Plant drop off at Scott Arboretum

Tomorrow is one of the most important days in the calendar year — the Annual Members Plant Swap at the Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College. Here’s how it works: members dig up plants that have overrun their gardent, pot them up and bring them to the Arboretum. For every three plants a member brings (all labeled with Latin names of course), they get one ticket that entitles them to one free plant at the swap. They also get a number that gives them a place in line for the actual swap. They can drop plants off from 3 to 6:30 PM. My plan was to get there as close to 3 as possible. It was 3:10 when I arrived.

The Dearly Beloved had 27 plants, all labeled with computer printed names! Sigh. As you can imagine, I was potting plants at the last minute and came up with 12. Well 11 really. DB gave me an extra one so I’d get four tickets.

Here’s the path so clearly marked to the Plant Swap. Everything’s so well done at Swarthmore/Scott Arboretum.

Was your college like this? Mine wasn’t. Well, that’s not true, I went to Penn State where the LA/Hort people sleep with rakes next to their beds and everything is mulched to within an inch of its life.

The organization of the Swap is quite impressive. All the volunteers wear their crayola colored t-shirts that you can only get when you volunteer. Canvas hats and sneakers are popular here too.

Cool carts at the ready. Loading my pitiful Shasta Daisies (Latin name: Ordinarinus Populus) and Asters (Latin name: Dangerous Overrunus) onto these carts made me feel like I was Somebody.

Someone else’s contribution, quite impressive!

So tomorrow is akin to Christmas Day for me and the Dearly Beloved. We get up early after hardly sleeping at all for all the excitement and trek over to Swarthmore around 9 to look everything over. We chat amiably with the other gardeners as we eye the goods and by 10 a.m. we get in line and talk strategy under our breath. When the gun goes off we make a beeline for the one or two prized plants that we want. I will get four. She will get nine. I will not cry or beg.

Because I don’t have to! She’s generous and doing it just for the sport of it!

Well, maybe not.

What’s fun is how courteous and gentle everyone is beforehand and how they practically wrestle plants from other people once the gun goes off.

Once everyone in line has gone through they close the gate, we get in line again and then AGAIN they shoot off the damned gun and we’re off to buy plants for a dollar each! It’s great! It’s competitive and all over by 11. Then we take a nap because we’ll need one.

By the way, there is no gun. Swarthmore is a Quaker school.


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