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Neighbourhood plant swaps

  • Neighbourhood plant swaps
  • Neighbourhood plant swaps

I'd like to hear from anybody who has organised local plant swaps, or is thinking about it.

Last Autumn I got together with some neighbours and we designated a weekend in October as our 'big plant swap'. We kept it simple - put out about 100 flyers to houses in our street and suggested people put plants out in boxes on their front garden walls over the weekend, and take what they wanted from other people's boxes.

Only 6 people took part but we all thought it was worthwhile, so we're having another one over the spring bank holiday weekend at the end of May (we're all a bit behind with our growing after that long wet winter). We'll try about 200 flyers over a bigger area this time, plus a few posters.

You can get an idea of what we did on our Facebook page at

Comments (8)

  1. Grower

    Helene U Taylor

    That is a great idea, hopefully you’ll get more people taking part this time :-)
    I have been thinking of doing a plant swap locally, but in a slightly different way. I am disabled and housebound and I haven’t been to a garden centre or nursery for years, I do all my shopping online. What I have been thinking is simply to set up a swap/sale in my front garden perhaps once a month. I have thought about making one of those ‘estate agent’ signs online myself – there are many places where these can be made for around £50, for a sign that I can put up a few days in advance before a day I decide I want to have a swap and sale day.

    In doing so I hope to achieve several things; get rid of some of my surplus plants, perhaps get a few plants in return that I would not have thought of buying, but more importantly meet some people, perhaps get to know some of my neighbours, as I am home every day and don’t get out of the house. If I can earn a few pounds on some of the plants I might sell, that would be a bonus but not really important to me. So, that’s what I have thought so far, the reason I haven’t started yet is that I need to check with the council if I need a permission from them to put up such a sign in my front garden, wouldn’t surprise me if I did, but I haven’t got around to start trying to find who to ask at my local council – that might be a challenge in itself, finding the right department!

  2. Grower

    Angie's Garden

    Both ideas sound great - if only I had gardening neighbours :)
    Mike - wishing your plant swap well, I hope you get more participants this year.
    Helene - sounds like a wonderful idea. Have you considered putting a few wee plants out front with an honest box? I read about that somewhere, can't remember where or I'd give you the link. Apparently it does work!

  3. Grower

    Helene U Taylor

    Ehhh…Angie, I live in East Ham, in thickest East London - I really don’t think an honest box would work here, anything that isn’t chained down or too heavy to lift will be stolen by the time I have gone inside and closed the door behind me!!

    Also, I wanted to be able to meet people to try to encourage more people in my street to do something with their gardens, not many people do anything at all, apart from storing rubbish. I intend to sell/swap my plants with an offer of advice on how to plant and take care of them too. If my neighbours want, I can come by and help them, at least those living a few doors in each direction from me. My idea is to spur people on to start using their garden for what it’s intended to, I think many people around here just leave their gardens because they have no idea what to do with it and where to start – and no one to ask. It might be pie in the sky, but I’d like to have a go :-)

  4. Grower

    Angie's Garden

    Yes, I should have thought about that. Didn't put my head into gear first ;)
    I think your intentions are wonderful Helene and I do hope you have success. Maybe all the need is a prod in the right direction - and you, I think, are the lady just to do it :)

  5. Grower

    Mike George

    Helene, that's a good idea about the board - I think I'll make a blank one and give it a couple of coats of blackboard paint, then I can use chalk pens on it. I don't think I'll bother asking the council, I want to do it this year!

    If you're not too bothered about being paid you could try an honesty box anyway. The people in your area can't be that bad - you live there and you're OK ;)

    Angie, you could do a plant swap weekend like ours. You only need one other person to join in to make it worthwhile and the offer of some free plants might get more of your neighbours interested. By the end of this month you might be able to put together a few pots / ice cream containers or whatever with a few flowering plants in to catch their eye.

    Of the people who took part in our October swap only one of us (not me) has a well-tended front garden so you can never be sure what's hiding behind people's houses.

  6. Grower

    Gabrielle Sinclair

    In america they call them Green Elephant Plant Swaps, which I think is a great name!

  7. Grower

    Mike George

    We're now planning our 5th plant swap, in my front garden on Saturday 19 September (to give me time to dig up the front lawn and plant a wildflower mini-meadow before winter). This time we'll be raising funds for the Freestyle Burbage community events project.

    We're going to include seeds in this swap and I've had some offers already, although I suspect most will be foxgloves and aquilegia.

    I'm also wondering about including a crop swap - there should be a few apples and pears around by then.

  8. Grower

    Angie's Garden

    Good luck Mike.

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