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In the Garden: Friends of Manito plant sale grows in response to COVID-19

UPDATED: Sun., Aug. 2, 2020

By Susan Mulvihill For The Spokesman-Review

Frustrated plant shoppers, take heart. You didn’t get to participate in the Friends of Manito’s traditional spring plant sale in June, but you’ll have the opportunity to make up for it at this week’s special plant sale.

“We wanted to hold a sale because so many people are wanting to garden right now,” plant sale co-coordinator Gabi Tilley explained. “We still have a great selection of plants that we brought in (before COVID-19) when we thought everything would be fine.”

The organizers are working hard to ensure everyone’s plant-shopping experience will be safe. They are holding the sale from Wednesday through Sunday, and it is by appointment only. According to the Friends of Manito website, “If the time slots all fill, we will add days into the following week until we run out of shoppers.” Refer to the information box for details on how to sign up, view the plant sale list, and find details about the extra steps they’ll be taking for this sale.

This includes limiting the number of shoppers in the plant sale yard, which is located just east of Manito Park’s Gaiser Conservatory, to five customer groups of no more than two persons in order to maintain social distancing. Face masks are required. No young children, pets, strollers or wagons will be permitted.

As seasoned Friends of Manito sale customers know, the plant selections are always fantastic. All plants are hardy in the Inland Northwest, with many having special attributes such as drought tolerance, deer resistance or being popular with hummingbirds and pollinators.

Be sure to peruse the phlox cultivars. Cloudburst and Covergirl feature lavender-purple flowers that bloom over a long period. They grow 28 to 38 inches tall, respectively. Flame Coral is a real eye-catcher with its vibrant blossoms and will reach 18 inches in height. All three are resistant to powdery mildew. Phlox is hardy to zones 3 and 4, depending on the cultivar. It will thrive in full sun to part shade.

Looking for the ultimate in easy-care perennials? Sedums are drought tolerant, very hardy and draw in the pollinators. Here are a few to watch for: Abbeydore features blue-green foliage and flowers that start out as light pink buds and mature to brilliant red. Autumn Delight has chartreuse leaves with dark green borders and creamy flower buds that transform into lovely pink blossoms. Both are about 18 inches tall, prefer full sun and are hardy to zone 3. Red Cauli has caught my attention with its bright red flower clusters and dark green serrated leaves. It is hardy to zone 4.

Tilley suggests shoppers take a close look at their daylily selections, hydrangeas and butterfly bushes (Buddleia). But more than anything, she says the Friends of Manito want to promote the park and their organization so they can continue to keep the park looking beautiful.

“We want to be there for the public because they support us,” Tilley said. “We have people coming by here every day peeking through the fence where the sale plants are growing and asking ‘Are you still going to have a sale?’ The answer, finally, is yes.”

Contact Susan Mulvihill at Watch this week’s “Everyone Can Grow a Garden” video at

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