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Rowan County Master Gardener Plant Sale May 1

By Amy-Lynn Albertson
N.C. Cooperative Extension

The Rowan County Master Gardeners are excited to host their annual plant sale again this year. It will be slightly different because of COVID restrictions, but they will still have plenty of plants for sale. This year the plant sale will be by appointment.

We would like people to register for 30-minute shopping appointments beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 1. The last appointment of the day will be at 4 p.m.

To keep people socially distant, we are limiting to 10 shoppers/30-minute appointment. Go to http://go.ncsu.edu/2021mgplantsale to sign up for your shopping time. The Annual Master Gardener Plant Sale will be held on Saturday, May 1, at the greenhouse area of the agriculture center at 2727 Old Concord Road in Salisbury.

Rowan County Master Gardener volunteers will be onsite to answer questions and assist you with your purchases.

When I first came to North Carolina 20 years ago, I quickly learned that many plants have the same common name, and I better ask questions before assuming which one someone was talking about. The snowball bush comes to mind. A plant that many people call a “snowball bush” has the Latin name Viburnum plicatum. The Viburnum is a great shrub that tolerates drought, heat and has large snowball-shaped flowers in April. The leaves are dark green thick and pleated. A mature size, it is usually around 8-10 feet tall. Another Viburnum that is called a “snowball bush” is Viburnum macrocephalum Chinese Snowball Viburnum. The flower buds are naked, similar to small cauliflower heads and sends forth apple green florets that mature in the white nonfragrant hydrangea-shaped flowers. This plant loves full sun and acid soils and gets to be 15-20 feet tall. Unlike the Viburnum plicatum, it does not produce any fruit.

Another plant called a “snowball bush” is the white Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ Limelight that blooms in late May; the flowers are supposed to be lime green but look white. This plant makes lots of flowers and gets to be about 8-10 feet tall. Both of these “snowball bushes” are available at the Master Gardener Plant Sale. Just make sure you know which one you want, or ask a Master Gardener.

Another case I’ve run into where I didn’t know for sure what the plant the person was referring to was Old Man’s Beard. This could refer to Chionanthus virginicus or fringe tree, a native tree to the southeast that grows to 12-20 feet with white fleecy flowers in May and June. Or, it could be Old Man’s Beard, Clematis aristata, or Australian clematis, a climbing vine. Don’t get me started on a very confusing afternoon I spent early in my career trying to figure out what a “Sweet Bubby Bush” was. It’s also a Calycanthus floridus, sweetshrub, or Carolina allspice. The moral of the story is, please try to use scientific or Latin names. This will save everyone a lot of confusion and keep your Extension agent sane.

The Master Gardeners have lots of great plants for sale; make sure you sign up for a shopping time slot at go.ncsu.edu/2021mgplantsale, and I will see you there.

For more information on horticultural topics or the Master Gardener Plant Sale, contact the Rowan County Extension Center at 704-216-8970 or on the web at rowan.ces.ncsu.edu.

Amy-Lynn Albertson is the Rowan County Extension director.

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