(Editor's Note: This article was originally published onNovember 5, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)
On October 18, 2008 they came from the north, south, east and west to converge on a small town in southern Alabama. Florala, Alabama is a stone's throw over the Florida state line; in fact, the town practically straddles the line between the two states. It is a quaint town of approximately 2,000 residents situated on U.S. Highway 331; it is also home to Florala State Park.
A common interest brings these people together on the shores of Lake Jackson at Florala State Park. The love of gardening and sense of community is what brings swappers to a Dave's Garden Round Up. This sense of community is fostered at the hugely successful website, Dave's Garden. Some members have small gardens, others have acres of gardens but all share a huge gardener's heart. They are young and old, male and female these members of Dave's Garden. Old friends and new friends come together to trade and share plants, seeds, stories, laughter and good food.
A few of the plants up for grabs
Look, I think you should really
Hmmm, maybe I could just
The date for the fall Florida-Alabama Round Up was October 18, but it started long before then; someone in the area had to do a lot of work before we all descended on Florala. There were reservations to take care of, a headcount to keep track of, making certain there would be enough parking and a meeting area for those in attendance, door prizes to keep track of and of course there was lunch to be prepared.
Our Gracious Hostess
On the run?
The hostess for this swap was Dave's Garden member, Gingerlily (Pam). Miss Gingerlily had a friend, Crystal; help her prepare for the Round Up. Crystal, also a Dave's Garden member (rosaliedawn), worked as hard as Gingerlily to make sure everything went as planned for the enjoyment of all. The two of them did a fantastic job.
Ahh, lunch, line 'em up!
We had the sweetest little girl
The first Florida-Alabama Round Up (Spring 2002) was held in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, co-hosted by Dave's Garden members DeeinFL and Gingerlily. From all accounts, it was a learning experience that turned out just fine. All who attended had a great time with many vowing to attend future swaps.
Since the original swap, several meets have been hosted by Gingerlily and held at Florala State Park on Lake Jackson. Originally the swaps were held only in the spring. With interest growing and gardeners' schedules not always lining up with spring swap dates, the fall swap was born. As one gardener put it at the most recent swap, the crowd may not have been as large for the fall swap as it was in the spring, but the company was good and everyone seemed very relaxed.
Should I or shouldn't I?
What's in that pot?
Won't someone please take
This swap has drawn gardeners from as far away as Germany, Canada, the Carolinas, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana. There are many members that live within two hours of Florala and can easily make the trip for a day of sharing and visiting with other gardeners.
Each swap is special, whether participants number one dozen or several dozen in attendance. The best thing about attending a swap is the camaraderie between people originally brought together online, who are building lasting friendships offline.
Time to visit with friends
Just gettin' started
To find out if there is a Round Up or plant swap in your area, check the Round Up forum to find the closest one. (Please note this forum is accessible only to Dave's Garden subscribers. Why not subscribe today and join in all the fun?) If there has not been one organized in your area yet, consider starting one yourself.
Load ‘em up and head ‘em out, there is bound to be a Round Up nearby!
All photos by author unless otherwise credited.