Monday, March 06, 2006

Hosting A Plant Exchange

Organizing a plant trade can be a great way to get to meet gardeners in your area. A plant trade is a basic get-together where everyone brings a plant or two and gives them away. In exchange, they take home a plant or two. Planning one of these exchanges will take a little work, but they are well worth the effort for the fun you will have.

You will need to find a group of gardeners when you start planning. You may want to begin with that neighbor who is always out pruning his roses or try contacting the local garden club. Once you have found 10 or so gardeners, you are ready to set a date. Look at the calendars and your own garden to help you with the date. You want to pick a time when plants will have germinated but can still be transplanted. That means you should go with something right on the cusp of spring.

These events tend to run a good long time because gardeners love talking about their plants, so you should aim for a Saturday afternoon event. You can plan to have light refreshments or ask others to bring something for everyone to enjoy.

You will need to set up a large enough table for everyone to put her or his flowers and plants. You should ask the people who will attend to bring the plant in a container that someone can take home. Everyone also should bring a card telling the name of the plant, the basic level of care needed, and whether it works best indoors or outdoors. Remember that while everyone in attendance will be a gardener, everyone will not have the same level of expertise about plants. You basically want to give them an idea of plants that are easy, medium, and difficult care so that someone does not take home a plant for which he or she cannot care.

You should allow everyone to set up the plants and wonder around while the exchange is beginning. Then you will want to ask people to have refreshments. Once people have eaten, then you should explain any rules you have set up for the exchange. It is best to go with few rules, other than only to take as many plants as you brought. Otherwise you could end up with people there without any plants.

Some people may want to take stems cut from plants, so you should have paper towels and perhaps even small pots and a little potting soil for these people. You may want to consider getting out some gardening books because there may be some questions about the plants you see.

At the end of the day, everyone should leave happy and with a few plants to take home. You will find that people will be very excited about the flowers and plants that they have, and they will want to do the exchange again. For you, the exchange is a benefit because you will get to experiment with other plants for only the cost of the ones you cut from your own garden. Perhaps you have had your eye on a certain type of plant and you see one at the exchange. You will be able to pick it up and know that you are getting a sturdy plant.

Before the event, you should specify the types of plants. You may want to allow only herbs, vegetables, or flowers, or you may open the exchange to any type of plant. Just be sure that the people involved know what is expected of them.

After the first exchange you put together, you will not have much trouble putting together future ones. People will remember your exchange, and if you do it successfully, they will be more than happy to return. Expect a good event to grow as people tell their friends who also are gardeners.

These events are great fun and bring together people of all ages. It does not matter your age, race, or gender if you love gardening, then you have something in common. And if there is one common thread among gardeners, it is that they love reveling in the beauty and elegance of plant life.

By Julia Mercer

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