Whoa! Gardeners scored at Tampa’s Super Bowl plant swap

two women bicycles coming to tampa plant swap helmets blue bike yellow bike

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.

master gardener virginia overstreet in sun hat and sun glasses with a wagon of cuttings for plant swap

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.

man woman canoe on river paddle canoe plant swap

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://organic-gardening-adventures.blogspot.com/ , just 23 and blogging about organic veggie gardening.

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!!)

Everyone left just as they came, Ann (right) pedaled off with a

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!



  1. I really,really wanted to come.I had every intention.Seriously,I did.But rebuilding TheGreatWall has sorta gotten in the way of everything,lately.

    • Gardeners understand these things, Christene. But now that we “know” you, we need all need to meet you! How’s The Great Wall coming?

  2. What a wonderful idea. And what fun that some came by canoe! I don’t think anyone has ever done that in Austin. However, we do have a monthly meeting of garden bloggers and we all take plants along to whomever is hosting and do a swap. The intent of the meeting is to help the host with a design problem in their garden. Of course there is a lot of social too. I do like your idea though. I wonder how many would come? Thanks for visiting my blog. That gomphrena really is a stunner.

    • And thanks for the visit back! Texas and Florida have a lot in common, so I’ll be dropping in regularly on the hunt for cool “new” plants. … The swaps are a lot of fun, but I also like your idea of addressing garden design problems. There’s nothing like a fresh set of eyes to give you good ideas.

  3. Want to come next time – how do we get on a PLANT ALERT list!?

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