My Back Porch Garden and The Methodist Church Plant Sale

Minnie and the plants from the Church sale.

Five older women sat under the shade of the big maples, on folding chairs in front of the small Methodist Church.

On the lawn next to them were five rows of plants in plastic pots and bags.   At the head of each row was a price, handwritten in purple crayon, ranging from one to six dollars.

It happens every year, but I usually miss it.  This time I got lucky.  I saw them setting up on the way to breakfast at the Round House Cafe.

After breakfast, Jon and I planned on going to a nursery to get some perennials for the garden by the back porch.  The weeds were growing fast, filling in the places where I had planted annual seeds the year before.  Every time I passed it, which is many, many times every day, it called to me, like a pile of dirty dishes in the sink.

Our timing was perfect.  There were only a few other people at the plant sale,  and most of them were just socializing.

I chose the plants that were familiar to me, Columbine, Lambs ear, purple Iris and Wild Geranium.  Then I started asking questions.

What I love about this kind of plant sale, is that I know I’m going to get some very old plants that have been growing in the area for a hundred years that I’d never find at a nursery.

They’re the survivor plants.  The only ones that still grow in the garden, after the  woman or man who live there, is too old to care for them anymore.  They’re the plants that have fallen out of fashion, or are hard to contain.

These are the plants that I love.

Because as much as I love to garden, I like it best when my gardens get big and crowded enough to keep the weeds down and tend to themselves.  I like my gardens to be a bit wild.  I’ll split the plants up and pluck them out if they start to take over, but mostly, I like to put them in the ground then let them live their lives.

(I feel the same way about my art and, I think if I had children, I’d feel the same about them too).

I don’t remember the name of the woman who answered my questions, but her stories and enthusiasm  about the plants are what sold me on them.

She described how the May Apple, grew in a circle around one of her trees, “Like a palm tree with a single white flower”.  Then she told me about another plant I had never heard of, called the Outhouse Flower.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist this one no matter what it looked like or how it behaved.

“They used to grow these to cover the out houses she told me.  They grow five or six feet high, and their yellow flowers bloom all summer and will be the last flowers still around in the fall.  And, of course,  they spread like crazy.  “I have a row of them along my garage” she told me.

Now when I think of the Outhouse Flower,  I picture a row of them tall and bushy, loaded with yellow flowers, lined up in front of a white garage wall, the sun shining on them.

I had $50 cash in my wallet, the exact amount for the twelve plants.

Jon and I still went to the nursery, looking for a tree, but I didn’t bother looking at the perennials.  I would have gotten three plants there for my same $50.  And they wouldn’t have the history or the stories of the plants dug up from the gardens of the women at the Methodist Church.

I didn’t plant all the perennials in the garden by the back porch, certainly not the giant Outhouse Flower. That went in with the wildflowers so when I’m dead or too old to take care of them, they’ll still be blooming,  contained by the stone wall on one side and able to spread through the pasture on the other.

The back porch garden, planted and ready for today’s rain. I’ll leave the little fence up till the annual seeds take and get big enough to withstand the hungry feet of the chickens.
Each plant came with a piece of note paper with the name of the plant and some information about it.

9 thoughts on “My Back Porch Garden and The Methodist Church Plant Sale

  1. The outhouse plant is new for me, how exciting, thank you for the introduction. And yes it is always more interesting to buy from ordinary plant folks who are dividing old tried and true perennials. The nurseries are obliged to sell the new and trendy.

  2. Maria, when I saw Jon’s post about the plant sale, I realized we don’t have that here (NW MO) but we do have the local garden club’s plant sale, which I love because I can get free gardening and planting advice at the same time as I get plants that I know were grown by good gardeners here.
    I thought of you earlier today when I was cleaning out old emails and came across one sent by a friend some time ago, talking about women and knitting and other “needle arts” in history and now. Here is the link if you are interested:


  3. When I hear the word outhouse flower I think of hollyhocks, so it was interesting to follow your link to see these yellow flowers. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.

    1. Beth, I must have seen hollyhocks around outhouses, because that sounds familiar to me. It’s easy for me to imagine. Here’s a link to the yellow outhouse flowers that I now have. Once I saw the picture of them I realized I’ve seen them before, just didn’t know them by that name. I’ve actually always wanted them. Sounds like a great seed company you found. I have a hollyhock growing by my chimney for the past couple of years. At first I didn’t know what it was. I’m glad I didn’t pull it up thinking it was a weed. I’m not sure where it came from. Here’s a link to the yellow outhouse flowers.

  4. So happy for your flower experience, i myself have many fond memories. I bought my outhouse flowers from an old Italian lady in our neighbourhood. A word to the wise they are aggressive, they are all joined together by a long white root and will take over even grass. I found them excellent tools for planting on the top of the creek bed and staving off erosion. Not so happy with their
    long tap roots when they took over my rose garden lol. Good luck Maria. Enjoy.

    1. Thanks for the good advice Rose. They may take over our little wild flower garden from what you’re saying. But then that might not be so bad, it’s pretty contained. Good idea to plant them by the creek bed.

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