If one were as good a gardener in practice as one is in theory, what a garden would one create!
- Vita Sackville West
Viewing entries tagged transplanting
My Sedum 'Autumn Joy’ are talking to me. They are splayed flat, saying, “Divide me!” Many perennials behave this way. Every 3 to 5 years, they begin to develop a hole or fall away from the center, signaling that they need to be divided to be reinvigorated.
In the case of Autumn Joy, this would be a terrible time to dig them up. They are in spectacular bloom right now and would be very unwieldy to handle. I will make a note of which plants to divide in spring, when they are compact and will have plenty of time to recover before they bloom again at the end of the summer. Mums and ornamental grasses belong in the same category.
Tags: ornamental grasses, Paeonia, Peonies, soil knife, Hemerocallis, daylilies, transplanting, dividing plants, Lady's Mantle, Alchemilla mollis, chrysanthemum, Mums, Sedum 'Autumn Joy', gardening in the Northeast, CT gardening, shade gardening
Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) and peonies (Paeonia) are good examples of perennials that are better divided now. And this is the ideal time to divide Daylilies (Hemerocallis species). Daylilies respond especially well to dividing and will reward you with multiple vigorous plants. (Peonies may bloom poorly or not at all the year after division, but they will thrive after that.) All of these plants have passed their peak for the season.
On a day that is mild—neither too hot nor too cold—I use a transplanting spade to dig up the chosen plant(s). I dig a ring several inches outside the edges of the plant, digging and lifting until I can feel the root ball is loose. Then I lift with spade or hands and tease the plant out of the soil. This is where my trusty soil knife is indispensable (see go-to gear). It has a serrated edge that helps cut through the root ball. I always try to leave at least 3 buds or stems with each new plant. Sometimes the plant will fall apart easily, forming its own divisions. It is not necessary to treat most perennials gently; they will tolerate fairly rough handling.
Then I dig a hole slightly broader than the root ball of the new plantlet and mix in some compost or manure. I spread out the roots, or in the case of daylilies, tubers, and cover with soil to the same level as the original plant. And water generously. It pays to listen to forecasts and do dividing and transplanting when rainy weather is expected. Nothing gets a plant off to a better start than a good rain to soak it in.
Having said all this, I have learned that most perennials and shrubs can be divided and transplanted any time during the growing season. The key is keeping them moist till they are established. The larger or older the plant, the longer it will take to settle in.
What fun it is to take one plant and make it three—or more. This is a great opportunity to develop large drifts of a particular plant or to share with gardening friends.
October 1 and the cold front has arrived. A real chill in the air after a week of punishing rain and humidity. It feels like Fall. It’s time to fill the birdfeeder again, after leaving the birds to their own devices all summer.
The mild weather makes it a good time for making renovations—to the garden, that is. Vita Sackville-West said, “A true gardener must be brutal, and imaginative for the future.” I take her meaning to justify the changes I am making in the yard.
(I admire her tremendously as a gardener. Her former home at Sissinghurst, in England, is one of the spectacular gardens of the world.)
I’ve just dug up a group of 5 Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) from in front of the hemlocks. They’ve grown there for 4 or 5 years, but they do not get enough moisture to really thrive. Their blooms fade quickly and their foliage browns early in the season. In this condition they are not really enhancing the garden, so I’ll find them another home.
Goatsbeard can be a wonderful shade perennial in reliably moist soil. Their 6-foot height and creamy, fluffy panicles in late spring-early summer are very appealing and useful in the right place. I tried and learned I did not have them in the right place.
Next I managed to unearth the Fothergilla gardenii from the left side of the laurel arbor. It had grown too large for its space there and so was crowding and shading the Clematis ‘Ville de Lyon’ and becoming misshapen itself. This I moved to the far end of the lawn where it will have ample space. And in bloom, it should beckon us across the yard.
I can’t help but wonder if this Fothergilla was mislabeled. Of the two species, F. gardenii is also called “Dwarf Fothergilla,” because it is supposed to stay compact, say 3 feet tall. This is how the shrub I bought was marked. The other species, F. major grows to about 8 feet high. The one I transplanted is easily 7 feet tall.
Whichever one it is, it is still a beautiful plant. It gets white bottlebrush type flowers in the spring, and very soon it will develop its striking fall foliage—reds, yellows and oranges so intense they seem to be backlit. This fall color makes Fothergilla an excellent substitute for the invasive Burning Bush (Euonymus elatus).
Tags: shade gardening, perennials, shrubs, transplanting, Sissinghurst, Vita Sackville-West, Euonymus elatus, Burning Bush, Aruncus dioicus, Fothergilla gardenii, Fothergilla major
Only time will tell if my “brutality” is rewarded in the future!
Tonight we will have a new moon, which makes me remember my grandmother’s garden. It towered over me as a child—huge plump grapes enveloping the arbor; poles buried in thick beans, dinner plate-sized dahlias & sunflowers; melons too heavy to lift. She was from Lithuania, and she always planted by the moon. She said that the darkness of a new moon promoted good development of the roots. Was this the reason everything she grew seemed over-sized and exceptionally lush? I wish I’d had the chance to ask her about her gardening methods.
Tags: organic gardening, new moon, gardening customs, transplanting, Farmer's Almanac, above-ground crops, gardening by the moon
According to the Farmer’s Almanac (farmersalmanac.com), the period of the new moon today (9/27) through 9/30 is ideal for planting above-ground crops such as leafy greens, flowers and grains. That sounds perfect for cool weather crops, perennials and reseeding the lawn. October 13th to 15th, on the other hand, favors transplanting.
Did your relatives follow any gardening traditions inherited from their national or ethnic backgrounds? Did you learn any old-fashioned techniques or lore? Do you apply them? Do they work?
I would love to hear from you and to gather whatever gardening customs may have been handed down in all our families. In a time when it is critical that we protect the planet by avoiding toxic chemicals, what wisdom can we collect from those who knew only time-tested organic methods?