In order to play the Passalong plant game, you need plants that can be shared through seedlings, cuttings, offsets or division, and they have to be established enough to divide. You also have to somehow bump into other gardeners who like the passalong idea! Some of us are lucky enough to have friends and family who pass plants along, but there are other ways.
1] Conversations with neighbors may unveil someone who has a conventionally boring front yard with the interesting stuff behind the fence. They may be glad to have a fellow gardener to share with when plants get crowded.
2] If you can’t stop talking about flowers, your family and friends will label you as "the gardener" (or possibly as "the garden nut") and immediately think of you at plant-thinning and plant-rescue time.
3] Many members of gardening organizations like the Hemerocallis and Iris societies are dedicated traders.
4] The regional boards of forums like GardenWeb [including the very active Texas group] may clue you in to a plant swap in your town, where you can have fun and meet other plant people.
Up in the Cedar Park/Leander area northwest of Austin, a group of women met through a swap group... Diva Mindy and I had the chance to meet them last summer when they explored the idea of forming their own cooperative garden group - kind of like our Divas of the Dirt.
5] Please share those great stories about how you found your passalong plants!
As a neighbor at two Austin addresses, as a friend, as an Austin Garden Blogger and as one of the Divas of the Dirt, I’ve given plants and received them. Having a blog now lets me acknowledge many of the kind Texas people who added interesting plants to my collection since 1999 - I hope they found my Passalongs interesting, too.
Sherry and I met when our sons became friends. We both liked to garden, so when Sherry was overwhelmed with starter shrubs and seedlings, she shared some surplus plants from her mother's garden. I recognized seedling Indian hawthorns, but what was the foot-tall mystery plant with the long leaves? Eight years and one move later - the long leaves grow on our 11-foot tall Loquat tree in the photo above.
My neighbor Gail passed along some kind of an Equisetum. This plant has lots of nicknames, including Horsetail Rush and sometimes Scouring Rush because it has so much silica that pioneers used it to clean pots.
My Horsetail would probably love to live near a pond but has had to survive life on the windswept, sunbaked deck at the previous house and then endure the indignity of being plunked next to the BBQ grill to hide the tank.
It's staying in that patio container - although I enjoy the sculptural qualities of this native, Equisetum can be very aggressive where it's too happy.
Diane gave me Salvia leucantha and Salvia greggii for our first Austin garden - perhaps they still bloom there. Three years ago she gave me a seedling from her loquat tree (yes! I have two!) and the nice large-leaved sedum that's seen above at left in the hypertufa container. Diane also gave me a start of the gently spreading patch of the Texas wood ferns that grow in the secret garden, seen here last summer with Indigofera from my friend Carole.
Carole's has a small stand of Indigofera in her garden and she was kind enough to give me a start a while ago. One piece took root and it bloomed this spring. I don't know the species name - but sometimes it's called Pink False Indigo.
Macky passed along the bridal veil type plant above- possibly Tradescantia geniculata, which now grows in a small woodland garden - making tiny white flowers for months on end. She also gave me the young Barbados cherries seen above, some beautiful clear red Salvia greggii, and garlic chives. Her passalong Barbados cherry plants have made it through a couple of winters - the larger plant I bought at a local nursery bailed at the first freeze.
My friend Sue had Salvia leucantha to share, and it’s growing more strongly than the plants of the same salvia from a nursery. The flowers look good in person but I can't seem to photograph them.
Christi had a couple of extra boxwoods - they stayed small while in containers at the other house, but are growing since they were planted in the ground here.
You’ve seen Ellen’s wonderful purple iris earlier this spring. She also gave me unusual plants from her garden-happy mother-in-law - a small Bauhinia, a blue butterfly flower, Mexican honeysuckle [all too small to bloom yet] and this weeping Buddleja in the Secret Garden. Ellen gave the original alligator plant to Carole, so they're both responsible for this mid-winter display in my breakfast room.
Susan, Sue and Carole all gave me bulbine, over and over! If the sixth try is the charm, it may finally live in the new front border.
Jane gave me a cutting from her red plumeria a few years ago - it took awhile to bloom, but is now a small tree in a large container, brought into the garage over winter.
In summer 2006, Sandy gave me fine bladed monkey grass and some cuttings of Aucuba japonica to root. The Aucuba is small but alive and the monkey grass looks good in front of the bench in the secret garden.
Passalong plants from garden bloggers grow here, too, and their presence is doubly sweet – because it means that we writers met in person – something that didn’t seem likely two years ago.
After conversations on her Zanthan Garden site, MSS and I met for the first time in the spring of 2006 when she gave me bluebonnet seedlings. That fall she shared some Oxblood lilies, and in fall 2007 shared more with all of us Divas of the Dirt. If they multiply we can pass them along to other gardeners, advancing the mission of MSS to keep this plant an emblem of Austin.
Pam from Digging is a wonderfully generous gardener, offering starts from her beautiful 'Amethyst Flame' iris. She also passed along a start of Heartleaf skullcap, a huge pot of Agapanthus, (Pam - they make great leaves but never bloom... what am I doing wrong??), a start of Anisacanthus which is starting to look happy in the new front bed, a Mexican oregano plant that grows in the Pink Entrance Garden and a stripey aloe.
In spring 2007 I finally met former garden blogger/now Mommy Blogger Martha – Martha gave me crinums and crocosmia which are growing but haven't bloomed. I'll have to wait to see what those flowers will look like, but other passalongs from Martha bloomed last year. Don't these beautiful burgundy-leaved cannas look good with the tall salvias? Martha also gave me roots of the canna below, which was so tall that a few volunteer Blue Pea Vines used it as a green trellis!
Looking back, it seems likely that the trees, shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses, tropical plants, bulbs and groundcovers I passed along back in Illinois could fill an entire garden. Once moved to Texas it took years before I could share daylilies, Carole's Shasta daisies, Malva zebrina seedlings, 'Bengal Tiger' and 'City of Portland' Cannas, 'Telstar' dianthus, Lambs ears, Larkspur seedlings, Purple oxalis, 'Labuffarosea' Rainlilies, white iris, 'Amethyst Flame' iris or this Hedychium coronaria/Ginger lily. In recent months I've sent off a climbing rose, a couple of mini-roses, Purple coneflowers, 'Nuevo Leon' salvia, and Stapelia/carrion flower in addition to divisions of the fragrant orange iris seen at the beginning of this post.
This post, "Passalong Plants - Austin Style" is another entry in my Passalong Plant series by Annie in Austin for the Transplantable Rose.