I have written about the plant swapping site I am a member of before, a site called Green Plant Swap, and the whole point with it is to meet and swap plants, basically to see each other’s gardens and perhaps find something you might like and see if whatever you can offer can be used to swap with whatever they have to offer. That’s fine if you live around the corner for each other or at least in the same city but what if you don’t do that?
I live in London and I have been swapping plants with Angie from Edinburgh, who lives 431 miles from me, not exactly a trip you do on a Sunday afternoon! Some of you will know Angie at Angie’s Garden Diaries as many of us visit each other’s blogs, and that’s how I got to know her too, but we are also both members at Green Plant Swap. And it all started when I expressed some interest in starting a new Heuchera collection for my garden – Angie sent me a message and asked if I wanted some Heuchera cuttings she had and of course I did! I offered two cuttings of my precious Rosa ‘Crimson Cascade’ back and we decided to wait until spring to send off the plants.
A few emails later and we decided on more plants to send in the same shipments from each of us, although as Angie is doing a lot of work in her garden right now she wants to wait with more plants until that work is finished. And here are the plants that were heading for Scotland:
2 x bare root Rosa ‘Crimson Cascade’
2 x Arisaema amurense (babies)
2 x Arisarum proboscideum, several plants in each pot
1 x Lamium galeobdolon ‘Hermann's Pride’
I used a courier company called Hermes, they do door-to-door delivery and for me that’s great as I can’t get to the post office myself. Delivery is usually 3 days so all the plants had a good splash of water and then I started wrapping them in for the long journey. The Arisaemas were not emerged yet so they got a bit of bark on top to stabilise the compost and a tight wrap of cling film.
The smaller pots got a plastic bag with a few slits for ventilation.
And the mouse plants got an extra protection with cardboard as you can never be sure what they do with the boxes. I get everything I need delivered so I get A LOT OF deliveries. I can’t tell you how many times I have had boxes delivered to me where the letters ‘This way up’ has been upside down....so when I send something I wrap things for any eventualities – well, most anyway. If anyone get’s the bright idea of standing on the box then these little plants might not stand much chance....
To save on weight and how much to pay for the delivery, I sent the roses bare-root. That’s fine at this time of year, although my rose cuttings have been in full leaf all winter because of the mild weather so they haven’t really had a dormant period this year.
Here they are, both of them wrapped up with wet kitchen paper inside a plastic bag and pruned a bit to fit into this handy plant case. Whenever I get plants delivered from the many mail-order companies I use, I save the wrapping so I can re-use it.
They are really good these plastic casings and come in many different sizes and shapes to fit different types of pots and plugs
The two Arisaemas got a similar wrapping too, in a smaller size.
Nicely tucked in, ready for take-off!
Just a few more things to do, the parcel needs to be weighed and get proper labels. I made this label on my computer and just taped it on, there is one on the other side and one on the top.
This box had already been delivered to me from a nursery and had a handy sticker which I kept on.
The courier company Hermes have parcel prices from under 2kg, 2-5 kg, 5-10kg, 10-15kg and charge £1 extra for a signature on delivery. A parcel 2-5kg including signature door-to-door within UK cost £6.10 – I think that is a very reasonable price and the same parcel with Royal Mail would cost £16.20, for delivery 2-3 days. If you send a smaller parcel weighing less than 2 kg you can send it as a ‘Small Parcel’ with Royal Mail which will be cheaper at £7.95, and hope for a next day delivery if the postman has room in his bag that day, but the max measurements for a ‘Small Parcel’ is not very big so check first – and you will have to bring the parcel to the Post Office yourself. For me, the courier companies do a great service, and there are so many of them, I haven’t used any other than Hermes so far for parcel I have sent, but I have received deliveries probably from all the companies that operate here in UK over the years and have mixed reviews – some are really good, some should pack up and find something else to do with their time!
OK, so back to the plants I was going to send off, I packed them up Sunday late afternoon, ready to be picked up Monday morning so they would have up to 3 days to be delivered and not risk being stored over the week-end in some depot somewhere. This weather forecast is just to remind visitors that if you store your parcel outside until next morning, like I did, check the forecast!
I don’t have a garage or outbuilding so the parcel stood on the steps to my backdoor, Sunday to Monday 2 weeks ago there were no rain in store for us and the parcel was dry next morning when the courier came to pick it up.
And how did the plants survive the trip to Edinburgh? I think you will have to visit Angie’s blog to find out that :-)
The day after my parcel went off to Angie, I received one from her. She had decided to split her delivery in two so this was the first delivery:
So exciting to get plants in the post!
