Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Yearly Plant Exchange

I picked up my friend Ila at 12:30 and we loaded the back of my pick-up truck with her cuttings, mine were already there...then we drove out to the country, to Elayne Lansford's magical, relaxing space. Elayne's property is 32 acres not far from the Natural Gardener. I've been to other plant swaps, but this is my favorite one...she knows how to do it right! Everyone on the list is a friend, of a friend, of a friend of Elayne's. I'm a friend of her former sister-in-law and my neighbor Regine, who I've blogged about before. You may know Elayne as she was on Central Texas Gardener earlier this year, she's also a Wildlife Steward and does free speaking engagements. You can catch the re-run of her episode on KLRU Saturday May 30th at noon and 4pm and Sunday the 31st at 8am.
She's been doing this swap for four years now, this is my third time, we visit...eat...drink...announce...swap...eat and drink some more before you go home with planting projects for days! You bring a dish and stuff to share...anything, plants, seeds, object d'art, garden magazines, books etc.

The night before she has a gathering of her closest friends and they organize the space, make signs and food and catch up.

The first time I attended, Elayne introduced herself, then announced that she had 14 baby Japanese Silkie Chickens that she would like to give away. I didn't know she had chickens?! I was intrigued. I quickly called my super-spouse and asked if he thought he could build a coop? He said yes, and within a few weeks we had a coop and gorgeous baby chickens! I've been hooked since!
Everyone arrives, puts their plants in the proper space, then heads for the fixin's table by the pond to munch, mingle and meet fellow plant enthusiasts!
When we were finished, Elayne announced that she had arranged a special time and place for folks to light a candle to remember loved ones and she began by honoring her grandmother.

Then the swap begins! Everyone has a moment to explain what they brought, how it's worked for them and then add any additional announcements. Regine and I were also taking flowers to plant at the Crestview Baptist Church across the street.

The great part about this is that it's a virtual botany classroom...everyone is pitching in what they know about whatever is being featured.

I was happy to meet a fellow CAMN member in the group!

There were about 40 folks in attendance including spouses, kids and even pets!

This is Elayne, she's a lovely hostess with a huge heart and an amazing flair for creating exciting spaces....here are a few shots of her garden.
The pond, one of several water features.

This is the inside of the open air veranda complete with concrete stained floors and comfy seating.
The veranda, built by Elayne's talented husband and some seating for the luncheon.

The trail leading to the "funkadellic" space.
The calming sound of burbling water is everywhere.

Her enormous coop with tons of Silkies! I'll be picking up 3 on Friday to add to my fold! She's part of a chicken rescue group and needed some more space...yay!

Get to work handsome!

I noticed while uploading images that this bright blue was speckled throughout the garden...much like my own. I don't know if this color is popular in gardens world wide but here in the heart of Texas, I think it reminds us of the ocean...so far away!

Seating areas are everywhere...you get the feeling she could host a party of hundreds...

The ever popular Bottleus-Collectici

Part of the funky-sun area.

Elaine, in my opinion is a whimsy-artist at heart

See what I mean? I wonder what the vine plans are for the wire-wall?

I think she could write a book on placement.

Elayne's new office! Complete with water collection system!

The view from inside.
I hope this inspires you to organize a plant exchange in your hood! There is a great gardening revival going on due to the waning economy and the Obama's new Victory garden. It's a nice way to meet your neighbors and learn about plants in your area. I think the party wrapped up around 4 and I drove home thinking of where to put everything in my yard and across the street. This year I brought the pups that are still coming up from a Century plant that tried to take over my yard and a variety of things I planted from seed. Each year when I do my seedlings I double the amount to give away to clients, friends and the exchange!
Formula for spring cleaning: host plant exchange, get rid of abundant plants and seedlings, share recipes and libations with friends and neighbors...get out and plant a garden! Thank you Elayne!
Happy Gardening!


Anonymous said...

We have a scion exchange locally, I wonder if there is a planting exchange.

Iris said...

What a beautiful and creative place and hostess and idea. Thanks for the tour!

(I've got several extra baby Mexican feathergrasses right now if you want any.)

ConsciousGardener said...

Well KK, I had to look up a 'scion exchange' very cool...where does thsi take place?

Thanks for the feathergrass offer...are you in North Austin per chance?


Carol at Lost Valley Gardens said...

Looks like a great way to spend a day. Thanks for taking us along for the ride. Love the garden art in this garden. It is so hill country and so creative. Gave me lots of ideas.

catmint said...

Sounds like a wonderful day, with a botany lesson included. And what a superb garden. Very inspirational. So varied.

Bonnie said...

How fabulous is that story. I just love it that it just spreads out to friends and friends of friends. I just read about one in San Marcos that is like that as well. I always think I would feel self conscious about exchanges and whether I am bringing something desirable. And wow, her garden and office are so cool!

ConsciousGardener said...

Bonnie! Your place is so big that it would be perfect for an exchange! Everyone literally just brings whatever they happen upon, or have too much of. There's also indoor plants, transplants and a lot of volunteers. Today we did a garden tour in our neighborhood and they asked people to bring pots and trowels to remove things they wanted!

Donna J. Thomas said...


I just wanted to say thank you for posting your information about your plant swap. Although I live in Vermont I found it extremely useful. This will be my first plant swapping project that I am organizing so again... It was wonderful viewing your site and learning what I have because of it. Take Care and Happy Gardening,

Darren said...

I love seeing others having plant swaps. I have been having a Spring swap here in Charleston for 7 years and will be having my 3rd Fall swap in September. If you ever get a chance to hold one or go to one, I highly recommend it!

Jacquie said...

Hello from WI! Great photos and ideas. I have an annual Fall 'dig' where friends come with bags and a shovel and remove what I can share out of my 35 flower beds. I too am a 'dumpster diver' (actually pick up things roadside) to line my path in our woods so I can appreciate the ecclectic look of her wandering paths. Fun!