Tacoma plant swap has grown into annual tradition

sue.kidd@thenewstribune.comApril 30, 2014 

One woman’s garden bounty has grown to become Tacoma’s free plant treasure.

A member of Immanuel Presbyterian Church found herself with a garden bonanza 10 years ago. Rather than toss the plants into the yard waste bin, she came up with the idea to have a free plant swap.

Now it’s become an annual tradition for Tacoma gardeners and the church. The church’s 10th exchange is from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.

The premise is simple: Bring a plant, take a plant.

For those who don’t have plants to offer but who want to take a plant home, organizer Becky Wulfestieg suggests bringing a can of food for the church’s food drive.

All garden treasures – ugly or otherwise – are welcome, and it’s anybody’s guess what will show up. That means gardeners might find plant starts, plant splits, seeds, garden pots, lawn furniture and even garden art. Wulfestieg said that just about anything from the garden is welcome, but leave those nasty invasive plants, such as English ivy, at home, please.

One year, a family showed up with a few hundred strawberry plants. Rumors have been circulating they might show up with raspberries this year.

There’s rarely anything that doesn’t get taken at the event. What isn’t taken will be donated, Wulfestieg said.

If there’s one lesson to be drawn from past exchanges, it’s that gardeners need to arrive early to claim the treasures. Wulfestieg said the event, which is expected to draw at least 200 gardeners, is unusual in that supplies are replenished throughout the exchange as gardeners bring in their donations, so chances are that stock will remain strong throughout the event.

This year’s event will feature live music from The Doug Konop/Ozzie Fuhrmann Swing Band.

Pierce County Master Gardeners will answer gardening questions.

Members of the Washington Native Plant Society will be there, too, to talk about creating a native plant garden. Attendees also can get information from the Puget Creek Restoration Society, Tacoma-Pierce County Natural Yard Care Program and Specialty Nursery Guides. Also attending will be a new local bartering organization.

Free sample bags of Tagro products will be given out, too.

Sue Kidd: 253-597-8270

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