Though the Sonoma County Fair is over, a little piece of the Backyard Blossom flower exposition will live on in the Oakmont yard of Sherry and John Magers.
The couple bought several plants, including a fire red azalea shrub, at the annual post-fair plant sale Monday.
"It's kind of special to have something from the fair," Sherry Magers said. "They're pretty and the prices are right."
About 400 people lined up at the fairgrounds outside the Hall of Flowers at 6 a.m., an hour before the sale started, hoping to take advantage of great deals on prize-winning flowers.
J.R. Abueg, who runs the Hall of Flowers, said the sale is a way for exhibitors to recoup some of the cost of their displays, and for visitors to take home some of the plants they spent two weeks admiring.
"Instead of going into the mulch pile, the flowers go to people who like to garden and enjoy their beauty," he said. "Fair-goers can take home a piece of the fair. It's like a souvenir."
Each exhibitor sells their plants individually without fair management getting involved or taking a cut, Abueg said.
The Men's Garden Club of Santa Rosa had sold about 300 plants — mostly succulents, ferns and crocosmias — by noon, member Carol Berger said. The club won Best in Show for its "Treehouse Terrace" display. It spends the proceeds from the flower sale on scholarships for local high school students, she said.
"We do a good thing," Berger said.
Many shoppers were browsing for just the right plant for their landscaping projects. Rex Nambayan, a Healdsburg nurse, loaded a flatbed trailer with $300 worth of hydrangeas, kangaroo paws and dwarf bamboos.
"When we saw the plants, we got excited and bought a lot," he said. "I think it's a good deal."
Vendors like Pam Hansen and Kelly Cronin of Santa Rosa hoped to make enough on plant sales to cover the cost of their displays, which can run into the thousands of dollars. The gardeners spent $1,000 on their display, winning Best in Show in the amateur category, and hoped to break even on the sale.
"It's all hit or miss," Cronin said. "It depends on if you've got what people want."
Carly Stinson of Sebastopol had many different colors of dahlias, this year's hot flower, and sold out of them within hours.
"You get to make your money back," she said. "A lot of people look forward to the sale every year. They get to fill their yards for a good price."