It’s time to crawl out of our winter hibernation mode and get into the spring planting season! The Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County can help you with their annual plant sales in Olympia. For over three decades, the Master Gardener plant sales have been a welcoming sign that spring has hit Thurston County, with volunteers eagerly waiting to share their joy of gardening with you.

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“Plant sale volunteers are mostly certified WSU Master Gardeners with a broad knowledge of how to plant, maintain and support the plants in the plant sale nursery,” shares Pam Roberts, certified master gardener and foundation publicity chair. “They will provide personal shopper assistance to customers, providing suggestions for their individual gardening situations.”

Annual Plant Sales in Olympia

The 32nd year of Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County plant sales will begin April 26 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. They will continue on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month through October 11, 2023.

purple and white lenten roses with a sign above them telling about their care: part sun, full shade, ample water, height 18-24-inches, bloom time, late winter, mix of colors, good under deciduous trees.
Head to the Master Gardeners of Thurston County plant sales to find all kinds of amazing plants for your garden, like these beautiful hellebores, also called Lenten roses. Photo credit: Cori Carlton

Plant sales are held at Yauger Park in Olympia, adjacent to the Dirk Works Demonstration Gardens. “The plant sale began out of Master Gardeners’ homes,” shares Pam. “An agreement with the City of Olympia enabled us to establish our permanent plant nursery adjacent to Dirt Works Demonstration Garden.”

The sale is a great time to pick up all kinds of plans that are carefully selected to grow in our dynamic environment of varying soils and weather. This includes shrubs, trees, perennials and native plants – where are always great to plant as they support our local ecosystem!

“As a gardener and plant sale volunteer, I love learning about new plants, their propagation, and desired growing conditions,” shares Gina, a Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County volunteer. “But equally exciting is watching others do the same. The plant sale is an excellent way to acquire both new plants and new knowledge. I recommend it to every gardener.”

Volunteer with the WSU Master Gardeners

The Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County supports the WSU Master Gardener and the Master Recycler Programs of Thurston County, which are volunteer service organizations. The Foundation has all kinds of offerings that work as fundraisers, including public workshops and events, that raise money for the programs. Volunteering is another way to give to these important organizations.

six Master Gardener of Thurston County volunteers standing in the grass
Volunteers care for the plants that are sold each year. Photo credit: Cori Carlton

A large part of volunteering is caring for the hundreds of plants in the nursery. “Volunteer members of the Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County and the WSU Master Gardener Program take care of the plants,” says Pam. “These folks are particularly interested in plant propagation and are knowledgeable.”

Volunteers receive training to help them succeed. “The WSU Master Gardener and the Master Recycler Composter Programs of Thurston County are volunteer service organizations,” continues Pam. “Volunteers are trained and certified as community educators to provide professional, unbiased, research-based home gardening, composting and waste reduction information to the public.”

The WSU Master Gardener program and the Master Recycler Program are separate from the Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County, but all work together to achieve similar goals of spreading gardening education and support in our area.

“For me being a volunteer at the nursery creates a sense of abundance and gratitude for our natural world,” shares Karen, a Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County volunteer. “Each and every time I am at the nursery, I am in awe of our collective knowledge of plants and delightfully engaged in getting dirty and sharing the tasks of the season with other master gardeners. The nursery helps me grow!”

people standing around a table outside. One lady is holding up a stem and talking to the group.
Volunteers and members of the Master Gardeners of Thurston County also have access to continuing education such as classes and workshops. Photo credit: Cori Carlton

To learn more about volunteer and training opportunities, visit the WSU Master Gardener webpage.

Join the Master Gardeners Foundation of Thurston County

You do not have to be a Master Gardener to join the Foundation! “All interested gardeners may join the Foundation and participate in the plant sale nursery activities,” explains Pam. “Foundation members can also serve with our crafters to produce garden art and other items to sell in support of the Program.”

Membership is just $10 a year. Members have access to member meetings that include lectures by garden experts; admission to member-only plant sales, discounted prices on Foundation events; private garden tours not open to the public and more. To learn more, visit the Master Gardener Foundation Thurston County.

“Everyone needs to connect with Mother Nature and friends and volunteering at the Plant Sale Nursery is a great way to do both,” says Joan, a Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County volunteer.

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