Today I went to the Friends of Manito Plant Sale.
Manito Park is one of the nation’s most beautiful parks and it happens to be a half mile from my front door. The Friends of Manito are responsible for the spectacular gardens at the park, so when I saw that they were having a plant sale this weekend, I had to go.
The weather was cool, in the high 60’s, when I set out this morning at 9 AM. The skies were overcast but rain wasn’t in the forecast until late this afternoon. I really had no business attending the sale as our timeline for the front and back yard projects doesn’t begin until Spring. I had to seize the opportunity.
A live band greeted my arrival at the sale, then BAM, sensory overload. Tables spread out from one end of the parking lot to the next and wrapped back around to the front, filled with every type of plant, grass and flower imaginable. Conveniently and smartly, the Friends of Manito provided shopping carts to load up the potted plants. I bypassed the entire section of houseplants because my house is nowhere near ready for plant decor yet.
Bypassing house plants was the only time I exercised self-control. I bought raspberry, blackberry and blueberry bushes, some with berries ready to ripen. I have a berry patch planned for my front yard next year, but the time is now. Our backyard is completely unlanscaped with the exception of 2 tall pines, a mountain ash and an original fountain that needs work. The fences along the property line are low on the east side and the neighbor is against putting in a higher fence, wanting vines and other flora to green screen between the two properties. Our westerly neighbors have a tall fence with nice architectural detail.
To accommodate our east side neighbors, my husband and I planned to plant tall shrubs, again, in the spring. Since I was at the sale and spring will eventually come, I bought a BUNCH of shrubs. Several butterfly bushes, a mountain variation of hibiscus’, bee balms, hydrangeas, and a variegated elderberry. I added a couple of dinnerplate peonies (dinnerplate size flowers!!), coneflowers, Denver and Marmalade Rudbeckia variations of black-eyed susans.
When I was deciding which elderberry to purchase, an elderly gentleman pointed out that, whatever I do, don’t buy zone 5 plants. “Spokane,” he said “is really a zone 3 or 4 and plants from these zones thrive best.” “Oh, thanks,” I said, totally confused.
Before I left the house, I consulted Sunset Magazines Western Gardening Book, one of the premier resources for western gardening. Sunset’s book told me that Spokane is in zone 2, the second coldest climate in the west. Let me inform you that zone 1 is the top of the rocky mountains, the top of the Sierra Nevada mountains and the top of all local mountains. Brrr. This zone, it turns out, is only specific to the Western Gardening Book and the plants it references within.
To bring some clarity to the situation, and relieve the stress from my brain at the thought of changing out all of the plants I already selected, I consulted with a couple of Friends of Manito working the sale. The Friends all concurred that Spokane is Zone 5 and all plantings at Manito Park are Zone 5. Phew. Living only a few blocks from the park, my zone 5 plant selections were safe.
Aside from the momentary zone delirium, I was so happy, in my element, looking at plants, touching their leaves, smelling their flowers. At checkout, I became a card-carrying member of the Friends of Manito and look forward to participating in upcoming meetings and events. Washington State University’s Master Gardener program had a table set up and I look forward to engaging with them soon too.
After paying for my plants, I asked the cashier if I could leave my cart behind the checkout table while I pulled my car into the loading zone. Many people were doing the same and it was no issue that I followed suit. When I came back with my car, my cart was gone. I asked the checker if he knew what happened, but he didn’t know and was stunned. I was on the verge of tears. Tears! I was so sad my plants were gone, not that they couldn’t be replaced, just that they were mine for a fleeting bit of time, then gone. Sadness.
Two women walked up and said, we grabbed the wrong cart. They had my cart! My plants were back! I quickly loaded up my car and brought my treasures home. The boys unloaded the car and my husband and I plotted and planned our plantings for tomorrow. The rain fell at 5 PM just as we were done for the day. The photo of my plants may not look like much but they have huge growth potential, the bushes will grow up to 8 feet tall, and the elderberry can be 13 feet tall.
In case you’re wondering, we’re in the zone, and that would be zone 5. Know your zone!