The need to put some new life in Karen Teegardin's flowerbeds and dreary state of mind has resurrected the Plant Library at 152 Mill St. in Gahanna.
Prior to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Teegardin said, her employer was having financial difficulties that resulted in her being laid off Jan 16.
"Fast-forward six weeks, and COVID hit and hiring was minimal and interviews were impossible to get," she said. "When the weather started getting warmer, I started working outside in my flowerless flowerbeds. They had been completely taken over by thistles. I realized that some of my perennials needed to be thinned; my daffodil bulbs needed to be dug up."
Because she had been unemployed and didn't have money to spare, Teegardin decided to reach out on the Nextdoor app and submitted a post about how gardening was lifting her spirits, and she wanted to get the Plant Library going again.
She said Matt and Kayla Roberson of Blank Slate Coffee had started the Plant Library at the former site of a car wash two year ago, but it was discontinued last year.
"They (Robersons) told me all was OK, but there was no running water," Teegardin said. "I just figured we could bring jugs of water to water any plants that needed it. So many people were interested (about 20); it became my baby, so I went up there to clean the place up, and then Diane Kagy reached out and asked if I needed any help."
Kagy met Teegardin at the Plant Library the next day and helped her the rest of the way.
"Her husband (Larry) put together the little benches that are up there out of some spare wood," Teegardin said. "On our way home, a household was putting their trash out and there were two buffet-style tables. We asked if we could have them, and the people delivered them to the Plant Library."
Teegardin said the library was going to open Mother's Day weekend, but because of the low temperatures, it was delayed until May 14.
"The premise is 'take a plant, leave a plant' but it is not a rule," she said.
"Some people don't have plants to leave, so they can donate something else like old containers or planters, jugs of water, supplies or seeds."
If something is needed, Teegardin said, she puts a message out on social media and the items come in.
Julie Schroeder Standley wrote May 24 on the Gahanna Gardening Group Facebook page that the Plant Library is a great community project.
"I dropped off six home-grown tomato plants and took one awesome rock home with me today," she wrote. "(I) Love this."
In addition to plants, the library has a Kindness Rocks Station that says, "Take a Rock for Inspiration; Give a rock for motivation; and leave a rock to grow this station."
Teegardin said it's different every day as far as what's available.
"Currently (on May 27), there are some medicinal herbs from a certified medicinal herbologist. There is a large bush of the spirea variety, hostas, lily of the valley and I just put some dwarf yellow irises up there," she said.
"While I was up there, four people came. One was a lady I saw there on Friday or Saturday who took the sweet-banana pepper seeds that I took this evening, and one lady was stopping by because she needed some small pots as she has a bunch of hens/chicks (succulent plants) that she will be bringing up in the next day or so."
Other visitors donated some landscaping edging and a couple of pots.
Teegardin said one person she started communicating with on the Nextdoor app left her fresh purple bok choy from his garden, and she got for him a wild ginger plant from one of her contacts.
She said visitors are great people who want to share their plants, tips, rewards and knowledge.
"This is a place to do that with no obligation, no hassle, no time constraints (24/7) and no contact if necessary," she said.
"It really seems to be working well and bringing the community together, which is great during this terrible time," Teegardin said.
"Plus, it saves people money and saves the plants from death."
She said she always has had a fruitful bounty with her vegetable garden and she would always take extra to work, the veterinarian, her dentist and others.
"For this reason, I am planning on keeping the Plant Library open all summer and into the fall for veggie and fruit swaps, as well," she said. "Nothing should go to waste. If you need it and I have it to give, it's yours. No questions or paybacks needed."