Photo by Muffy Aldrich
The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Monday, March 27, 2023

Sharing Garden Plants

Photos by Salt Water New England

I know from where almost every plant has come in my gardens.  The vinca, snowdrops, weigela, and lilacs came from my grandmother, the ever-spreading violets came from my oldest friend, the golden glow were given to me by the owners of the Granite Hall Store on the Maine coast.  And I would regularly visit (and put the money in the box - the honor system) the corner seasonal plant stand down the road, and who in turn donated everything to a local church fund.

And early spring is when I give away quite a few as well.  Some friends pick them up when they visit, and others I transport and help settle into their new homes.  I can drive down certain roads and see the offspring of plants in which I had served as a link in their propagation.

Separating is important to keep gardens from getting overgrown and sharing helps spread plants that will thrive in our climates and microclimates.

We moved into a new (old) home a decade ago & basically all my gardens are full of "gifted plants" ... I smile constantly thinking of good friends & remembering those that have passed. (Anonymous)

My late mother's favorite irises were called Indian Head. I have them blooming all along the side of my house - they were from her yard. On another side I have red Amaryllis lilies from my late mother-in-law. Shared flowers are so special.  (Anonymous)
One thing I always notice about your REAL New England houses and landscapes is the noticeable lack of what I call (ahem) "fussy-ass" landscaping; either the practically-plastic-all-alike professional stuff that looks like it belongs at a gas station, or the overdone-annuals thing perpetrated by many home gardeners.  Authentic New England always has that element of starkness, of austerity, of voluntary restraint; even a tad of what the Japanese call wabi-sabi. Traditional hardy perennials dominate, drawing attention to the fact that they may have been planted _not_ last week by a lawn crew who picked them up at Home Depot, but by prior generations who once lived in that house, perhaps long departed. When you see those flowers appear again every spring, it's an opportunity to remember them and wonder about their world--and smile at the choice remarks they'd have for today's. A useful "grounding" meditation. ;)  (Greenfield)
I grew up in a white farm house (similar to the one in Muffys post) with green shutters and no shrubbery that I can remember around it. On one side of the house there was a small patch of lily of the valley and jack in the pulpits that would come up ever year. Planted I'm sure by some long gone relative as Greenfield described. There was also one old rose bush and a lilac bush on the other side of the house. My Mother would fix a urn or two to take to the cemetery with a geraniums and a few petunias and couple of planters for our porch at the same time. There were no other store bought flowers or plants. That was it! The only other flowers I remember we're the wild hepatica (we called them may flowers ) and trilliums in the woods. Also wild day lilies that grew along the stream behind our house. There was no landscaping per say. (Kathy)
The stark beauty of New England buildings has always attracted me. Trading plants with friends and neighbors, digging into rich, black compost for the first time in spring: Straight out of Faith Baldwin and Gladys Tabor columns from the 1960s!  (Anonymous)
We were gifted many plants by friends who moved to retirement villages and didn't have room. The deer love the hosta. (JDS)
I, too, have a garden full of gifted plants, and each time I walk among them I think of the friends or relatives from whom they came. (Bitsy)
I  love the simplicity and character of the gardens, rather than "landscaping" I prefer the look loving hands give a garden. I have two goldens and a yellow lab - they try to help, but end up with kisses and belly rubs instead. I know they would if they could! (scotmiss)
There is something so spiritual about gardening------especially the sharing of plants., their regrowth and the bond or memories that connects friends and families in such a lasting, quiet, beautiful way.  (Beth)
The perfect day among a beautiful setting, filled with sweet critters. What could be better? (Holly in PA)


  1. What a beautiful collection of photos, reflections, and testimonials. It was comforting to hear the names of the plants of my childhood. I live in Austin now and have fully committed to the use of native plants, all perennials or things that reseed themselves readily. Most of the plant sharing in which I engage, therefore, is seeds. When a neighbor admires my yard and stops to chat, if they are not already native plant gardeners, the odds are good they will leave with inland sea oats or cedar salvia seeds for their shady areas and zexmenia, tall asters, or Hill Country penstemon for their sunny areas. I have not had good luck planting chiltepins from seed. Thankfully, the birds oblige, and I am always finding new bushes when the tiny and zippy peppers turn bright red in the fall. I share those peppers I don't eat. My beauty berry bushes have a ring of babies around them, and I am looking for new homes for them. Our recent snow and ice storms knocked a lot of pads off of a large spineless cactus. I'll toss a few here and there to plant new cacti.

