The sales are a great way to pick up native plants that aren’t commonly available in garden centers and plants already acclimatized for our area. The tomato plants that I got last year from the Master Gardeners of Essex County didn’t succumb to the tomato blight brought into our area by plants from the chain store garden centers. They are also a way to support groups that do a lot for the beauty and history of Essex County.
The Master Gardeners will hold the first of their three plant sale days this Friday, April 30, in Montclair’s Edgmont Park. The park is located on Valley Road in Montclair, north of Montclair Kimberley Academy’s middle school. The Master Gardeners will be there from noon to 5 p.m. and you should plan on getting there early to get the best selection. They will be back at Edgmont on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you miss the Montclair sale, the Master Gardeners will be at the Essex County Environmental Center’s Garibaldi Hall in Roseland on Saturday, May 8 from 9 to 4. The group will have plants for both your vegetable garden and your flower garden, as well as landscape shrubs and container plants. Prices are very reasonable, but payment is by cash or check only. The Master Gardeners will have some boxes on hand to pack up your purchases, but I’ve found it handy to have the kids’ old red wagon or stroller on hand as well to haul things back to the car.
You might also want to take a minute to talk to the Master Gardeners about joining their ranks. The program involves a 70-hour training course and 100 hours of community service in Essex County. That sounds like a lot, but if you love plants you’ll probably relish the opportunity to help the Master Gardeners in their work on Essex County’s landscape. The group has helped plant some of the new cherry trees in Branch Brook park, revived the rose garden at Brookdale Park, and decorated Kip’s Castle in Verona for this past year’s Historic Holiday House Tour. You can get an application to join them here.
May 1 is also the day for the Van Vleck House & Gardens plant sale in Montclair. This one benefits the group that supports the historic house and 5.8 acre property, which includes beautiful azalea, rhododendron and wisteria plantings. The Van Vleck sale, which is located at 21 Van Vleck Street, runs from 9 to 4 on Saturday, and there is a preview sale on Friday evening from 6 to 9 p.m. Wanda Knapik, who runs an organic gardening consulting business called My Local Garden, will give a talk on growing heirloom tomatoes on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Then save the following Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 6-8, for the Montclair Historical Society‘s 32nd Annual Herb Sale. The sale, which is held at the Israel Crane House Museum, 110 Orange Road in Montclair, runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on each of the days. You can also get some inspiration for your garden by touring the Crane House’s own herb garden, which is being restored to what it might have been like in the 19th century.