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Published: Sunday, 5/9/2010

Annual spring fund-raiser blooms despite weather


Chilly winds and intermittent sprinkles weren't enough to dampen the enthusiasm of gardeners Saturday at the Toledo Botanical Garden's annual spring plant sale.

The horticultural enthusiasts turned out by the hundreds, browsing through more than 8,000 plants, as part of the Mother's Day weekend event that is an important fund-raiser for the organization.

The plant sale runs Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Toledo Botanical Garden, 5403 Elmer Drive. Admission and parking are free.

"People are out here rain or shine - that's what gardeners do," explained Phyllis Hyder of Waterville, a volunteer who spent more than 40 hours last week helping prepare for the sale.

Certainly, Julie Shanks of Lambertville wasn't deterred by the wind gusts and the showers.

"If you are into a shade garden, this is one of the best plant sales to come to," she explained. "You find things here you won't find at the ordinary greenhouse. This is an annual pilgrimage for me."

For Danielle DeMuth, Beth Bean, and Rose Marie Detlef, the visit to the garden made for a Mother's Day outing. Ms. Demuth of Grand Rapids, Ohio, and Ms. Bean of Columbus are sisters, and Ms. Detlef of Perrysburg Township is their mother. "I'm helping her with her garden," said Ms. Bean, referring to her sister.

Ms. DeMuth explained that she was trying to decide on the best things to plant in her shady yard.

Hostas, perhaps?

Phyllis Hyder, a volunteer with the Maumee Valley Herb Society discusses some of the group's offerings at the sale. Phyllis Hyder, a volunteer with the Maumee Valley Herb Society discusses some of the group's offerings at the sale.

Ms. Detlef said she hoped to get a nice Mother's Day plant out of the visit to the botanical garden. Her daughters, she said, are both Democrats and flatly refused to buy her the new Laura Bush memoir, the gift she really wanted.

Georgeann Brown, a volunteer with the Maumee Valley Herb Society, said her group usually sells out its assortment of culinary and ornamental herbs.

"We carry all the basics and some that are a little different, and we give free advice," she explained. "We're all trying to cut back on fats and sodium in our diets, and the way to do it is with culinary herbs."

One particularly interesting herb is hot parsley, which is used in Thai food, she said. But all the regulars are for sale, she said, including oregano, dill, rosemary, sage, thyme, and sorrel.

Melissa Shaner, the botanical garden's events and marketing manager, said she expected 3,000 to 5,000 people to have visited the plant sale by the time it ends today at 5 p.m. It began Thursday with a preview night for members, and it opened to the public Friday.

Mona Macksey, a botanical garden board member, said the plant sale has become an increasingly important source of revenue. The city of Toledo owns the botanical garden's land, but financial support comes from the Metroparks system, which has reduced funding by $300,000 because of declining real-estate tax receipts.

"We're doing more with less staff," Ms. Macksey said. "The point we want to make is that because of our frugality, we are able to keep it open and keep it free of charge. We don't even charge for parking."

Contact Carl Ryan at:


or 419-724-6050.

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