A friend told me of a local plant swap, in which gardeners of the area dig up plants they don’t want/need/like and exchange them for other’s gardener’s discards.
With my mother in cahoots, we both gathered ten things — good things; green, vibrant, lovely stock, in our estimation — and I took the booty to the swap at the crack of ten this morning on the isle of Yukon.
At the check-in table I swapped my messy little buckets of stuff — hey! I never got those buckets back! I just this moment thought of that…I liked those buckets… — for twenty tickets, the kind I’d get for a chance to win door prizes or raffle items. At precisely ten ‘o five, we lined up, me and several elderly gardener folks, and we ran like cattle toward tables set up with everyone’s offal.
This was the system: line up, move forward, as you pass the lady with the bowl of tickets, drop yours in, grab a plant; repeat.
I had overheard one tiny lady say it would take fifteen minutes to unload hundreds of plants, and she was right.
None of us were taking chances. We dropped our tickets and not-so-carefully elbowed each other not-so-gently to get to the good stuff, the one plant we just had to take home in order for this exercise to be a success.
Few made eye contact.
It was war. Of a kind. Sure, I could have taken those little ladies — they were little, sweet — but in the heat of plant battles, don’t look up and keep moving. Drop that ticket, swiftly move to the target, grab quickly, stay low (that’s where the little old ladies have the advantage), and get to the Bowl Lady again as fast as you can run/walk.
This is no game.
Toward the end, even the junk plants, the ones no one wanted, started to look okay again. It wasn’t about quality, just quantity, and nothing plantable would see the inside of a dumpster on this day.
In fifteen minutes, a hot sweaty mess, I dropped my last ticket, grabbed a wee little black plastic pot filled with more mud than mint, and set it next to my haul.
Peony twigs, moneywort clumps, garden phlox, beefsteak tomatoes, larkspur, iris bulbs, other stuff I didn’t recognize but there seemed to be a lot of buzz over, and two pots of mint, that I’ll plant into bigger pots so that it is contained and does not over run all the other gloriously filthy gardening treasure I managed to grab.
Plus, I got in twenty laps of that community center, so my heart got a little exercise.
When I got home I slopped through the muddy mess of a flower bed that I dote over too much and sunk the roots of new neighbors for my old friends. But only some of them. The other half of the haul is going to live with my mother, whose beds are equally muddy and ready.
I wonder if, tomorrow when I deliver them, I’ll need my gardening boots and a shovel?
And I’ve got to be more mindful of community calendars. Plant swaps are a blast.