They came by bicycle.
That’s Ann Thomas with the blue bike and Doreen Jesseph riding caboose. (Note the handlebar baskets full of goodies!) They pedaled over to Wes and Faye Miller’s house ready for trading at the Diggin’ Florida Dirt 2012 Plant Swap, which the Millers (so kindly!) and I co-hosted on Super Bowl Sunday.
I’ve organized a few swaps at this time of year, but NEVER one like this! Gardeners — about 150 — from all over the Tampa Bay area came to give plants, get plants, and (many) just to ask a lot of questions. Which is what a swap is all about. Yeah, I was surprised to see bicycles, but there were so many more surprises in store!
Along with car after SUV after pickup truck pulling up and unloading, we had folks like Hillsborough County Master Gardener Wonderful Virginia Overstreet (I’m a fan!) trundle up with her little red wagon.
Virginia was crucial for identifying mystery cuttings. I greeted people at the check-in, and if they — always apologetically — said, “I don’t know what this is but it’s a terrific plant,” I said, “Go out back and scream, ‘VIRGINIA OVERSTREET!’ ” She put lots of names to leafy stems.
And then there was Phil Compton, field organizer for Sierra Club Florida, and his wife, Liz Taylor, who paddled up in their canoe.
Swapping — which really isn’t “swapping,” people just bring stuff and take home stuff — got super hectic. As soon as new arrivals brought their cuttings and seeds, they got snapped up.
Above left, swappers pore over the offerings. Above right, Nanette O’Hara (in pink), an environmental reporter years ago and now safeguarding our estuary, and Nigel Barrable get intense about their cuttings. (Love it!) Behind them in the red shirt is Brittany Aukett, http://
People who had no cuttings or seeds to bring (which was totally cool — gardeners just love to share!) came loaded with goodies.
I was going crazy trying to get names but I just couldn’t get ’em all! I loved this lady, above left, who expertly balanced her very delicious cupcakes while filling out her name tag.
Faye and Wes’s amazing backyard includes an outdoor kitchen that became a landing spot for gardeners to sit, chat, and suck up cupcakes (and fresh-squeezed lemonade, courtesy of Faye.) I spy Janice Vogt on the left. (I got one of her Chinese lantern cuttings. Score!!)
bike loaded down with cuttings.
I got a cool bounty of bromeliads that do well in sun and a well-established Vick’s plant (thank you, Sharon) , among other goodies.
I really, really enjoyed co-hosting with Wes and Faye, who did all the work. Thanks, you guys! Everyone enjoyed the extra bonus of roaming the Millers’ beautiful garden — which will be next Friday’s Times column.
Bye-bye 2012 swap!