Garden Variety: Local plant sales are a great place to start spring gardening

The next few months are prime time for planting a garden in Kansas, and hopefully you are planning to put a few seeds and plants in the ground. The best place to get those seeds and plants is almost always right here in Lawrence from local garden centers and organizations. Buying local ensures plants are well suited for the region, and it supports the local economy.

Local organizational plant sales also offer plants with a purpose — native or specialty plants that fill a niche and support the organization’s cause.

Here are upcoming plant sales to check out:

Sunrise Project Plant Sales: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. April 14 and 28, at 1501 Learnard Ave., Lawrence.

Plants are organically produced on-site. This sale focuses on vegetable transplants, including kale, lettuce, chard, tomatoes, peppers, okra, and more. It will also have a few species of native plants and flowers. Proceeds from the sale benefit the nonprofit Sunrise Project.

When you visit, make sure to get refreshments at Sunrise Coffee, which also supports Sunrise Project. Then check out the Community Garden and the Lawrence Worm Farm, spend time learning about workshops and community events offered by the Project, tour the rentable meeting space, and walk down the street to the Lawrence Community Orchard in the Burroughs Creek corridor.

Sunrise Project is focused on food, community and empowerment. The organization provides programming for youth focused on farm-to-preschool, gardening and hands-on cooking, and it coordinates related educational and community-building events for both youth and adults on-site.

Monarch Watch Open House and Plant Sale: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. May 12, at 2021 Constant Ave., Lawrence.

The Monarch Watch sale offers seedlings of plants that attract butterflies and provide food for adults and larvae. The organization plans to have 13 varieties of milkweeds and a variety of other native and cultivated annual and perennial flowers including butterfly bushes, asters, coneflowers, lantanas, blazing stars, sages, phloxes, monardas and others. Proceeds from the sale benefit the nonprofit Monarch Watch.

The open house in conjunction with the plant sale offers attendees an opportunity to visit and learn about the Monarch Waystation at the site and to visit the laboratory space. There are many children’s activities and demonstrations throughout the day. You can also count on seeing a few butterflies and other insects at the event.

Monarch Watch is focused on education, conservation and research of monarch butterflies. The organization is especially concerned with the decline of the butterfly population and the loss of butterfly habitat in North America.

Grassland Heritage Foundation Native Plant Sale: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. May 19, at Trinity Episcopal Church lawn, 1011 Vermont St., Lawrence.

The organization plans to offer 50 species of locally-grown native plants, that have not been treated with neonicotinoid insecticides. The sale benefits the nonprofit Grassland Heritage Foundation.

The Foundation works to preserve prairie land in northeast Kansas through education, stewardship and land protection. They are specifically interested in protecting tallgrass prairie remnants (fragments of Kansas’ native landscape) and populations of Mead’s milkweed and Western Prairie Fringed Orchid.

— Jennifer Smith is a former horticulture extension agent for K-State Research and Extension and horticulturist for Lawrence Parks and Recreation.