It’s a family reunion, these plant swaps. You got the stalwart regulars, some of whom just come for company and not plants and the new recruits, people who have moved here from Ohio, Seattle and/or Florida, who have never heard of such a thing. Free plants? It’s a beautiful thing. Then you have the drive-bys like the man in a classic Chevy El Camino who stopped long enough to dump a half-dozen Sego palm stumps. “What’ll you trade for the car?” someone yelled.
Our new name, we decided, should be Invasive by Nature. This season’s swap people seemed to go ga-ga over the lowly spiderwort, a primitive plant, one of my personal favorites, a plant that doesn’t take no for an answer, and the primrose, another beauty you can’t buy in the garden stores. I got a beautiful bird’s nest fern I snagged for Mary for her 50th birthday, a Formosa lily from Claudia, something called an herb Robert from Mary Tarasovich, some black elephant ears and two papaya trees I planted immediately with my bare hands in a former compost pile-turned garden. Already I’m second-guessing myself on that last one. I need to move them closer to home or 38th Street where I can string some Christmas tree lights through them to keep them warm in the winter.
Wendy, a regular, brought two bottles of sorrel rum made from the sorrel (a hibiscus) plants she grew from the seeds I contributed. The couple who dropped off a perfectly fine rain barrel last summer identified themselves and in the middle of everything a new Kompost Kid showed up with buckets to get some nearly composted compost for an Earth Day demonstration. A perfect day that felt cold enough to be the fall plant swap.