Pansies and other flowers are sold during last year's plant sale at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Pansies are sold during last year’s plant sale in the Lord & Burnham Greenhouse at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

After such a long winter and cold start to the spring, I’ve heard from many gardeners eager to get their hands in the dirt. To kick-start the gardening season, area plant sales are getting under way.

I think it’s especially cool to see that Friends of Hickory Hill Park will have milkweed plugs for sale, in a nod to the declining monarch populations and other sales have listings or links to the plants that will be sold, so you’ll know what’s in store. (Though I do suggest arriving at the beginning to make sure what you’re looking for is available.)  Find photos from one of last year’s sales here and read to the end of the list to find details on an upcoming art show in Marion.

Eastern Iowa plant sales for spring 2014 that have been brought to my attention are listed here. If you know of others, please post a comment below.

    • Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, Cedar Rapids. Saturday, May 3, 9 a.m. to noon. Wildflowers, hosta, geraniums and a variety of perennials and prairie plants; hanging baskets; fruits and vegetables ready to transplant into your garden. Gardening experts available; garden art and accessories.
    • 500 block of 20th Street NE , Cedar Rapids (one block downhill from Franklin Middle School) Thursday, May 8, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Friday, May 9, 1-6 p.m.; Saturday, May 10, 7-11 a.m. Daylillies, hosta, phlox, aster, allium, garlic, bluebells of Scotland, vinca, pregnant plant, calla lillies, surprise lillies, lily of the valley, heirloom tomatoes, comfrey and more, plus willow branches, dried hydrangea, gardening accessories.
    • Cedar Valley Iris & Daylily Annual Spring Daylily Sale.  Saturday, May 10, 9 am to noon, Penn Meadows Park, 250 North Dubuque Street, North Liberty.  Named daylily cultivars will be available at reasonable prices–no ditch lilies or ‘Stellas.
    • Benton County ISU Extension Master Gardeners Annual Extravaganza, Atkins School, 217 Fourth Ave., Atkins; Saturday, May 10, 8-9 a.m. plant sale, followed by presentations: 9 a.m., Natural Prairie Plants, Ben Bonar, IVRM Roadside Mgr; 10 a.m., Gardening the Amana Way, Larry Rettig, Cottage-in-the-Meadow; 11 a.m., Garden Vertical Succulent Garden Box, Stan Geiken, ISU Extension Master Gardener. Registration: $25. For more information, contact Greg Walston, 310-472-4739 or
    • Brucemore Plant Sale & Mother’s Day Potting Activity. Sat., May 10, 9:00 am-noon. New this year, children will enjoy decorating a potted plant–the perfect gift for mom, grandma, or a favorite aunt! The Plant Sale will be located around the 1915 Lord & Burnham Greenhouse. Several plants seen in Brucemore’s formal garden will be available for sale, including annuals, perennials, and hanging baskets. Featured plants include a giant hosta named “Empress Wu,” bleeding hearts, and varieties not found at other nurseries. A variety of herbs will also be available, including basil, thyme, and rosemary. Prices range from $2.50 to $50.00 with all proceeds benefiting garden and landscape rehabilitation projects at Brucemore. Garden staff available to provide advice. Preview the plants for sale!
    • Project GREEN Garden Fair, Saturday, May 10, 9 – 11:30 a.m. at Carver-Hawkwye Arena, Iowa City. The plants sold at the Garden Fair are all proven performers for our climate. Our plants have all been nurtured and donated by local gardeners. Hosta, shade perennials, sunny perennials, trees, shrubs, vines galore! Contrary to popular rumors, there are plenty of plants available for the duration of the sale. You do not need to be present when the doors open in order to have a good selection of plants for purchase.We will have refreshments available for purchase – coffee, muffins, sweet rolls, sweet breads and the like. Experts from Master Gardeners, Iowa City recycling and composting, Department of Natural Resources, and other wildlife experts, biologists, foresters will be on hand.
    • Linn County Master Gardeners Plant Sale, ISU Extension & Outreach Linn County Office, 383 Collins Road NE, Cedar Rapids. Saturday, May 17, 8am-Noon (or until plants are gone) Healthy, vibrant plants for lawn & garden; perennials, vegetable and herb starts, annuals and houseplants.  These plants come from our Master Gardeners’ gardens and Greenhouse, where they have been carefully potted, and tenderly taken care of until the sale day.  Priced for anyone who likes a bargain. Master Gardeners will help you choose the plants just right for you and will be available to answer your gardening questions. Check out the list of plants:  All proceeds will be used to off-set direct expenses and to support the Linn County Master Gardener Extension Program.
    • Friends of Hickory Hill Park, annual spring plant sale, Saturday May 17th and Sunday May 18th from 10 am to 4 pm each day at a new location this year – the south parking lot entrance to Hickory Hill Park located on Bloomington Street. The sale will be held in the pavilion – rain or shine. New at the plant sale this year – Monarch Madness! Native milkweed plugs will be for sale in an effort to increase Monarch Butterfly habitat in the Iowa City area. Monarchs ONLY lay their eggs on milkweed and these native plants are rapidly declining. A lack of milkweed and other environmental stressors has lead to a huge decline in Monarch populations. As always, plant donations are accepted in the weeks leading up to the sale.Plants can be left in the driveway of 2607 Friendship Street or 435 Rundell Street in Iowa City.  Email for more information. Donations raised from the plant sale go towards park stewardship and conservation projects.

Bonus Event for art lovers: The Marion Heritage Center will open its doors for its 13th annual Art by Your Friends & Neighbors art show on Saturday, May 17th, 2013, 10:00 AM to 5 PM.  This year’s exhibition will feature over 55 works of art by area residents.  Included will be drawings, photography, watercolor, oil and pastel renderings.  Many of the works will be offered for sale.

In announcing the event, Exhibition Chairman, Jay Kacena said, “Last year’s event established the fact there’s a multitude of art talent in and around Marion and a strong interest by others in seeing what they can do.” As in the past, opening day admittance to the exhibit will be free due to the sponsorship of Hills Bank and Trust Company.  Visitors will be encouraged to vote for their favorite work and cash prizes will be awarded for the three most popular artists at the end of the exhibition June 28th. $5 for adults, $2 for students (5 and under free)  and members free.