Friday, April 25, 2008

Plant Give Away Tomorrow or Growing the Collective Green

I put up some flyers, but not too many. I announced it to some neighbors and on the blog, of course. Yet I have no idea if 100 people will come to collect 25 plants or 1 person will come by to collect 1 plant. I hope just a few because I only have so much to give away and I fear the first person to roll up will ask for it all and then I won't have the opportunity to chat with so many gardeners. With that in mind, I'll do my best to limit each person to a few.

Check into the Flatbush Gardener's recent post regarding the legality of dividing and giving away perennials. Any patented plants cannot be divided and sold, traded, or even moved around your garden. Personally, I won't go for it. Plants grow, they spread, they create new versions of themselves. These plants have a "right" to go on and I would rather see them go on in the garden of another person than be thrown in the trash simply to protect the financial arrangement between the original breeder and the U.S. government.

I think all my varieties are over 20 years old anyhow and are now in the public domain. But still, the idea of patenting LIFE is still disturbing. Makes me think of Blade Runner. My wife's maternal grandfather bred the original double mockorange in Minnesota. He was a nuseryman. For his sake, I can appreciate the value of plant patents. But as a gardener, I say we keep on gardening which includes dividing, saving seeds, and layering the plants we have.

In some sense, when we buy a plant, I feel we bought the license to that particular plant's total capability -its flowers, its leaves, its roots, and its drive to reproduce. If I plunk down $16.99 for a perennial, a yarrow for example that just gets bigger and clumpier every year, then don't I have the right to maintain the health of that plant and therefore to divide as part of that license? Its the same plant, only bigger and spread out all over the place.

Illegal? Only if that yarrow is patent-pending or patented. So I'll avoid purchasing newly breds. After all, I can wait -there's plenty of incredible plants out there. Like the double mockorange.


  1. can you post about how to divide and replant a perennial? we have some we planted last year but we'd like to fill out our garden some more.


    [brooklyn green]

  2. I can absolutely do so. Look for a post this coming week. Did you come by the plant give-away?

  3. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.


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