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Fishman: Time for the plant swap!
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Straight away, I'll address the issue and ask the question.

What does next Saturdayís spring plant swap - year No. 8, which promises to be the best yet - have in common with Lily's first birthday party on Tybee Island, Alice's 16th birthday party in the street, the stillmoreroots art collective show in Stillmore, Ga., a meeting of the organ transplant society in Savannah, the Garden Expo at the Roundhouse, an all-day art extravaganza at Armstrong Atlantic State University, an Irish dance affair on River Street and a bridge tournament in Pooler?

Wait! Did I mention a mandolin workshop with the fabulous Mike Marshall, followed by a series of boogie and blues concerts at Orleans Hall, all part of the Savannah Music Festival?

Here's the answer: they and probably a dozen other things are all happening on the same day. April 1. Welcome to April Foolís Day.

Given our druthers, we would not have chosen such a busy day for the plant swap. We're selfish. We want to own the day. We want to see hundreds of people driving up to the garden on Boundary Street, their vehicles loaded down with excessive plants, roots and stalks dangling out the window, off the back, tied on to the roof with rope.

But choices are good, daylight is on the rise and who can sleep, anyway?

Not content to offer a spot to swap and/or possibly give away such prolific, productive and sometimes pain-in-the-butt perennials as ginger lilies, canna lilies, banana trees, loquat trees, confederate roses, old-fashioned roses, arundo donex, lemon grass, crocosmia, Mexican petunia, Mexican sage, Mexican hat, swamp sunflower, physostegia, vinca, umbrella flat sedge, purple datura, walking iris, hyssops, beach daisy ground cover or the Kimberly Queen ferns someone was telling me about that never died down during this past mild winter (have you noticed? the more you garden, the longer the list grows), this year, in honor of the Music Festival, of Pinetop Perkins, Napoleon 'Nappy' Brown, Slide Hampton and Rob Gibson, we have added a theme to the plant swap: 'Jazz up the Garden.'

And weíve asked students, artists, wags, pranksters and common lovers-of-folly-and-foolishness to cobble together miscellaneous found objects, claim a piece of the garden where we host the plant swap and create a sculpture that loosely interprets that theme and can weather at least a week.

We're not talking fine art here, though if there's an Andy Goldsworthy or a Marcus Kenney in the crowd, well, bring Ëem on. Weíre talking about taking an everyday item - a mop, a discarded computer, a fan blade, a piece of ribbon - and placing it or a combination of items on or near a plant so that both items take on a new and fresh look.

In the art world, it's called site-specific art. We call it having fun with your garden.

To the usual anarchy of plant exchange we call a plant swap, weíve added something else. If you've just moved to town or youíve just started gardening and donít have a plant to swap, then show up at the garden with something to eat or drink. Trust me. You'll be just as popular. And you wonít have to answer whether it likes sun or shade.

Then, in no particular order, we can talk about plants, look at the sculptures, share some food and drink, ask questions and return home with some new greenery we've always wanted or never knew we wanted.

It's not that we don't like to buy plants. We're human. We're weak for something pretty and new. We're powerless in front of a plant someone else has started. But we're also realistic. We know if someone is offering a plant that they have grown and that they have in excess then it must do well in this part of the country.

Believe me, if I hadn't grown a very successful patch of lime basil plants from seeds someone gave me last spring, I would have shelled out

$3.95 in no time flat for the baby seedlings a vendor was selling at last week's Bamboo Farm extravaganza. But I held off (this time) because broadcasting a few seeds, remembering to water them occasionally and then looking out to spot some seedlings, well, that is just too much fun not to try again.

This is the perfect time to put something in the ground - before the heat, before the vacations, before the distractions of summer.

Don't let the date fool you. This is real. This is happening. Come by and see.

The Boundary Street garden is between Chatham Steel and SCADís Boundary Hall. From MLK, Jr., Blvd., head west on Jones Street (or Louisville Road). Turn left (or south) on Boundary Street for about a mile. The garden is on the right. The plant swap and sculpture contest will run from from 9 to noon.

Call 234-8926 with questions.