The 2011 NARGS Seed Exchange

Submitted by Peter George on

As November moves rapidly toward it's conclusion, I thought I'd remind everyone that on December 15 the new online Seed Exchange will be ready for it's initial roll-out. Over the past few years the Seed Exchange has had fewer participants, primarily due to a rather diminished variety of interesting seeds, in particular fewer wild collected seeds. So in an effort to generate more interest we've purchased quite a bit of seed from Alplains for the Seed Exchange, and the variety and quality is unsurpassed. Alan Bradshaw is one of the last seed collectors, and he's been working harder the past couple of years than ever in his lonely effort to bring every worthy species of the American West into cultivation, and this year's collection is probably his best and most varied.

In addition, we've (successfully) solicited seed from a lot of our long time members like John Weiser, Mike Kintgen, and others, and I believe that it will be a truly exceptional selection, so make sure that you plan to participate. As most of you know, NARGS membership is a requirement for participation in the Seed Exchange, so make sure that your membership is paid up, or if you're not a member, contact Bobby Ward and get it done early enough to allow you to have a shot at the seeds you really want.


Submitted by RickR on Fri, 11/25/2011 - 18:16

Well I, for one, am very excited!

The Coryphantha(Escobaria) vivipara I donated is really quite special, in my opinion, for those trying to grow cactus in the east.  It is seed from plants grown from seed from the easternmost colony known (as far as I know) - the South Dakota/Minnesota borderland.

Submitted by Peter George on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 09:57

As many of you know, the online Seed Exchange has been delayed due to 'technical difficulties.' I discussed those issues with Chris Klapwijk, our webmaster, and he's confident that we'll have it functional today, the 17th. I did have an opportunity to go through the seed-list, which IS online right now, and I was quite surprised at the vast number of taxa that are there. And the wild collected group is the best I've seen in quite a while, due to contributions from both Alan Bradshaw/Alplains, John Weiser and so many others. Lots of Penstemon and Eriogonum seed is there, along with some very choice species not often seen here. So those of you who are already members of NARGS, make sure you have your email registration completed, and those of you who aren't members yet, take a look at the seed list and it may be enough to get you to pay the pittance for such an excellent collection.

Submitted by Beatty on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 10:41

Hi, I'm new to NARGS so forgive me, but, where is the seed list?  I'd love to see it even if the system isn't running yet.  Thanks.

Submitted by Mark McD on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 11:00

Welcome Sue!  The link to both PDF versions of the seed list are currently not working for me, it stalls about 3/4 the way through the download, and the second link (basic seed list) gives errors.  I tried the link to the complete seed list several times, each time it gets a smidgen further in the download, maybe there's too much traffic trying to access it.
Seems these items are also in a state of needing repair.

Submitted by Beatty on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 11:06

I can't open the link at all.  I finally got a donor list to open up (thank you) but an actual list no.  I don't see where I can get a spreadsheet but it tells me it's not a pdf.  What am I doing wrong?

Submitted by Lori S. on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 11:12

I dunno.... I am able to open all links at the site, and see the full seed list.

Submitted by Beatty on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 11:13

Thank you for your replies :-)  Mark, that's my problem and I thought I wasn't clicking in the right place - lol.  I'll try later and see how it goes.  I appreciate all the work they're doing and how frustrating it must be for them and now I know it's not my lack of knowledge I'll just wait.  Sue

Submitted by Mark McD on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 11:19

For the webmaster, here's the error I'm seeing when attempting to open the "basic seed list" link:


Submitted by Beatty on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 11:24

Mark, that's what I'm getting.  Out of curiosity I went into my computer download file and there they all are - yes, every single click gave me another copy.  I'm not sure why I kept getting the error and it threw me off but it's there.  Hope you find it.

Submitted by Mark McD on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 11:28

Each time I tried the link for the complete seed list PDF, it would get a little bit further in the download... until eventually it finished.  I can email the list to anyone having trouble downloading it, it is a little over 2 MB in size.  For me, there were no other copies in my downloads folder.

Submitted by Beatty on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 11:36

I guess I didn't get it.  I thought it was there in my download file but it wasn't :-(  I still get the same error as you are.

Submitted by HeLP on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 11:41

worked fine for me-thanks open source software-got tired of waiting so sent my order snail mail

Submitted by Peter George on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 11:54

It opened fine for me on Firefox but it stopped part way on Explorer. I have Windows 7. Odd.

Submitted by Jeddeloh on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 12:11

So right now the red link to online ordering isn't working for anyone, right?  I can't get it to open in either Chrome or IE.  Just checking to make sure this is a bug they're working on to fix and not a fluke of my system.  I was able to open the pdf of the seed list so I can start shopping.

