Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Community my own yard!

I, along with my wallet, am a big fan of community plant exchanges. I'm already thinking of organizing one next spring. It's a good way to meet other gardeners, do some spring cleaning in the yard by dividing overgrown plants, and learn about new species of plants you may not be familiar with. Most of the perennial flowers, herbs and shrubs in my yard have come from plant exchanges around the area over the last 6 years. I love to see them (the plants AND the swaps) come back every year bigger and better than the year before. I remember where I got each item in my yard, or who gave me the starts and/or bulbs to my favorite plants.

As much as I appreciate the formality of a perfectly manicured English garden, that's not gonna happen around here. I mix my flowers in with my herbs...the lower herbs like thyme provide a ground cover and weed control for taller flowers like lilies. I planned our yard in the front so there would be something different blooming over the summer. When the spring tulips and daffodils are spent and done, the peonies come out. Then, when they're done, the bright yellow and red lilies spring up (over 6 feet tall this year!). Then, all the herbs flower and go to seed before the chill of autumn comes around.

This is one of my favorite little spots - the big floppy rhubarb leaves, next to the delicate pansies and the carpet of bright, tiny lemon thyme leaves.
I would recommend finding a local plant exchange in your area. Some gardening guilds have them in the spring and fall, but most are in the spring when most people are getting ready to plant. There are certain requirements involved, but many times, you don't even have to bring plants if you're new to gardening and you don't have anything to swap yet. If a garden guild is hosting, they are always happy to accept donations, but it isn't mandatory. Check with your local Master Gardener chapter to find out about swaps in your area and get to swapping. If you want to host one yourself, here are some "good-to-knows" to pull it off. It not only takes a village to raise a child but a garden too!

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