CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Avid gardener Joyce sent in an e-mail last week, asking for help.
"I read your articles a lot in the newspaper, so I thought I'd ask you if you are aware of anyone around who likes to trade plants. We are putting in a very long retaining wall behind our house and I would like some plants that would work for soil erosion and are deer-resistant.
"However, I quickly realized just to purchase groundcover for a very small area was going to be a fortune, so I thought maybe I could trade some of my established plants like forsythia, hostas and Italian arum for other types of plants. I am particularly interested in periwinkle (Vinca minor) for the bank since I'm told that it is an evergreen and spreads very quickly. I don't care how invasive it is since our retaining wall is about 190 feet long.
"I had English ivy established pretty well at one point, but in the past few years, the deer have completely eaten it. I'd be interested in any plants or bushes that might help with the erosion and that would also be attractive to plant behind the retaining wall. I've tried creeping phlox and juniper -- neither of which did any good. The bank is mostly clay, but we plan to put some sandy loam behind the retaining wall. Someone mentioned that it might be a problem of getting too dry for plants in the summer, but we have water constantly flowing off the bank, so I don't that will be an issue.
"Any direction you can give would be greatly appreciated. Free, cheap or trade would be fine with me."
My co-worker Julie and I were talking about how nice it would be to have a local "plant swap" website. It would be interesting to see if a website would work, where folks in our area could post plants that they have an abundance of, and post "wish lists" of plants they want.
Dave's Garden (www.davesgarden.com) has a marketplace where people can buy and sell plants from their gardens. PlantSwap.net is another site for finding plants. I am wondering if there's any "control" about the plants they offer for sale or trade -- for example, what if someone wants to give or receive something that is a dangerous, invasive plant? Just curious.
Here's the information from Plant Swap about their site:
"This site was developed to facilitate organizing free plant swaps as well as serve as a community discussion forum for gardeners. Plant swap organizers can announce their events in the calendar and attendees can give notice that they are coming (and bringing guests). The system also allows easy communication of 'have' and 'want' lists to enable members to arrange trades before the meet.
"This site is community-driven. If you would like to see a forum or feature that the site is currently missing, just send a request to the admin and we will do our best to accommodate it. We will add topical forums for specific plants, geographic areas or anything else as soon as there is enough demand for them."