Thanks to everyone working to make this system work.  Rolling out something new like this is difficult and often a bit buggy at first.  I'd just like to make sure the bugs aren't in my system!

Thank you,

Jan Jeddeloh

Submitted by HeLP on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 12:26

That is my current experience Jan-the hardworking folks at the seed exchange and web host will come through soon I'm sure.  The list was much more exciting than my meager wish list so many revisions were in order-sooo excited

Submitted by Doreen on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 12:57

From Down Under in New Zealand (on Windows 7) the red link isn't working for me. I can't open the complete seedlist, but I can open the basic one and start jotting down my order. Lots of goodies on there so my order's probably way bigger than my allocation! Off out for a walk now for a couple of hours to give you guys chance to fix the bugs - good luck, and thanks!  :)

Submitted by Peter George on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 13:25

For those of you who are having difficulty accessing the PDF file of seeds available in the exchange, please email Laura Serowicz @
[email][email protected][/email] for the list. Hopefully we'll have the whole thing fixed shortly, but in the interim, at least you'll be able to pick out your seeds.


Submitted by Kuhn on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 18:13

Any ETA? Will there be an announcement when this is all working or should we just keep clicking on the red link? Thanks...great list BTW, will be hard to decide.

Submitted by Schier on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 20:34

No problems here, wonderful seed listings...Thanks so much to everyone for all of the hard work.

Submitted by Diane Whitehead on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 21:42

I've been trying unsuccessfully all day to get the list.  It doesn't download in Safari - just bounces me back to the NARGS homepage.  However, Firefox downloaded it instantaneously.

Diane Whitehead

Submitted by Kuhn on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 22:02

The seedlist downloads instantaneously for me too, but I'm the online ordering working for anyone or should we just mail in our orders?

Submitted by Beatty on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 22:22

I never managed to open up the seed list but Joyce sent me a copy of the basic list via email - I didn't expect that so thank you very much.  Thank you for trying so hard to get it up and working - I can only guess at your frustration but technology is so complicated and integrated these days that the best laid plans...............  Appreciate all you're doing.

Submitted by Jeddeloh on Sun, 12/18/2011 - 16:46

I have my selections made but the online ordering function still isn't working for me.  Everyone else in the same boat?

Perhaps whoever ends up fixing the problem can post in the forum when it's fixed.

Thank you,


Submitted by CScott on Sun, 12/18/2011 - 17:23

The seedlist came through for me,but the ordering link does not activate for me.
Thank you to the people who organized this---it will be great when it is all functional.

Submitted by Peter George on Sun, 12/18/2011 - 17:49

My 'inside' information is that there is one last issue to be addressed and then it will be a 'go.' Hopefully that will happen soon. Thanks for your patience.

Submitted by Kuhn on Mon, 12/19/2011 - 08:57

I have my seed order all ready to go....should I wait for the online system or just mail it in? I imagine the online system should make it much easier to process all the orders, but I don't want to miss out this year. Thanks.

Submitted by Peter George on Mon, 12/19/2011 - 09:06

If you mail in your order, it will be 2-4 days before the order is actually processed. I can't imagine any scenario where the Seed Exchange won't be fixed by tonight. So considering the alternatives I would suggest waiting. I've been waiting for 3 days as well, and the thought of sending my order in by mail has occurred to me as well, but I have to believe waiting is the right choice.

Submitted by Kuhn on Mon, 12/19/2011 - 09:45

OK, I'll try to be patient. I was ready with my order early last week but decided to wait to submit it electronically to make it easier on the processing end.

Submitted by Peter George on Mon, 12/19/2011 - 16:27

An update: Right now it's going to be another 12 hours or so before we get this thing working. I haven't pressed our webmaster for the 'why' of these seemingly interminable delays, but at least I know he's working on it. His last words to me were "but yes, we are getting closer. At this point, it looks like we'll go live tomorrow for sure." That was as of 5:54 EST, Cross your fingers!

Submitted by Saori on Mon, 12/19/2011 - 19:32

Thanks for the update! I appreciate the people who are working very hard to make this happen!

Submitted by Bertil Larsson on Tue, 12/20/2011 - 07:45

I can wait. It´s no hurry but good to know it´s not just me who can´t get into the on line ordering but the list I could get yesterday so I have something to do looking thru that.

