The tomatoes are a foot tall. Crammed into their Solo cups they are ready to be free, to sink their roots into the earth and taste new soil. Radishes and beets are abandoning their baby seed leaves for grown-up ones, reaching to the sun with ambition. Spinach and carrots and kale have just thrust themselves into the sunlight, embarking on a journey written into their DNA, from seed to plant to seed. I provide a fork in the road, and some on that journey end up on my dinner plate.
Gardens are a wonderful connection to the earth. I find that not only does working in my garden ground me, but it also makes me more aware of who I am and what is really important in life. Food is important. And good food is worth working for. Sunlight and rain are important. A nurtured start in life and a forced hardening off are also important. Plants are patient teachers. It took me a while to learn some of their lessons, and I am still learning.
My house is surrounded by plants. Two large sugar maple trees stand watch in the front yard. A row of eastern hemlocks lines the road, almost like sentries. A white spruce, some blue spruces and a Norway spruce also find a home on my one acre. A varied lawn, filled with many grasses, dandelions, buttercups, speedwell, forget-me-nots, star-of-bethlehem and more, wraps around the house, gardens and chicken coop. Wild patches of goldenrod, asters, dame's rocket, brambles, willows and sumac meander along the outside perimeter. There is so much more - and behind the locust post fence, my garden grows.
The Audubon Center and Sanctuary’s plant exchange will be held Saturday, May 19, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
There lies within the act of planting and tending a garden a reassurance. The world will go on, life will maintain itself with a surprising ferocity, and potentially devastating events will be overcome. Come floods, frosts, torrential rains, drought and some over-friendly wildlife, the plants grow on. These green and growing residents reassure me that all is well with the world.
This is why I love plant exchange at Audubon. Not only does it give me an outlet for some of my over-enthusiastic plants, but it allows me to add more to my gardens. Perhaps I will find that plant I've been searching for. Perhaps I will discover a new plant I didn't know about! And I always meet some gardeners who are more than willing to share their botanical bounty.
It isn't just an exchange, either. You can just buy stuff if you see more things you want than you brought. (I always do that.) It is a pretty simple system. If you have plants that are extra or unwanted, pot them up (no bare roots, no plastic bags) and bring them in. Keep in mind we do reserve the right to refuse plants - especially invasive, wilted or potentially toxic plants. Some plants only move if they have a color noted - like daylilies. So after you pot your plants, label them with name and color and sun/shade preference. Then bring them in!
We mark plants with "price" tags when they arrive. We price based on species, pot size and plant health. The lowest tier is $2, followed by $5 and $10. Pot sizes from packs to 3 inches are typically $2. Four- to seven-inch pots are typically $5 and pots eight inches or larger are $10. Occasionally there are trees and shrubs that may be priced higher, but not usually.
All plants are available for exchange or cash except plants donated from nurseries. These plants are cash only. All the proceeds benefit the Audubon gardens to purchase annuals for hummingbirds and butterflies, tools, and other additions such as puddling dishes for butterflies. These gardens serve all of our visitors, including the 3,000 school children that come through.
If you would like to come to the plant exchange, mark your calendar for Saturday, May 19, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. I am a bit of a stickler and won't let anyone take anything off the tables before 11 a.m., so there is a bit of chaos at the beginning as people "stake out" their claims. After that it settles down a little bit and people enjoys browsing the plants.
If you would like to donate things but can't make the event, you may drop them off on Friday, May 18, potted, labeled and watered. You can also volunteer, too, as we need folks to help move plants, take money, load plants in cars, and set-up and clean-up. For more information on the event, contact Sarah Hatfield at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call the center.
I can't wait to see what I might be adding to the house! It adds diversity, keeps me outside with my hands in the dirt (and there's no healthier place), and invites the local critters to come in for a sip or a snack. Look forward to seeing you there!
Audubon is located at 1600 Riverside Road, just off Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The trails are open from dawn until dusk, and the Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, except Sundays, when we open at 1 p.m. For more information visit www.jamestownaudubon.org or call 569-2345.