The annual Rideau Lakes Horicultural Society plant sale in Delta

May 7, 2011

When I delivered her a lawn sign, Delta resident Terri Olivo had little green things in trays spread out on tables all over their sunroom on the shore of Lower Beverley Lake. She told me the seedlings were for the plant sale on the Delta Fair grounds on May 7th. As president of the Rideau Lakes Horticultural Society she encouraged me to attend.

Mrs. Olivo’s instructions were simple enough that even I could remember them: a place and a date. With no clear idea of what to expect, Bet and I wandered into Delta a bit before 9:00 on Saturday. Actually I missed the turnoff to the fair grounds and thus gave Bet a look at some of the properties along the lake, a lovely aspect of Delta one doesn’t see while winding through the village on Hwy 42.

So our first impression of the RLHS plant sale was a glimpse of a lot of cars clustered around a building at the other end of the fair grounds. We squeezed into one of the last parking spaces and hustled to join the lineup just before the doors opened.

A veteran of green-era shopping, Bet insisted upon stuffing plastic shopping bags into her pockets. Everyone else in the line had come better equipped. One young woman had a wheelbarrow. Another leaned on a walker. Turned out the assistive device is perfect for moving lots of potted plants around a hall and through to the checkout in short order. Most carried plastic crates, flats, or cardboard boxes.

A pleasant lady outside assured us that there were cardboard boxes inside to help organize our purchases.

Promptly at 9:00 the doors opened against the lineup and in we went. Conscious of the competition, I grabbed the tallest, prettiest green things I could and beat it over to the checkout for my first run to the truck. The pots turned out to contain Solomon’s Seal, a perennial well suited to the shady area on the north side of the house.

Bet had disappeared into the crowd to browse among the small green things.

Out of ideas after nabbing my trophies, my next sally focused on cool names for plants. Lamb’s ears and foxwallop, or something like that, took the cake. At the information desk they had a formidable array of reference books and spoke Latin, so it took a while to get an explanation and colour of the plant with the cool name which even Bet has since forgotten. Turns out its red flowers have an orange tinge, so they were banned-in-advance from the flower beds at the farm by a consensus of Mom, Bet and Glenda. Oh, well.

On one trip to the truck I watched a couple loading bedding plants into the back of a Smart car. I asked them how many it would hold. They good naturedly admitted to buying smaller green things than they would have otherwise.

We saw Newboro resident Rose Pritchard lecturing about plants to an interested gentleman while her neighbour Yvonne Helwig rounded up a great range of flowers.
While tending their gardens, Yvonne and Rose keep an eye on my fishing boat in its slip on the shore of Newboro Lake.

Our Forfar neighbour Judi Longstreet saw us examining a perennial which looked suspiciously like a celery plant. Well, actually she saw me pick off a leaf and chew it, so she came over to say hi. She had brought the Louvage from her garden and suggested that the hardy plant provides early greenery for salads and soups, but it grows to six feet in height, so it’s important not to plant it at the front of the garden, lest it hide everything else. The leaf tasted bitter, but no worse than many of the ingredients Bet puts in salads these days, so I took one of the large pots to the checkout.

The tables were nearly empty by 9:30. As we left the grounds we passed the fit young woman with the loaded wheelbarrow walking down the sidewalk with her friend while a boy on a bicycle circled ahead. I commented that she probably didn’t want to load bedding plants into her BMW, so she brought the wheelbarrow.

When we arrived home with our haul I realized that, apart from the Louvage, the only edible plants we had bought were a couple of Genovese Basil seedlings which are weeks from edibility. Then Mom explained that it’s way too early to plant any of the flowers, so they’ll get to spend some time indoors until soil conditions are right.

We could have stocked up on veggies! Next year.

In the meantime Bet and I need to learn the meaning of the following words: Blue Perennial Cornflower, Pink Lavatera (annual), Ground Plox (mauve), Ground Phlox (pink), Lillium Stargazer, Fillipendula (Queen of the Meadow).

What’s more, there’s another plant sale on May 21st at the Legion in Smiths Falls.

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