Saturday, May 1, 2010

Plant Swapping

Gardeners are some of the most generous people in the world. Who else just loves to give their plants away? You know someone is an avid gardener when you visit their garden and they say, "let me give you some", and before you know it they have pulled out a trowel and pot and you are loaded with new things for the garden.

I recently visited the garden of a fellow blogger, Layanne from Ledge and Garden, (Layanne is one of the "Garden Guys" on 96.9FM on Sunday mornings). She had stopped by the store on a trip to Tower Hill Botanical Garden and invited me to visit her garden sometime if I was in Rhode Island. I never pass up a garden invitation, I love to look at other people's gardens! So after a plant pick up in Connecticut I swung by Rhode Island (I just love our little New England states) and not only saw Layanne's gardens but enjoyed tea, rhubarb cake and wonderful conversation and company.

And yes, I came home with plants. Here are the hellbores, astilbe and solomon seal Layanne generously shared.

So why are we all so generous with our plants? I think it's more than trying to thin out the garden. I know I hate to throw a plant away, and although my garden really doesn't need more lemon balm I know there is somebody out there who does (okay, well maybe not..) But giving our plants is like sharing a bit of ourselves with someone, a small piece of something we love that can grow on in someone else's garden. A spreading of the love maybe.

My garden club has a sale on Memorial Day every year where we all bring plants from our home gardens to sell. We often end up buying each others and my garden is filled with plants like "Carol's hydrangea" and "Carla's Rose of Sharon". The hawthorn in my garden center was a garden club leftover that 2 members dug from another member's house and potted up. When no one bought it, I did knowing that I would find someplace for it. The other fun thing about the sale is when customers ask about a plant, there is always someone chirping up "that's from my garden" and they go on to tell about how the plant grows, what they like (or don't) about it and share that little piece of themselves.

I do have to admit that I am sometimes particular about who I give a plant to and some friends liken me to Seinfeld's soup nazi, calling me the plant nazi. I won't give (or sell) a plant to what I think might be an undeserving home and have been known to refuse to sell a plant or share something from the garden if I don't think the energy is right. I think there is a certain plant etiquette, and I've had people come to the store garden and expect to be able to just dig up a part of something they've wanted. If they ask nicely I might agree, but on occasion I've flatly refused. Guess I should lighten up a bit about sharing!

But I've swapped hostas for iris and helped a friend move a garden and now Debbie's euphorbia brightens the border by the pool. And some if just recently went to my yoga instructor for her new border. I've donated goatsbeard to Paula's garden, comfrey to students and herbs and plants of all kinds to the garden club. And this past week, a customer dropped off a large piece of perennial sweet pea (Lathyrus latifolius)and Cathy of Bird of the Hand Farm, an organic farm in Sterling, dropped off samples of her plants for me. Next week I'm meeting up with a fellow herbalist to swap more plants, how much fun!

The plants in my garden have all kinds of stories and memories of people and places, a little collection of the journey of life.

Have any good swap stories? Share them here!

1 comment:

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

You are so fortunate to have so many people to share plants with, Linda! And people bring their plants to you - it means they like you and trust you!
Thanks for your comment on my Jamestown post!!! I am excited about your connection to that piece of history! How did you learn? What do you know about your grand...grand... grandfather? Wait, I'll tell my boys!