WOOSTER, Ohio — Secrest Arboretum’s 24th annual Plant Discovery Day will have hundreds of hard-to-find plants for sale and auction, including at least one with historical roots at The Ohio State University.
Gardeners can buy trees, shrubs, herbs, annuals, perennials, garden art and more at the event, which is the arboretum’s largest annual fundraising event.
It’s from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 13 at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, 1680 Madison Ave., in Wooster. Admission is free and open to the public.
A plant sale runs for the duration of the event. A silent auction goes from 9 to 11 a.m. Lists of all the plants available are at go.osu.edu/2017PDD.
Auction maple has Buckeye roots
A tree in the silent auction, for example, called ivyleaf maple, “was propagated from an old, long-gone specimen at Mirror Lake on Ohio State’s main campus,” said Matt Shultzman, a plant materials specialist with the arboretum and the event’s organizer.
“Our silent auction this year is full of unique plants, some with very interesting backories and links to Ohio State,” he said.
The plant sale will have notables including Japanese stewartia, a pyramidal, slow-growing tree that bears white flowers in summer, red-orange foliage in fall and distinctive exfoliating bark in winter. “It’s one of my favorites,” Shultzman said.
In all, about 75 kinds of trees and shrubs, 90 types of herbs, and 150 varieties of annuals and perennials will be up for sale or bid. It’s a selection of garden plants “you’re not going to find just anywhere,” Shultzman said.
Bug zoo, tomato plant for kids
Proceeds from the sale and auctions will support research, education and outreach programs in the 115-acre public arboretum, which is part of OARDC. OARDC in turn is part of The Ohio State University and its College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
For children, Plant Discovery Day will have a bug zoo and a free tomato plant they can take home to grow.
For Jeff Gallimore, a plant materials specialist at Wooster’s Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute, the event, true to its name, helped him discover his love for plants and a new career path.
Twelve years ago, Gallimore said, he was working full-time in the Summit County Courts’ file room, was renovating his home landscaping, and saw an ad for Plant Discovery Day. He went — and there he met Ken Cochran, the event’s founder and the arboretum’s director at the time.
‘Day I discovered my passion’
“I hadn’t even gotten inside to look at the auction plants when Ken started telling me about his dawn redwoods,” Gallimore said. Dawn redwoods, which had been thought to be extinct, are one of the arboretum’s specialties. Several of the trees will be offered in this year’s sale.
“Ken sold me on the lore and mystique of the plant,” Gallimore said. “And he went on to tell me so much more than that” — including about Ohio State ATI, where Cochran had previously been an instructor.
Ohio State ATI, which is adjacent to OARDC and is part of the same college, offers two-year associate degree programs, including in horticulture.
Within months of meeting Cochran, Gallimore said, he resigned from his court job, enrolled at Ohio State ATI and eventually began working for Cochran as a student.
“For me, Plant Discovery Day is the day I discovered my passion for plants and horticulture as a whole,” Gallimore said. “It’s the day I met a mentor, a friend and one of the greatest influences in my professional career, and is the day I decided that horticulture was going to be the driving force in my life.”
Hour south of Cleveland
The OARDC campus is about 30 miles east of Akron, 60 miles south of Cleveland and 95 miles north of Columbus.
A Plant Discovery Day presale will be held for members of the Friends of Secrest Arboretum volunteer group from 3 to 4 p.m. May 12 at the same location. Details on joining the group are at go.osu.edu/SecrestMembership.