Submitted by Beatty on Tue, 12/20/2011 - 13:41

Just a suggestion.  I only have the basic list which doesn't have an order form - this I have because it was emailed to me and I'm one of the people who can't open up the lists as posted.  However, if we could get an electronic version of the order form (maybe in excel format but not pdf'd), could we email the order in?  It may take the pressure off trying to get the system going.  I feel for the people doing it - it's so close to Christmas and everyone is always busy getting ready to celebrate Jesus birthday.  The only snag would be paying the $15 - we could pay online but you'd have to match up who's paid and who hasn't.

Submitted by Peter George on Wed, 12/21/2011 - 14:57

As you might imagine, I'm more than a bit frustrated by this situation. I have promised 'one more day' for too many days now, so I'm not promising anything. But I do know that the webmaster appears to have virtually every glitch addressed, and with only one or two left, it shouldn't be more than one more day until we're live. I sincerely hope that tomorrow is the day. Thanks for your patience!

Submitted by Doreen on Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:40

Just done my seed order - worked like a dream, and having had my "shopping list" ready for a few days, it only took about 3 minutes! Well done and thanks to everyone concerned, the wait was worth it.

Submitted by Booker on Thu, 12/22/2011 - 15:20

Absolutely superb operation ... many, many thanks to all concerned and Merry Christmas to you all.

Submitted by Peter George on Thu, 12/22/2011 - 15:58

Just to note that the vast majority of the work to make this happen was done by Chris Klapwijk, our webmaster, and Laura Serowicz, the Director of the Seed Exchange. Joyce Fingerut and Bobby Ward also played major roles in this project and we should thank them all for their work and their persistence in overcoming the inevitable series of tiny problems which collectively almost killed two or three of us. And for those of you who haven't had the opportunity to peek at the seed selection, methinks you'll be surprised at the variety and the quality. To those of you who are Christians, have a wonderful Christmas. To those Jews among us, Chag Urim Sameach. And for the Pagans, I'm confident that your Solstice celebration was truly memorable.


Submitted by RickR on Thu, 12/22/2011 - 16:56

I've never spent so little time putting in an order. 
With simple and easy to follow directions, it went so smoothly!

Clearly, there was a mountain of thought that went into this.
-- (Not to mention a world of work!)

My gratitude to everyone involved!

Submitted by maggiepie on Thu, 12/22/2011 - 17:03

All's well that ends well. ;D

Many thanks to all involved, I can only imagine the amount of hours that went into making this happen.
Hope your hair grows back :rolleyes:

Happy holidays to all.

Helen Poirier

Submitted by Tom Waters on Thu, 12/22/2011 - 17:45

Everything worked very smoothly for me too! Thanks to everyone who helped this come together.

Submitted by Lori S. on Thu, 12/22/2011 - 22:11

Wow, that was slick!  Thanks very much, Chris and Laura, and Joyce and Bobby (and anyone else who may have been involved), for all your hard work to set that up!  It's much appreciated.

Submitted by Mark McD on Thu, 12/22/2011 - 22:40

I am duly impressed of the NARGS online seed exchange ordering system... just went through it from start (first look at the seedlist) to finish (paying via PayPal), and it was so easy and seamless.  Huge kudos to NARGS WebMaster Chris Klapwijk, seed exchange director Laura Serowicz, and the whole seed exchange team!  As an IT guy myself (Information Technology), I know full well the huge amount of effort that goes on behind-the-scenes which largely goes unappreciated, but I must say to Chris in particular, the online seed ordering experience and user-interface is extremely well done (I'm a known critic of bad software implementation), the interface has all the right links, options, and User-Interface implementations... certainly worth the small delay in ironing out wrinkles, a new standard has been set. 

Submitted by Howey on Fri, 12/23/2011 - 05:11

Just got it this morning - absolutely wonderful and thank you, thank you, thank you.  So easy to manage - and I need lots of "easy" these days.  Merry Christmas!  Fran

Frances Howey
London,Ontario, Canada
Zone 5b

Submitted by IMYoung on Fri, 12/23/2011 - 11:05

I can enter the seed system to make a seed request... but I still  cannot download the list.  In the seed ordering area it does not seem possible to see who the donors of particular species are... is that possible in the downloadable list?

If so, could someone who has managed to download it, email it to me, please? I think my email is visible to all members.

I know there have been problems  and those involved in the set-up will have been distraught at the difficulties... but it is all coming together now and it will be a boon, both for the members and for those picking and packing the seed in future. well done folks!