Four Heucheras, bare-root, nicely wrapped in wet kitchen towels and plastic so they didn’t dry out, all in excellent condition.
And I have to show you the stowaway too, all the way from Edinburg! Sorry, but even though he had travelled from afar he promptly got dropped in my compost bin.
And here they are, after being potted up: Heuchera 'Caramel', H. 'Marmalade', H. 'Strawberry Candy', and H. 'Crimson Curls'.
And the Monday after came the second parcel – it’s like Christmas, just better as I don’t get plants for Christmas!
Look at all the plants Angie sent me!
Hemerocallis 'Crimson Pirate'
Hemerocallis unknown, yellow dwarf
Geranium sylvaticum 'Album'
Polemonium caeruleum 'Alba'
Campanula x haylodgensis 'White Bali'
Campanula persicifolia 'Planiflora Alba'
Astrantia major 'Snow Star'
Primula 'Mrs Marjorie Banks'
Primula vulgaris 'Miss Indigo'
Primula 'Don Keefe'
And seeds: Primula japonica 'Apple Blossom'
Most of the plants were either bare-root or a clump of soil so here they are all potted up, ready to get pampered a bit before planting out in the garden. These plants will be a wonderful addition to my garden, all the primulas will go at the bottom of my garden, the 2 hemerocallis will be added to my collection and the rest of the plants are all white, going into my white shady bed. Thank you so much Angie for all the lovely plants!
Swapping plants is a great way of acquiring plants you can’t afford to buy whilst finding a new home for surplus plants from your own garden. My garden is in its 13th year and many of the plants I have are divisions of divisions. I have not been good at saving seeds, but I take cuttings now and then. Often way too many. I try to give away plants, but I don’t know that many people to give to, my neighbours are not the slightest interested in gardening.
I tried taking cuttings of two of my oriental poppies last autumn for the first time, didn’t really know if it would work so took 11 of each since I had room for 11 pots on each tray. The Papaver orientale 'Princess Victoria Louise' has not been so successful, only 4 out of 11 has emerged so far, but P. orientale 'Beauty of Livermere' has been 100% success! I still have both mother plants, and when digging them up I must have severed some of the roots, and I didn’t plant them back in the exact same spot, so in the bed I now have 7 poppy plants emerging. Plus all these cuttings, which each will be a full size plant eventually I hope, I haven’t done this before so I have no idea when they will flower or how quickly they will grow to a good size. There is no way I can find space for all these oriental poppies in my tiny garden, even though they are drop dead gorgeous! Anyone who would like to swap some of these with me for something....eh...tiny? Something that stays tiny?
And speaking of successful cuttings, last November I realised that I hadn’t taken any cuttings of the gorgeous fuchsia I have in my front garden so I took some – didn’t think it would be much success that late so took quite a few. And at the same time I took some of all the other fuchsias I have. I had planned to take them indoors eventually, when we got frost, but we never got any frost so all these cuttings have spent winter outside in my garden and they never lost any leaves. They are now starting to come into flower despite being outside (we are still in March!), I have 30 cuttings I need to find a space for as not one of them died !! If you would like to swap with me some Fuchsia 'Velvet Crush' please contact me, it’s first come, first serve. They need a home soon, but are well hardened off for outside living!
For visitors from other countries all this information might be a bit too specific for UK, but I hope you can find similar ways to send off plants and think about who you could swap with. You don’t necessarily need to be a member of a swap club to be swapping, it could just as well be someone you met through your blog, like Angie and I met. I have often thought of plant swapping as something you do face to face, but now that I have tried doing it long distance I will certainly do it again. Now that spring has arrived it might be time to think about getting some new plants for free and perhaps find a new home for those divisions that you can’t find a space for in your own garden. Here is a link to my page at Green Plant Swap and the complete list of the plants in my garden. I am still in the process of taking photos of all the plants but hope to finish that by the end of the year. And if you want to swap with me you can send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you have on offer and what your wish list is for plants in return. I’d love to hear from you and I am sure we can find something to swap! Sorry, but I can only send plants within UK.
I hope my post has given you some new ideas or at least given you confidence to go ahead and send your precious babies off in the post. It is always a risk to send live plants and I would definitely avoid Christmas and Easter week for this kind of shipments, but as long as you wrap up securely and send in the beginning of the week so you are more likely to avoid the week-end you should be fine.
It would be great to hear if any of you already have experience with swapping plants and sending them off in the post or with a courier. Has anything got lost or been dead by arrival or do you have good experiences? Until next time, take care.