- Friday, May 11, 9 AM - 8 PM
- Saturday, May 12, 10 AM - 6 PM
- Sunday, May 12, 12 Noon - 4 PM
Many shoppers look forward to great deals on plants on the last day of the Plant Sale. Plants will be one-third off on Sunday, May 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wristband distribution starts at 9 a.m. If you arrive early, be sure to check out the Garden Fair!
We are totally out of strawberry flats and boxes, so please bring your own!
Here’s what you'll find on Sunday:
UPDATED May 6 -- We apologize for the crop failures that occur, but want you to know that fewer than 5 percent of the plants listed in the catalog were crop failures last year.
Crop failures occur for several reasons:
We will update the crop failure list here and on each individual plant listing as soon as we hear of any that occur through May 6. We can't guarantee that crop failures that occur once we've started setting up for the sale, between May 7 and May 10, will be announced on the website, but we'll do our best to update those as well.
At the sale, each crop failure is marked with a CROP FAILURE sticker on its sign.
A005 Banana, Abyssinian - Ensete ventricosum, Maurelii NOTE: We found a replacement for the original plant. See the Abyssinian Banana plant listing for updated information.
A049 Stonecrop, Miniature - Sedum hakonense, Chocolate Ball
A057 African Milk Bush - Synadenium grantii NOTE: We have this plant in a larger size, still coming
A100 Artichoke - Cynara baetica, Moroccan
A130 Begonia, Rex - Begonia, Judy Cook
A144 Bellflower - Michauxia campanuloides, Michaux's
A153 Blue Woodruff - Asperula orientalis
A177 Caribbean Copper Plant - Euphorbia cotinifolia, Burgundy Wine
A236 Copperleaf - Acalypha wilkesiana, Peach Whirl
A293 Foxglove, Wild - Ceratotheca triloba
A399 Kiss-Me-Over-The-Garden-Gate, Polygonum orientale
A434 Mallow, Annual - Malope, Queen Red
A603 Sun Daisy - Osteospermum, Fire Burst
A607 Sweet Potato Vine - Ipomoea batatus, Blackie
*SUBSTITUTION Bullfrog - similar to Blackie but the dark leaves have some green markings
C076 Trumpet Creeper - Campsis radicans, Orange
G013 Sedge, Brown - Carex testacea, Prairie Fire
G040 Moor Grass, Purple - Molinia caerulea, Variegata
G046 Sedge, Bebb's - Carex bebbii, Wild Bebb's Sedge
G047 Sedge, Broadleaf - Carex siderosticha, Banana Boat
N115 Larkspur, Tall - Delphinium exaltatum
N197 Yellow Star Grass - Hypoxis hirsuta, Wild Yellow Star Grass
P012 Astilbe - Astilbe chinensis Taquetti
P024 Avens - Geum, Alabama Slammer
P233 Foamflower - Tiarella wherryi, Wherry's
P249 Ginger, European - Asarum europaeum, A. europaeum
P270 Heron's Bill - Erodium manescavii, E. manescavii
P378 Jacob's Ladder - Polemonium caeruleum, Blue Pearl
P394 Ligularia - Ligularia japonica, Japanese
P464 Mist Flower - Eupatorium coelestinum
P504 Peony - Paeonia lactiflora, Clown - rose-pink single, crinkly, yellow center, 34"
*SUBSTITUTION: Charles Burgess - Vibrant red with a ruffled crimson center dashed with gold in mid-spring. 30"h
P505 Peony - Paeonia lactiflora, Cora Stubbs - raspberry-pink with ivory outer petals 30-36"
*SUBSTITUTION: Pink Giggles: Pink with anemone-like centers. Slightly fragrant Japanese-type with a double row of guard petals. Mid-spring bloom time. 30".
