The Gardeners by the Sea club will hold its third annual hydrangea sale this Mother’s Day weekend. The sale will be held on Saturday, May 9, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in front of McCabe’s Gourmet Market in the York Beach Mall in South Bethany. If the club does not sell out of plants on Saturday, they will be selling the remainder on Sunday, May 10, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
At this year’s sale, “toddler” and “teen” hydrangeas will be sold to the public — offering a gift-shopping opportunity for plant-loving mothers.
“We have different sizes this year. They start at $8, and the larger ones will be a little bit more, but not to exceed $16,” said Lisa Arni, who created the sale three years ago. “We have the chemicals to make the hydrangeas ‘pink for girls’ and ‘blue for boys,’ and we’re going to wrap them in pink or blue, and will give out an adoption paper.”
New this year to the sale will be the attendance of a Master Gardener, who will answer any questions those attending may have.
“We’re going to have a Master Gardner at the sale to answer any questions about the hydrangeas or any other gardening questions, which we haven’t had in the past. They can really ask anything when they come,” said Arni, who is a Master Gardener herself.
Delaware has nearly 300 Master Gardeners — who collectively volunteer more than 20,000 hours per year to the Delaware Cooperative Extension’s home horticulture program.
In order to become a Master Gardener, one must apply to the program through the Delaware Cooperative Extension. The 16-week course is only offered every other year.
“What a Master Gardener does — after training, we are obligated to give back hours to the community in education, programs. We monitor and man information tables at different events, things like that,” explained Arni. “We give back to the community a minimum amount of hours every year… We also man a hotline that you can call, particularly in the growing months, and get any questions answered, if you have a problem with a plant or tree.”
She said the addition of a Master Gardener to the plant sale will be an asset to all those who attend.
“I think that will help give everybody a good head start in whatever they purchase that day. But they don’t have to purchase to speak to the Master Gardener.”
Last year, the club sold out of plants the first day. Arni said those who wish to take advantage of the limited supply of hydrangeas should plan to attend the sale on Saturday. She said the baby hydrangeas that will be sold at the sale were actually propagated by a number of the club’s members.
“Some of us have better luck than others. We had several members propagate the hydrangeas for sale. We purchased some, because we wanted to have some bigger ones. I’ve got 15… It’s not that easy. They don’t all proliferate.”
According to Arni, the hydrangea is a wonderful plant to have in this region and takes little care.
“The hydrangea is an excellent plant for our area. It can be planted in part shade and some sun. They do require water — the world ‘hydra’ means water,” she said. “Once established, they really are an excellent plant for the area. They are great in bouquets, they dry well — you can keep them all winter, dried. Some of them bloom more than once; some bloom for the whole season intermittently; and some just bloom the one time.
“You can always have the seed heads dry on the bush, and then you can cut them, bring them indoors and enjoy them inside. They’re a great garden plant. They do well here, because they like our climate.”
Currently, the club has 45 active members and 10 associate members. Arni said they are considering increasing membership, and she noted that they do not meet in July or August.
The money raised by the sale will go toward helping the club fund its various community outreach programs. Throughout the year, the club participates in local activities such as beach cleanups and the Beach & Bay Cottage Tour, which benefits the Friends of the South Coastal Library. They also provide flower containers for Habitat for Humanity.
“The houses they build, when they move in, they have two nice containers at their house filled with flowers. They appreciate that.”
Each year, the club also participates in Delaware Hospice’s Festival of Trees.
“We usually hand-make the ornaments for a 6-foot tree that is then raffled off by the hospice and all the funds go to the hospice.”
They also do some work beautifying John West Park and landscape the rain garden at Lord Baltimore Elementary School.
“We have a sunshine committee that puts little notes and cards for Meals on Wheels,” she added.
The club also offers garden therapy at the Cheer Center in Roxana.
“It’s a really nice program we do there. Several members go and meet the folks who are bussed to the Cheer Center and they do a lot of flower arrangements that they can then take home,” she said, adding that it’s a program they’ve offered for at least four years.
The club also offers scholarships to area students looking to study horticulture.
“This year, we’re actually giving three scholarships — two for Del Tech and one for the University of Delaware, for $1,000 each,” she said. “We really do a lot. This little sale is just a little bit.”
Those looking to help with those projects can do more this week than buy hydrangeas. On Wednesday, May 13, from 5 to 8 p.m. the club will hold a dine-and-donate at Fox’s Pizza in Millville. A portion of the profits from food sales that evening will be donated to the club.
The club plans to hold other fundraising events in 2015, though they will most likely be in the fall.
In the future, Arni said, the club hopes to do more with the area’s youth.
“We do a little bit now, like with the Kiwanis. We’re looking to perhaps do more with youth in the area. They don’t know what gardening is,” she said.
In September, the club will host Rick Mikula, also known as “Butterfly Rick,” and hopes that event will help spur more interaction with the community’s youth.
“He wrote a book about butterflies and will be coming to do a presentation for our club. We’re hoping to get some of the kids from Lord Baltimore. He brings live butterflies, and he dresses up like a butterfly. He’s really a character,” she said. “Hopefully, we can have it for the kids who are studying butterflies at that time.”
York Beach Mall is located on Route 1, bayside, at the southern end of South Bethany. For more information on Gardeners by the Sea or to become a member, call Arni at (302) 537-6238.