Submitted by Dobak on Fri, 12/23/2011 - 11:47

I've just sent the seedlist and orderform to you Maggi. 
By the way, when I looked at your profile, the email address was "hidden".
Dave Dobak

Submitted by Peter George on Fri, 12/23/2011 - 11:50

Which browser are you using? I have both Firefox and Explorer and only the Firefox handles the seedlist and the donor list competently.

Submitted by maggiepie on Fri, 12/23/2011 - 13:28

I'm using chrome and had no problems with either downloading the list or doing the seed order.


Submitted by IMYoung on Fri, 12/23/2011 - 13:50

Still no joy downloading the list... but I have it from Dave and also Bill Moyles, with an offer from Lori if I was still stuck...  :) Wonderful kind folks, all! 8)

Peter, I use Firefox mostly, but I tried IE, and Google Chrome too.

I'm just going to close everything down and try again... that may help.  Will report back soon.
In the meantime I have made a seed request, using the very simple system   8) 8) 8) So easy to use!

Later edit: Still no luck with the downloads, I'm afraid.
21.43pm UK time

Submitted by Jeddeloh on Fri, 12/23/2011 - 17:25

I placed my order last night and, wow was it slick.  While I had my list already to go I love the "click on Google" feature and ended up changing a few selections because of it.

Now that it's working it's truly impressive.  Everyone involved can pat themselves on the back for a job well done.

Jan Jeddeloh

Submitted by Mark McD on Fri, 12/23/2011 - 18:24

Researching more on the problematic PDF download links, seems that most of the time it's due to a PDF plug-in that is trying to open the PDF within the browser, whether it is Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc. So, there's probably nothing wrong with the actual links nor PDF files themselfs, but in the behavior of PDF browser plugins.  The solution is to set PDFs to open up directly in Adobe Reader instead.

The most reliable way to fix the problem is to do the following:
(ps: for me, doing these steps worked like a charm, then the PDF links worked instantaneously)

1.  Download and install Adobe Reader (do this even if you have other Adobe Acrobat products installed), you need the latest "Reader":
    Download/Install from this link (select your operating system, language, and Reader version (latest version 10.1 is recommended):

2.  Close your internet browser.

3.  Launch Adobe Reader
    -  Go to the 'Edit' Menu and select 'Preferences'
    -  In the left column select 'Internet'
    -  Uncheck 'Display PDF in browser'
    -  Click OK

4.  Launch your internet browser, and try the links on the NARGS.ORG web page again.

Hopefully this will work for those of you having PDF download problems.  There's lots more information out there on PDF download difficulties, a few more possibilities are listed in this link:

Submitted by Beatty on Mon, 12/26/2011 - 00:38

I wondered too about versions of adobe and downloaded the latest greatest from their site but nothing seemed to work.  Then I upgraded my elements 7 to 10 and on there it said to click here for adobe 10.1 and despite downloading from the adobe site I clicked it.  You got it - the seed list finally worked for me!!!  Of course I have already ordered my seed on that oh so slick system.  That worked really well and I think everything one could think of was thought of - it was amazing.  I honestly think this team put a lot of thought into it to make it a great experience but the truth is everyone has a different system and versions and............  Thank you all so much for all you did and the fact that you stuck with it until it worked.  I appreciated the timing of it too - just before Christmas when you have so many personal commitments.  Hope you're all enjoying it :-) 

Submitted by HughGmail on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 17:04

I had the opportunity to beta test this ordering system and must say I love the elegance of the process.  My hat off to Chris.  As an IT professional and past web master, it is a huge relief to see that our web is in capable hands.

Submitted by Lori S. on Wed, 02/01/2012 - 20:10

I just got my seeds today and I'm rubbing my hands in glee!  Tibetia tongolensis, Pulsatilla aurea, Allium cratericola, Penstemon nanus, Callianthemum anemonoides, Onosma albo-roseum, Thalictrum tuberosum... yahoo!!

Submitted by IMYoung on Fri, 02/03/2012 - 07:39

Excitement in Aberdeen today as my NARGS seed arrived..... posted  in Pipersville PA on January 25th... delivered in N.E. Scotland on 3rd February... pretty good, huh!??

This is my first NARGS seed in a long time .... don't know how long you folks have been putting those great printed labels on the seed packets, but they are really smart.  No struggling with smudged stamped numbers or awful handwriting... all crystal clear and so much easier to prepare for labelling the seed pots when sowing.
There is resistence to providing these for the SRGC exchange and I cannot understand why.  :-\  Seems a no-brainer to me! So much simpler for the folks with import regs to get the packets named properly too.

Well done NARGS!!  8) 8)

Submitted by Booker on Fri, 02/03/2012 - 09:38

Ditto Maggi,
My superb selection arrived this morning.  Many, many, MANY thanks to all concerned.

