Gardeners by the Sea offer plant parents the chance to adopt hydrangeas

Those looking for a last-minute Mother’s Day gift need look no further. For the second year, Gardeners by the Sea will be holding their Adopt a Baby Hydrangea sale, this weekend.

“We’re always looking for innovative fundraising ideas, and that’s something that wasn’t done,” said Lisa Arni, who founded the garden club. “It was something we could do. Not only could we offer those babies for sale, but it was a good learning experience for our garden club, because we all learned how to propagate hydrangeas.”

Arni said those who purchase a baby hydrangea from the club may choose a “girl” or “boy” to adopt, and every plant will come complete with “adoption papers” and instructions for care.

“All owners will receive an adoption certificate,” she said, adding that the certificates were a hit last year. “That was funny — I think people laughed when they got those. They enjoyed them.”

Arni said that there will not only be baby hydrangeas available for $8 each, but white tree “toddler” hydrangeas, as well.

“We also will give them the particular chemical that will make them pink or blue. Of course, our white hydrangeas are tree hydrangeas this year. They’re a little larger, and those will be the toddlers.”

The sale will be held on Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at York Beach Mall, in front of McCabe’s Gourmet Market. The Gardeners will also be selling hydrangeas on Sunday, May 11, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., if they do not sell out on Saturday.

“Last year was our first year, and we were sold out in an hour and a half. It was amazing. So, this year, we’re going to have more plants. In addition to adopting a baby hydrangea, you’ll be able to adopt some toddlers, as well.”

She added that the hydrangeas adopted last year have thrived.

“The feedback we received two months after the sale — people were telling me their plants were three times the size when they bought them as babies. Even a couple of people commented that they had a bloom from the babies. I thought that was pretty remarkable considering they were first-year plants.”

Arni said the hydrangeas can be planted in the ground or in containers.

“They are very, very good for planting in our area; they love our climate here. They do like water and to be in partial shade. They will grow in full sun, but they’ll need more water,” she said. “I think they bring out the plant mother in everyone.”

At the sale this year, attendees will also be able to purchase other perennials and houseplants that grow well in the area.

Arni said the sale is a “labor of love,” as garden club members have been nurturing the plants for months, preparing for the sale.

“We have to care for them all year,” she said. “We have volunteers who volunteer to do 10. Some of us got together to do it. Because it was our second year, others felt they had enough experience the first year to just tackle it themselves. So they did it on their own, with their own cuttings. They have to be kept watered and placed in a sheltered location all winter. Then we have to clean them up, add more soil to them and get them ready for sale.

“I always tell them they’re good plant moms, taking care of the little babies.”

The money raised from the plant sale will help Gardeners By the Sea fulfill their mission, which is to encourage interest and knowledge in all phases of home gardening and flower arranging, to promote civic beauty, to affiliate with the Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs and the National Garden Clubs, and to aid in the protection and conservation of natural resources.

“We use it in our local community. This coming year, we’ll be giving three $1,000 scholarships to DelTech horticultural students. We maintain a victory garden all summer, and all the produce is donated to Mariner’s Bethel’s Feed My Sheep Ministry. We did a large planting in John West Park recently,” she added.

Gardeners by the Sea members also participate in beach cleanups, Habitat for Humanity, the Delaware Hospice Festival of Trees, Meals on Wheels and more.

“It’s good to give back. It’s important to give back,” she said, noting that the organization currently has 45 active members and eight associate members. “I think in this helter-skelter world it’s nice to give back and do something with your hands that gives you gratification.”

Arni added that she hopes the sale is well-attended, and that all the babies will be able to find happy homes.

“I think the whole idea is pretty cute. I think that’s why it caught on last year. So we’re looking forward to have more people come this year.”

York Beach Mall is located on Route 1 at the southern end of South Bethany. For more information on Gardeners by the Sea or to become a member, call (302) 537-6238.