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Perennial Exchange grows on gardeners

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Rick Bryan has dug clumps of a feathery-topped ornamental grass, Miscanthus sinensis (Morning Light), to share at Saturday's free 10 a.m. Perennial Exchange in South Toledo.

"It's nice foliage. A lot of grasses give nice structure to the garden, especially in the winter," says Bryan, former owner of the Portage Valley Plant Co., a wholesale perennial and native-plant grower.

He'll also make a 9:15 a.m. presentation before the plant swap begins. He'll talk about invasive plants, which are attractive, but escape from gardens and attempt to conquer the world.

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Rick Bryan, pictured dividing grass, will be a guest speaker at 9:15 a.m. Saturday at the Perennial Exchange in South Toledo.

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He notes the lovely purple loosestrife that overtakes wetlands, for example, or phragmites (common reed), a grass that can reach heights of 12 feet and grows prolifically in the damp ditches along I-75 north of Toledo.

"It's very attractive. But it becomes a total monoculture; it crowds out every other plant," he says, including vegetation required for nesting and feeding by turtles and frogs.

Such plants, along with other aggressors such as Japanese honeysuckle, multiflora rose, Callery pear, crown vetch, Asian bittersweet vine, and glossy buckthorn, spread via pollen and birds who eat and drop the seeds, says Bryan, of Springfield Township. He's a former board member of the Ohio Invasive Plants Council (see www.oipc.org for more information about invasives).

The Perennial Exchange, now in its fourth year, was started by gardeners to share their green wealth and beautify the region. It has distributed 500 to 700 plants and garden items at each of its spring and fall (Oct. 4, 2008) events.

Drop-off is from 8 to 10 a.m., and the exchange itself is from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Original Sub Shop parking lot, 402 Broadway St., near the Amtrak station. People receive tickets to exchange for plants.

Bring healthy, weed-free plants labeled and in pots or bags. Not welcome are highly invasive species such as mint and ribbon grass. Even if you come empty-handed, you can leave with something.

In addition to flora, items in good condition may be brought, such as landscape timbers and ornamental rocks, trellises, tools, books, pots, hoses, and fertilizers. Toledo GROWS, the community outreach program of Toledo Botanical Garden, will distribute seed packets and greenhouse starts. Experienced gardeners will be on hand to answer questions.

The Perennial Exchange will be held rain or shine from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Original Sub Shop parking lot, 402 Broadway St. near the Amtrak station. Program is at 9:15 a.m. in the shop. Information: 419-243-4857.

Contact Tahree Lane at: tlane@theblade.com

or 419-724-6075.

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