P506 Peony - Paeonia lactiflora, Early Scout
P508 Peony - Paeonia lactiflora, Margaret Clark - double cherry-blossom pink, 34"
*SUBSTITUTION: Super Gal: Fragrant, semi-double, dark rosy-pink blooms in mid to late spring. Strong stems. 24"h
P509 Peony - Paeonia lactiflora, Pillow Cases - early, speckled pink, cream, dark pink single 36"
*SUBSTITUTION: Kansas: Huge carmine red double flowers. Blooms mid- to late spring. 18-24"h by 24-36"w
P515 Periwinkle - Vinca minor atropurpurea, Purple
P540 Primrose - Primula japonica, Japanese
P544 Prophet Flower - Arnebia pulcra
P555 Sea Holly - Eringium alpinum, Alpine
p569 Spurge - Pachysandra procumbens, Allegheny
P596 Stonecrop, Upright - Sedum, Xenox
P609 Toad Lily - Tricyrtis macropoda, Chinese
P615 Waxbells, Yellow - Kirengeshoma palmata, K. palmata
S020 Bayberry - Myrica pensylvanica
S043 Cypress, False - Chamaecyparis pisifera, Vintage Gold
S074 Hydrangea Panicled - Hydrangea paniculata, Limelight
S076 Hydrangea Panicled - Hydrangea paniculata, Bobo
S146 Rose, Climbing - Rosa, William Baffin
S155 Rose, Modern Shrub - Rosa, The Fairy
S157 Rose, Modern Shrub - Rosa, Livin' Easy
S171 Rose, Modern Shrub - Rosa, Red Cascade
S172 Rose, Modern Shrub - Rosa, Red Cascade
S173 Rose, Modern Shrub - Rosa, Sea Foam
S183 Snowball, Fragrant - Viburnum carlesii, Diana
S203 Winterberry - Ilex verticillata, Berry Heavy
**The roses in smaller pots were a major winter loss at one grower this year.
U007 Clematis, Japanese - Clematis stans
U010 Comfrey, Variegated - Symphytum officinale, Goldsmith
U013 Fumeroot - Corydalis flexuosa, Blue Panda
U017 Green Dragon - Arisaema draconitum
Note: This is a smaller size of the same plant (F035A), which will be in a 3 gallon pot for $22.00
Galanthus nivalis $5.00 3.5" pot Earliest of spring blooms. Small white flowers hang down from the stalks like drops. Good for dry partial shade, as under a deciduous tree (they grow before the trees leaf out). This spring-blooming bulb will die back shortly after planting, but don't fret, it will come back next spring while the snow is still on the ground. Plants will be going dormant at sale time or soon after. 8-12"h
Uvularia grandiflora $6.00 4" pot Clump-forming perennial. Bright yellow nodding blooms with twisted petals. Easy and desirable for cultivation. Ramsey County source. 12-24"h
U062B Speckled Poke
Phytolacca americana Silberstein
The dramatic ivory to cream-colored speckling of the green foliage, often so heavy that some leaves appear to be all cream with green flecks, contrasts wonderfully with the rich magenta-purple stems, white flower spikes in summer, and clusters of almost black berries in fall. If any plain green foliage appears, just cut it off. Grows slowly. Sun, part sun. 48-72"h
(We've been trying to get this plant for years, and the seed finally germinated.)
We've also heard from growers about some plants that are partial crop failures, which means there are not enough plants to allow for a Saturday delivery -- so there may be none of these on Saturday, even though the catalog lists them as having a Saturday truck symbol. (If any are left from the first day of the sale, there may be some available on Saturday.)
