The Palm Coast Garden Club board had been discussing having a spring “Extraordinary Expo”–a first for the Garden Club–for a while. But finding the right location with the right atmosphere was difficult, at least in Palm Coast. Then Nature Scapes came to mind: the nursery is almost as old as Old Brick Road, where it’s located (parallel to State Road 100, on the south side, just inside the Bunnell city limits), its grounds and surroundings having preserved the feel of old Florida remarkably well for a property sandwiched between Palm Coast and Bunnell.
“We wanted to find a venue with ambiance,” Jill Carpenter, the club’s co-chair for the event, said. “When I asked Marylou Baiata, she said yes,” Carpenter said, referring to Nature Scape’s owner. “she was happy to host it.”
And so Baiata did Saturday at Nature Scapes, where the Garden Club presented its first daylong “Extraordinary Expo.” Some 50 vendors took up posts and nooks beneath the oaks to show their wares and the club carried out its annual plant sale.
“It was our first time working with vendors and it took a lot of persuasion,” Carpenter, who worked with Linda DuLong on the expo, said. “It was kind of nerve-racking but it turned out wonderful. We could never have done this without our garden club members.” Club and vendor stands included garden accessories, clothing, herbal products, fashion items, crafts, and arts of different sorts. There were also many activities for children and food stands.
The club’s own plant sale at the expo included about 2,500 plants, all of which were grown by club members. Carpenter herself plants things from scratch and has her own little green house at home.
“This is a once a year work-until-you drop event,” DuLong, the club treasurer, said. “We have worked very hard this year. None of these plants were bought wholesale.” It paid off. By 1p.m Saturday, two-thirds of the plants at the sale were gone. “It’s fantastic to see how many people are coming out, showing an interest in our flowers,” DuLong said.
It wasn’t just about selling. Garden Club President Kathleen Terlizzo said the club “decided to expand this year and we increased the amount for the scholarships, giving out $6,000.” Peg Senecal, the Club’s scholarship chair, said that the club’s main focus, its greeneries aside, is young people. “We are buying into the youth of this county and our whole year is geared toward scholarships,” Senecal said.
The club is awarding four $1,000 scholarships this year: three to graduating Flagler County seniors, a continuing education scholarship to one prior recipient, and two additional $500 scholarships. All recipients have been chosen by way of interviews and interests: students must have a scientific focus in their future studies.
All funds from the expo, including the Garden Club plant sale, the raffle and vendor spots, are dedicated to the club’s scholarship program, with vendors paying between $35 and $50 for their spot, depending on size. Non-profits weren’t charged.
Chris Baita of Nature Scapes said that they were happy to host the expo. “We have used our venue before for other events and it’s something we want to move into. A couple of big ones every year would be good.” The location, at once in the heart of the county and autonomous from its more urban looks (think of Central Park in the heart of Manhattan), lends itself to that sort of special, cultural events with broad appeal.
Diana Hull, a Flagler Beach resident, came to the expo to look at the plant sale and enjoy the day with her two young children. “It was an awesome day,” she said. “So many activities for the kids. We have been here for almost three hours. We ate lunch, my son got his face painted and he got as dirty as could be planting some seeds.”
Carpenter hopes the expo is a yearly event at its new home.