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Townsend's Free Plant Swap

Published in the six Nashoba Publishing papers on Friday, 26 April 2002

As Spring gets going, it seems every town around has a plant sale where donated plants are sold for the benefit of some worthy organization. In Townsend, for the past ten years, a Plant Exchange has been a traditional part of the town's annual Earth Day Celebration. In this event, the plants are free. This year it will be on Saturday, May 4.

The plants are available to take as soon as the steeple bell in the Congregational church rings ten o'clock. Enthusiasts arrive well before then, in order to empty wheelbarrows, garden carts, and boxes of their contributions, so they will have somewhere to put their booty... and to look over what everyone else has brought, in preparation for the big rush at ten, when plants go fast (and you have to keep your eye on the ones you gather). After that, new plants do keep arriving through the morning, so don't hesitate to come if you can't make it by ten.

Organizer Jock Snaith asks that contributors put each plants in a container to be carried away: a plastic pot, a cardboard box lined with a plastic bag, ...even just a sturdy plastic bag will hold the root ball securely if the soil is compact. Please don't dig a whole patch of something and expect people to divide it up at the Exchange. Also please label your contribution with some kind of name (common or botanical) -- and if you want to be really helpful, flower color.

What kind of plants will you find here? Some common ones, some more unusual. The one thing you can depend on is that they grow well in local conditions -- because these are the plants local gardeners have too much of.

It's a great occasion to meet other gardeners, to talk plants and to swap stories. Everyone -- from anywhere -- is invited to take what they like, and to bring what they want. If you don't have any to bring, still don't be shy about giving a new home to what's there. "People have a hard time understanding that you can really take the plants if you didn't bring anything," Jock says. But he loves to see brand-new gardeners come, to load them up with a huge batch to start with. "The worst that can happen," he says, "is that you'll have to come back."

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© Copyright 2002 Catherine Holmes Clark