A171 Canna - Canna edulis, Achira
A206 Coleus, Sun - Solenostemon scutellaroides, Solar Flare
A314 Geranium, Fancy Leaf - Pelargonium, Red Heart
A324 Geranium, Old-Fashioned - Pelargonium, Appleblossom Pink
A327 Geranium, Old-Fashioned - Pelargonium, Red Star
A328 Geranium, Old-Fashioned - Pelargonium, Snow Star
A322 Geranium, Ivy - Pelargonium, White Mesh
G001 Basket Grass - Oplismenus hirtellus variegatus, Basket Grass
H120 Cuban Oregano - Plectranthus amboinicas variegatus, Variegated
H060 Geranium, Scented - Pelargonium, Lady Plymouth
N044 Blue-Eyed Grass - Sisyrinchium angustifolium, Stout Blue-Eyed Grass
N063 Columbine - Aquilegia canadensis, Little Lanterns
N111 Joe Pye Weed - Eupatorium maculatum, Gateway
P014 Astilbe - Astilbe japonica, Deutschland
P015 Astilbe - Astilbe x arendsii, Fanal Red
P036 Balloon Flower - Platycodon grandiflorus, Double Blue
P115 Columbine - Aquilegia skinneri, Tequila Sunrise
P139 Coral Bells - Heuchera, Regina
P140 Coral Bells - Heuchera, Milky Way
P142 Coral Bells - Heuchera, Red Expo
P143 Coral Bells - Heuchera, Snow Angel (almost a complete crop failure, unlikely to be any on Saturday)
P167 Daisy, Blue - Kalimeris incisa, Blue Daisy
P231 Fleece Flower - Persicaria filiformis, Painter's Palette
P285 Hollyhock - Alcea, Fig Leaf, Las Vegas
P278 Hollyhock - Alcea, Peaches & Dreams
P456 Mallow, Hollyhock - Malva alcea, Fastigiata
P517 Phlox, Creeping - Phlox stolonifera, Sherwood Purple
S003 Arborvitae - Thuja occidentalis, Teddy
S014 Azalea - Rhododendron hybrids, Mandarin Lights
S082 Juniper - Juniperus x pfitzeriana, Daub's Frosted (1 quart pot size; other size okay)
S094 Lilac - Syringa meyeri, Dwarf Korean, Palibin
S193 Sumac - Rhus aromatica, Gro-Low
To make room for more plants this year, we’ve rearranged the Grandstand completely. Overall, we’ve added 560 new varieties this year—25% more than last year.
We’ll have detailed maps available, but in the meantime, check out the map from the catalog.
If you’re interested in miniature plants or fairy gardens, you can now find most of the tiny specimens in our new Miniature Plants section. Note: Though it’s part of the Annuals section, many of the plants are perennials. We’ve noted hardiness on each of them.
You’ll notice lots of new hosta, lilies, iris, mums, daylilies, peonies, coleus, magnolias, and clematis. Plus four new kinds of kale, 12 new tomatoes, half a dozen potatoes and hot peppers, four new kinds of hops, heirloom apples, and the white pineberry strawberry.
We’ll have a wide range of heirloom and conventional seeds from Baker Creek and North Star Seed (see the full list, page 5). Solera Seeds, a local seed company, will also be selling organically grown seed; for their list, see www.soleraseeds.com. Seed Savers Exchange will not return to the sale this year.
While you’re at the sale, please use our new combined recycling, compost, and land fill stations. Recycling includes all metal, plastic, glass, and clean paper. Organics means any food or soiled paper. Please think twice before putting things into the usual State Fair trash boxes!
There are still lots of jobs that need doing. Join us!
Volunteers are the heart and soul of the Friends School Plant Sale. To say the sale has grown beyond anyone’s wildest dreams is an understatement. And it would not have been possible without volunteers.
Some 1,100 volunteers spend countless hours before, during, and after the sale building tables, unloading plants, putting plants into shoppers’ cars, and much more. In exchange they get a ticket that lets them shop early. Thursday is their big day, before the sale opens to the public on Friday. The volunteers keep doing their jobs, indispensable all the way through to Monday cleanup.
The organizing committee oversees everything. They work on the sale all year, sourcing plants and assembling the monster catalog. They manage their fellow volunteers, making sure each time slot is filled and the people who sign up also show up.
Nancy Scherer is on the organizing committee. “Many jobs have a coordinator, such as the tidyers, the greeters, the watering cart people, the truck-unloading people, the section advisors, curbside pickup—so those volunteers get oriented by their coordinators,” Nancy says.
There is no overall volunteer coordinator. (They wish they had one.) Would-be helpers can sign up online for particular tasks and hours.
This year the two 7th and 8th graders on the organizing committee will advise the special squad of students who look for customers with plant questions. They carry notebooks and wear day-glow green vests that say “ASK ME.” All the students prepare for the sale as it approaches by brushing up on their botanical Latin. This makes them more efficient at moving plants from truck to table and helping customers find what they’re looking for. Other students greet customers coming in the door or load plants into cars.
Cammie McConnell has worked as a volunteer ever since the sale moved from “some parent’s front yard,” as she puts it, to the Minnesota State Fair grandstand. Even in that dimly remembered yard (“…or was it the school’s yard?”) there were always lines of people waiting to buy “great plants you don’t see anywhere else, at reasonable prices.”
