CIB to host popular annual native plant sale on Saturday

The Center for the Inland Bays will hold its Eighth Annual Native Plant Sale on Saturday, May 5, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at James Farm Ecological Preserve near Ocean View, offering not only plants for sale but information, education, children’s activities and food.

Sally Boswell, education and outreach coordinator for the CIB, explained that the sale was started as an educational community outreach program.

“We started it eight years ago. I had just started at the Center for the Inland Bays, and I realized that there was no native plant sale in this part of Delaware. We had many, many people who were moving here from other areas and were not familiar with the native plants we have here in coastal Delaware.

“They’re coming from places that have different climatic conditions, different soils and amounts of rainfall,” Boswell noted. “It was something we wanted to do to help people as an education event, so people could learn about native plants and also so they could get them.”

Boswell said that CIB is interested in native plants because they play an essential role in protecting and restoring the inland bays and the local watershed, as habitat loss is one of the main problems for the inland bays.

“Native plants are important to maintaining the ecosystems here, because the animals and pollinators that live here and migrate here have evolved over countless years, and they’ve evolved with the plant life that we have here. So, there’s a mutual dependence,” she explained.

“As we have become more urban, as we develop areas, as we lose some of our wetlands and forests, we lose some of the places where these native plants live. We’re trying to encourage people to plant them in their gardens so we can protect the really wonderful array of native plant species we have in our area.”

Five nurseries will offer thousands of native plants, including trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses and flowers. In addition to the local nurseries, a number of organizations, such as the Master Gardeners, will be on hand to offer information and advice related to gardening to attendees.

“They are there to answer people’s questions. They are a great source of information about gardening. They always bring the new brochures and booklets that are available,” said Boswell. “We’ll have a beekeeper. He won’t be selling honey. He’ll just have one of his hives with him so people can see the bees actually building the hive. He’ll have a model there about how a hive works and information for people who might be interested in doing that.”

There will also be a kids’ activity tent, where children who attend the event may paint a tile to take home with them. Dr. Dennis Bartow will also lead attendees on a walk through the woods to learn about native plants and see wildlife.

“Dr. Dennis Bartow, who is our schoolyard habitat coordinator and who works on our horseshoe crab survey — he’s quite a naturalist. He will be doing a walk at 11 a.m., kind of a ramble around James Farm through the woods down to the beach. It was originally designed to show people some of the native trees and plants that you can see right there that grow in this area.”

Environmental Concern, a nonprofit nursery from St. Michael’s, Md., will celebrate their eighth year at the Gardening for the Bays sale and will bring more than 50 varieties of plants for rain gardens, woodland gardens and gardens by the sea. For those interested in water gardening, Envirotech Environmental Consulting from Lewes will bring pools filled with plants that thrive in water.

The Delaware Nature Society will present their Backyard Habitat Program, with advice on enhancing yards and gardens to provide food, water and shelter for birds, butterflies and other native wildlife.

Good Earth Market will also be in attendance, selling goodies for attendees to eat throughout the day. They will serve early birds coffee and muffins, and for lunch, organic Havarti cheese, sprouts, tomato and cucumber sandwiches, grilled organic hotdogs, chips and fruit drinks. Gardening for the Bays garden aprons and T-shirts will be on sale again this year.

Boswell said that close to 400 people attended the sale last year. She added that the event is not designed to be a fundraiser for the CIB, and is partially funded through the sale of the CIB T-shirts and aprons, as well as donations from the public.

“Harvest Garden Pro, in Milford, they make a product that is sustainable and organic and is a type of potting soil. They’ve donated it so that we can sell it and use the proceeds to support the plant sale. That was a nice thing that we didn’t expect to happen,” she added.

The CIB will also have available for pickup at the event rain barrels ordered through the organization in recent months. Last year, the CIB sold 88 rain barrels, and this year Boswell said they sold out, with 100 barrels purchased.

Boswell said the event wouldn’t be possible without the help of Pat Drizd, the planning committee and community planning committee. She also said that Don Minyon, who had volunteered for the CIB for many years, also helps make the event a fun time for everyone.

“Pat works with me and really takes the lead on it. That’s the way the event has really become a community event,” Boswell said.

“Since the very beginning, he has been the voice of the native plant sale,” she added of Minyon. “He brings his public address system and plays music, and he announces events and the raffles, introduces people. It’s kind of something that stitches the day together. It’s really nice. It creates a nice atmosphere.”

She added that, over the past seven years, the community has really come together to support the sale and the CIB’s mission. She said she hopes the sale is successful, as it has been in years past.

“It’s great. It’s really been great. It’s built every year,” she said. “We’ve had great support from the nurseries and the community. It feels like it continues to grow. People look forward to it as something they want to do in the spring. So it has kind of become a tradition. I hope we have beautiful weather, that it’s warm and sunny and that lots of people come out and that the nurseries sell out of their plants at 10 of one!”

James Farm Ecological Preserve is located on Cedar Neck Road near Ocean View. For more information, call the Center for the Inland Bays at (302) 226-8105.