If the mom in your life enjoys gardening, you’re sure to find a special gift at the Friends School Plant Sale Mother’s Day Weekend, May 6-8. This year, sale organizers have promised to improve the checkout snafu inside the State Fair Grandstand. Last year, they admit, they lost control of the line of shoppers, which snaked both ways for half a mile, wandering through four dozen varieties of heirloom tomatoes and countless potted herbs before turning left between the blooming jungles of perennials and annuals. The largest plant sale under one roof in the Midwest, not to mention an outdoor annex of native exotics, fruit trees, berry bushes and more, the Friends School extravaganza will open Friday, May 6, at 9 a.m.-two hours earlier than last year-and run until 8 p.m. It will open Saturday, May 7, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday, May 8, noon-4 p.m.
If you plan to go to the sale, here are some suggestions: Take a look at the sale’s plant-location map at www.friendsschoolplantsale.com well in advance to plan your purchases.
Park free in State Fair lots or on fairgrounds streets and walk over (with your little red wagon, if you have one) to the Grandstand entrance. That way, if you buy more than you had intended, you can always drive by the pickup area after you’ve checked out to load your Mother’s Day booty in the car.
If you know Mom would love to go to the sale-but without you-it’s possible to purchase gift certificates from the Friends School website this year in amounts of $25 to $100 (www.fsmn.org/plant-sale-gift).
An extra bonus for 2011: For the first time, the plant sale will take place at the same weekend as the Living Green Expo. The Expo sprawls over several buildings near the Fairgrounds east gate, filling the Fine Arts, Creative Activities, 4-H and Education buildings with loads of smart energy ideas, eco-business displays and a chance to win a deluxe “green wedding.” The Expo will run two days, Saturday, May 7, (9 a.m.-6 p.m.) and Sunday, May 8 (9 a.m.-4 p.m.).
The Friends School sale is one of many plant sales in May that benefit area schools and nonprofits. Here’s a list of a few others:
· St. Anthony Park Elementary School’s parent organization, SAPSA, will sell a variety of plants outside the school on Thursday, May 5, noon-5 p.m. and Friday, May 6, from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and 5:30-8 p.m.
· The Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota (ANSR) will hold its 28th annual plant sale May 20 and 21, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., at 1647 Laurel St., St. Paul. The sale will feature heirloom tomatoes and a wide assortment of homegrown perennials for sun and shade. All proceeds benefit ANSR. For more information, call 651-646-3005 or go to the ANSR website (www.ansrmn.org) and follow the link to the Garage/Plant sale.
· The Northern Horticulture Club Annual Plant Sale will be held Saturday, May 21, 9 a.m.-noon, at Corpus Christi School, 2131 Fairview Ave. N., Roseville. Hundreds of plants will be available. Call 651-482-0450 for more information.
D.J. Alexander lives and writes in Falcon Heights.