Plant Auction, Have You Ever Been?

Plant Auction

This was the first time I have ever been to an auction of any kind. Wouldn’t you know that my first would be PLANTS. My friend at the Tree Farm had an auction of beautiful trees and shrubs. I showed you last week them digging the trees and what that entails. Now imagine a few thousand of them.

The Ivory Silk Lilac, Bradford Pear, and Crimson King Maples.

The men you saw digging that day did a remarkable job potting up all the shrubs and trees. Some were hand dug, and others, machine dug. You can tell by the wrappings. I never see the trees and shrubs set up like this normally. This has that retail nursery feel with them all lined up in rows.

The Techny and Emerald Arbs, Burning Bush.

This is back-breaking work and all were on hand for the auction to help bidders with their purchases, park cars, and load trailers. The people are starting to arrive below.

The auction started at 9 am. and people were arriving a bit earlier to survey the lots of trees and shrubs. The brochure that they received by mail gave them ample time to preview the stock.

They spent time on selecting what they wanted to bid. The trees and shrubs were very well-organized with lot numbers and easy to find with the handout.

The brochure the bidders received by mail. You may recognize some of the images. They were taken by me and I posted them previously on my blog.

The first number on the handout page is the lot number. The first example 468, below, has one tree. Most trees were sold as a single tree, but the bidder had the option to take say lots 550-581, Weeping Cherry of all 32 trees. Then the price bid was taken times the number of trees accepted. Some were on a pallet, then the price bid was per palette.

The last page of the 8 page handout received the day of the sale.

The auctioneer gave out the instructions and started the bidding. Wintergreen Boxwood were the first to be up for bid.

The Auctioneer

Me, I was there for the fun. Actually, I was there the day before to get photos before the sale.

I did help some customers with plants they wanted to purchase for location and type. One customer wanted to screen their neighbors, others wanted certain trees and needed information. I even helped load a woman’s car. Imagine taking home these huge specimens in a car.

The auction went smoothly and the people bid some plants up, while others went for a steal.

They are bidding on the 12 foot Cimarron Ash. The people had to wait until the conclusion of the auction to take their plants home. I believe the best sellers were the Arborvitae and Locust. I am so accustomed to the wholesale pricing, that seeing these beautiful trees go at auction pricing was a real eye opener. I was most saddened by the pricing on gorgeous Hemlocks and Austrian Pine.

These perfect trees were absolutely a steal. Imagine going to your nursery and paying $30 for a tree worth $200 at retail.

When the auction was over, the purchasers set up delivery or loaded their trailers. Assistance was provided by the farm workers and the machines.

The trailer and truck bed were fully loaded when the guys were finished.

Many of the farm machines were used for loading.

See how big the Weeping Cherries are in comparison the man behind?

And here for scale again. Look at the trunk size.

The big trucks from nurseries were brought in to take home the purchases.

And here is one with a very big trailer. I hope you enjoyed the auction. I had fun and enjoyed my day. I also had time to walk around the farm and get some photos of the Koi and what is budding and blooming. In the weeks to come, you will see the field trees in bloom when I document the trees for the website we will be creating. This is a really interesting place.

The next post will be on the pretty plants in bud and flower found at the farm. When the rain lets up, I will take you back to the farm for acres of trees and shrubs in flower.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
This entry was posted in Farm Life, Tree Farm, Tree Nursery, Trees and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Plant Auction, Have You Ever Been?

  1. One says:

    Hi Donna, You have made the entire event seem to interesting. I would love to bring home those perfect trees at a steal. It’s nice to have your photos printed on brochures. Hmmm…. when would I get that opportunity?

  2. Jennifer says:

    Hi Donna,
    I have to start out by saying how very much I enjoyed your comment on my gnome post.
    As to your post–I knew that there was auctions for flowers, but did not know that trees and shrubs were sold in this manner. It saddened me to read how much a tree went for at retail and how little the grower actually got.
    I also took a look at the squirrel post that I missed. Squirrels are certainly great acrobats!

    • Thanks Jennifer. I like gnomes and find them irresistible, but I have to keep the professional separate from the home gardening hence my gnomes reside inside. My garden is seen by clients so no gnomes in the garden. I have to say I take a bit of flack from the gnomes inside too since the garden is where they want to be. Did you know gnomes do a lot of swearing? LOL.

  3. You’re a busy lady…plant auction, most interesting. You’d find me at one for sure. We don’t have them here. What’s the next event you’re covering I wonder…

    • Rosie, with my design job, it is never ending to what I am involved in. On the volunteer front, the Master Gardener’s have many activities as does the two garden clubs. So never a dull moment and always something different to post.

