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Bulb & Seed Exchanges

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.

Overseas Members

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.

Previous Bulb & Seed Exchange lists

Example instructions with timetable

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: 

14th August
  • If you have bulbs or seeds available, please post them to Jon Evans, 46 Upper Way, Farnham, Surrey, GU9 8RF, UK, to arrive by Saturday 14th August.  Please try to clean the donations as well as you can – if you don’t, I have to.  Please store them in paper bags if possible (last year some items stored in plastic bags sweated and rotted. And please seal them carefully – Newsletter 36 contained instructions for making seed envelopes out of sheets of blank paper.  Please include a list of your donations, if possible containing the following information.  If you can send the list by email that would be brilliant. 
  • 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)
  • If you expect to have them available slightly later, please send me a list of your intended donations, with any supporting information, by email or post, to arrive by Saturday 14th August.  My email address is  Please send any such late donations to me by Saturday 21st August at the latest.
17th August
  • I will then prepare the Bulb and Seed Exchange list of available material which I will email out to Members by 17th August.  (Here is last year's list as an example of what you might expect.) Should you require a paper list to be sent to you by post, please send me before this date a self-addressed envelope suitable for five to ten folded sheets of A4 paper (with the correct postage attached if you live in the UK).   
21st August
  • Please send any late, promised donations to me by 21st August at the latest.
29th August
  • After you have received the Bulb and Seed Exchange list of available material, please send your wishlist to me, to arrive by 29th August.  I will then start the despatch process. 
  • Then it’s up to you to grow the plants and enjoy them! 

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.

Best wishes

Jon Evans

[Copyright © 2022 by the Southern African Bulb Group and Richard White.]

exchange/start.txt · Last modified: 00:17 15/11/2021 by Richard White