by Laura Lovett

During this pandemic year, many of us took pleasure in gardening. Our garden plots got much more attention than they usually receive, and in response they flourished! However, spring came and went without a CNPS Marin Chapter native plant sale due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, so members were not able to fill those empty spots in their gardens or continue their transition to natives. With safety restrictions still in place this fall, we used online sales in September and October to get plants, seeds, and bulbs into gardeners’ hands for the fall 2020 planting season.

Although disappointed by the cancellation of the spring plant sale, Charlotte Torgovitsky’s team continued to carefully tend hundreds of plants, hoping for a sale opportunity. Having a sale in September and another in October enabled her to divide the plants by how ready they were to be put in the ground.

In addition to plants, Marin Chapter continues to offer seeds that are collected locally and packaged exclusively for our sales. This fall we added fifteen new species to the seed collection. To our surprise seed sales tripled from previous years which coincides with a nationwide 100-year peak of seed sales in 2020. Everyone is gardening!

In the October sale, we also sold several species of unusual and hard-to-find native bulbs, ready to put in the ground this fall. We have not offered bulbs in a long time, so customers were happy to obtain these spring beauties for their gardens.

Our wonderful treasurer Kate Wing created and maintained the online sales site. We had a few ordering hiccups, so we appreciated everyone’s patience as we learned how to use the online sales system.

After the closure of each week of online sales, the packing team gathered at Charlotte’s new nursery site with a list of orders and piles of boxes. Charlotte’s crew had pulled and labeled the plants, and I had bagged and labeled the seeds and bulbs. Orders were gathered, boxed, and loaded into cars by our fabulous worker bees: Charlotte, Kate, Kristin Jakob, Carolyn Losee, and me. The following day, Eddie Robertson brought tables and chairs to the designated pick-up spot under the oaks in the Bon Air Shopping Center – Greenbrae. The same crew unloaded the cars and handed out orders to eager customers who drove up to collect them. Altogether, the two fall plant sales were successful and went quite smoothly while working safely by practicing hand sanitation and social distancing.

We have missed the opportunity to talk with customers about native plants and their care. However, online sales will work in the interim. Please enjoy your beautiful, flourishing plants and come back for more in the spring.