Awesomest plant sale ever!

If you’ve been following this blog at all, you’re probably tired by now of hearing about the Bloedel Plant Sale, which was last weekend. The sale turned out to be fabulous in all respects! Unless you count the weather, but why would we want to do that? As vendors were setting up, the weather was cold and drippy, expectations were low, and vibes of cantankerousness seemed to pervade the atmosphere. (How’s that for so-bad-it’s-good writing?) By the end of the members only pre-sale, which went well despite being rainy and dark, spirits had risen substantially. We even went home to restock on plants, as did many other vendors. By the end of the second day, even though it was still drizzly and cold, some vendors were calling it their “best sale ever” even with one more day to go. (Some nurseries restocked again, but not us this time.) Then on Sunday, the last day, the sun came out, and people just kept on coming. People seemed unable to stop shopping even after the sale was supposed to be over! It turned out to be our best sale ever by a large margin, and the first one where we have sold more than half the plants we brought. A couple vendors who didn’t restock nearly sold out of plants.

So, perhaps it would be helpful to take a look back at “what went right” with this sale so we can all have a jolly time again next year. Here are some of my thoughts.

First, this sale apparently filled a huge vacuum. With all the major multi-nursery plant sales in the Seattle area, Kitsap County generally misses out. There are plenty of enthusiastic and serious gardeners in Kitsap County and they seemed very excited for their chance to get in on their fun.

Second, the sale was very well promoted. I’m not exactly sure of the details, but it’s obvious that the Bloedel Reserve did a fabulous job spreading the word about the sale. Along with this, the Bloedel Reserve is a very well known and appreciated venue in the area—the name recognition factor worked very much in their favor.

Third, speakers were well coordinated and well timed. Kelly and Sue at Far Reaches Farm entertained a large crowd on Saturday. Although the second day of a plant sale like this is usually slower, that wasn’t the case this time, since Dan Hinkley’s Sunday talk was a major draw. (Thanks Dan for selling all the Olearias I brought!)

Fourth, there was about the right number of vendors, they were mostly local (with only a couple from the east side of the Sound), and all of them had moderately cool to very cool stuff. There was not much in the way of common plants you can get at any garden center. I’m noticing a trend where certain organizations “dumb down” plant sales by bringing in more vendors with common plants at lower prices, with the idea that it will draw more people. It probably comes as no surprise that I don’t particularly like this trend, but more importantly I have observed that this usually just plain doesn’t work anyways: people who expect common plants also expect bargains and little money is generated for both nurseries and the host. I really liked the mix of vendors at this sale, and I appreciated the emphasis on local growers to the west side of Puget Sound, and on vendors with truly special and uncommon plants. I don’t think adding a couple more vendors would hurt, but they have to be the right ones, and too many will result in too much competition between them.

Finally, the percentage of sales money collected by the Bloedel Reserve was in the not-unreasonable range for vendors.

Thanks to the Bloedel Reserve staff and volunteers, and to everyone who came out to the plant sale, for making it a fun and exciting weekend for all!

Our booth, after we had sold quite a bit.

Dragonfly Farms Nursery

Some guy cutting business cards out of paper because he ran out of real ones.

Steamboat Island Nursery

Far Reaches Farm mostly sold out, twice, despite restocking.

This crow was trying to sell camperdown elms.

A big, ugly weed or something.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Loree / danger garden
    Apr 18, 2011 @ 17:13:58

    That’s it, I am definitely going to be there next year.

    Glad you had so much success, and if you happened to do them a favor and pull that big ugly weed I’d love to take it off your hands!

    Reply

  2. Mark and Gaz
    Apr 20, 2011 @ 04:26:13

    Good to hear about the success of the plant sale Ian, despite the damp and grey start. The spring bug is definitely here and most gardeners are in a ‘buying’ mood. Enjoyed looking at the photos, I must check out the latest plant fair happening in our general area, I’m in the mood to buy more plants now!

    Reply

  3. Ian
    Apr 20, 2011 @ 22:18:45

    Thanks folks. No I didn’t pull the ugly weed, I might have had some funny looks walking off with it. Mark and Gaz I hear you’re having a much nicer spring over there, here it’s been six degrees below normal for the month of April. We’re lucky people were in a plant buying mood in spite of the weather. As I type it’s 38 and windy….yuck!

    Reply

  4. Trackback: A Completely Hortlandish Weekend « THE DESERT NORTHWEST [blog]

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