During the first weekend in May 2017, the Master Gardener Foundation of King County held its annual Spring Plant Sale and Garden Market on the grounds of the Center for Urban Horticulture. As I browsed the vendors displaying plants and other garden art, I was impressed as to how much has changed as well as how much is still the same.
This brought back memories concerning this sale as well as others. Merrill Hall and the surrounding parking lots were officially opened in April 1984. It was an intention to welcome plant sales, shows, and educational activities. Sometime in the next year or so, an articulate lady with blondish gray hair came into my office to discuss the future of the Master Gardener plant sales. Being a volunteer organization created to support the Master Gardener program run by the Washington State University Cooperative Extension Service, the purpose of the Foundation was to help raise funds to assist the program and its hundreds of volunteers. At that point in time, many volunteers were propagating plants and were selling them at flea markets or other local events, a rather haphazard approach.
She wondered if they might be able to use our new facilities, where they could condense all the vendors and volunteers in one larger sale. At that time, we had also just begun cooperative educational activities with the County Agents, George Pinyuh and Sharon Collman. Since the MG Foundation had essentially no money, we worked out an agreement in which they could gradually pay the full rental rate in a few years as they became successful. And indeed, it has become an annual successful spring event every year since then.
This lady was Lynne Meyer, who owned/or ran the garden center on Madison Street. I may have spelled her name incorrectly, but I clearly remember her forward-thinking appeal to this day. Soon after in 1988, the site of her garden center was sold and City Peoples Garden Store was built there, which has been quite a successful venture. This year, original owners Steve Magley and Diane Casper have sold the business to Alison Greene and Jose Gonzales. The site has been sold for development so the future location of the business is to be determined.
Unlike the site for the Madison Street garden center, the Master Gardener Foundation Spring Plant Sale continues in its original location, keeping old traditions (like the tent full of tomato plants with long lines) as well as keeping up with trending times of new veggies, native plants, and garden art. Even though the millennials are not as garden oriented, they do look for specific new ideas.