Auctioneer Bev Burrell had everyone’s attention at the 13th annual Tillsonburg Horticultural Society Garden Auction Tuesday night at the Tillsonburg Community Centre Lions Auditorium.
About 150-160 people typically attend the May auction, said Judi Misener, past-president of the Tillsonburg Horticultural Society, and on Tuesday they ran out of draw tickets and had to get more – a good sign attendance was higher than average.
“A lot of them aren’t members,” Misener noted. “A lot of members think they have their gardens are full…. so we encourage them to bring a neighbour. There are members here obviously, but we also try to get people who aren’t members to come and learn what we’re all about. I’d say the majority here tonight are not members – we advertise throughout the community.”
Gardening expertise varies. Some know many of the plants on auction, some don’t. But it doesn’t matter, said Misener, because usually a tag comes with each plant explaining how to look after it, what kind of sunlight it needs and what kind of watering.
“If they don’t know initially and they just like the look of it, there’s always instructions that go with it as well. So it helps out the novice.”
It’s also an opportunity to find something new, even for members who have a ‘full’ garden.
“We’re always looking,” Misener smiled. “Looking to see what’s new, looking to see what needs to be split because they’ve overgrown. A lot of the material that’s for sale at the toonie and fiver table comes from gardens like that. They’re healthy plants, they’ve just overgrown and the members will bring them in for that. We’re always looking for the newest, the latest…”
And it’s more than just plants. Many items on auction were ‘decor’ including benches and planters.
“So they can have different statues in their garden, or different ironwork, different planters perhaps, just to change it up a bit.”
Set for the Tuesday after the Victoria Day long weekend, the timing of the auction allows buyers to plant immediately in their gardens.
“Right after the Long Weekend is usually safe. There’s no guarantees, this year particularly, but we felt that it was a good thing that we waited longer. I think in the past we’ve had it in the second week of May, earlier, and we’re glad we didn’t this year. So we might hold it at this time every year just to ensure they can be planted right away.”
The garden auction is the horticultural society’s biggest fundraiser of the year, and it depends on the support of community businesses and society members who contribute to it.
“It’s an excellent turnout,” said Misener. “We’ve had so many wonderful donations from companies across Tillsonburg and lots of nurseries in the surrounding area.
“Some of our members have made and created things that are up for auction. We have several woodworkers and they all contribute. We’ve had some metalworkers. And on the draw table we have a number of items that are handmade – baby blankets and quilts and a variety of things like that – as well as things that come from their stores. We have a number of creative members who contribute.
“It’s doing very well,” Misener nodded. “We’re very excited about the turnout.”
Funds raised go toward the five gardens the horticultural society looks after in Tillsonburg, the Junior Gardener program which currently has 260 children/youth, and a substantial Glendale High School scholarship. The horticultural society also works with the Tillsonburg BIA to do the downtown beautification/planter program.
“There’s quite a variety,” said Misener. “I would say our main focus is the gardens we look after. The others are our community programs.”