Everything came up flowers, succulents at AIB sale
Published:  April 14, 2017

Everything was coming up flowers and succulents for America in Bloom Santa Paula Chapter and the Future Farmers of America at Saturday’s sale plants flew out the gate of Red Hot Foods/Santa Paula Salsa Co.

The Succulent Sale had a many surprises, mainly hundreds of flowers making their debut under a clearing sky.

“I said we’d have the sale, rain or shine,” said Gary Nasalroad, AIB President. “And we got shine!”

Spectacular blooms were courtesy of Flora Nova and Green Fuse Botanicals with Armstrong Growers helping with display materials for the sale, which benefited AIB and the FFA.

Future Farmers of America SPHS students grew more than 1,000 succulents for 4-inch pots and helped at the event by tallying up selections picked by buyers and transporting the goods to vehicles via wheelbarrows and carts.

“We thank them for their generosity,” said Nasalroad. “And we thank Gov. Brown for officially declaring the end of the drought!” 

Although Nasalroad estimated that 90 percent of the sales so far that morning had been flowers and 10 percent the succulents — which also included a variety of pot gardens, wreaths, Fairy gardens, bird cages, moss shoes and other imaginative plantings — succulents are still a favorite.

“Succulents will always sell. Once they get established they’re almost impossible to kill and are drought resistance. You can even plant your flowers in pots and save on watering,” said Nasalroad.

Even before the record 5-year drought people loved succulents, their hardiness, small watering needs and especially the hundreds of different varieties ranging from short and stout to tall slender…and no matter the silhouette there are succulents that shoot off magnificent blooms.

And since the drought people have gained a new respect for water resources and realize the importance of succulents as being water-wise as well as decorative.

Jane Lax had a special area where she was selling potted succulent gardens, including several planted in petite baby-themed planters. 

When she suggested to a passerby that the FFA plant they purchased would propagate well, they thanked her for her “expert” advice. 

“I’m not an expert,” said Lax, but she admitted that once she fell in love with succulents “I did Google them a lot!”

Many people were purchasing Wave petunias, the sun loving brightly colored flowering plant that is as hardy as it is as beautiful.

Nancy Nasalroad, a Master Gardener and AIB volunteer was the plant go-to gal for Doreen Reckon-Pitluk, also an AIB volunteer who sought Nasalroad out for questioning on plants.

Karin Williams was also among the dozens of volunteers, ready to help and field inquiries on her playful and colorful jewelry. 

“This is one of my favorite events,” she noted.

“It’s been going really, really great, we’re so pleased,” said Dianne Davis, who with her husband Dudley founded the Santa Paula Chapter of America in Bloom in February 2010. 

Hillgrillies BBQ was also doing a brisk business in breakfast brisket burritos, tacos and their own secret recipe barbeque sauces bottled and sold by Santa Paula Salsa Co./Red Hot Foods.

Sean Blackshear of Hillgrillies said, “We sold a 120 burritos so far this morning,” with hundreds of more hungry shoppers expected by 4 p.m. when the sale would close.

Hillgrillies, said Blackshear, supports numerous fundraisers and will continue to “Give back to the community, it’s our home,” after its restaurant opens on East Main Street in September. 

As it is, laughed Blackshear, “We’re coming back to the Rotary Club Pumpkin Patch in October — with even more food booths!”

The premise of America in Bloom is that because people notice the little things, cared-for buildings and properties, colorful plants, and a clean environment are vital as reflections of a thriving, caring municipality.

The local organization, that has sponsored various community events and partnered with various entities for projects such as the hanging flower baskets and Main Street planers, has been recognized on the national level for “Planting Pride in Santa Paula.”

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