We've all exchanged plants with friends and family - I know I have. Green Plant Swap is really just an extension of this practice. Swapping plants with members needn't be done on a local level either, as Helene and I have just proved. Whether you live in John O'Groats or Land's End - there are no rules to say you can't swap plants! Providing you and the person you've arranged to swap with come to an understanding/arrangement, nothing could be simpler.
Our long distance swap began when Helene expressed an interest in starting a new Heuchera collection. I knew I had some cuttings and others that were in need of splitting. A quick message via the site and the ball was rolling, so to speak! Helene kindly offered me a couple of cuttings from her beloved climbing rose - Rosa Crimson Cascade. We decided to wait until springtime to arrange delivery.
The package was posted in London by Helene on the Monday and I received it here in Edinburgh on the Thursday morning. It had arrived safe and sound. The Hermes courier delivers to my house regularly enough to know I have a safe place for him to pop the parcels in if I'm not yet up!
Here it is, exactly as it was when it left London 3 days previous. Helene's labels had done their job!
Helene had used sacking to pack right to the top of the box, good idea. This would ensure no movement of the contents.
Remove the sacking and as you can see everything is tightly packed. I couldn't wait to get my mitts in there. Especially as 2 of the plants were completely new to me.
The Roses came out first, just look at the healthy roots! Once I had a better idea of the size, I was able to organise appropriate pots. I was not quite ready to plant these out, had I been there would have been no issue with putting them direct into the ground. The weather forecast was good, therefore I had no need to worry if they'd be affected by the drop in temperature between here and London. In a normal year, this may not have been the case!
The others all came in their own pots, complete with labels. All I had to do was unwrap. Of course taking care not to damage the plants in my excitement.
So what did I get:
Here they all are - Their first introduction to Scotland was by way of a good long drink of our exceptionally good water! As you can see they are all extremely health and unlike Helene, I did not find any stowaways.
They've yet to get a permanent home in the garden. They'll be perfectly happy in the pots until I'm ready for them. The packaging was saved and would be reused when I send Helene her plants the following Monday. It suits Helene that packages are mailed on a Monday, that way you are almost guaranteed that they will be delivered the following few days, regardless of the carrier.
I did not take some shots of the plants as I was packing them to send south. Most of the plants were sent bare root. Using damp kitchen paper to keep the roots moist and wrapped in freezer bags to keep the water in. I then cut open cardboard cylinders (aka loo roll holders) and wrap around the root system for a bit of protection. You can see here on Helene's blog just what I mean. Sending plants bare root reduced weight and therefore shipping costs. Of course not all plants would be suitable for sending that way but the majority of perennials will survive just fine.
I did not use the same carrier as Helene, I used Royal Mail. They were posted at work on Monday night and received by Helene the following day.
Swapping plants is a cost effective way of adding to the plants you grow in your garden. It could also be a way of getting that elusive plant you are after for a while. It could also be a way to try plants you ordinarily wouldn't think to try or had not heard of before. Both the Arisaema and Arisaram are new plants to me, in fact, I knew nothing about them other than what I had read on Helene's blogs previously and would probably passed them by in a GC, mind you, I don't think I've ever seen these plants for sale here locally. It could also be a great way to get rid of those impulse buys, you know the ones I mean! You've bought a plant, got it home and after weeks of deliberating on just where you are going to grow it you find out it's just not suitable or not what you really wanted. I know I've one or two candidates that fall into that category. It needn't be limited to plants either - I've seen many growers offer seeds for swapping. I know many of you grow from seed. It might be worth a wee look just for something different!
I needn't tell you just how exciting it is to receive new plants, even better for the fact it has cost very little. The Roses alone would have cost me in excess of £20. It's a win/win situation in so far as I can see!
All that is left for me to say is thank you Helene for the plants and introducing me to Green Plant Swap. I will be looking forward to seeing my plants and yours growing in our respective gardens.