WOOSTER, Ohio — A blueberry bush whose berries are pink.
A dwarf, thornless raspberry plant, perfect for a patio planter, that still yields full-size fruit.
A shrub, the Japanese orixa, whose leaves in fall turn white. A tree, the Joe Witt striped maple, whose bark resembles a peppermint stick.
“Most are cultivars that you’re not going to find at your local nursery,” said Joe Cochran, the arboretum’s interim director.
The annual event, which is a main fundraiser for the arboretum, goes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fisher Auditorium at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, 1680 Madison Ave. in Wooster. It features the sale and auction of trees, shrubs, herbs, annuals, perennials and art for the garden. Admission is free.
OARDC is the research arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences of The Ohio State University. The 115-acre arboretum is on OARDC’s campus.
“This isn’t just your average plant sale,” said Paul Snyder, the arboretum’s program assistant. “Our sale is unique because the plant selection is made up mostly of plants that are hard to find.
“We also offer plants that are new to the market and can’t be found in garden centers yet.”
Plant Auctions, Too
The event’s silent and oral auctions, meanwhile, offer even rarer plants or ones that are bigger than their counterparts in the sale, Snyder said.
You’ll find names like Snowstorm Giant Snowflake sutera, SunSparkler Firecracker sedum and Ruby Slippers oakleaf hydrangea in the lineup. Charmed Wine oxalis, Dragon Wings begonia, Diamond Frost euphorbia and more. Links to lists of all the plants are at go.osu.edu/2015PlantDiscoveryDay.
Attendance averages 300-400 people, Cochran said. “Most are lined up at 9 a.m. to make sure they get the plants they want.”
Sales usually hit about $30,000, with about half of it, or $15,000, being net profit that directly benefits the arboretum, he said.
“The proceeds are used to help fund an internship and give us the opportunity to offer many educational programs to youth and area residents free of charge,” Cochran said.
‘People Who Really Know Plants’
More than 50 volunteers from the Friends of Secrest Arboretum are key to the event’s success, he said. They help with planning, haul plants and more, including serving as on-hand experts to answer shoppers’ questions. Arboretum staff will be there, too.
“You get to talk to people who really know plants,” Snyder said.
The general sale runs throughout the event, the silent auction from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and the oral auction from 11 a.m. to noon.
Plant Discovery Day, which started in 1994, is now in its 22nd year.
“We’re grateful for the support from the community and the Friends of Secrest in making this a successful event,” Cochran said.
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Note: The event was originally scheduled for May 9 but was changed to May 2 due to a scheduling conflict.