Wilsonville Garden Club's plant sale benefits CCC horticulture program, aims to promote garden education

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: SAM STITES - From left: Wilsonville Garden Club members Charla Dent, Nancy McElwain, Mary Ellen Spink and Jan KrierThe Wilsonville Garden Club has one goal: to reinvigorate people's love for working in the dirt.

Whether it's a lush garden full of different species of plants and flowers, or a more functional garden with herbs and vegetables, the Garden Club wants to help reconnect people with the soil that surrounds them.

That idea is the driving force behind the Garden Club's annual spring plant sale. The plant sale formerly took place at the Wilsonville Public Library for many years, but has moved a few blocks north to the college for 2018.

Funds raised through the club's plant sale will go toward scholarships specific to the students of the Clackamas Community College horticulture department, a cause the club has supported for many years.

"The average age (of members in) the club is probably 70. We have new members joining who are recently retired, and most of us loved gardening and putting our hands in the dirt," said Mary Ellen Spink, club president. "Since we can't do it as much as we used to, we're trying to give back to a community that reactivates the love of gardening and being in the dirt."

If you go

WHAT: Wilsonville Garden Club sale

WHEN: May 12, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

WHERE: Clackamas Community College Wilsonville Campus, 29353 Town Center Loop E.

The Clackamas Community College horticulture program offers a two year associates of applied science degree teaching students how to cultivate plants and master tools such as rototillers, tractors and greenhouse equipment while learning critical data-gathering skills in order to provide the best plant care. The program prepares students for jobs in nurseries, landscape design, greenhouse growing and organic farm production.

"People are in the garden club for different reasons," said Jan Krier, club member. "I'm in the club because I have a passion for the dirt. There's something about working in the dirt that feeds my soul the way nothing else does."

The Garden Club often takes field trips to local nurseries and gardens to learn about new plants, best practices and techniques to build a better garden. It's not always about flowers and intricate plants, according to Nancy McElwain, who recalls one particularly interesting trip to a Willamette Valley hop farm that had members buzzing with delight.

"Many of our members aren't capable of getting down in the dirt anymore, but they still share a love for plants," McElwain said. "These field trips allow us to continue to follow that passion."

The shared passion each of the Garden Club members hold is what motivates them to host the plant sale each year. On occasion, recipients of the club's scholarships come speak at their meetings, helping to put a face to the work they do to promote gardening and horticulture. It makes the hard work of setting up the plant sale all worth it, according to McElwain.

"It's really neat when they come speak after they've received," she says. "We don't determine who receives the scholarship, so it's nice to

be able to make that connection."

Saturday's plant sale will feature a wide variety of plants, blooming annuals and perennials, and both sun and shade hanging baskets that function as perfect Mother's Day gifts. Fessler's Nursery of Woodburn will be the exclusive supplier of this year's plant sale, a relationship the club has appreciated for a number of years.

For more information on the Garden Club visit or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Contact Wilsonville Spokesman reporter Sam Stites at 503-636-1281 ext. 302 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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