Senior center plant sale a blooming success

Those in the know are aware that the early bird gets the best selection at the Charlotte Senior Center’s annual plant sale.

Consequently, people began showing up at 8 a.m., even though the selling part of the plant sale didn’t start until 9 a.m. Volunteers said gardening aficionados lined the red tape, pulled taut across the senior center parking lot to keep overeager buyers at bay until the official start time.

The parking lot was full, and cars were parked up and down Ferry Road.

Those of us who were unaware and showed up at 9:05 a.m. found there were still many great deals, but a lot of the really spectacular fauna finds had been scooped up. Nonetheless, there was an amazing number and variety of annuals, perennials, flowers, vegetables, plants for outdoor or container gardening, and even an assortment of hummingbird feeders.

Lane Morrison, chair of the Friends of the Charlotte Senior Center, said the plant sale is one of their two biggest fundraisers of the year. The sale has been happening since 2002, and this year’s was their most successful.

Money raised has been used to pay for facility improvements like painting, a new entryway and new rugs this year. The funds “keep the senior center looking clean and fresh,” Morrison said.

Janet Ballantyne, who was selling cut flowers, lives in Hawaii from January to May and Shelburne the other eight months of the year. She was volunteering at the plant sale in hopes of meeting new people.

Nearby, Doreen Kraft was reconnecting with friends as she sold raffle tickets to benefit the senior center. The $5 raffle prizes bought folks a chance at a bird house by architect Rolf Keilman, a serving bowl from Susan Raber-Bray’s Springhouse Pottery, a 4×8-foot water color by John Howe or a garden party for four in Kraft’s gardens.

Wally Gates was collecting money from the many sales taking place in a 140-year-old cash box he inherited from his great grandfather.

Gates said his father had a small printing business in Burlington before he went to work for the newspaper there. He was city editor when he died on the job, doing what he loved to do, covering the Champlain Fair horse races.

Morrison said things were looking doubtful on Friday when Polly Price, who had been leading the plant sale effort, spending a couple of months on preparation and getting everything ready, tripped on a bag of dirt. Price had to go to emergency care with a broken wrist.

Morrison said they got on the phone to board members and other loyal senior center volunteers and marshalled forces to pull the plant sale together in her stead.

On Saturday, Price was at the plant sale. Although she was supposed to be managing the event from a chair, Morrison said she was up and active, interacting with the gardeners and their botanical fantasies.