By Judy Ferring EMG
For the past several weeks, members of the Patrick County Master Gardeners (PCMG) have
been fielding requests on their Facebook page in preparation for the group’s annual spring plant
sale on April 30 at the Rotary Building in Stuart, VA. Doors open at 8 a.m. that day to reveal an
extensive inventory of plants for this year’s vegetable gardens, pollinator meadows and cottage
Traditionally, community gardeners have added their donations to the inventory on the day
before the sale. “I usually let people know it’s a ‘free’ option to support our projects while
thinning plants,” says PCMG Vice President Arlissa Johnson. “We’ve even had people leave
plants outside the building during the few hours we weren’t there.” Designated drop-off times will
be 10 a.m. to noon and 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, April 29.
Native wildflowers are especially popular this year for their role in supporting local pollinator
populations. Entomologists recommend native wildflowers because they are most likely to
match the pollen collection abilities of native insects. Among the examples the Master
Gardeners have collected: oxalis, echinacea, asters, garden mums, Joe Pye weed, columbine,
iris and mountain mint.
Herbs play much the same role for pollinators, as well as filling culinary and healing roles
among humans. Among this year’s examples, look for lavender, lemon grass, several types of
basil, oregano, borage, nasturtium and comfrey.
Many of the herbs are not actually native to Virginia or even the United States. Lemon grass
originates in Asia; borage, the Mediterranean. But neither is the honeybee, the focus of so much
current concern over pollinators. This European insect was brought to the United States in
Some favorite heritage vegetables go back nearly as far. Cherokee purples were gardener
favorites at the last PCMG plant sale. That full-size heritage tomato will be joined this year by
more heritage tomatoes, including the San Marzano, whose flavor is unlocked as it’s cooked
down into sauce, and the bite-size Black Cherry, whose flavor has been described as “sweetly
complex.” There will be more contemporary favorites as well, including Orange Pixie, Rutgers
Other vegetables on offer will range from arugula, asparagus and Bok choy to carrots, radishes,
spinach and collards. Berries will also be well represented: look for strawberry plants plus
raspberry and elderberry bushes.
Look for cottage garden favorites like peonies, hydrangeas, hellebores, lupines and cosmos to
round out the attractions.
Rotary doors will close promptly at noon on April 30; any plants left over at that time will be
available at the Stuart Farmers Market on May 6. Proceeds from the plant sale will benefit
Master Gardener programming, scholarships and The Patrick County Developmental Center.
The intensely blue petals and contrasting black stamens of borage attract honeybees and other
beneficial insects. These Mediterranean natives will be featured at the PCMG annual plant sale
at the Rotary Building in Stuart, VA on April 30.
Unique copper-colored petals make Iris fulva a standout in a pollinator garden. They do well in
wet clay soils and are a favorite of hummingbirds. Find them at the annual PCMG plant sale on
April 30 at the Rotary Building in Stuart, VA.
The deeply fringed petals of Stokes aster may be pink, blue or white. Pollinators love it; rabbits
don’t. Find these perennial wildflowers at the annual PCMG plant sale at the Rotary Building in
Stuart, on April 30.