For over 30 years my Dad has been selling plants to gardeners from his old rectory garden in Devon.
Always by appointment, they come and walk round the garden. They talk and share a bit of gardening knowledge or life experience, depending on how the mood takes them. Then they buy some plants. Many of the Rhododendron gardens in the South West, including the National Trust, now grow plants from his garden and come back for more each year.
For my parents this small garden business has delivered a useful income. More important, perhaps, they've loved doing it and made many good friends in the process.
They are not alone. Since the Victorians, who were fanatical about plants, generations of UK gardeners have taken advantage of our temperate climate to grow an amazing diversity of plants from around the world.
Not that you might think so though, from the few hundred common plants you now see in the large garden retail chains; or from the limited knowledge many people today have of plants. Commercial pressures and more urban lifestyles now pose serious threats to this remarkable plant heritage.
So this got me thinking about how the Internet, which everyone can access, could change things.
What if a free service had many thousands of plant records and photos that made it simple to identify, list and better cultivate your plants?
What then if this service were location-based and helped gardeners and nurseries buy, sell and swap those plants?
Why, plant awareness and knowledge could spread. Gardens could help pay for themselves. Nurseries could find more interested customers. Gardeners could get many new plants, interests and friends along the way. And, collectively, we could begin to do a better job of tracking and supporting plant diversity, which is at risk.
We hope you like what you find on GreenPlantSwap and get as much pleasure from sharing the fruits of your garden as my Dad has over the last 30 years.
Plants, and the gardens they inspire, have a rich heritage in the UK. If we use digital well, they can have an even brighter future, not just here but everywhere.