Wheeling through the Red Barn, a 4-H Club member and Master Gardener carting bought plants toward a customer’s car.
Time's a wastin'! The yearly Pickens County 4-H/Master Gardener Plant Sale is going on now. Now would be the time to place and pre-pay an order so plants arrive when you need them near the middle of March. Plants available through the sale include a variety of berry bushes and grape-type vines plus ornamental landscaping plants and some native ornamentals.
If you bought plants at last year's sale, you should soon be receiving an order form mailed to you for this year's sale. But whether you have bought before or not, you can print the same order form from the Internet at www.pickensmg.com.
That website should fill you in on all you need to know about the sale. Larry Brogdon says it has “all the information.” That includes prices, picture write-ups on all the plants, the order form mentioned above, and directions for pick up. Brogdon serves as secretary to the Pickens County office of the County Extension Service, located in Jasper's old railroad depot. He is also a Pickens County Master Gardener.
Retired County Agent Rick Jasperse started the plant sale years ago, "like a lot of things with 4-H and the Master Gardeners in Pickens County," Brogdon said. "It gives 4-H kids and Master Gardeners a chance to work together––another chance. We also work together when we landscape Habitat houses." He said the purpose of the sale is to raise funding for both clubs.
Sale plants come from three principal growers, two in Georgia and one in Tennessee, Brogdon said. Alma Nursery of Alma, Georgia supplies the following plants: figs; raspberries; muscadines; bunch grapes; blackberries and blueberries. Athens Nursery of Athens, Georgia provides ornamental landscaping plants, he said. East Fork Nursery of Sevierville, Tennessee provides some different ornamentals, he said.
"She grows a lot of native plants, plants native to the region. We get native azaleas, other azaleas and rhododendrons from her [East Fork Nursery]," Brogdon said.
Plant sale strawberry and asparagus plants arrive from still farther away––Nourse Farms of Maine.
Brogdon said the plant sale has become known in this region for the quality plants it makes available. "We have developed over the years a reputation, for blueberries in particular," he said. "Generally we sell over 700 blueberry plants each year at the sale."
Customers must pre-order everything they buy at the sale. You can place a plant order from now until Friday, February 25, and then pick up your plants when they arrive to Jasper from nursery growers in mid-March. The sale customarily sees customer orders mailed from places in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama, Brogdon said. Far-off customers put in their orders and then drive to Jasper to pick up plants.
"We sell blueberries to all of those places," Brogdon said. "They come and get 'em, 'cause we don't deliver."
Customer orders will be accepted through Friday, February 25. "After the 25th, starting that weekend, we put together the order sheets for each of the nurseries, identifying the plants and the quantities sold," Brogdon said.
"Pick up is going to start on Saturday, March 12 from 8:30 to noon," he said. Pick up continues Monday, March 14, from 5 to 7 p.m., he added. Pick up location is the Red Barn behind Jasper Middle School, across Highway 53 from Lee Newton Park just west of downtown Jasper.
Customer orders are not pre-pulled, Brogdon said, because most customers like to choose their own plants from available stock.
"We print a pull sheet for each customer so we know what we need to get," he explained. And the customer receives a copy of their original order form. A Master Gardener, paired with a 4-H Club member, grabs the corresponding pull sheet for the order. Together all three walk through the Red Barn to floor locations of plants ordered, where the customer does the picking to fill the order. Picked plants go onto a wagon for loading into the customer's vehicle.
Master Gardeners are depended upon for expert plant identification, Brogdon said. Some 4-H Club members are about as good at it, he said. With nine blueberry varieties for sale, you have to know one from another, he explained.
Once the whole order is pulled, the customer initials the pull sheet, indicating what they have received.
All orders must be prepaid. Mail-in orders can be paid by check or money order. Order forms submitted in person at the County Extension Office can be paid in cash as well. "We don't take credit cards," Brogdon said.
All sale plants are suitable to grow in this region, he said. "All the varieties we pick are plants we know will grow here," Brogdon said. And plants come from nursery growers that have supplied the sale for several years, he said.
"We know the people that are growing the plants, and they know us," Brogdon said. "The quality of plants goes up because they know what our standards are."
"Two hundred customers bought plants from us last year," he said. And most of those were repeat customers, Brogdon said.
See the 2011 Plant Sale order form with this story or a printable version at www.pickensmg.com. And be sure to get your prepaid order in before the February 25 deadline.