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Garden Festival in the Park offers plant sales, vendor booths

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Oklahoma City’s Garden Festival in the Park, a premiere gardening event, celebrates its 25th anniversary 9 a.m.-3 p.m. May 21 at Will Rogers Garden Exhibition Center in Will Rogers Park, 3400 NW 36th St.

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April Pratt has been involved with the event since it took root a quarter century ago.

“We’ve always been focused on gardening and gardening education,” said Pratt, festival chairwoman. “We will have a variety of vendors who will help attendees enhance their gardening practices or even answer questions, in the case of the Oklahoma Gardeners, who will try their best to answer any gardening question people may have.”

The festival’s centerpiece is its extensive, locally grown plant sale featuring 40 vendors.

“This is the only place you will see all of these vendors and sellers in one place,” Pratt said. “There are so many choices: bedding plants, herbs, flowers, vegetables and much more. Our local garden clubs will be selling specimens they’ve dug from their gardens, which means they are proven growers.”

Plant sales will be outdoors. Once inside the event center, guests will find education booths, including one manned by Oklahoma Gardeners. The Oklahoma chapter of the Sierra Club offers free youth activities like seed ball making and will offer free pollinator plants to kids.

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“It used to be just a small, grassroots plant sale hosted by the Oklahoma [City] Council of Garden Clubs, which is still the organizing body,” Pratt said. “Our first events were literally about a dozen people swapping plants.”

Now, in addition to commercial vendors, six garden clubs and three plant societies bring plants to sell. Need irises? They will be there, but organizers advise guests arrive early to find the best selection.

“The clubs always sell out,” Pratt said. “Another consistent sellout is the bougainvillea from Prairie Winds. Everyone loves it.”

Other featured groups include The Viola club, Late Bloomers Garden Club, Amaryllis club and vendors like Tall Grass Prairie Soap Company and Wildhorse Canyon Farms and winery.

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All plants are locally grown, and while the council does not require vendors to bring organically grown plants, most are vigilant and responsible when it comes to chemical use.

“The best way to learn more about how the plants have been raised is to have a conversation with the grower,” Pratt said. “All of the vendors enjoy sharing their stories and practices with people.”

Pratt and her committee began work on this year’s event in January. She took over as chairwoman of the event about eight years ago. The Oklahoma City Council of Garden Clubs was the brainchild of metro gardener Marjorie Franklin.

Many of the participating plant societies and clubs use event sale proceeds to fund scholarships for horticulture students.

Admission to Garden Festival in the Park is free.

Print headline: Abundant blooms, Garden Festival in the Park, hosted by Oklahoma City Council of Garden Clubs, features a plant sale and vendor booths.

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