, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

April 5, 2014

Crowds flood plant sale Saturday

NEDERLAND — Even before the gates opened Saturday, crowds gathered outside the Hanger No. 4 at the Jack Brooks Regional Airport in anticipation of this year’s Master Gardeners Spring Plant Sale and Market Day.

Some arrived as early as 5 a.m. hoping to get first pickin’s at the annual event, or to shop at the many craft and food vendor booths.

“It’s been a fantastic, just phenomenal sale,” Cecil Hightower, 67, Of Nederland, said. “The gates opened and its like the flood waters just poured in.”

Hightower, Chairman of the Master Gardeners Test Garden, also located at the airport, said people attending the yearly sale were focused, and knew exactly what they wanted.

For Richard Hinds, 52, of Beaumont, and his wife, Bree, 37, it was plants for the garden: Satsuma, avocado, basil, and cilantro.

Though the day threatened rain, the couple said they were ready to plant as soon as they got home.

“As soon as she digs the holes,” Richard Hinds said.

Paula Willmon, 50, arrived early from Woodville — but not early enough.

“It’s my first time. I’ll know better next year to come earlier,” she said.

Port Arthur couple Ben Salerius, 53, and his wife, Candy, 62, attend the plant sale every year, and know to expect a crowd.

With arms full of mainly garden plants — tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, radishes — the couple were ready to get home and try an expanded garden this year.

“Usually we have a container garden, but this year we are going to put it in the ground,” Candy Salerius said.

The sale is ran entirely by Master Gardener volunteers — about 80 to 90 Master Gardener Jerry White estimated.

White, who admitted to being “older than dirt,” said people arrived as early as 5 a.m. Saturday, waiting until the gates opened at 8 a.m. By noon, he expected the tables to be empty.

Big sellers this year were the olive trees.

Master Gardeners offered three varieties: Spanish, French, and Mediterranean.

“We tried them last year during a test sale, and the results were so good we  increased the amount of olive trees for sale this year,” Hightower said.

Herbs are another big seller, he said.

All plants sold by the area Master Gardeners are zone compatible, and will grow in Southeast Texas soils.

Proceeds from the plant sale benefit college scholarships for area students planning to study horticulture or agriculture.

Plant sale proceeds also help pay costs for seminars the Master Gardeners have each year.

“You see things you’ve never seen before at this sale. The Master Gardeners are very knowledgeable. If you have any questions, they have someone to answer them,” Gary Jones, 67, of Port Arthur said. “But, you better get here quick, because as soon as they open, things start selling.”


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