Sharon recently told me about a plant auction that was coming up (I beeeelieve she found out about this as part of her new addiction to Craig's List). I have to say, this is the second time Sharon's new addiction has really paid off for me!
Sharon and Andy are doing a bunch of interior improvements right now - so they're not really spending much on the outside of their house (ie: yard), plus I'm not sure they really have the same, uh, interest in constantly adding plants to their landscaping that I do.
I was really curious about the auction - I'd never been to one, it was about an hour away, I wasn't sure how long it would last, but I knew it was something I wouldn't really care to go to alone and also wouldn't want to torture Brett with.
So. What to do. WHO could I POSSIBLY enlist in such an event?
Whoooo else might need EVEN MORE plants?
There was only one obvious answer: MARY!
So we talked ourselves into it (yeah, like that was hard), made our plans, and got our butts out there an hour before the auction started. There were only 100 seats open, and we weren't sure how fast they'd fill up. Turns out getting there early was really smart - we were able to shop around, check out the plants that were tagged for the auction to see what we really fell in love with, jotted down the retail prices on some, etc...
That picture above is Mary getting excited about some Blue Prince holly plants - she and Jim need a male plant to inspire their Blue Princess hollies to form berries.
And this picture below? Well, that's Mary showing interest in some trees that I ASSURED her would NEVER fit in the back of my CR-V! I can pack a lot in there, but I didn't think we wanted trees hanging another five feet out the back window... With an hour drive back home, they'd be shredded.
After we walked around and scoped things out, we took advantage of the lunch catering (Mary's treat since I drove - thanks Mary!). The coney dog and choc chunk cookies rocked - and gave just enough energy to settle in for FOUR hours of auctioning while we sat on hard wooden bleachers. The auction started at 1pm, and we gave up around 5pm. This following picture shows our view for the four hours we stayed - and the auction was still going strong when we'd decided we'd had enough.
And here's a video of what the auction sounded like:
More video - there were three guys doing the auctioning. I guess I hadn't thought about it, but I'm sure rattling off all that stuff must get exhausting - so it must help to rotate auctioneers.
This girl here - looking very much like Sarah Michelle Gellar/Buffy - managed to outbid me on a number of things I was interested in. She was very pretty, more fashionably dressed than many others there (ourselves included), and had quite the rock on her finger. She also seemed very nice, and even though she also lost many of the items she was interested in, I'd love to see her landscaping (that sounds kinda dirty, hunh?). Even with all her smart losses (I think she knew when items were getting too pricey), she still had some really good wins...
Here's more video - you can see that the speed of the auctioneers changed quite a bit sometimes.
And here's Mary giving up on something that just got too expensive:
We met two other interesting couples while there. One older couple sitting to my left have been coming to this auction for 10 years now - I guess it takes place several times each spring (and maybe later in the year?), and they've slowly been landscaping their massive yard. At one point, after I'd decided something I was bidding on was getting too pricey and I opted out, the lady leaned over to me and whispered "That was a good time to stop - you were very smart! You could get that item cheaper at Atwater Nursery!"
Wait. Atwater Nursery? I found out this couple came from Union Town, but drive all the way out to Atwater Nursery (about 15 min from my place) to get REALLY good deals on landscaping plants. I've hit Atwater a couple times myself since we got the house. It was funny - Mary and I kept shaking our heads when an item was getting too expensive and would just whisper "Atwater" to each other. LOL Anyhow - the older couple to my left were very nice, and she was able to give me some pricing tips on some of the items I was interested in, telling me when I got a really good deal, etc.
And then there was the young couple behind me. They were getting quite a few items, and were packing up an hour or so before we gave up. We got to talking to them, and it sounds like they live less than 10 min down the road from me! In fact - I THINK I know which house they live in! They recently had a house built on 4 acres, which is in SERIOUS need of plants/landscaping. I intend to drive by sometime and see if I can tell which house has new plants, and if I see them out in the yard, I'll be sure to stop by and say hi. Anyhow - Mary and I gave them tips on where to shop for great prices locally - Atwater Nursery, and Evergreen (not the same Evergreen the auction was at).
