This time each year, as temperatures start to warm, allergies begin to flare and the first whirring sounds of lawn mowers can be heard around town, amateur gardeners looking for the best deals in bedding plants and baskets listen for word of the Forest Grove High School FFA Plant Sale.
The wait is over. The mother of all plant sales - one so big it has its own web site - begins Monday.
'It's going to be perfect timing as far as the plants go,' said Diane Van Dyke, who supervises the greenhouse at FGHS. 'We're almost overflowing with plants this year. I don't think I've ever seen them so nice.'
About 60 students in Charlie Vandehey's horticulture and landscape classes have worked since January to get ready for the plant sale, a fund-raiser for FFA activities. Formally known as the Natural Resource and Agricultural Sciences Department, the group's members took down two small greenhouses and put up one large one to accommodate all the inventory, said Van Dyke.
'There are thousands and thousands of plants - everything from Million Bells baskets to snapdragons in full bloom,' she noted.
Last Thursday, three teenagers toiled in the soil after school, potting plants for the big sale.
Freshman Mike Cutright, who said he would be helping customers during the five-day extravaganza, figures the petunias - his personal favorite - would be big sellers.
Cutright, junior Anthony Olson and Danielle Pittman, a senior, get paid to tend the plants two to three hours a day after school. Pittman's experience has taught her quite a lot about horticulture.
'Now I know how to pinch the plants back so they'll grow more fully,' she said.
'It's actually really fun,' Cutright chimed in as he handed Olson another plastic container.
As the sale's opening day draws closer, students are scurrying around to make sure everything stays watered, fertilized and fresh for even the pickiest customer.
The students 'helped decide our plant mix for the baskets, which are very popular,' said Van Dyke. 'Their recipes have turned out to be absolutely stunning.'
With over 3,000 flower baskets, 150,000 bedding plants and a variety of vegetative plants to offer, students, teachers and volunteers alike can't wait to get started.
'The kids who are hired to work after school learn what a real job is like,' said Van Dyke, whose children graduated from Forest Grove High.
When the cash register starts ringing at 9 a.m. April 28, all the hours of labor will be worth it, she predicted.
'Everyone looks forward to this,' Van Dyke said.
Forest Grove High School FFA Plant Sale
When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, April 28, 29 and 30, and Saturday, May 3 and 10
Where: FGHS Greenhouse, north side of the campus at 1401 Nichols Lane
Info: Visit www.vikingplants.com