TOMS RIVER – It was a good day for plants that like shade and light rain.
The annual Ocean County Master Gardeners Plant Sale was held on a recent Saturday morning in the parking lot that services the health department and the Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
The impending drizzle didn’t keep people away. There were about 742 people who showed up to shop, 325 of them in the first 10 minutes, said Sue Masoorli, chair of the plant sale. They come looking for unusual plants you won’t find in the box stores. Funds raised through the sale support the Master Gardeners for the rest of the year. By noon, the first drops started to fall but that was OK because customers had practically cleaned them out by then.
Some people are looking for creating havens for wildlife, said Mary Townsend, co-manager of the greenhouse. There were a lot of salvias for hummingbirds, Agastache for bees, and milkweeds, which are the only plant that monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on.
There were some plants that were created this year by growers, like senecio “angel wings,” a small succulent with broad, gray-white leaves. The “sunfinity” is unusual among sunflowers in that it has more than one bloom. The “ember’s wish” salvia debuted from an Australian breeder that donates proceeds to that country’s Make-A-Wish Foundation.
And every plant grown was chosen based on how well it grows in this climate.
Susan Servidio, horticulturalist and Master Gardener coordinator, “Some people have a list and some just see what looks good.” Most of them are local, but through conversation, she learned that some of them came from pretty far away. It was also the first year that they accepted credit card payments, so that helped with people making big purchases.