  2. This is a sweet post. I live in an older Maine house with a mix of perennials from the previous owners and perennials of ill repute that were store bought from the local nursery after I moved in over a decade ago. :) Something I've noticed between the older homes and newer cookie cutter developments is that the former tends to embrace wild clover in the lawn which I do as well.

    1. Averyl, I have lots of clover and wild violets in my old lawn. I admit that the violets are a nuisance when they end up in my flowerbeds but I wish that more people would worry less about certain 'weeds' because many 'weeds' are quite beneficial- especially to the bees and other pollinators in early spring. I don't mow the dandelions or the buttercups and in the spring I have large patches of tall grass in my lawn.

  3. I also have a garden full of memories and I also remember where every single plant comes from. Years ago I began a journal about all my plants. When I lose a plant, it's like losing a dear friend. My beloved dog Angus loved the large Stachys lambs ears and as a puppy, he would jump around them as if trying to get them to play with him. One of my former customers gave me a large piece of his Clivia that he had brought with him from Holland to the US as a child in the early 1900's. I now have 4 large Clivia. Oh, there are so many wonderful memories in my garden and of course, I've buried many beloved rabbits, birds and pets in the garden with their favorite plants as markers. My golden retriever Josie, loved daffodils for some reason. I have hundreds of pictures of her lying in them and sniffing them. When she was passing, I placed a large vase of daffodils next to her bed until she went to sleep. I still have one of those daffodils pressed in my journal.

    I knew my grandfather was a wonderful gardener ( I have many detailed memories of his gardens) but it wasn't until many years after he passed that I found a flower press and a detailed journal of all the flora he studied in his travels around the world. I was stunned that I never knew what a budding horticulturist he was! Now I know why I'm a genetically-forced horticulturist. He was an electrical engineer but an artist as well and his detailed artistic renderings in the journal resembled Linneaus's guide to taxonomy! One day I will donate his work to a horticultural society.

    1. What a marvelous recollection by anon. 2/21 10:29. I so enjoyed your heartfelt musings, especially your story about your Golden. Thank you for sharing.

      The Concord Diaspora

  4. Muffy must have spring fever. I'll be glad when winter is over here in Michigan as well. It's been a tough one w/ my 95-year-old cattleman father dying of Covid-19 in January. Spring w/ all its' outdoor chores, will help clear the cobwebs of life and give us a fresh start!

  5. Gorgeous! Can’t wait for spring!

  6. A garden full of memories, is truly a treasure in itself. Thank you!

  7. As I am a city dweller for the moment, I don't have a plot of land for trees and plants, however gardening and beekeeping are activities I fully intend to take up upon retirement. My childhood memories consist of planting a veg garden with my dear old Pa, and in my 20s and 30s, I kept beautiful roses. As I age, I am more intrigued by wildflowers, grasses and 'forest gardening', and I would love to have a patch dedicated to snowdrops and muguets (lilies of the valley), and to see more bluebells.

    1. I love lily of the valley and bluebells. I have both in my garden and try to keep all my gardens as native as possible with the exception of a few David Austin Roses.

      Good luck with the beekeeping. Thanks to a local mosquito control franchise, we no longer have honey bees and last year I could count on one hand the bumblebees I saw in my garden. The county beekeeper association was supposed to install hives in my garden this spring ( to help with fruit and veg production) but thanks to the pest control companies we agreed it was best to find a safer location. Additionally, I have to cut down all my fruit trees because they aren't producing enough healthy fruit anymore.
      Talk to your local beekeepers about the health of their hives and any local threats before pursuing that (heartbreaking) hobby.

      Bee Hugger AKA Debbie Downer

  8. I've decided the only flowers I am going to be fussy about are roses. Everything else has to manage with minimal interference and maintenance. As for the deer... well, let's not use that kind of language amongst good people.

  9. Golden glow? I wish I could find it somewhere. I've seen it growing wild in Maine along the sides of barns and old tumbledown capes. It's like a burst of instant sunshine. A friend once gave me some plants she claimed were golden glow, but alas they were not. Does anyone know where I might find some to transplant to my garden?

  10. What wonderful photos! A most superb way to start the day. Thank you!


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