Musings on the Spring Plant Swap

Written by Erika Allbright

Imagine a cool spring Saturday morning. You’re in the park with several neighbors, a friendly, low-key gathering. Tarps are spread on the ground. One holds a an interesting variety of plants – some bare root, some cuttings, seeds and potted plants too. The other tarp has piles of books, from picture books to recent novels, some older science books and a cookbook or three.

A woman approaches with a baby on her hip. She’s brought some mountain laurel seedlings to share and her black cat follows, trailing her all the way from home. Another neighbor arrives with an armload of books and a bag of iris rhizomes. A plant swap regular who comes from another neighborhood brings the bromeliads he grows by the score. There’s that fellow who always brings yarrow. It grows like a weed for him. You listen as people exchange gardening knowledge and ideas.

You see a plant you’re curious about and pick up a few stems. You have questions, so you turn to the Travis County Master Gardener who has come by to share her knowledge and pleasure in gardening. The two of you discuss the best area in your yard to put them.

As you turn back to the plants, you see someone looking at the hen-and-chicks you brought to contribute. He hasn’t grown them before and you explain how to care for them.

In a little while the Ukulele Choir from Maplewood School plays a few lively numbers, and a talented, good-looking couple sing and play for everyone.

Before heading home, you select a few books and plan to enjoy them later in the hammock. You’re feeling happy because you saw some friends and met some nice people who live nearby. You will definitely be part of the next Swap – the 20th! – in Autumn 2014. You can’t wait.

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