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Master Gardeners raising funds with painted pots

Posted on May 14, 2019

The Union County Master Gardeners will hold a pot sale this weekend, with pots painted by local artists from around Union County.

Charlotte Abbott, a member of the South Arkansas Arboretum Board and a Master Gardener, said the sale will raise funds for a new footbridge at the Arboretum. New regulations require that footpaths be made using composite boards rather than wood, and on top of that, the paths are old and need replacing, Abbott said.

“They’ve replaced several [footbridges], and there was one where the funds ran out,” she said. “They just were getting unsafe.”

The new footbridge will be at the back of the park, she said. The Master Gardeners have replaced several other paths, but ran out of funds before they were all complete.

To raise funds, the Master Gardeners will hold an auction throughout the week, where painted planters will be sold to the highest bidder. A different local artist painted or otherwise decorated each of the 26 pots that will be for sale.

Throughout the week, those interested can go to Backwoods Art and Frame at 209 E. Main St., where the planters are on display. Bids can be placed at Backwoods, with a suggested starting point of $20.

“They are fantastic. And then one lady has donated one that she’s doing in a different medium, so we’ll have 26 pots total,” Abbott said.

On Saturday, the Master Gardeners will close the sale, after an event at the Arboretum that will allow Union County residents to place last-minute bids.

From 3-5 p.m., the Master Gardeners will be at the Arboretum with the painted pots, where light refreshments will be served and Zack Abbott will provide entertainment. The highest bidders will be announced around 4:30 p.m., at which point they will receive their pots.

“They were talking $500 to $600 [as the fundraising goal], and I don’t know whether we’ll meet that or not; it would be wonderful if we did, but at least we’ll have a start on it,” Abbott said.

The Master Gardeners will hold a work day at the Arboretum today, where they will clean up the park before Saturday’s event. The Master Gardeners have been heavily involved in maintenance and beautification at the Arboretum, adding pathways throughout the park, planting and maintaining foliage there and working with the Arboretum’s sole employee to address the needs of the park.

“So many people say it’s just a jewel that nobody knows about, and it is,” Abbott said.

Despite being a state park, Abbott said the Arboretum has not received any state funding since the original investment that built the park’s bathrooms and pavilion. The park is owned by the El Dorado School District, maintained by South Arkansas Community College and most of the funding now comes from donations, she said.

Abbott said she hopes to see new faces at Saturday’s sale.

“We just want everybody to come out and enjoy the afternoon. You know, we want to raise money for the bridge, but we want to get people into the Arboretum that haven’t seen it before. That’s one of our main goals,” she said. “We want more people to come out and enjoy it.”

To learn more about the Union County Master Gardeners, contact agent Robin Bridges at or call 870-864-1916.

Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or