Their housewarming turned into a planting party Essay

Friends wanted to celebrate the completion of Patti and LesPolette’s house in Auburn, California, so the couple planned ahousewarming party. It took a new twist when, in answer to offers ofhousehold gifts, the owners suggested garden plants. The Polettesturned the fall gathering into a “gardenwarming” by invitingfriends to come in work clothes and dig right in. If you are hurryingto finish fall planting this month, you could adapt their idea to enlistaid. Here we describe how the Polette party worked.

Gardeners who haveplants on hand and want help putting them in can just follow thesuggestions for preplanting preparation and party-day arrangements.Since heavy rains are more likely as the month proceeds, it’s alsoa good idea to list an early date as well as an in-case-of-rain date onthe invitation. Along with a map to the new house, the Polette party invitationlisted plants that a landscape designer had recommended–mostly small 1-and 5-gallon-can sizes of easy-to-find plants. Some friends pooledresources to buy a specimen tree; others contributed cuttings andtransplants from their own gardens.

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In the weeks before the party, the Polettes outlined planting beds,prepared the soil, and installed an irrigation system. On the day of the party, they put out additional soil amendmentsand tools–can cutters, shovels, and rakes. You can also ask friends tobring tools. A large drawing of the garden design, placed where everyone couldsee it, showed where plants would go. It also gave helpers a picture ofwhat the garden would look like in a few years. The landscape designerhelped volunteers follow the plan as they planted out their gifts. Because nearly 200 well-wishers came, everyone had name tags tohelp strangers get acquainted.

Guests helped themselves to refreshmentsand a buffet lunch. How did the party go? Friends were enthusiastic and enjoyed theold-fashioned barn-raising spirit. And now when the helpers return tovisit, they have the chance to see how “their garden” grows.

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