I am writing this artilcle to address the Forum members who have recently joined our swelling ranks. *The topic of how to get more plants free has been addressed by me before, so I hope older members will bear with me. *This is a topic that should never die, because not only is it good for Growers who want to expand their collections, but also essential for the plants we grow whose ranges are rapidly shrinking. *The plants need our help!
I have been involved with Cp since falling under their spell back in the middle 60’s. *At that time, there was of course no internet access. *Back then, there were very few books on the subject, and photos themselves were rare. *The mail service was slower, and there was no internet to connect us, making exchange of plants and growing methods easy. *Correspondence was limited to snail mail, and letters would often take a month to reach places like Australia.
In this sort of climate, many of the plants we take for granted today because they are “common” species were often rare and difficult to obtain. *I had a burning desire to grow as many as possible then (as now![img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif[/img], and I used to write to *any* member of the ICPS that *ever* included a return address in their letters and articles in that publication: the only one of its kind in the world, and it was a Godsend! *Due to the above mentioned difficulties, I would be lucky to acquire a few new species yearly. *In those days, the work involved with acquiring these species made them very valuable, and also was fertile ground for developing some rather large egos. *Often, the size of these egos matched the length of the grow lists of the people involved. *Sharing was not a common practice: if you wanted plants you either bought the few that were offered by the infrequent businesses that sprang up, or you traded equally rare and valuable material. *There was no tissue culture to reproduce rare species in untold numbers, just individuals engaged in their individual pursuits. *Growers were few and far between, and the numbers of plants low.
When I retired in April 2001, I got a computer, and discovered the wonderful access that the internet afforded; I realized how much easier communication could be. *I began to look up old friends from the early days, and found many still involved with the pursuit of the love of these plants. *At that above date, I had not a single plant to my name. *Not so much as a lowly Drosera capensis, or Utricularia subulata.
I began making polite requests of old friends, and managed to acquire a few plants. *My income would not permit purchase, and I had little to trade. *What I did have was a towering love for these plants, and found some others that thought as I do about them. *We began to actively help each other, making a sort of pact to freely share what we got without worrying about one on one trades. *I remembered the old days, where there was little sharing, and these gifts that came were all the more precious to me. *It seems things had changed! *With every door I knocked on came a plant, almost without exception. *I started to cultivate again, and I resolved that I would try to make a difference as well by propagating the material I received. *The best way I thought to thank the people who opened their doors, hearts and collections to me, would to be to actively seek new friends to share with. *Using the internet to research species I was interested in, I found the growers that had them, and wrote polite emails introducing myself. *I always sought to learn the culture of the plants I was interested in. *I never asked outright for plants, only to learn how best to care for them should I be fortunate to someday acquire them. *Sometimes I would ask these growers if they would share the source of their plants with me. *Many times growers who realized the depth of my love for these plants would share them then with me, or at a later date when they had spares. *I, in turn, offered the same to them: to select what they would from my growlist. *My resolve was to give more than I got. *It was my way of saying thanks. *If there was nothing of interest, I asked what their wants were, and I tried to find those plants for them to share at a later date. *Often, some other grower would have them, and I would try to get them. *It was always a happy occasion all round when I could “make someones day” by telling them I had found their wanted species.
I rememberd the old days, when no one would share a rare species with me. *I remembered when I was a kid with nothing to offer: a handful of common plants that held little interest from those better connected. *I remembered the disappointment of opening a letter that had taken so long to arrive, only to be refused.
As I began in turn to send out my own material, I noticed strange phenomena starting to happen. *People appreciated these efforts, and simply could not thank me enough! *They began sending me other plants by way of thanks; plants that I had not expected to receive, and had not looked for. *Some of them were rare and expensive plants that they could have been SOLD. *Something was being demonstrated to me: *love of these plants was taking priority over money! *The friendships formed in this process of sharing were even better than the plants themselves. *To meet and know such kind folk was an honor and the gift of the plants themselves a positive proof that money need not rule every aspect of our existence. *As my collection grew, I realized I could be selling these plants, but then I would always remember the generosity these people had shown to me, when I came knocking at the door with hat in hand, and nothing but love to offer. *I resisted this temptation. *I figure, even if it costs me a little, the payback for future generations is worth it. *It’s my chance to spit in the face of the Demon Money, and it gives me great joy to be able to do this. *Phillip once wrote and asked if I felt I was being taken advantage of bt forum members. *I replied that was not possible. *My goal is to send out as much free material as I can in my remaining lifetime. *The more people take, the happier I am!
