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Spring plant sale is a perennial favorite

Diane Taylor's gardening habit kicked into high gear when she moved to Northeast Portland years ago.

It didn't hurt that she discovered one of the Hardy Plant Society's big sales about the same time. The sale pushed her 'plant pedal' to the metal.

The next plant sale is Saturday, April 12, and Sunday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Washington County Fair Complex in Hillsboro. You don't have to be a member of the sponsoring organization to attend.

The Hardy Plant Society can be a bit puzzling to the uninitiated. Even if you garden, you might not understand what the name means. It's a little like the Dead Poets Society, only about plants.

The Hardy Plant Society is a group Ñ no, a legion Ñ of about 2,000 people who love perennials. They have two big plant sales a year, bring celebrity garden speakers to town, hold study weekends, give tours of local gardens and produce a newsletter, all for one purpose: to talk about plants.

Taylor participates in most of these activities. In fact, the group was just what she'd been looking for.

'I wanted to find unusual perennials and be around like-minded people to learn from,' she says.

For Taylor, one spring plant sale was all it took to turn a lifelong interest into an all-consuming passion.

'It's fun. People are crazy,' she says.

Several years ago Taylor won a drawing for $150 worth of free plants at the sale Ñ and ended up spending $450.

'I had so many plants I couldn't get them all in the trunk or in the car,' she says. 'It took me a long, long time to find them all homes in my garden.' Many of the plants lived in pots in her driveway until she found the right spot for them.

The old mantra of 'right plant, right place' is right at home in Taylor's garden. Walk with her, and she'll point out treasures found at the plant society sale. Unusual varieties of salvia and hellebore are mixed in with the things Taylor remembers from her childhood: peonies, iris and roses.

Taylor has been gardening for 40 years and still has a quest for knowledge.

'Gardening is a quieting activity I like doing while I'm soaking up the sun, listening to the birds and getting back peace of mind,' she says.

You get the same feelings when you stroll through her yard.

Just don't get in Taylor's way at the plant sale this weekend, OK?

This week's to-do list

• Keep your eye out for spittle bugs this month. You'll recognize them by the frothy 'spit' they produce to hide themselves in plants. Aphids are also out in full force now. Control them with an insecticidal soap, or use a strong jet of water on plants. Squish spittle bugs.

• Last frost date is Tax Day, April 15. That means it's safe to put out tender annuals without fear of frost.

Garden gossip

This year's first issue of Garden Showcase magazine comes out this month without one of its publishers at the helm. Local publishing entrepreneur Jerry Chretien died of cancer before the free magazine saw print.

Donations can be made to the Master Gardener program in Jerry Chretien's name: OSU Foundation Metro MG, 850 S.W. 35th St., Corvallis, OR 97339-1438.

'Anne Jaeger's Gardening Tips' airs at 9:56 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays on KGW (8). Jaeger's Web site is www.gardengal.tv.