Bikurgurl · Gardening · The-Year-Of-Quality

Gardening with a Green Elephant

{Have you never been to a Green Elephant? They are wildly addictive – plants free for the taking or for trades, but never any currency exchanged – although treats are usually welcomed heartily!}

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There’s always a stack of free items just begging to be taken home, replanted, and finding love!

Gardening with a Green Elephant

The last event I went to was a literal downpour. My husband was out of town, so the children and I loaded ourselves up in our car and drove over to the site. There were a couple of dozen hearty souls out that November morning, in the downpour – my jacket still has the mud on it from going out that morning – to dig up Forget me Nots, Bears Britches, some sort of tall ornamental grass, Angelica sedum, bringing my trusty lot of marigold seeds, and leftover Halloween Candy for trades.

To say we did well is an understatement. Most of the gardeners attending this dreary event were either in desperate need of plants {like me} or just loving sharing their gardens with others. Some people are happy to give their plants away, while others want specific trades for their gems. Still others, like me, come to collect leftovers – I’m not too picky about what goes in the garden. The rabbits and their bunnies get most of it, but for those few plants that can weather their storm, the payoff is a beautiful thing to me.

How does our Green Elephant work? It’s held at our church, but is a community event – There are way more people who come from the community than from the church. Our Rector is not only a lover of God, but of all of His creation. He has organized the Green Elephant quarterly at our church for years {as well as a fantastic Food Bank Garden!}, here is a small smattering of what was seen and some of my treasures:

The community of gardeners is as welcoming and gracious as this community of writers – it’s all about sharing and supporting one another!

What’s going on in your garden?

37 thoughts on “Gardening with a Green Elephant

  1. We share stuff from our gardens in the Bulgarian village I live in. It’s usually excess veg or plants, normally tomatoes or flower bulbs – no one pays but it’s polite to swap. I think it’s a terrific idea, brings the community together too.

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    1. I totally agree! Pass on the good feelings, karma, and neighborliness! Tomatoes are super difficult to grow here without a greenhouse {or a lot of babying} which I’m not willing to do, but I did get dahlia tubers (yay!) and many other starts and seeds. I’m excited to see what makes it through the spring {and bunnies!}!

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      1. It’s fun to see things grow. Tomatoes are something I never struggle with but we have the great sunshine/warmth to help. If I had to nurture them constantly in a greenhouse I don’t think I would be so keen. Dahlias are my hubby’s favourite, sadly the rats and mice love them too. I must invest in more pots! Happy growing!

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      2. Sadly in the Pacific NW, the growing seasons for tomatoes is too short – the one thing I truly miss about not living in the Midwest USA: Fresh, homegrown tomatoes. However, one of the gardeners told me that using the hanging tomato planters and smaller varieties can *game* the short growing season, so I’m considering this option {but still seems a little too labor intense!}.

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      3. I find I can be out in the garden for hours before I realise it. It really is a labour of love, but if there are shortcuts I’ll always gladly take them. That’s an interesting tip for the tomatoes, I’ll pinch that one if I may! Good luck with growing yours!

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    1. Great question! It actually is a {roughly} quarterly event! Usually the first Saturday of the New Year {January, seeds and hardwood cuttings}; the first Saturday of March {plants starts, seeds, hardwood cuttings, bulbs, and tubers}; first Saturday of June {Veggie starts and seeds}; first Saturday of November {autumn separations, extra veggies, gourds, seeds}. Having it at a public location with bathrooms, playground, and free coffee makes all the difference. If you’re interested, I can post the list of “rules”, but the biggest ones are: have fun, be kind, no monetary payments/trades only. The organizer gives everyone a “nametag” with first name written in Sharpie on painters tape and everyone gets to know each other and trade if they’ve made agreements for trades prior {through online Facebook group}.

      Hope this helps — and thank you for your lovely post on your chicken coop! http://somanybooksblog.com/2016/03/06/back-to-work-on-the-coop/

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    1. I would love more hostas for my yard – but had to look up liriope {small border grass for those of you who may not know!}; I’m the one who takes most of the leftovers. I’ve cut swaths of “garden” to border the homogeneous sea of grass in the front and back yards of my home, so I’m game for just about any plant that isn’t considered an invasive species in my neck of the woods! I’ll have to look on your site to see your garden pictures 🙂

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    1. It is – and my biggest surprise is how generous veteran gardeners are with their plants. Not everyone, but most people who attend freely give out everything they have without wanting anything, but to pass on the gardening love, in return! What a great community!

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  2. I have never heard of the green elephant before, so was very interested to read your post to find out. It was a nice surprise I like that idea, I have plenty of seedlings growing now in my garden, we had a day of rain and everything has started growing after a dry three weeks at the end of summer, I could share plenty of those little plants.
    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I bet if you started connecting with other gardeners, it would be something many would be interested in. Ours is hosted at a local church whose rector works hard to farms acres and acres of land for our local Food Banks. He’s an avid gardener, farmer, and spreader of good will — he had three plug trays of coleus he started from one seed packet he was given! I traded banana muffins to a gardener who didn’t want anything I had to offer, but always has so much to give. The key is to make it community, everyone welcome, reliable place where it can be held quarterly with plenty of parking {bathrooms are a plus!}, and where freebies can be left for those not wanting to take theirs home. Of course, as writers {particularly with your editing workload ahead!} it’s difficult to find time to do anything else, but sometimes little breaks here and there are totally worth it — even an indoor, tabletop Zen garden of sand and a rake with a couple of beautiful rocks can give you the 5 minute decompression to restart your process. You are inspirational with your outline of methodically laying out your editing and copywriting process. My process is not nearly so far along, but I’m so happy for everything your working for — your persistence will pay off!

