As we head toward Mother’s Day—the unofficial start of Colorado’s gardening season—our empty dirt beds are just begging to be filled with baby herbs, veggies, and flowers. The neighborhood garden shop has starters in stock, of course, but heading to a pop-up plant sale often means discovering unusual specimens the big stores might not have on hand. Plus, it just feels like a special occasion. We spoke with Denver Botanic Gardens spokeswoman Erin Bird to get her tips on managing the region’s pop-up plant sales, including DBG’s, which, after 60 years, has become an event unto itself.
- Don’t Sleep In: People will line up before the gates open at DBG’s sale. Bird suggests researching what each plant sale has to offer and making a game plan ahead of time.
- BYOB: That’s “bring your own box”—or wagon, if you’re itching to go big. Boxes are often in limited supply at plant sales, so be sure you have the means to cart home your own goodies. DBG offers a plant valet; volunteers will watch your loot as you bring your car to the loading area.
- Question Authority: Ask volunteers about the conditions your plants will need. Plant sales are organized events run by highly experienced staffers who are excited to share their knowledge.
- Branch Out: The most popular plants will often sell out, but don’t despair; instead, use plant sales as an opportunity to try something new. Bird says the selection of herbs at this year’s DBG sale will highlight unusual varieties such as pineapple sage and strawberry basil.
?The DBG’s sale is just one of many exciting events happening along the Front Range in the coming weeks. Here, a few of our favorites for 2015:
North American Rock Garden Society, Rocky Mountain Chapter | April 18, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St. (Denver Botanic Gardens admission fee required)
Go For: Rare plants from alpine and steppe climates
Bonus: Look for a large selection of delosperma (aka “ice plants”), a perennial succulent perfect for Colorado.
Feed Denver: Urban Farms & Markets: Fruit Tree and Bush Sale | Deadline for orders is April 20 (pickup is on April 25)
Location: Sunnyside Farm, 2139 W. 44th Ave. (at Vallejo Street)
Go For: Apples, pears, and even gooseberries
Bonus: Pre-order trees and bushes online for April 25th pickup. Come back for plant season in May, when starter plants will be available for sale at the weekly Farm Market; all plants are organic and locally grown, they’re often from heirloom seeds.
Gardens on Spring Creek | May 9, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and May 10, noon to 5 p.m.
Location: 2415 Centre Ave., Fort Collins
Go For: Perennials and vegetables
Bonus: All plants grown by Colorado State University’s Department of Horticulture and the floriculture practicum class.
Denver Botanic Gardens Plant Sale | May 8 to 9, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St. (free admission)
Go For: Draught-resistant plants
Bonus: Look for staff horticulturists who are ready to share free advice with novice gardeners and green thumbs alike.
Denver Urban Gardens Plant Sale | May 8, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; May 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: The Horse Barn, 1031 33rd St. (at Arapahoe Street)
Go For: Exclusively organic, locally grown vegetables, herbs, and select flowers
Bonus: Proceeds support DUG’s Free Seeds and Transplants program, which helps the region’s low-income families and nonprofits grow produce.
Editor’s Note 4/27/15: A previous version of this story had incorrect dates and times for the Gardens on Spring Creek sale. We apologize for the error.