The Southern African Bulb Group runs an Annual Bulb and Seed Exchange in July – August and “Ephemeral seed exchanges” (primarily for seeds which need to be sown immediately on receipt) in November each year, for SABG members only. See the section Overseas Members below regarding the position with respect to members outside the UK.
The 2021 Ephemeral Seed Exchange is now open for requests. The deadline for requests ss 25 November 2021.
Bulbs and seeds from the summer exchanges are sent out in early September, and can be planted and started into growth in a timely fashion. Seeds from the autumn “ephemeral” exchanges are sent out in late November, to be sown immediately.
Jon Evans, who does all the work, says “This Exchange is now a key part of our activities, so we are hoping for many of you to provide your spare bulb or seed material for the benefit of other members! … I am hoping that many of you will have had more time to spend in your garden collecting seeds, and will have a chance to get the summer repotting done nice and early. Please note that although we call it an exchange, if you don’t yourself have material to offer, you will still be able to request seeds or bulbs from the list in exchange for a suitable donation to cover at least the cost of postage and packing. The page on Payments provides some information on ways to pay.”
I would like to clarify our policy regarding sending items to overseas members. We are only able to send material to overseas members in ways complying with their government’s regulations (i.e. no mis-labelling of contents etc), and only when conforming with those regulations is neither too onerous, nor expensive (e.g. we cannot issue phytosanitary certificates etc). We expect the relevant member to be able to guide us in following their government’s requirements. Although we’ll do our best to comply with the regulations where possible, we cannot be held responsible for any bulbs or seeds which are confiscated.
All donations from all overseas members must now, sadly, be accompanied by a Phytosanitary Certificate. We recognise that this makes it difficult or impossible for these members to donate to the exchange. This requirement has been deferred for EU members until 1st January 2022, so EU members can still donate material this year if they wish to, and we will be delighted if you do.
However, because the UK is no longer part of the EU, any packages sent to EU members would need to be accompanied by a Phytosanitary certificate. This would be a difficult and expensive administrative burden, and we regret that as a result we are unable to send bulbs or seeds to EU members at this time. We are still able to send seeds to some countries outside Europe, provided that the members receiving them are conversant with their own regulations.
We are participating in endeavours with other UK gardening societies to lobby the UK government to change the regulations to facilitate international seed exchange, but the import requirements set by the EU are outside the control of the UK government, and are unlikely to be affected by any changes.
As an example of how the Exchanges are organised, here is the timetable for the main Bulb & Seed Exchange in 2021 with instructions for donors and recipients, provided by Jon Evans:
• Genus • Species (including subspecies / cultivar name where relevant) • Source (when the item is derived from wild collected material it is useful to know a location for the collection) • Notes (any other information about the item you feel is useful) • Seed or Bulb • South African or 'Other' • Approximate quantity (for bulbs and large seeds)
I hope you find this exercise valuable and perhaps obtain some new plants. Of course, its success depends on the generous efforts of the donors, so please check whether you have some spares you can donate.