In 1945, the Women’s Auxiliary of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden started the Daffodil Bridge Party, selling several varieties of plants to bring people to the garden and make some money at the same time. The plant sale grew even as bridge parties went out of style, moving to Magnolia Plaza, the Lily Pool Terrace and to Cherry Esplanade, where it is today.
Now, the Plant Sale at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) is in its 57th year and has grown to be the largest of its kind in the Northeast, with over 20,000 plants available. Held Wednesday, May 5, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursday, May 6, from 9 a.m. to noon, it’s sponsored this year by Monrovia Nurseries.
Volunteers from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Auxiliary — which began admitting men around 1975 — along with garden employees, sell the plants and offer gardening advice to plant purchasers.
Friends and fellow Brooklynites Lois Carswell (who lives in Park Slope) and Lucille Plotz (who resides in Brooklyn Heights) have chaired the sale together for over 35 years.
“People come from all over: Westchester, Long Island, Connecticut,” said Carswell. Some bring vans to take home their loot, she noted. “It’s an extravaganza!”
“We have every kind of plant you can imagine — orchids, calla lilies, ferns, begonias, petunias,” said Plotz, who is so devoted to the sale that she went to school to get a botany degree. “Anything you can think of, we’ve got.”
Many people come to the plant sale to buy plants that they’ve seen and admired in the garden before, said Plotz, like climbing roses, which are very popular, or tree peonies, which are exclusive — “you don’t see those everywhere.”
The plant sale Wednesday will feature special events as well. BBG bonsai curator Julian Velasco will lead a bonsai clinic and demonstration. For a fee, he will prune and repot any pest-free bonsai and offer advice. Sessions are from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 3 p.m.
David Horak, the curator of BBG’s orchid collection will discuss repotting and reblooming orchids at noon and 3 p.m., and at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., learn how to use culinary herbs for sale.
Experts will be on hand throughout both days to offer advice, said Carswell. “We try to make gardeners out of people.”