INPAWS Plant Sale & Auction
This popular free event is INPAWS’ biggest fundraiser and our most effective way to reach the public. It takes place annually on the Saturday before Mother’s Day.
2017 Native Plant Sale & Auction
Saturday, May 13, 2017
Park Tudor School Gymnasium, Indianapolis
Pre-sale presentation starts at 9:30 for a $10 fee, which entitles ticket holders to hear a talk, begin shopping 15 minutes before the general public, and receive a $10 discount on any auction purchase. Plant sale and book sale open 10:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Live auction begins at 11:15 and continues until every general sale plant is sold.
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What to Expect
The Saturday morning of the sale, people line up to get in, many carrying bags and boxes in which to spirit away their treasures. When the doors burst open at 10:15 a.m., their behavior resembles a swarm of locusts. Admission is free.
Tables around the room carry native plants in all sizes of containers, individually priced, and organized by whether they need shade or sun. INPAWS volunteers are on hand to answer questions and tally up the takings. Refreshments are available for a nominal fee.
Shoppers can also browse the Book Sale for handbooks and references on native plant gardening. A portion of the proceeds goes to INPAWS.
When the auction commences, competition for the rarest specimens can be heated. As INPAWS’ erstwhile auctioneer Rolland Kontak used to say, “There are no friends at an auction!”
The best part of the auction is learning about all the native plants you never heard of but just gotta have! Each auction plant is introduced by volunteer experts (thank you Hilary Cox, Kevin Tungesvick, and Sue Nord Peiffer, who have played this role for years) while the auctioneer keeps things under control (thank you Michael Stelts). The action winds down by about 12:30 p.m. with leftover sale plants auctioned off table by table.
Between shopping and learning, the INPAWS Plant Sale & Auction makes for a day well spent.
For several years now, the Plant Sale & Auction has been preceded by a 30-minute talk on a topic related to gardening with native plants (e.g., rain gardening, attracting pollinators, landscaping for birds). The nominal fee for this presentation entitles you to enter the sale 15 minutes before the official opening, plus gives you an offsetting credit on your purchases.
Where the Plants Come From
Many native plant sale items are donated by individuals and local nurseries specializing in native plants. Others have been rescued by INPAWS volunteers from natural areas that are undergoing development.
Donations may be dropped off at the venue the Friday evening before the sale between 4:00 and 8:00 p.m. or the morning of the sale between 7:00 and 9:30 a.m. They will be sorted and priced by volunteers. Clear labels are appreciated! The best specimens and rarest plants are set aside for the auction.
Commercial operations wishing to sponsor or donate to the sale should contact firstname.lastname@example.org by April 1.
Dawn Slack is this year’s pre-sale speaker. She will be talking about the role invasive plants play in our environment, and the importance of replacing them with Indiana native plants.
Trained as a biologist/botanist, Dawn works as a land steward for The Nature Conservancy and chairs the Invasive Plant Advisory Committee for the Indiana Invasive Species Council.
She manages TNC properties in southern Indiana and provides conservation and restoration activities for ecosystems that include rare, threatened and endangered species.
Her thesis work included acid seep inventories in Tennessee and a three-year study of the invasive species in an 800-acre state forest area in Polk County along US Highway 64.
She and her husband, Ryan, moved to Brown County about four years ago.
Tips for Plant Donors
These tips were shared by veteran auctioneer Rolland Kontak in the Spring 2005 issue of INPAWS Journal.
Desirability, eye appeal, cleanliness, rarity—these are the qualities that attract the best prices.
DESIRABILITY: Your donation’s ranking relative to others of the same species.
RARITY: Unique species, or especially well grown “common” species.
EYE APPEAL: The attractiveness of your donation.
CLEANLINESS: Pot is not muddy, cracked, weedy.
Just think of a shopping trip to your favorite garden center. You pick only the best; you pass on wilted, muddy, dirty pots. You delight in finding just a few of a hard-to-get plant. Your eye pops quickly over the display and mentally discards most of them, but that bushy one on the corner just HAS TO go home with you.
DO: Bring your donations the night BEFORE the sale.
DO: Pot up about a month before, so your treasures are well established.
DO: Label each pot with the common and scientific name. DO: Use attractive labeling sticks or other devices.
DO: Wipe your pots a day or so before the sale.
DON’T: Bring non-native plants.
DON’T: Bring your plants the morning of the sale, unless absolutely impossible to bring them the night before.
DON’T: Forget eye appeal. Would YOU buy your donation?
DON’T: Forget to attend the sale, help the night before, and lend your knowledge to our visiting buyers.