The Plant Swap, Be Still My Heart

For as long as I can remember my mom has always been a gardener. When I was very young and my parents were still married, they had a large vegetable garden. I remember picking the peas right off the plants and eating them. The smell of fresh carrots, straight out of the ground, the way the orange looks against the deep brown of rich earth. Twirling cucumbers until they broke from the vine, the way the fuzzy stems feel and how there are little kind of prickly things on cucumbers that haven’t been covered in glossy wax stuff and shipped, and the skin actually tastes good. The place where there was a vegetable garden changed over the years, I had a play house on stilts, then it was just grass, and now part of her art studio sits in that space. When I was very young my mom dreamed of a pond, with a stream and a bridge. She took a wooden stake and nailed a piece of 2×4 and painted it white and with redish orange letters wrote “Visualize a Pond Here” and stuck it in the yard where her pond would eventually be.

She now has that pond, as well as most of the things she visualized when I was so young. She’s taught me a lot of things, but this isn’t really about all of those things, this is about gardening, and how my mother passed along a deep seeded desire to make and watch things grow.

Mom’s Pond.

Years ago she started going to this thing called a plant swap meet. The concept is things grow, and when they grow you have to thin them out so why not share the wealth and trade what you have extra of for what you might want, or not know that you want. And thus a plant swap was born. I actually saw an article on one that a lady has been doing for a few years in Martha Stewart Magazine. I thought, “Psh, you’re behind the times, ours has been going for nearly 13 years!”

Today was the fall plant swap and the first swap where I’ve actually had plants to bring (I’m pretty new at this whole gardening for myself thing). I got such amazing plants and an insane amount of history and information. Did you know there was a variety of bamboo that was native to Texas? Did you know pine needles are great for your garden as a mulch?

People pre-trade via a yahoo group, but most people will just give you things if you ask. If they say no they usually tell you that if you remind them, they’ll definitely bring it for you at the next swap. Its like we’re this gardening family that only gets together twice a year. We do a pot-luck lunch, and people come from as far as Galveston and Arlington to swap plants.

We chat and hang out and munch on food. People bring door prizes and we draw names to see who gets fun things like new gardening gloves, a book on native plants, or a hot ticket item like a stag horn fern (which I won one year, its doing splendidly by the way). Certain people are alway on the hunt for certain items…different kinds of ginger, interesting things. I’m always in the market for herbs, succulents, sedums, or anything thats colorful and blooms in the shade.

Some people are so organized with labels and pots, and then there’s mom and I who dig things up the night before or day of the swap and people take what they want. Either way plants get good homes.

Mom collects names for the door prizes.

Jennifer (the incredible woman who puts this whole thing together) has a great husband that mans the grill for us every year.

Jennifer calling names for the door prizes. She’s got an incredible voice that carries over everyone, but we’re thinking a bull horn will be a good addition for the Spring Swap.

I really should have posted photos of my take home. I got several new seedums, a few kinds of basil, a few kinds of mint, passion vine (SO excited), a few succulents, and some other things that I don’t remember the names of, I promise, I’m learning.

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