From first graders to assisted living home residents and all those in between, everybody in Highlands benefits from the Mountain Garden Club’s annual plant sale— especially those who love to garden. Held every year on the Saturday before Memorial Day, it’s an event Highlands area residents look forward to all year long.
This past Saturday, the Highlands Ball Park was covered with hundreds of plants provided by members of the club, their spouses and their friends. This was the 29th year the club has sponsored the event.
“It started out as a simple plant swap held at what is now the Peggy Crosby center,” said plant sale co-chair Becky Schilling. “Then we moved to the lawn at the First United Methodist Church. Next, we were at the lawn behind the Bank of America, where the Macon Bank is now. When we outgrew that, we moved to the Ball Park.”
The sale begins at 9 a.m. each year. Residents have long learned to be there when the gate opens. This year was no exception. By 9:30, a third of the plants were gone. By 10:15, half had been purchased. By the time the sale ended at noon, all but a few hostas had been sold. Schilling says it was a complete success.
While the plant sale benefits the community, plant sale co-chair Candy Field credits the community with helping make the event so successful.
“Not only do we have support from the entire community,” says Field, “but we get tremendous assistance from our community partners as well. Two local businesses, for example, help us collect and store pots during the year.”
While the numbers aren’t in for this year’s sale yet, Schilling says, “It certainly exceeded our expectations.”
The Mountain Garden Club recently provided an $8,000 donation to the Highlands Nature Center that was matched by the Eckerd Foundation. The money will be used to fund the salaries of two interns this summer.
Schilling says the club also allocated more than $4,000 to the Fidelia Eckerd Living Center for improvements to the courtyard and to assist with gardening at the Living Center.
“Such activity provides great therapy for the Living Center residents,” Schilling said.
The club recently developed a butterfly release program for the Living Center, something it has been doing for several years for Highlands School sixth graders.
“One of the Living Center residents said, “It’s been so long since I’ve had something to take care of.’ It really touched my heart. We also provided $500.00 for a mountain field trip for the Highlands School kindergarteners and first graders. I guess you could say we touch the lives of people of all ages,” said Schilling.
Over the last 15 years, the Mountain Garden Club has provided more than $50,000 in college scholarships for local students to study horticulture and/or environmental science.
“One of this year’s recipients helped set up for the sale, and one assisted during the sale,” said Field.
Everyone agreed it’s an event worth the anticipation.