Plant Swap

Saturday I attended a plant swap organized by some people on Gardenweb.com and it was fabulous!  This was my third swap I’d attended over the past couple of years after a gardening neighbor alerted me to this fun plant goldmine.

Here’s how these swaps work:  Well in advance of the swap, you assess your gardens and see which of your perennials can be divided,  check if anything has made any new seedlings you don’t need in that area,  take cuttings of plants that can be propagated that way and get them started, or if you start things from seed determine which extras you’ll have.  From this you create your trade list or “Have” list, and you post the list of the names of the plants on your Gardenweb profile and/or start a thread with “HAVE” as the subject line and list your available plants.  You also create a “Want” list for plants you’re most interested in. Other gardeners planning to attend the swap look through the Have lists and post replies to people who have plants they’d like to have and they offer a trade based on the person’s Want list or just invite the person to look through THEIR Have list and pick something.  (I’m surely making this sound far more complicated than it is!) You now have a prearranged trade!

Most people prearrange many trades with several different people and know exactly how many and which plants they need to dig up and stick in pots for the swap, but everyone also brings extra plants for spontaneous trading.  Best of all is the Freebies pile — any extra plants you brought that you don’t care about getting a trade for get placed there and then anyone can have whatever they’d like! Gardeners in general are super generous and are especially happy to help out a new gardener who has very little or even NOTHING to trade.  I came to my first swap with maybe six tiny pots of two different plants (one of which was strawberries) and I left with nearly twenty new, different plants!   It is sooo great for expanding your plant collection, and then of course once those plants grow for a year or two, you can divide them and bring them to a swap and maybe end up helping out another new gardener.

It is really cool to see what people bring to trade and to talk with other gardeners about where they have had success with a particular plant (partial shade? full sun? deadhead the flowers or let ’em stay?).   Oh!  Did I mention the food?  There’s always FOOD, too, and gooooood stuff!  It is done potluck style, and sometimes people munch a bit while they’re trading and then at some point everyone fills up their plates and gets serious.  Free plants!  Free food!  What more could you ask for on a Saturday?

Here’s what I came home with:

My new babies

There is lamb’s ear, a Pacific Coast iris, Centaurea Montana “Alba” (Bachelor’s Button; this is a white flowered one), three little sedums,  a mystery salvia (hoping for purple), Monarda (bee balm) in a color I don’t have, Bloody Dock, European Ginger, Welsh Poppies,  Society Garlic, three sweet Golden Marconi Peppers,  a purple aster, Motherwort herb, some annual grass called “bunny tails”,  a campanula, and a coreopsis.  SCORE!

Flashback

Here are some shots from previous years of gardening:

heuchera

heuchera

Euphorbia, my favorite plant I've ever grown, which sadly didn't survive this past Winter.

Euphorbia, my favorite plant I've ever grown, which sadly didn't survive this past Winter.

Japanese Maple, one of my other favorite plants

Japanese Maple, one of my other favorite plants

Hostas on the North side of our garage.  That's a snail on the wall above the big one.

Hostas on the North side of our garage. That's a snail on the wall above the big one.

Nasturtiums in 2006.  That side of the house is now sans grass and the Nasturtiums have been replaced by raspberries and strawberries.

Nasturtiums in 2006. That side of the house is now sans grass and the Nasturtiums have been replaced by raspberries and strawberries.

2008 veggie garden. The peas did quite well and are on the left trying to tear down the puny trellis I built them.  The tomatoes on the far right didn't get much bigger or better due to our very limited Summer last year.

2008 veggie garden. The peas did quite well and are on the left trying to tear down the puny trellis I built them. The tomatoes on the far right didn't get much bigger or better due to our very limited Summer last year.

Signs of Spring

Here are some photos I took around the yard in early April.

blossoms on my weeping cherry

blossoms on my weeping cherry

flowering plum trees

flowering plum trees

daffodils

daffodils

hellebore

hellebore

garden helper

garden helper

signs of life in perennial bed in front yard - lupine, red euphorbia, golden sage, potentilla.

signs of life in perennial bed in front yard - lupine, red euphorbia, golden sage, potentilla.

Hey, look, I’m blogging

I’ve been tempted over the years to start a blog, but always stopped myself thinking I could never have enough words of interest to post on a regular basis.  Sure, I have passions, interests, and living subject matter I could yak about, but why would anyone else care?  Well I decided to get over myself and do it anyway, and to focus on a subject in which I am currently enmeshed:  gardening.  I still consider myself a novice gardener, though I’ve been in my current home and garden space for seven years, and I “gardened vicariously” though my mother throughout my childhood.

Our yard was pretty bare when we moved in – a few shrubs and trees, and some dorky-looking primroses which were placed under a big sycamore tree clearly to attract home buyers, which I promptly removed despite being 8+ months pregnant.   I have done a lot since we’ve lived here, yet when I look outside I see so much more that I want to do – such is the nature of gardening.  In general what I have to work with right now is a couple of mixed perennial beds in the front yard and a small patch of lawn, an edible/kids strip along one side of the house (raspberries, strawberries, and this year cherry tomatoes; all flanked by stepping stones we made together),  a 6′ x 6′ raised bed in which I grow vegetables in the square foot gardening manner,  a new-this-year 3′ x 3′ bed for the boys right next to mine, a little herb garden I made a couple years ago, a small shade garden next to our shed, a perennial bed where our late kitty was laid to rest called “Rambo’s Garden”, and a new deck (okay, new last Summer) around which I’ve just dug and started planting several new beds which will be filled primarily with annuals this year.  Oh, and my back yard also contains a wooden swing/playset thing on an island of wood chips and a really ugly big trampoline.