By Julie Karmeier, Washington County Master Gardener
We are very fortunate that our local newspapers advertise our spring and fall plant swaps, but we never report the results. That changes today. The Washington County Master Gardeners have held plant swaps for over 20 years and although it started slowly, it has now grown to be an expected annual event. There are still a few people that have brought and swapped plants for the entire time the Master Gardeners have been holding this event. It is such a wonderful time for new gardeners to learn and try new plants and for experienced gardeners to find something unexpected.
On Saturday, September 30, at the Nashville Fall Festival, over 75 plants were brought by the Master Gardeners and available to swap. However, by the end of the day, we had more than that to take to the DuBois Fall Festival on Sunday, October 1, as many gardeners bring plants that they cannot bear to throw away and want to find a loving home for them.
Here is a short listing of some plants that typically are available at the fall swap: Clivia, spider wort, snake plant, citronella, purple heart, philodendron, pothos, various spider plants, peace lilies, angle wing begonia, arrowhead plant, goose foot, various wandering jews, white, pink, yellow, purple and periwinkle blue iris, schefflera, elephant ears, false aralia, cannas, winter onion bulbs (aka walking onions). We also gave away fresh sprigs of lavender.
Our fall plant swaps are usually more house plants, whereas our spring plant swaps are more perennials.
A bonus this year at Nashville was that everyone had the opportunity to learn more about the Monarch butterfly lifespan.
One of our regular customers brings very large plants, and this year she brought nine five-gallon plus containers of aloe vera plants that originated from her grandmother’s 50-year-old plant. We weren’t sure if anyone would want such huge plants, but we had several takers on Saturday, and by the end of the day on Sunday all had found a loving home. In addition to live plants to swap, we had hundreds of seed packages and pages of literature on various topics to give away.
At the Nashville Fall Festival, we estimated we had over 175 customers and answered numerous questions on various topics. At DuBois Fall Festival we had a little more traffic and estimate we spoke to over 325 gardeners and potential gardeners.
At DuBois we do not do a plant swap but offer the plants for free, or a small donation may be made to our Master Gardener Education fund, which helps to defray the cost of the 12-week training program all Master Gardeners are required to attend. We also offer this same opportunity in Nashville.
The best part of both days is hearing stories of how wonderful our customers’ plants are doing from a prior year. And yes, we hear stories of the demise of some plants, but that’s okay; we’ll share more.
We are looking forward to seeing all of you again next year at our spring swap. If you would like more information on your plants, please call your local University of Illinois Extension office.