Submitted by Lori S. on Fri, 02/03/2012 - 09:56

Oops, in my excitement, I forgot to give thanks to all who make the seedex possible!  Thank you all for your tremendous efforts at collecting a virtual mountain of seed donations, then all the checking, repackaging, labelling, sorting, juggling first and second choices, mailing, and the hundred other steps I don't even know about  - I can't even imagine how it all comes together!  It is so wonderful that membership gives one access to such an absolutely tremendous benefit!  

Submitted by RickR on Fri, 02/03/2012 - 11:18

As a seed packer for many years, with both the old stamp method and the new labels, I have to say unequivocally, that labels make the process faster, more accurate and more efficient.

A predetermined number of labels for each offering is printed in advance, before the actual seed packing is done.  I can't tell you what the actual methodology is, but that number is (mostly?) based on the number of requests for each particular offering in the past.  This is absolutely wonderful!  No more guessing how many packets to make: if there are only 10 labels, there is no need to make 25 packets.  

And this way, excess seed is not automatically wasted.  If there are lots of seeds for a 10 label item, I might still make 12 packets.  (We can always hand write more, at our discretion.)  The twelve packets then get the seed divided up, lets say 30 seeds per packet.  This, as opposed to the old method, where we would have made many more packets with far less number of seeds per packet, and many of those would have gone unused!  Multiply all that extra, unnecessary time and work by....100?....1000?  You get the picture.  Members are happier when they get more seed in their orders, too.  

On the other hand, when there is relatively little seed of an offering, the labeling system still works in our best interest.  It will tell us (by how many labels are printed for the offering) how best to divide the available seed.  The minimum number of seeds per packet is five.  So, by knowing the number of packets that need to be made, we can adjust the number of seeds per packet to meet the demand.  That can mean that a packet only gets five seeds, but more people get their first choices!  (I will say that when I package seeds such as this, and some individual seed's viability is questionable, I don't count them as part of the "five", but I do include them in the packet.)

Parenthetically, this is the first year that we are not keeping an "overage" packet, where excess seed is kept separately, in case there is a miscalculation that underestimated the number of prospective requests.  With that overage packet, we could then make more packets to fill orders when the labeled packages run out.  I am guessing that by now we have enough past data that makes the need for an overage packet unnecessary.  NARGS has used the printed labeling system since at least 2004.

It's win-win, all the way!  And a special thank you to everyone involved in making and tweaking the program that does all this. Your angels!

Submitted by Hoy on Fri, 02/03/2012 - 15:33

I have never been a seedpacker (just a backbacker ;) ) but intuitively I assume that Rick is right!

However, my intention was to tell I got the seeds the other day and I am very satisfied! Thank you to everybody involved :D :D :D

(BTW, I got the SRGC seeds today ;) )

Submitted by Lockwood on Sun, 02/12/2012 - 12:28

My seed from the exchange arrived yesterday.

Thank you so very much to all involved.  Hope to be posting some photos of the offspring in the near future.


Submitted by Beatty on Tue, 02/14/2012 - 18:55

Oh what an exciting day!  My husband checked the mailbox and we had naught.  A few hours later our neighbor came with an envelope - the mailman had put it in the wrong box :-)  Yes, my eagerly awaited seeds are here.  I'm just a beginner at seeds or any other form of propagation to be honest but my friend Valerie Melanson who's a nargs member has coached me along.  I'm going to have fun researching how to do the seeds and hopefully may have pictures of some in the future. 

I did get some from the SRGC and I'm proud to say I got two to germinate - a draba breweri and aster stracheyi.  I'm hoping a few more will co operate and encourage me :-)

Thank you to the Seed Team - I felt badly you had a rough start but you truly did an awesome job.

Submitted by Fermi on Wed, 02/15/2012 - 00:34

Our seeds arrived on Friday  ;D - after a short visit to AQIS (Aust Quarantine Insopection Service)  :(
3 withheld but 2 are now being released under their "old names" which are on the "accepted" list  :) ; Astragalus loanus unfortunately isn't :'(

Submitted by Lori S. on Mon, 02/20/2012 - 17:06

Great news, Linda, and welcome to the site!  I love seeing Erigeron aureus in the wild, definitely one of my favourites!
That's an amazing news story!

Submitted by Vaxvick on Tue, 02/21/2012 - 20:28

Thanks for the welcome.  I think I'll try some of the E. aureus seed at room temp (or porch temp) and cold-stratify some.  I may not have Lori's magic touch.