Emerging from under our blankets into our bleak front yards before spring has, well…sprung, can sometimes be a little depressing. But never fear—soon winter gives way to spring, and we can dream our drab, dormant lawns and landscapes into lush, green paradises. To help make spring dreams come true, plan a visit to the Dothan Area Botanical Gardens’ spring plant sale from March 29th to the 31st.
The three-day sale begins on Thursday, March 29th with a plant lovers preview party. Ticket holders only are admitted to this special screening, and admission is $15 for Dothan Area Botanical Gardens members, $25 for non-members. Want to make sure you go home with the very best of the sale? “This event basically gets you first pick of all the plants at the sale,” says Larry Dykes, Dothan Area Botanical Gardens vice president and chairman of the spring plant sale. Shopping begins at 5:00pm—browse the beer and wine selections as well—followed by a 6:00pm dinner and silent auction. The silent auction remains open thru dinner until 7:00pm, where items such as unique plant specimens, garden accessories, ornaments and décor are up for bid. All purchases during the sale can be paid by cash or check.
The sale continues for the general public on Friday the 30th and Saturday the 31st from 8:00am until 1:00pm. Admission is free to shop and the sale goes on rain or shine. “Preferably shine,” says Larry. “For this weekend event we try to have plants at their peak,” he adds, so that shoppers can see the merchandise in full bloom. “We will have a variety of plants for sale,” promises Larry.
If you are in the mood for something tall and shady, “it’s a great time to plant a tree,” says Larry. Shop the sale for varieties of fruit trees like citrus or pear, shade trees such as oaks, or that southern staple, crepe myrtles. Shrubs like azaleas and loropetalum will be in stock, too. The spring plant sale is the perfect place for shoppers who are interested in eating their purchases, with lots of kitchen favorites like basil, thyme, rosemary on the menu. Fairy or dish garden enthusiasts can load up on tiny plants and succulents. Have an empty arbor or archway just begging to be climbed? “We have a really good selection of flowering vines like clematis, a hardy vine with showy colorful flowers” that are excellent at attracting butterflies, says Larry.
“We will have a little bit of everything,” says Larry, including uncommon plant varieties you won’t find at your local mega mart. “We don’t want to compete with the big box stores,” he says. Some of those unusual plants were propagated in-house; the rest of the plants for sale come from carefully selected wholesale dealers so that the Botanical Gardens can offer plants at great prices for the customer.
As the sale is only three days in duration, the plants are in limited supply. “I would suggest you try to make the Thursday preview party or go as early as you can as things tend to go fast around here,” says Larry. The plant sale is just one of the many ways the Dothan Area Botanical Gardens raises funds so that it can continue to grow. “It is our oldest fundraiser,” says Larry. “It began in 1994, the same year the land for the Botanical Gardens was purchased.” The spring plant sale proceeds go towards the Dothan Area Botanical Gardens’ operating budget and the weekend can raise anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 annually. Other revenue sources for the Botanical Gardens include membership dues, donations, local government support and fundraiser events like an annual golf tournament, spring home garden tour and Gardens Aglow, a Christmas event.
After shopping the spring plant sale, stay a while. “Spring is prime plant time,” says Larry. “Typically the weather is nice, so take time to stroll thru the gardens.” The Dothan Area Botanical Gardens house a wonderful collection of plants. “We always try to have something going on,” says Larry, whether it’s a majestic showing of azaleas, big bunches of hydrangeas or beautiful budding roses. There are 50 acres of gardens to enjoy, including the newly installed Children’s Garden which was completed in 2017. This jungle themed garden is a special place for kids 10 and under complete with a tree house, tiki hut, animal statues, swings and slides, and of course, plants for children to learn about. “Bring the kids while you shop,” says Larry.
Helping to make the spring plant sale a success in turn helps the Dothan Area Botanical Gardens thrive. “It’s uncommon for a city the size of Dothan to have a public garden,” says Larry. A place meant for enjoyment as well as education, “it’s always changing,” says Larry. “Every season is different and there is always something unique to see here.”