A family practice physician in real life, Cammie works on the sale before it opens: Tuesday, one of the setup days. It wasn’t long before she’d convinced her husband, Tim Hanson, a master carpenter, to join in the fun. “I like to work with Tim, and his skill set is building things.”
Their daughter shares her skills, too. “Mariel is working toward a degree in horticulture at Century College.” The family works together, plays together and, on volunteer day, Cammie and Mariel shop together, filling both of the carts Tim built, just for this purpose, with plants.
Tim puts together the sale’s display tables, which have been designed to be easily assembled, taken apart, and stored. That includes the strings that run along the center of the tables. One of Cammie’s tasks is to attach the plant signs to the strings, making sure that the right plants show up under the right labels. “Mariel really helps me out with this.”
Mother and daughter enjoy sharing and expanding their knowledge of plants. Tim isn’t really a plant guy. He likes turning people on to power tools.
“Many of them are intimidated at first.” Just about anyone can handle a two-by-four, he insists. “It’s like anything else. Not too much pressure, not too little.”
Of course the ultimate reward (unless you’re Tim Hanson) is having first crack at the plants. Volunteers get to shop the evening before the sale opens to the public. They work at least one four-hour shift for that privilege.
Cammie is the first to admit that’s what lured her to the sale many year ago. She and Tim live on four acres on the St. Croix River. “About an acre of it is gardens,” she says. “I grow tons of vegetables.” She grows flowers too, and has a fine collection of hardy cacti, an interest sparked by the sale.
“I used to grow all my own seedlings,” she says, “but since the sale I’ve kind of stopped that. There are so many different heirloom tomatoes to choose from here. There’s so much everything and especially plants you don’t see at the local greenhouse or even in the catalogs. I don’t know how they find them.”
I know how they find them. The organizing committee assembles and fine-tunes the yearly inventory. They look for interesting plants online. They follow tips from growers and customers. They listen to volunteers. They track down obscure breeders in out-of-the-way places and scour the new plant lists of over 20 local growers.
Once a plant is ordered and listed in the catalog—which, by the way, someone has to write, design, and send to the printer—the vigilance doesn’t stop. If there’s a crop failure, someone has to find another supplier or a different species to fill the hole.
Many of the more popular varieties are restocked on Saturday morning. Someone has to do that, too—a crew of volunteers who work on what’s called the “all hands on deck” shift starting at 7:00 a.m.
Friends School alum James Farnsworth, who is now a high school junior, knows the routine by heart. James isn’t a plant geek or a carpenter. He’s into computers and social media. That means he’s a whiz at things like Twitter, walkie-talkies, and line management. Preventing lines is an organizing committee obsession. That’s where James shines.
Weather is another obsession. You don’t want to keep people out in the cold, or the sweltering heat, or a thunderstorm if you can avoid it. All of which has happened. No injuries or hard feelings have ensued, thanks to people like James.
At the end of the day, after all, this isn’t the Super Bowl. It’s just a fundraiser for a Quaker school and its scholarship fund. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. What hard-core gardener wouldn’t enjoy spending the first week of May with peace-loving people bingeing on plants?
So on behalf of the organizers, this is my shout-out to Cammie and Tim and James and the thousand other volunteers without whom there wouldn’t be a Friends School Plant Sale. That includes the box collectors and the bulb baggers, the stick labelers and the seed sellers, the large sign hangers, the greeter people, and the miraculously cheerful mathematicians who tally up the totals at the checkout tables. They use adding machines to total the plant lists that customers hand over; the machine spits out a total. Some people, volunteers mostly, worry that the sale will be shortchanged because a few plants went unaccounted for.
“I always tack on another 20 percent when I write my check,” says Tim. “It’s just another way of saying thanks.
Wait, Tim, who’s thanking whom again?
People like Tim are why I spend my free time helping a school that I didn’t know existed until I attended my first sale 10 years ago. When I first volunteered, I was astonished when a guy in a plaid shirt —who knows, maybe it was Tim—jumped out of the mile-high cab of the rig I was supposed to drive to Hastings by way of Elk River in rush hour, and handed me the keys.
“Ever run a lift gate?” he asked.
