My routine to wind down from a day at work is to wander around my one acre and check on my plants. Some of them I nurture, all of them I care for. The census includes everything from radishes to Staghorn Sumac to pale yellow Hollyhocks.
Growing things is therapy, and creates a sanctuary of sorts. The plants bear me no ill will for unloading my stress and worries upon their leaves and petals. Human ailments and afflictions do not bother them and so they absorb them as sweet, spring rain. I am grateful for that.
I walk. I greet the flowers - "Hello iris! Oh, you're going to bloom this year. What a nice shade of purple you are." And so it goes as a meander around. It is a way to keep time, real time, not people time. It is that, perhaps, that grounds me in the hectic season of spring.
Gardening, or growing things in general, whether it be trees or vegetables, or even crops, creates a bond with something more ... primitive. It forces you to pay attention to that outside man's creation, the rain and clouds and temperature and soil. It slows down time until you are in tune with a natural cycle, not one run by a wristwatch or cell phone. Plants have their own time. By following their movement everyday, I start to adopt that time, too.
My love of plants is known to friends and coworkers and Auduboners. Every offer of "I've got some extras ..." is met with a yes! and so I have a garden full of extras - the unwanteds, extras, or no-longer-needed's. It makes for an eclectic collection, but also one that is filled with stories and histories.
Some of the iris I have came from my friend's grandmother's garden. A lot of the lilies came from Ryan's mom's gardens. Most of the rhubarb came from Don, my coworker. I'm looking forward to transplanting some of my late grandmother's yellow iris this year. And an awful lot of the stuff I have came from the Plant Exchange at Audubon.
This is a neat event, because it started to give local gardeners a chance to share their plants with each other. Originally just an exchange (with encouraged donations to Audubon), it brought people together and gave them a chance to get some new plants, some wanted plants, or to give away some extras.
This year (the fourth) the exchange is broadening to include a sale. Local greenhouses and nurseries have donated a variety of plants, some for the gardens, and some for the sale. Because there is no Secret Garden Tour this year, the Secret Gardeners have also donated plants from their gardens for the sale. Between the businesses, including Barmore's Greenhouses, Krist Hansen Nursery, Big Tree Landscaping & Nursery, Robert's Nursery, Four Seasons Nursery & Garden Center, Mike's Nursery and the gardeners, there will be lots of plants for sale. And that's not including the plants that people bring on exchange. I promise, there will be lots of plants.
The way the exchange works is that plants are "priced" according to pot size. For every plant you bring in (it must be in a pot) you will receive a ticket coordinating with the size of the pot. You may turn those tickets in for another plant, or combine them to get a larger plant, or use them in combination with cash to purchase plants. Or you can just pay cash for anything. We still encourage donations as all the proceeds go toward benefiting the Audubon gardens.
In the past we've had everything from lady's slippers to tomatoes, so I know there will be a wide variety of things available. The event runs from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 6, which I know seems late for getting stuff in the ground, but it's a good time to get rid of the stuff that doesn't fit in the garden, that has gotten too big in the last few weeks, or the excess veggies. It's also a great time to transplant those spring flowers that are done blooming. And it gives even the procrastinating gardeners time to get ready!
Please stop in a see what we've got. No plants will be sold or exchanged until 1 p.m. The earlier you get there, the better the selection is. Be warned that it is a little chaotic at first because of this, but we think that the new ticket system will make the trading fair and that the excitement of it adds a little to the fun of it.
Audubon is located at 1600 Riverside Road, just off Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The event will be held, rain or shine, on that property. The trails are open dawn to dusk, so meander through before you take your plants home to tuck in the ground. The Center is open from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., daily except Sundays when we open at 1 p.m.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Sarah Hatfield is a naturalist at Audubon and finds great company in the flora surrounding her house.