person, by phone, or by email at the Master Gardeners’ Education Center, open 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays. To contact the Education Center, call 317-776-0854 or email

Another upcoming event is Master Gardeners’ Rose Committee, in partnership with Indianapolis Rose Society, will play host to a seventh annual Rosefest, at 9 a.m. June 11 in the Exhibition Center, 2003 E. Pleasant St., Noblesville. Admission is free to the public, and activities include: tour of rose garden, rose-related workshops, educational displays and more. There will also be roses and rose products for sale.

For more details about Master Gardeners, visit For more about Rosefest, visit

– Contact Betsy Reason at