Roses and hostas and elephant ears, oh my!

Annual Meridian Garden Club sale highlights homegrown perennials


Barb Sears, president of the Meridian Garden Club, hates to throw out a plant, “But to tend your garden properly, you need to thin them and give them room to grow,” she said.

The club’s annual plant sale, running 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (May 18) at Meridian Township’s Central Park Pavilion, offers area gardeners the opportunity to do just that while putting beneficial native plants into the hands of other eager gardeners. 

All the perennial plants at the sale come from club members’ home gardens. These healthy specimens come in many varieties, from small succulents to elephant ears and species that thrive in shade to full sun. Some house plants will also be available, as well as native plant seedlings and other “garden goodies.” 

“Some shoppers come with a list; others like to browse and choose plants based on what’s at the sale. We get all kinds of people, from those who love native plants to those who are just getting started with gardening,” Sears said. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit, all-volunteer club’s expenses for maintaining the gardens around the Meridian Historical Village and the township’s public buildings, like its post office and fire station. Recent improvement projects have included new benches for the gardens, educational signage and raised garden beds for children’s classes and demonstrations. 

“If we have to pay a contractor, for ex-ample, that comes out of our club funds,” Sears said. Last year’s sale offered 1,000 plants and drew approximately 250 people, with one family traveling all the way from Brighton. This year’s sale will include a broad selection of perennials such as Lenten roses and a wide variety of hostas. 

Emma Campbell, Meridian Town-ship’s land stewardship coordinator, will give a talk about the importance of native plants at 11 a.m. in the Butterfly Garden, which is near the playground, across from the township’s Municipal Building. Club member LaNita Campbell said many resources will be available at the sale for gardeners who are looking to get started with or dive deeper into native perennials. One resource is Lynn O’Shaughnessy, a gardener from Howell who will provide more than 200 plants from her 100-foot circle garden, which has been featured in the Detroit News and the Midland Daily News. 

Campbell said she’s been gardening for 40 years and originally drew inspiration from edible landscaping. “If I’m going to put all this work into gardening, I want to get some benefit out of it, too,” she said. “I started with blueberry bushes and asparagus, and then I got into herbs. That has proven to be my real passion, and they’re a big hit as Christmas gifts.” 

Colleen Hyslop, the club’s vice president, joined 10 years ago when she retired to “meet a lot of people I could learn from.

“We have such a wide variety of activities, including photography, quilting, pressed flowers and flower shows. There are so many different directions you can go in, and I think that’s why the club is so successful,” she said. Sears said that getting involved with the club in 2019 “helped fulfill a desire to do some community service using my own skills and interests.” She added that the group receives “a lot of positive feedback.” 

The club hosts presentations on a variety of topics throughout the year, including container planting, green burials, and landscaping in an urban environment. It has 105 members and an average attendance of 50 to 60 people at each meeting. 

Hyslop still remembers her first garden club experience. “I didn’t know anybody there. We’ve all walked into a room like that, but as soon as I got in there, one of the long-term members looked at me with a huge smile on her face and said, ‘Would you like to join us?’ It was the warmest welcome I’ve ever received, and I think that’s very characteristic of our club,” she said. 

One of Hyslop’s favorite parts of the club is volunteering with school children. “We teach them about gardening and growing vegetables, the Native peoples of Michigan and three sisters gardening,” she said. Three sisters gardening is a Native tradition of planting corn, bean and squash crops together to help each crop thrive. Sears said she joined the club to keep learning.

“I have so much gardening at home that I wouldn’t have thought of joining an organization to do more gardening for others, but when I meet up with friends, plants and gardens are a major topic of conversation,” she said. “I felt like I could learn a lot from the group.” After half a decade with the club, she said, “It seems like I’ve found my people.


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