The planning is done, the vendors are ready and the digging continues: come rain or shine, the North Hills Garden Club Plant Sale is a GO for Saturday, May 7, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The North Hills Garden Club (NHGC) is one of the oldest in Knoxville. Established in 1935, it promotes the beautification of the community, and proceeds from the plant sale support those efforts in the neighborhood park and along its boulevards.
At the helm of the plant sale this year is Peggy Young. She is one of 80 members of the NHGC. So how did she end up in charge of this task?
“Well, basically they conned me into it,” Young said, laughing. “A former chair approached me saying they needed someone, so I agreed, I’ll be the head person.”
Young, nearing 70, is still working as a pediatric nurse practitioner. She explained that the plant sale is comprised of perennial plants and shrubs harvested from residents’ yards. Much of the focus is on plants native to Tennessee, such as purple northern aster, trillium, black-eyed Susans and purple coneflower. Though not native here, one of the popular items every year are Lenten roses.
“About 50% of those donating plants do their own digging,” she said. “The rest we have to go gather up ourselves.”
By “we” she means herself and other members of the plant sale committee. It’s a lot of work and starts weeks before the sale. In addition to getting the plants up from the ground, there’s a need for safe storage to protect them in case of a late frost.
“These blackberry and dogwood winters aren’t helping when you’re trying to get these plants to the sale looking good,” she said.
Young said part of the work also involves dividing plants once they’ve been dug up, saying “some of these Lenten roses are the size of trees. They’re just stunning.”
In years prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the sale was held in North Hills Park. In the bob and weave to keep the sale on but participants safe, it was moved the past two years to four yards in close proximity at the intersection of North Park Boulevard and Kenilworth Lane (officially at 2511 North Park).
“We still sold the majority of the plants,” she said.
This year, Young explained, the club decided to stay with these arrangements as many shoppers bring their children with them, and the park’s playground is in need of repairs and new equipment.
“It looks like we’re on the schedule for those improvements next year,” Young said. “We just felt it best to not have visitors to the neighborhood on the playground equipment.”
In addition to the bounty of neighborhood plants, there will be herbs, vegetables and blooming annual plants available (a partnership with a local nursery). VietGrill will be on hand with some tasty food as well as some other craft vendors.
“There will also be quite a bit of yard sale items available, oriented toward gardening items,” she said. The sale accepts payments with check, cash or card via Square.
All in all, a good time to be had on the first Saturday in May for a neighborhood that takes great pride in putting its best gardening foot forward. The North Hills Arboretum (official since 2019) just won Keep Knoxville Beautiful’s City “Bright Spot” Orchid Award. It is the only neighborhood in Knoxville with a recognized arboretum.
To learn more about the North Hills Garden Club go here.
Beth Kinnane is the community news editor for KnoxTNToday.com.