I swear that this isn’t turning into an all-gardening, all-the-time blog, but I had to report on my very first seed swap, hosted by Wild Ones ~ Capital Region New York at Thacher State Park.
Okay, first? Before I even made it to the seed swap, I found out yet another way I’d managed to fall short in my quest to support native plants. The echinacea and phlox that has thrived in my garden wasn’t native enough to meet the strict standards of the seed swap program. Yes, they’re native to the Northeast, but not my yard. I was advised to check my flowers against the NYFA: New York Flora Atlas (usf.edu) rather than just Googling. So that was a bit of a heartbreaker before the event even started. Sigh. At least I could offer up my Common Milkweed seeds.
I followed up that discouraging prelude by showing up at Thacher Nature Center instead of Thacher Visitor Center: my visits have been few and far enough between that I had never noticed that these were two different places. Lucky for me, a very nice Nature Center staffer was heading to the Visitor Center and suggested I follow her, and the day picked up from there.
The event was extremely well-organized, with information tables and a small silent auction and a few folks willing to just answer your questions about native gardening, assuming that you knew enough to have questions lined up, which I did not. But the highlight was the tables filled, potluck-style, with people’s seeds. Seeds were arranged by where they should be planted (sunny, shady, or in between), and then people laid out their seed contributions with the help of information cards.
They had little envelopes and pens so that you could scoop out some seeds and put them into a labeled envelope for yourself, and when folks had pre-registered, sometimes you could even choose to take the seeds that were harvested closest to you, because they were labeled with the county where the seeds had been collected. Did I possibly focus too hard on getting a photograph to document the process and forget to actually collect some ironweed seeds? Yes, yes, I did, and I am still kicking myself, because aren’t they pretty? That’s okay: I got a bunch of other items.
They also had a lovely little natural craft table set up:
And you could make an adorable little gift jar full of native seeds for a donation. Ack! That would have made a great gift swap gift, wouldn’t it? Oh, well.
In between dropping off my milkweed seed contribution at the appointed time and the start time to claim seeds about an hour later, I took a little walk. Lucky for me, the forecasted rain arrived later than anticipated, so it was lovely.
I also appreciated the Visitor Center’s minimalist playground equipment: enough fun stuff for kids to get excited about, but still letting the views remain the star of the show.
I was very glad that I made the schlep over to Thacher for the seed swap, and I’ll definitely go back again. Now let’s hope my little seed babies grow up into some beautiful native blooms. Stay tuned.
There are Wild Ones chapters in a bunch of different places if you’re not local to me but you’d like to swap some seeds or just get a little native plant guidance.