Post last updated: June 25th, 2019
On June 15, I was invited to the Mandarin Garden Club’s July 20th “Organized Plant Exchange.” It was to have ten rounds of exchange. I wanted to participate in all ten rounds so I immediately began to look for plants that would meet their “rules.”
I had two ‘Little Tiger’ hibiscus rooted the year before, two potted asparagus ferns (the birds keep dropping the seeds under my azaleas where they take root), two pink arrowhead plants, two rabbit’s foot ferns that had been rooting since March due to my sister’s failure to follow directions, one bromeliad, and one Cuban Oregano I purchased a while back from the Eat Your Yard guy at the beach.
Their swap rules are worth mentioning in case you want to run a neighborhood plant exchange:
- All plants must have roots. Do not bring cuttings stuck in soil.
- Each rooted plant, bulb, seed packet must be labeled.
- Do not bring invasive plants like: Mexican petunia, shield fern, mimosa tree.
- For plants that are dug from your garden, dig at least a week in advance of the day of the exchange so your plants are well established in their pots. No droopies please.
I was intrigued that the exchange included garden books, garden magazines, decorative pots, garden art, garden furniture and garden tools.
We were required to show up at 9:30 to get our plants onto the center swap tables in the right categories – annuals, perennials, cactus, herbs, etc. We were given a paper placemat on which we wrote our names. Our placement went on one of the tables around the walls of the room. After each swap round, we were to take our goodies back to our placemat.
The “auctioneer” on duty was Susan Westermann using a new sound system that had recently been installed. She did a great job of “sounding the gong” to let us know when to make a grab for the plants we favored. They had rules for that, too that went along the lines of no pushing, fighting, making comments about plants that were brought, etc. I can’t remember exactly how it was worded but it was cute.
I was talking to Linda Cunningham, Jacksonville’s herbal expert, who has a wonderful sense of humor, when the games began and I literally walked away from her when she was in mid-sentence. I felt so bad about that but I was standing with her across the room from the pencil cactus I wanted to claim in Round 1. I saw it come in on a truck and mentally put my name on it before it ever came off the truck. My Round 2 choice would have been a copper “yard art” sprinkler – the kind that sprays water from different holes — but one of the members had both her hands on it starting at 9:45 so I instructed her to enjoy my sprinkler. Even if the sprinkler didn’t work, it would have made great yard art.
Cunningham had a Lemon Eucalyptus plant (it smelled wonderful when touched and I think she said it repelled mosquitos) but it was gone by the third round. Ditto for her red bee balm.
On the second round, I got my third angel wing begonia. I think they bloom but who cares? The leaves are spectacular. Someone pointed out a porter weed, and mentioned that butterflies loved it. Naturally, I parked myself beside it for the next round. I love butterflies, what can I say? I also got a tall pink salvia, two tall coleus, a euphorbia, a succulent and a few magazines.
Several of the women expressed an interest in my pencil cactus so I gave them cuttings. As a member of the succulent family, more or less, I was sure it would root with ease.
If you are local, consider joining the Mandarin Garden Club. All those women are swell people.