The annual perennial plant exchange, hosted by the Harper Woods Beautification Commission, will return to Salter Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 19. Those wishing to take part can bring items from their gardens and swap them for something new to plant.

The annual perennial plant exchange, hosted by the Harper Woods Beautification Commission, will return to Salter Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 19. Those wishing to take part can bring items from their gardens and swap them for something new to plant.

Photo provided by Tina Kirkman


Perennial plant exchange to return to Salter Park

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published May 15, 2018

HARPER WOODS — It’s spring and that means it’s time to break out the gardening tools. The Beautification Commission of Harper Woods is inviting the community to join it for its annual perennial plant exchange.

The exchange will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 19, at Salter Memorial Park. Plants welcome at the event include flowers, garden plants, herbs and ground cover. Trees and shrubs are not allowed.

“It’s amazing to see how many people in this area are so good at gardening and are so interesting,” said Mary Kingston, a Harper Woods beautification commissioner. “It’s something we’ve been doing for a long time, and Harper Woods has a lot of nice homes with good gardening homes. You get to come together and talk to your neighbors at a nice outdoor event. … It’s a popular event, and we have a group in the Beautification Commission that selects beautification awards among local residents each year, and this is a good compliment to that.”

Formerly taking place in the parking lot of Harper Woods City Hall, the plant exchange was moved to Salter Park, 19430 Harper Ave., four years ago to allow for more room and to provide better shelter for those in attendance.

“We’ve been doing this for 27 years. Some people want just one or two things, other people are doing a whole overhaul of their garden, and everyone is welcome,” said Beautification Commission member Mitzi Giles. “The park is a beautiful location, and it’s fun and it’s free.”

The organizers ask those in attendance to adhere to the rules and bring only individually packed and labeled perennial plants in containers. Those who wish to bring plants home must bring at least one to the exchange and are limited to taking 10 plants per person.

“The event is a perennial exchange, so we like to stick to just perennial plants,” explained Kingston. “Trees and shrubs can be too big and too gangly. If people want a tree or a shrub, they tend to want younger versions that are easier to transport and plant anyway. We have to dispose of any items not claimed, and having to dispose of full-size trees or plants can make this event very difficult for our volunteers.”

Members of the Beautification Commission will be on hand to help those who need assistance.

“We are looking for plants like hostas, zinnias, lilacs and beebalm or ground cover like pachysandra or snow on the mountain. Ivy is welcome too,” Kingston added. “We do have some gardening experts who can look at the plants and who can decide what a plant is and whether it is something people want to put in their garden or yard.”

Those taking part in the exchange get a ticket for each plant they bring and donate. They can then use those tickets to obtain any other plant at the exchange.

“We put them in different categories for people to browse, and we want to keep those that need sun in the sun, or those which need shade in the bag, and that way it makes it easier for us to keep everything straight and easier for those who want to look around, so they have a better idea of what they are getting.”

Complimentary refreshments and raffle prizes will be provided by local retailers, although those receiving the prizes must be present to win. Businesses such as English Gardens, Lowe’s and Home Depot are providing raffle prizes.

The organizers said this is a great local event for people who have a passion for gardening or just want to try it out.

“If they are new to gardening, they might want to talk to some of the people here, because we get a lot of veteran gardeners,” said Kingston. “If they are looking to change things in their own garden, it’s a way to take out things you already have or thin out their beds without throwing them away, all while getting something new and maybe getting a raffle prize.”

Giles said it’s a nice way to enjoy spring.

“It’s great for gardening because you can get something new,” she remarked. “Getting to trade is also nice because you can see friends or make new ones. It’s a nice way to get into spring.”