April flowers help build new Carbondale library

By Sue Anderson

Susan Raby’s decorative baskets for entryways and patios will be featured at the Carbondale City Library plant sale. The sale is to raise money for a new library.

Susan Raby’s decorative flower baskets will be featured at the Carbondale City Library plant sale. The sale is to raise money for a new library.

You don’t need a green thumb to check out the annual Carbondale City Library flower sale this weekend at the city hall building, 234 Main St., Carbondale. Popular items at the sale are hanging baskets and various planters with flowers already in bloom and ready to take home. The sale is open noon-6 p.m. Friday, April 28, and 8 a.m. until all plants are sold Saturday, April 29.

Individual varieties of flowers are also for sale in addition to decorative grasses, tomato and pepper plants. All flowers and plants are Kansas grown and well suited for local climate conditions. Customers from many areas attend the flower sale knowing the quality of the plants, the reasonable prices and the fact that all proceeds are for a worthy purpose.

“The sale has always been to raise money to build a new library, always,” said Carbondale City Library Director Alice Smith.

The public area of the current library is nestled into a corner of the city hall building, occupying 435 square feet.

Smith credits Susan Raby with the idea to hold the first flower sale six years ago. Raby, a community resident for many years, is an experienced gardener. For 12 years, she and her husband Larry Raby operated Raby’s Plant Stop in Carbondale until they closed it in 2010. The first year of the library sale, Raby generously donated geraniums and other flowers. Through the wholesaler for their plant business, Raby also helped the library staff purchase a variety of other plants.

Raby continues to help with the sale in numerous ways. Each year, she creates and donates a large number hanging baskets and decorative planters blooming with color. The Rabys also donate individual flowers grown in their own greenhouse. During the sale, Susan Raby is there to provide customers with growing tips for the plants they buy.  Customers can also bring in their own container such as a hanging basket, a planter or just a flower pot and Raby will plant their purchased flower plants directly into their own container on site. This service is provided for only the cost of materials.

One of the most frequent comments heard from first-time customers at the flower sale is “I can’t grow a thing, I have a brown thumb,” Smith said.

Evelyn Webster was one of those first-time customers last year. “I know nothing about plants,” said Webster, “I can identify a dandelion but nothing else.”

However, she found herself an accidental volunteer for the plant sale when she was walking to city hall to speak with a city official. She saw Smith and only two other helpers working to unload hundreds of plants on the morning of the sale. Webster stopped to help unload the plants then stayed to assist the workers set up the entire floral display for the sale.

Because of the large crowd on opening day, Webster also stayed to assist until the sale closed. By the end of the day, Webster had purchased a number of flowers and decorative grasses for her own lawn plus plant care instructions and encouragement.

“Every one of my plants survived,” said Webster, “I didn’t think I could do it, but the things I planted looked beautiful all summer.”

Encouraged by her success last year, Webster intends to purchase some of the same hardy perennials again this year.

Library patrons in Carbondale are working on a “Let’s Raise the Roof” capital campaign to build a new city library.

See related story: Carbondale citizens begin to ‘raise the roof’ for new city library


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