Taking root: Arboretum having plant sale this week

By Wendy Nugent, Harvey County Now

HESSTON—Butterflies feeding on flowers replaced the morning dew on Thursday morning as various insects flitted from bloom to bloom on a Seven Son Flower Tree at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston.

This is one of the types of trees that will be sold during the Arboretum’s fall plant sale called FloraKansas: Native Plant Days, which is Sept. 9-12.

Arboretum grounds manager and horticulturalist Katie Schmidt said the tall tree had hundreds of butterflies on it the afternoon before.

The Arboretum plans to have plants at the sale, but maybe not as many or as much variety as in the past.

“We’re having some supply-chain issues for the sale,” Arboretum Executive Director Scott Vogt said. “Not able to get things we have in the past.”

There’s a few reasons for that.

“More and more people are interested in landscaping around their homes and fixing things up because of COVID, which is good,” Vogt said, adding that’s because it’s creating habitat.

It’s difficult for the Arboretum to get what they need.

“If we don’t have it this fall, we’ll have it this spring,” he said about certain plants people might want. “There’s inevitably some plants we’re just not able to get. I don’t see it as a bad thing necessarily. A lot of people are staying home and want to fill the space [they see out the window] and have something pretty to look at.”

Currently, the Arboretum has about 70 preorders they’re filling for members.

“Those orders were submitted online,” Vogt said.

Some landscape designs that either he or Schmidt developed for individuals or businesses are part of those orders they’re filling.

“There’s a high demand for plants,” Vogt said. “Therefore, we’re one of many businesses and organizations trying to find the plants we’ve offered in the past, quantities we’ve offered in the past.”

They’re also trying to find the same plants they’ve offered other years.

“We have a good selection,” he said. “There’s a few gaps of plants we just are not able to get.”

Offerings they will have for sale include different trees and shrubs, native wildflowers and grasses, adaptable perennials and plants not native, but will grow in Kansas, like Russian sage.

What people consistently want are milkweeds, which are needed for monarch butterflies’ lifecycles and native grasses, such as Little Bluestem.

Depending on the weather, usually between 500 and 750-plus people attend the sale. Those attending who go into the greenhouse are asked to mask.

“We’re owned by the college,” Vogt said. “It’s a college policy, as well.”

It takes a lot of time and planning to put together the sale.

“It’s an all-year process,” Schmidt said, adding she gets a break in December. “We’re ordering and feeding and propagating all year. The bulk of the prep work for the in-person event happens about three to six weeks before the sale.”

Part of the Arboretum’s mission is to engage people with the land around them and they’re lucky their largest fundraiser is so deeply connected to that mission, Schmidt said.

Vogt said they’ve built a reputation that people can get answers to their landscaping questions, like problem areas.

“People keep coming back because of the success with plants that they get here,” Vogt said.

The sale is an exciting time for staff, Schmidt said. They get to hear how people’s gardens are doing and about plants they’ve purchased there.

People come to the sale from all over the state, Vogt said.

There are so many people who return and tell Arboretum staff things like they purchased a bush there and now see lots of butterflies and animals around their plant or plants. Schmidt said she likes to hear stories like that. It makes it all worth it—people drawing in wildlife and enjoying nature.

About the sale

The public sale will be from 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 10, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 11 and 1-5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 12. A members-only sale will be from 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 9.

The Arboretum is on Facebook and Instagram. Staff post plants of the day and host plants in those locations, which also are good places to find out what plants they’re selling and information about how to use certain plants.

Schmidt said for people who might not feel safe with others indoors, people can remain outside to shop.

For information on becoming a member, visit https://dyckarboretum.org/become-a-member/

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