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      1. Thank you! I’m hoping by being as transparent as possible about my haphazard approach someone will find value in it which could help them in future. Or hey, it might help me in the future! I do have a little garden on my patio. I have 4 hanging baskets: two fuschia plants, a geranium ivy plant and a pretty red droopy plant whose name I never caught plus pots and window boxes full of my beloved begonias. They love my shady patio. I bought a begonia that was half dead and after just one day, it looked like a new, healthy plant. I would love to meet other gardeners. I had no idea how to do that other than to hang out at nurseries but that may get expensive 🙂

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      2. True! I’ve actually found quite a few through on-line social media {FB, Yahoo Groups, and IRL with Botanical Gardens, et al}. I live in the Pacific NW USA where there are a lot of people and we’re able to really garden year-round due to living in the rain shadow between the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges. I majored in Environmental Studies and Biology {with a minor in PR} so I have some school background on generalities, but my education has come from gardening with my family, then lots of trails and errors {remember that grace and space?} of killing things or getting an abundance. The Green Elephant has been brilliant for getting me lots of great plants and seeds, both inside and out, for no cost. I think I posted the rules for the Green Elephant — which are similar to most. If you had the time {like any of us do!}, you could certainly organize one in your community. Our next one is in the fall for Harvest. We bring the bounty – seeds, plants, vegetables…and people trade for others, for baked goods, or just for good conversation. We have people travel hours to come to our swap. It’s been going on for several years, but I’ve only been able to get there in the last couple. I’m never disappointed — it’s always a lot of fun and a great way to geek out with other gardeners 😉

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      3. Sounds like a wonderful thing these Green Elephants 🙂 I am on the east coat. I can only garden from after Mother’s Day until early fall (unless we get an Indian Summer). Though this year, it didn’t warm up until Memorial Day weekend. Winter has been lasting longer and longer each year; I blame climate change for messing with the jet stream and of course, us, the citizens of this planet for letting our consumption exacerbate the weather systems. Environmental classes must have been an interesting course of study. I majored in English eventually after trying out several other majors (education, Science/chemistry) in college and after discovering that work experience trumps the subject area of a degree. Why take boring classes when you can take fun ones and just intern your way through college? 🙂 I will look around on social media. Is there a specific hashtag that I should look for?

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      4. I would have loved to be an English major — or better yet, a History major 😉 However, my parents {my father} was really hopeful I would be an engineer — he said if you have to go to work everyday, you might as well do something that pays well. My mother was hoping I’d become a veterinarian or other doctor, a dream I’d had as a child. When I got to college, I actually started out in Sports Medicine and was planning to attend graduate school to become a Physical Therapist. Interestingly, a friend of mine with whom I started the program with just finished his dissertation on his doctorate in the field this month. It all comes full circle in the end – you end up doing what you love, pursuing your interests as hobbies or career options, if only given the opportunity. Having lived back east {-ish}, I have some good ideas for websites. I’m just now getting used to the whole Hashtag thing, but I’m in a plethora of Facebook groups for Gardening in my area {as a start for you}. Groups like “Puget Sound Sensible Gardeners”, “PNW Plant Geeks”, “Green Elephant” {of course!}, “Pacific Northwest Native Plants”….and more! I find FB a necessary evil for communicating with family, friends, fellow homeschoolers, and especially area gardeners! There are a few writers with FB pages, but we’re few and far between 😉 Instagram — you can search #Garden #Flower #SpringFlower etc… I prefer more native-like flowers {as my Environmental Studies background kicks in, I pull non-natives and am not big on ornamentals for ornamental sake}, but there are many, many groups for whatever you’re looking for {no judgement for the kind of gardening you’d like to explore — just asserting finding like-minded gardeners….like writers…just takes a bit of patience!} 🙂 Good luck!

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      5. I get that. My dad stroked when I told him my major but he had to crow when I graduated just after the dot com bubble broke. I was one of the few grads who landed a job. My internship hired me on to keep doing the job I’d been doing all year. I had created myself a position and become indispensable in the process! I learned so much there before moving on to better paying jobs. On slow days, I worked on my fantasy series. (Not Sarn’s story because he didn’t exist then but one set further down the timeline with different characters.) I will check out social media and see what I find. I am also seeking writers on social media to see how they do things like marketing and interacting with readers and other writers, if they do such interacting at all. I will look for gardening tips too 🙂 Thank you for the suggestions!

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      6. I am so happy we started the conversation! I have liked your FB page and look forward to hearing what you find out! Is it wrong that I’m considering the $5 promote of the Grace and Space post? I’ve always shunned it, but thinking it would gain like-minded people to continue the conversation — whether they blog or not. The biggest thing I want to police against is spammy stuff — runs rampant on Instagram, not so bad anymore since the younger demographic has moved on from FB 😉

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      7. I have considered it as well. I read many on gaining traffic and social media ads are surprisingly effective at garnering eyeballs and starting conversations. We can also see if there are groups that would be receptive to the message.

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