From plant sales to educational programs, the region's garden clubs have sprung to life this spring and will offer a variety of offerings in the coming weeks.

In Westerly, the venerable YMCA Garden Club will kick things off with its annual Spring Plant and Garden Treasures Sale this Thursday, May 11, from 8 a.m. to noon in the lobby of the Ocean Community YMCA's Westerly branch, according to Evie Cofone, the club's president. 

The sale will feature annual vegetables and flowers, perennials, local plants and "related treasures with a decorative flower and garden theme," said Cofone, noting that the sale is retuning after a two-year hiatus and is a combination of two long-running garden club events, the Spring Plant Sale and the Garden and Treasures Sale.

The YMCA Garden Club was established in 1953 by Helen Greene "as a service organization for the Westerly-Pawcatuck branch of the Ocean Community YMCA," Cofone said, to raise scholarship money for the Y's Campership Fund. Meetings are held the third Wednesday of the month, September to June. Programs presented by experienced lecturers consist of topics on horticulture and related subjects.

On Saturday, May 13, the North Stonington Garden Club will hold its Traditional Annual Plant Sale from 9 a.m. noon at North Stonington Elementary School, according to club member Marilyn Mackay.

Offerings will include a selection of perennials, annuals, vegetable seedlings, herbs, hanging baskets and a rummage table, Mackay said, and University of Rhode Island soil testers will be on-site to test soil texture and pH for customers who bring soil samples. There will also be a Master Gardener Table where customers can get advice on their gardening issues and a selection of affordable Mother’s Day gifts.

Club members will provide trays for customers to carry their plants, a holding area where "keen gardeners who choose more plants than they can carry can leave their selections until they are ready to pay."
There will also be multiple cashier stations and club members — identified by their green aprons — will be on hand to assist gardeners.

The majority of perennials offered for sale are dug from the gardens of club members, Mackay said, "allowing customers to feel confident they will thrive under local conditions."

There will also be annuals, perennials, herbs, hanging baskets, tomatoes and "vegetables purchased from reputable local nurseries and offered at prices only slightly above wholesale cost," she said, plus a selection of three choice native plants.

Mackay said this year will mark the return of another sale-related event, the Painted Rock Treasure Hunt, with 10 rocks hidden around North Stonington that can be found and redeemed for a plant prize on the day of the sale. Clues will be posted on the club's Facebook page daily, she said, noting that club members have already begun hiding the rocks.  

A portion of the proceeds from the club sales "are returned to the community in the form of seasonal civic plantings at North Stonington’s Town Hall and Village Green, winter wreaths on public buildings, an annual college scholarship and grants to local organizations," she said. Recipients in recent years have been Wheeler Library, North Stonington’s Hewitt Farm, Coogan Farm in Mystic, Ashaway Free Public Library, the West Vine Street School and local land trusts, like Avalonia Land Conservancy and GOSA. For more information, go to

On May 17, the Stonington Garden Club will present Waste Not Stonington, a free public program with Jill Senior, director of Stonington’s Recycling & Solid Waste Management Office, who will discuss the innovative programs for food, textiles, and trash collection in Stonington. For more information, visit

On May 21, Westerly Library and Wilcox Park will hold the 39th annual Garden Market Fair  from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Wilcox Park, featuring "everything from annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, organic vegetables, herbs, and accessories for purchase as well as tables with community nonprofit organizations." For more information, visit

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