I had never heard of a lift gate. What if he figured out I’d never driven a truck this gigantic before, either? Best to keep quiet and get the behemoth out of the driveway in one piece (yes, I had to back it out, with only my dog to keep an eye on the twin-mattress-sized rear-view mirror on the passenger side).
If that isn’t trust, I figured, trust doesn’t exist.
You already know that Friends School Plant Sale is the finest one in the world. The organizers and I just want to remind you that it’s run by volunteers and volunteers only, some of whom will begin working on the 2016 sale the day after this year’s sale ends.
James puts in 60 hours a year on the sale, many of those hours just before opening day. When the door opens and the crowds of people who’ve been waiting rush in…well, imagine Churchill Downs on Derby Day when the gun goes off and the horses burst through the starting gate. It’s kind of like that.
“Through volunteering at the sale, I’ve learned that I love to work at big events, especially in a coordinating role,” he told me.
But there’s more to it than that. “Even though my family never was in need of scholarship funds so I could attend FSM, I chose to get involved with the plant sale because I knew that those funds were directly benefitting some of my best friends.”
That’s the spirit, James. And to all of you shoppers, thanks for coming. We hope you enjoy the sale as much as we do!
Bonnie Blodgett writes The Blundering Gardener column for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. She is the author of several books on gardening.
Miniature gardens (or fairy gardens, if you are a believer) are delightful and entertaining for all ages. If you have a yen to have a garden and are hampered by space or time, or simply like little things, consider a miniature garden.
These gardens can be contained in just about anything that tickles your fancy. Maybe it’s a favorite antique dish you can set on a table, a clay pot, or a birdbath. It might be a special place in an outdoor garden.
Tiny accessories of all sorts are available everywhere, but it’s the teeny plants that will enthrall you. They’ll inspire you to create something that’s uniquely yours. Perhaps you must have that cute little Miniature Mat Daisy with multitudes of white flowers, or that Tiny Rubies Pink with brilliant tiny double pink flowers.
You may want “trees” in your garden. They could be very small conifers or you might shape a coleus, rosemary plant, or miniature jade plant into a suitable form. Succulents like Stonecrop or Hen and Chicks make great accents and many ground covers fill in your landscape. There are no limitations. Just have fun and enjoy!
If you're interested in seeing a sampling of the plants that will be in the Miniature Garden Collections (new this year), check out the list here.
Oh, and don't miss the free workshop on miniature gardening, Saturday at 10:00 a.m.
Friends School of Minnesota (FSM) is an independent K–8 Quaker school in the heart of St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood. In the tradition of more than 80 Friends Schools across the United States, FSM meets children’s intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs in an environment that nurtures their social consciousness. Now in its 27th year, FSM is a vibrant school, known for its progressive curriculum, commitment to community, acclaimed conflict resolution program, and joyful approach to educating children.
FSM is dedicated to its mission: to prepare children to embrace life, learning, and community with hope, skill, understanding, and creativity. We are committed to the Quaker values of peace, justice, simplicity and integrity.
FSM’s 168 students learn from a rich, hands-on curriculum in multi-age classrooms of 16 to 21. We believe children learn best as active participants, collaborators, and problem-solvers within a community. We think learning should be in-depth, thematic, and interdisciplinary, while teaching the appreciation of multiple perspectives and fostering social skills. Our focus on place-based education engages students within the local community and prepares them to be compassionate global citizens. We emphasize environmental education and service learning starting in kindergarten. We have specialists in music, visual arts, physical education, and Spanish.
Our community actively works to increase diversity, remove barriers, and be welcoming and accessible. In our admissions process, we seek a wide range of academic abilities and diverse learning styles. We seek diversity, including racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, family structure, and belief system. FSM families have a broad range of religious and non-religious backgrounds, including 10 percent Quaker. Twelve percent of our students come from LGBT families and 35 percent of students are children of color, mostly from multiracial families. We provide need-based tuition aid for 37 percent of our students—up to 90 percent of tuition per student—to increase access to FSM. Our conflict resolution program is integrated into the daily culture of the school, actively teaching and modeling nonviolent, respectful techniques to solve the natural conflicts found in every diverse community.