Considering the plight of the plants in habitat, I believe that the best chance your grandchildren’s children have of actually seeing these wonderful jewels of creation lies squarely on the shoulders of those who are growing them in private collections. *Botanical Gardens often do not concentrate on these plants, preferring the showier orchid species. *Also such collections come and go: depending on the love of those maintaining them. *But, in private collections, the plants are cherished and loved. *Consumerism is eroding their habitats, destroying their range. *The ranges are shrinking in all but one instance: they are spreading in the collections of those who appreciate their unique beauty. *I resolved to do everything I could to further this trend. *I encourage you to do the same.
I began to realize that we were all united by a common goal and love. *From the kids who just want a kewel plant to feed flys to, *to skilled *botanical researchers studing these plants, we were all about the same thing! *All that remained was to find a way to encourage an army of good Stewards to keep these plants growing and spreading in this way over generations. *Dr. Barry Rice, co-editor of the International Carnivorous Plant Newsletter first introduced me to the concept of being a *“Steward”. *A steward is one that holds something for another, against a future time.
It dawned on me then, that among such like-minded growers, there was really only One Collection, in many different places. *With the powerful teaching tool of the internet, Stewards could be taught how to best grow and preserve these plants. *All that remained was to inspire them in a sharing ethic that would generate an army of growers all trying their best to spread these plants. *I can’t tell you the pleasure I feel seeing this happen. *It is happening! *Rare plants are becoming less rare in collections, even if their habitats are eroding.
The ********** Forum became available to me, thanks to the generosity and kindness of its founder, Phillip Crane, owner of PFT. *Here, I have tried to inspire our members to adopt the sharing ethic, and do my best to teach all how to best grow and reproduce their plants. *I have watched this concept of teaching and sharing catch hold in our community to snowball and soar. *It has been said, “No one appreciates what they do not pay for” but I have not found this to be true. *Rather, the opposite! *When you give of yourself, it reaches home, and people do appreciate it. *This appreciation can often take very concrete form as is proven by my personal growlist which may be viewed at :
Considering the two short years I have been active again in CP, this should demonstrate to everyone that people DO appreciate this sort of sharing and thinking. *It is a testament to the incredible generosity of our worldwide community. *It makes me proud to be a CP’er!
In a nutshell, the very best way to get more plants for free is to work as hard as you can to give them away! *I can assure you that what you give away will return to you manyfold. *As the love spreads, so do the plants. *On someday in the distant future, after we are all gone, the plants will continue on their journey, thanks to your efforts here and now.
I appeal to you all to share your plants freely, and your knowledge of how to best grow them. *Do all you can to encourage and inspire others to do the same and the future will thank you for your efforts. *The plants have called to YOU to join what I believe is a most noble goal: to preserve these wonders for another age. *To Give back a little to Mother Earth. *This is a chance for us all to demonstrate that LOVE and not money, is what makes the world go round.
Finally, I want to thank all the nurseymen who provide new and exciting species to the public at reasonable prices. *I am not suggesting that such folk simply give them away (although many do share freely, and I hope the trend continues![img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif[/img] *There are legitimate production expenses that must be met, and how these commercial interests operate is a matter of personal ethics. *It doesn't take much to tell which are based on love for the plants, and which are based purely on profit motives. *Hardworking businessmen deserve your support to be able to continue to popularize and distribute quality merchandise. *There are good and bad busisness ethics, but that is a whole other topic.
Thank you for allowing me to express these very central beliefs.
Yours in Stewardship,