  4. I’ve never heard of such a thing. With that many trees, that auctioneer had to be worn out by the end of the day. That’s an enormous amount of bidding to cover.

  5. Karen says:

    Donna, what a busy day. I have never been to an auction like that, many a farm auction, unfortunately, but never a tree auction. Is this something they do every year? At least it looks like the weather held up very well for the sale. Amazing amount of work!

  6. I never get wind of these. The only time I get to plant auctions are when various societies I belong to hold them. Even then, I often don’t bid because I have no room or I already have the plant in question.

  7. Nell Jean says:

    I’d like to have been there, just to call each plant by its name and marvel at what was available.

  8. Oh my! A Tree Auction – I’ve never heard of that (newbie). I would LOVE to go to a plant auction!! It must have been a lot of fun. I can imagine myself coming home loaded with plants and a lot poorer 🙂

  9. Donna says:

    very interesting…would love a steal on a tree…arborvitae here are deer food…whoever plants them sees them chewed clean by end of winter…I always chuckle when I see people plant them…

    • This nursery is on a deer farm. The wild deer do not bother the arbs because my friend feeds them by planting corn around the perimeter of the fields and along deer trails. This works very well. Plus his female deer (in pens) are at an opposite end of the farm from the nursery stock and they draw in the big bucks and keep them really interested and busy.

  10. That’s so fascinating Donna, I’d never heard of plants being sold at auction. Does the nursery do this from choice? Sounds as if they can wind up quite out of pocket. Must see if there are similar auctions around about here…

  11. TufaGirl says:

    I love an auction. I would get into some serious trouble at a plant auction. I had never heard of one of these before. Thanks for taking us through the process.

    • Cindy, I bet a number of homeowners bought way too many plants than they could possibly use. I was helping some with this very issue by relating ultimate growth and size. Also growing conditions.

  12. Laurrie says:

    This was new to me too. And the specimens they were auctioning were huge, and many were relatively rare kinds of trees. This was no geraniums-in-a-pot charity auction at the garden club!! What an event.

  13. kimberly says:

    Donna, I’ve never heard of a plant auction. What a great turnout! Quite a production, I must say. The trees and shrubs all look very healthy – great bargains, I’m sure!!

  14. How fun! I’ve never been to one of these, but want to so badly!! What an amazing deal on those firs too…wow!!

  15. Holley says:

    I’ve never been to a plant auction. I am curious if they do this yearly, if they normally do business this way, or if this was a special event. Looks like a good turn out. I hope everyone was happy with the outcome.

  16. Very interesting! Was it mostly nurseries bidding on stock, or were there a lot of gardeners there too? I’m also curious to know if this was a special event or if this is how they normally do business.

    • This was the first auction that this nursery had for the bigger stock. The trees, if they get too big to be dug, get backhoed out and burned. Believe that? New tiny plants arrive each spring that must be planted. There were nurseries at the auction, but a good showing of home owners too. The nurseries take the stock in bulk, where the home gardeners buy in one’s and twos. The home gardeners also were the ones that opted for delivery. By the size of the plants, you can see why. My friend may have this again. It is not a regular thing, because as you can image, his plants would not sell at regular wholesale. I could have purchased plants for clients that have asked me for lilac and boxwood, but that would have been unfair to my friend. But had I done that, they would have gotten a $45 (retail) boxwood for $10 and a $70 (retail) lilac for $15.

  17. Jess says:

    How interesting. I’ve been to many auctions and estate sales, but never for plants. It seems a tremendous undertaking!

  18. How interesting! I’ve never been to a plant auction, but it looks like a lot of fun!

  19. I really need a good sized hemlock–a large one for $30 would be fantastic. I can’t find any down here due to the wooly adelgid–no one sells them.

  20. debsgarden says:

    I have never been to a plant auction before, but I recently hauled home two ten foot trees inside my mini van. They reached literally from the back end of my car to the front. I was driving with tree branches around me! I’m sure I was quite a sight for other drivers on the road.

  21. Andrea says:

    That affair is so interesting. If i were there i can also be like you because i dont intend to buy mine, just observing and taking photos will be enough for me!

  22. Laura W says:

    Attending the local nursery auction is my absolute, without a doubt, favorite garden shopping outing. The first time I attended “just to check things out.” After 10 minutes I had to flee the scene to stop myself from bidding and going home with a truck full of stuff. So much fun!

Comments are closed.