Our great location across the street from a mini-arboretum city park and our inviting indoor spaces serve our students well, but we continue to improve our facilities. This past summer, we added a fully equipped art room, dedicated Spanish room, small group spaces and middle school student lounge to our existing facilities, which include nine classrooms, a full-size gymnasium, music room, library, and multi-purpose room. Our school grounds incorporate outdoor classroom spaces and a natural play yard as well as a traditional playground and open field.
Lots of folks first hear about Friends School of Minnesota because of our plant sale fundraiser. Many prospective families come take a look at the school that’s behind the big event. Some say meeting our helpful middle school student volunteers made them curious about our school program. If you would like to learn more about the school, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 651-917-0636, or see our website at www.fsmn.org. We’d love to show you around!
With sadness and gratitude, Friends School Plant Sale says goodbye to Ron “Bear” Cronick, a familiar face to many volunteers. Bear died December 1, 2014 following a long illness.
For the past 10 years he greeted us with his smile and welcoming words as we arrived for our volunteer shifts. He also kindly redirected shoppers who’d come to the wrong door. For almost 10 years before that, he helped out while the sale was at the Friends School building.
We thank him for his many years of dedicated service. We’ll miss his presence at our sales.
--The Plant Sale Committee
Instead of selling cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash as plants, we invite seed-growing partners to sell them as seeds instead.
We do this for several reasons:
We do sell some cold-sensitive plants, especially tomatoes and peppers, since they need more of a head start in our short growing season. But keep them indoors or in a cold frame for a few weeks after the sale.
Friends School of Minnesota welcomes Dr. Latrisha Chattin, our next Head of School! Latrisha joins Friends School in July for our 28th year. Her commitment to Quaker values and progressive education are a great fit.
She takes over from Lili Herbert, whose exceptional leadership guided and improved Friends School during her nine years as Head of School. Lili leaves the school in excellent health and with the brightest of futures as she moves on to pursue a research and writing project and earn a Masters of Divinity at Earlham School of Religion.
All of the plants in the Herb and Vegetable sections of the sale are grown without chemical pesticides or herbicides, and from greenhouses operated with sustainable practices.
We also carry a more limited line of edibles that are certified organic, and at customer request have summarized them here.
"New" indicates the variety is new at the sale as certified organic. We may have carried a noncertified variety at the sale in the past (or even this year).
H004 Sweet Genovese
H030 Amethyst Improved
H031 Eleonora NEW
H032 Mrs. Burns Lemon
H033 Thai, Sweet NEW
H086 Lavender, Ellagance Purple
H110 Mint, Peppermint NEW
H118 Oregano , Greek
V066 Dinosaur NEW
V088a Mixed (one each of Green Forest romaine, Tropicana green leaf, New Red Fire red leaf, Red Cross red butter.)
V088b Nancy NEW
V089 New Red Fire
V143 Aurora (hot)
V144 Bulgarian Carrot (hot)
V137 Jalapeño (hot)
V163 Sweet Banana (sweet)
V175 Purple Viking NEW
V176 Rose Finn Apple Fingerling NEW
V177 Adirondack Red NEW
V178 Carola NEW
V179 Dark Red Norland NEW
V180 Kennebec NEW
V181 Magic Molly NEW
V255 Black Cherry NEW
V257 Cherry Roma
V258 Dester’s Amish
V260 Purple Bumblebee Cherry NEW
V261 Brandywine, 4 pack
V262 Christmas Grape
V263 Czech Bush
V264 Mixed Heirloom Tomatoes (Brandywine, Striped German, Aunt Ruby’s German Green, and Cherokee Purple)
V265 Seed Saver’s Italian
V281a Sungella NEW
V281b Sweet 100
V012 Broccoli, Premium Crop
V026 Cabbage, Green—Stonehead
V057 Eggplant, Little Fingers
Friends School Plant Sale is a fund-raising event sponsored by the Friends School of Minnesota in Saint Paul. It's held just once each year on Mother's Day Weekend at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand (map and directions).
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Regarding reuse of photos from this site: Any plant photo with a credit line including the words "Friends School Plant Sale photo" may be used with credit to the Friends School Plant Sale and named photographer, under the Creative Commons license. Please include a link to FriendsSchoolPlantSale.com. Note: Where the aforementioned credit line does not appear, the Creative Commons license may not apply. Please contact the individual photographers.