A quite audible moan shuddered through the assembled gardeners at the Cheney Mansion sale Sunday when Helen "Poppy" Vogel, Supervisor of Operations, announced that there would be no vegetable plants at this year's sale.
The green house at Cheney Mansion, now shrouded with white plastic sheeting, is currently unfit for the cultivation of plant life and, it's hoped, will be undergoing renovation over the next few years. Unfortunately, it may never again be used for the cultivation of plants for the annual plant sale.
"You mean there are no tomatoes? That's why I came here," said Ava George Stewart, a Chicago attorney who said she had actually called earlier in the day to check on the availability of tomatoes and eggplants and was told those plants would be on sale Sunday. But they weren't.
Vogel was extremely apologetic, and explained that the plan is to not only renovate the old green house for perhaps social functions but to maybe build an entirely new greenhouse. The north lawn of the mansion has been suggested as a possible site.
After the "no-tomatoes" announcement, a palpable pall fell over the otherwise sunny gardening set.
Fortunately, Maria Onesto Moran, the "Queen Bee" at Green Home Experts, brought in a few flats of Arkansas Traveler tomatoes, so those like Stewart and me who came to the Cheney sale specifically for tomatoes were able to go home with some organically grown plants. As a bonus, Moran was donating proceeds to the green house at Cheney Mansion.
"The Park District is not giving us any money to build a new green house," said Charlie Ruedebusch, Cheney Mansion's Head Gardener. Rather, the new green house will have to be built entirely with donations.
So if you went to the Cheney Mansion sale, and you were disappointed that you couldn't pick up the usual vegetable plants, you can donate and help contribute to the new green house. Vogel assured me details will be up soon on cheneymansion.com.