Flowering On

Flower power: 75th Annual Bulb & Plant Mart brings life back to Houston gardens after the flood

Bulb & Plant Mart brings life back to Houston gardens after the flood

Garden Club of Houston 75th Annual Bulb & Plant Sale
The Garden Club of Houston's 75th Annual Bulb and Plant Mart takes place October 13 and 14 at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church. Garden Club of Houston Courtesy Photo

As our whole region rebuilds after Harvey, the Garden Club of Houston wants to help us flower on. Determined to aid in the city’s regrowth, the club members decided their 75th annual Bulb & Plant Mart will and must go on as planned this weekend.

Like the rest of Houston, the members of the Garden Club faced a disparity of experiences during Harvey with some having little damage to their residences while others watched their homes completely flood.

I recently talked with Bulb and Plant Mart event chair Margaret Rotan who felt the direct wrath of Harvey. Her family had to be rescued by airboat as the waters rose to 17 feet inside her home. They then took refuge at her sister’s place for a time and now they’re staying with her mother-in-law.

Yet when she describes her ordeal during and after the hurricane, she ends up always thinking of the ones who had it worse.

“We are fine, but I just ache for so many people,” she says. “I’m not the only member who flooded or who has been displaced. I don’t mean it’s just about people who flooded because our whole city has been shaken to the core. But you think about it and then decide — as I’ve said for myself — to put on my big girl pants and move forward and start healing and growing.”

As a fourth generation Houstonian who comes from a family of gardeners and garden club members, Rotan believes a big part of that healing process can come from replanting and nurturing our landscapes. In her own life, continuing with the planning for the Bulb and Plant Mart has helped her feel a sense of normalcy, and she hopes the event will offer Houstonians advice, assistance and most of all plants and bulbs to bring living beauty back into our lives.

Since the Garden Club of Houston first began the Mart in 1924 on the steps of the Museum of Fine Arts, the event has funded many of the clubs civic and conservation endeavors throughout the years. Rotan says the club felt it was more important than ever to hold the annual sale, as proceeds will be vital for these next months into the next recovery year as they continue projects — including their work with Urban Harvest, Rienzi, and Houston Hospice, just to name a few.

“I’m hoping that the timing is right. I do feel we’re all trying to get back to the new normal. We’re all just trying to figure this out and we will. I love our home. I love our city,” proclaims Rotan.

While the event at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church officially opens to the public on Friday (October 13), a Thursday Party on the Patio (October 12) brings a special ticketed, early bird (gets the bulb) shopping celebration. The $20 admission includes live music and bites.

On Friday and Saturday, the free and open-to-the-public 75th anniversary Mart will feature special exhibits, including the live butterfly tent from The Museum of Natural Science Cockrell Butterfly Center and the Conservation Booth, which will offer a variety of native and drought tolerant plants curated by experts in ecological conservation and education.

Look also for expert speakers and guests, including Heidi Sheesley of Treesearch Farms and landscape architect Lanson Jones on Friday. They will both discuss how native plants can work to restore gardens after Harvey.

The Saturday lineup features local beekeeper Shelley Rice owner of All Things Bees.

The public can also expect to find food vendors and a pop-up farmers market on Saturday, a first for the Mart. Long before Harvey, Rotan thought a farmers market would just become a fun treat for the whole family for this 75th anniversary, but now the market becomes even more important as she notes many local farmers were especially hit hard by the hurricane.

“I just want it to be happy and healing event for our city,” she says.

For more information, check out the Garden Club of Houston website.