Celebrating All Things Green

Richard Carroll, president of Carroll’s Nursery, holds CEO Quatty, a 21-year-old Green-wing Macaw that Bonnie Noble, Carroll’s festival associate, raised from an egg. The two-generation family business, established in 1950, specializes in grafted gardenias in addition to being the largest grower east of the Mississippi. They have patented some of their techniques and continually experiment with the latest growing best practices.

It was all about plant people as both vendors and patrons at the 31st annual Green Thumb Festival held at the Walter Fuller Park Rec Center during Earth Day weekend, April 22 and 23.

Estimated attendance was about 30,000 with a total of 130 vendors displaying everything from butterfly plants – complete with flying butterflies in a screened enclosure – to herbs, fruit trees, flowering plants, or items designed to help gardeners notch up their décor like custom-order concrete bricks, whimsical metal sculptures and even table setting ideas thanks to the Garden Club of St. Petersburg’s district flower show that was held in the air-conditioned gym.

“It’s one-stop shopping for plants and decorative arts and crafts items that follow the gardening, Arbor Day and urban forest world,” said Lina Seufert, park operations manager. For the second year, the festival also included a garden wagon parade and supervised tree-climbing opportunities for children that involved ropes. “We also have tool sharpening, which is odd for horticulture festivals,” said Seufert, sponsored by the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association.

The first festival was held at the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in 1986. Since 1987, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department has held it at Walter Fuller as part of an effort to schedule special events in areas that are not geographically located at waterfront parks or the preserve.

According to the event’s website, the festival is also part of the effort to qualify for the Tree City USA award, which is presented annually by the Arbor Day Foundation, the Unites States Department of Agriculture Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters. St. Petersburg has been an award recipient every year since 1986.

Cali McCune started making custom concrete pavers because she “bought three molds at a yard sale nine years ago for $4.” When her garden club friends got excited about the bricks, the idea quickly blossomed into more molds, more shapes and a business called Cali’s Garden Shack. She makes custom cobblestones, plant markers, pet memory stones, stepping stones and a dog toy brick that comes complete with an embedded tennis ball – half of it sticks up above the surface of the brick. “The Queen – Obeys – Only Herself” is her favorite three-brick combination. “My friends brainstorm with me” to come up with the sayings, said McCune. She is a regular vendor at area plant and garden shows. 



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