Some people were absolutely crazy, paying probably close to THREE TIMES what they should've for an item. There were a number of folks in the bleachers who were aware this was happening - giving surprised looks, whispering comments, etc. Mary, myself, and the older lady next to me were some of those folks. We talked to the owner of the nursery/garden center afterwards, and mentioned this - he said we weren't like some of the folks from that area, and that we had a better understanding of what some of the items go for. While some items he totally lost money on, there were others he made a killing on. I guess this is the nature of auctions.
Once you were done purchasing, you went to the register with your number (I was #35, Mary was #25), paid for your goods, and then went outside to get the items. I meant to get a picture of all the posts out in the lawn with the winnings. Instead all I got was a bad picture looking in the other direction of this hottie (there were lots of hotties!) also getting ready to load up his truck.
Once we got all loaded up and drove home, I dropped Mary off at her place with her winnings, chatted with her husband Jim a bit, and then came home to unload. Here are my goodies, along with links about the various plants, what I paid, and what I THINK some of the retail prices were (some actually had price tags on them!).
Listed for $44, I got it for $27.50
I've definitely been itching to get more evergreen color in the yard - more structure and color to be seen over winter, when most everything I have so far just dies off. I think this guy will help add to the winter attractiveness of the yard.
Norway Maple 'Crimson King'
Listed for $69, I got it for $35
This maple doesn't look like much right now, but hey, I didn't pay a whole lot for it either. It does have buds starting to form on it's branches, so I'm hoping it grows into a nice, large, healthy tree. Somewhere away from the veggie gardens!!! ;-) When I see these trees in yards, I always notice how beautiful and striking they are with their dark burgundy/purple foliage. Granted, then I sometimes get distracted wondering about photosynthesis and non-green leaves...and then realize I should probably be paying more attention to my driving.
Hydrangea 'Oregon Pride'
I got it from $25
I'd never heard of 'Oregon Pride' before. They paired this hydrangea up with an Everlasting Summer one Mary really wanted, and each went for whatever price the winning bidder got. Mary had the highest bid at $25, and so this 'Oregon Pride' went for the same amount. This was about 4 hours into the auction. I'd jotted down that another 'Oregon Pride' (also paired with this one) within the first hour of the auction went for $45, and since I'm looking to add some more hydrangeas, I told Mary to take it and I paid her back... I've never had hydrangea's before, and this'll be my first summer with any in the yard - I'm adding this one to a couple others from last fall, and I have a couple new cheapies I've started in the basement...so we'll see how they do.
Japanese Pieris 'Mountain Fire'
I got it for $32.50
This isn't as big as it looks in the picture - maybe just two feet around right now? Mary and I were drooling over these as soon as we went into the auction. They're an exotic looking plant, and the lady sitting next to me who'd been to these auctions for 10 years told me I got an excellent price for this one!
Japanese Maple 'Bloodgood'
I got it for $65 - I know Japanese Maples go for quite a bit, and I saw ones slightly taller than this selling for about $169?
I used to think I wasn't a fan of Japanese Maples with their stunted height and sometimes feathery-foliage, but over time I've come to reaaaally appreciate them for their beauty and striking colors. I don't know how finicky they are - I DO worry this one could be tempermental - we'll see how it does. It definitely needs a place to really shine!
Dappled Willow 'Hakuro Nishiki'
I got it for $50
This was another tree that, as soon as we walked in and saw them, I fell in love with it. From what I've read, it sounds like it counts more as a shrub than a tree - I'm guessing this one was just trained taller.... They don't look like much at first, but then with a second glance you notice the interesting color of the leaves.
Check out the close-up above of the leaves...you'll see they're slightly variegated. Sounds like this tree/shrub will need/benefit from 2-3 trimmings a year (sounds manageable SO FAR), and that'll refresh the variegated leaves. Some web sites out there show that these can even have some pinkish coloring in the leaves...cool!
Overall I have to say we had a blast. I was totally jazzed up afterwards, telling Brett all about my winnings, showing him my "bidding face" when I had decided something got too pricey and I didn't want to make any more offers, etc... There's another auction at the same place, with similar stuff, just two weeks after this one we went to. Would I go again? You betchya! Is Mary allowed to go again? Helllll know - Jim said she's cut off! LOL Ok, so maybe I won't go again - there are some other specific items I want to add to the yard, and I don't need to be tempted with other stuff just yet. I'll pace myself, and look back in on this next spring!