Publicity Chairman, Old Saybrook Garden Club

Flower-bedecked bicycles are the Old Saybrook Garden Club's signature promotion of Gardeners' Market. You'll find the bikes throughout the town. See if you can find all 15. By Elaine Gilmore

Old Saybrook Garden Club Boasts New Offerings at Annual Market Psst! Wanna buy a lady bug? How about a quarter-cup of lady bugs--200-300 pretty little orange-spotted beetles? Or maybe you prefer your beneficial insects long and slender. Then how about a praying mantis egg case, ready to hatch out 50-200 praying mantises hungry to eat up whatever is eating up your plants? This year, the Old Saybrook Garden Club's annual Gardeners' Market will offer these beneficial bugs as well as great plants, great tag-sale items, great baked goodies, and great gifts for Mom and Grandma (since the market takes place the two days before Mother's Day). Specifically, Gardeners' Market will be open Friday, May 10, from 3:00 to 6:00 PM, and Saturday, May 11, from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Place: the Town Green, in front of 302 Main Street in Old Saybrook. Just look for the big white tent. Some notable new plants will be on sale this year. At the "annuals" table look for Profusion Pink Zinnias. These are not your grandmother's zinnias; they are vigorous plants that by midsummer will look almost like flowering shrubs, and they'll blossom reliably all summer long. Consider wax begonias, available in red, pink, and white, for your shady beds, especially since impatiens have been hit by a disease called downy mildew. At the geranium table look for these "old-timey" flowers in a "new-timey" color: yellow. Vegetable plants offered will include the ever-popular heirloom tomatoes. There will be a wide selection of herbs, elegant (and low-maintenance) succulents, and more perennials than in previous years. And those beautiful and trouble-free Knockout roses will make an encore appearance. At the Members' Plants table you'll find reliable specimens dug from members' own gardens. These, you can be sure, are happy in local conditions. For knowledgable planting advice consult any garden-club member; they'll be easy to spot in their lime-green hats and dark green aprons. For specific advice on how to plant a window box watch as garden club member (and artist) Pat Creighton demonstrates the process--at 3:30 Friday and 10:00 Saturday. Pat will discuss the basics, such as soil and fertilizer, sun and shade; and the creative: color, texture, height variations, and how to achieve the look you're after. The window boxes will then be sold. If you're looking for ready-made gifts consider a gorgeous hanging basket--or a dainty cone planter. Another club member and artist, Lee Merritt, is creating several cone planters, and she's also planting mini gardens in treasures from the antique store. Trough gardens also make wonderful gifts; they'll be available preplanted or ready to plant with your own selections. Rumor has it that some customers come to Gardeners' Market and head not for the beautiful plants, but for Shabby Chic, the accompanying tag sale. There will be many "finds" at Shabby Chic this year: Vera Bradley purses, a nearly new girl's bike (purple!), a set of wine glasses, toys (including a hobby horse), art work, ceramics, many garden items, and much more. Little gardeners should head for the Kinder Korner, where they can pot up a pretty plant, perhaps to give to Mom for Mother's Day. And no one should leave the tent without visiting the bake sale. Homemade pies, cakes, cookies, cobblers--all are likely to be on offer. Gardeners' Market is the Old Saybrook Garden Club's only fund-raiser. Profits pay for the club's many civic-beautification projects, including the Main Street median plantings and Christmas decorations, the Constitution Garden in front of Saybrook Country Barn, the flower bed in front of the fire house, planters at the library, and the Street Garden Recognition Program. Profits also pay for the garden club's annual college scholarship and educational programs at Goodwin School. Overheard at Saybrook Hardware last summer: "I still call it Old Saybrook but my wife just calls it Flower Town." Your patronage of Gardeners' Market will help the garden club keep Old Saybrook blooming.