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Category: transplanting

  • Perennial Dig ‘n Split Party

    October 28, 2009

    Looking for a fun garden party idea for fall? Sure, the garden may look a little weary after all the leaves have fallen and perennials have faded to the ground in preparation for winter. But, this is the perfect time to invite friends to join you in the garden to divide perennials from your overflowing beds. Read on for more ideas:


  • Chopping Down a Specimen, Part III

    November 17, 2008

    Over the weekend my husband walked past the Stewartia I’ve been mourning, and the homeowner was in the garden. He bravely asked why they had cut down the tree. The answer, “It was getting too big.” I’m still a bit suspicious about that answer, but I do recognize that Stewartia get quite large and this tree was planted pretty darn close to the house.  Still…hmmm…

    As well, he told my husband that he had tried to get someone to dig the tree out for him, but the tree services he’d spoken to did not think they could remove it by hand. And, they weren’t able to get their tree spades into the tree without damaging the other trees between the street and the tree to be removed. Plus, they were concerned about damaging the retaining wall between the house and the sidewalk during any removal. I’m sad about that answer too.

    Arbutus unedo Blooming in November

    Arbutus unedo Blooming in November

    I’ve dug out and successfully moved some smaller, but established trees by hand in my time. I will readily admit this tree far exceeded any tree I’ve ever removed through hand digging and hauling. However, given the chance, I would have tried. Even if I’d failed and the tree didn’t make it, I’d have only lost an afternoon (or two) with friends trying. Clearly, this “too big” tree was going to be removed one way or the other.

    Now I’m curious to see what happens when the five Arbutus unedo they planted 18″ on center start to mature. At least they’re close to the curb and a tree spade might be able to take them out “when they get too big”. Then again, they’re crammed in between two maturing Katsuras, so some poor plant is going to pay when the poorly planned over planted area out grows the space.  I guess a few more specimens will eventually bite the dust — unless this area gets corrected soon, while the Arbutus are still young.

    More on moving big trees and chopping down this specimen here:

  • Dig ‘n Split Party Wrap

    October 31, 2008

    Last night’s forecast for Seattle: Dumping rain all Halloween morning.

    My plan for this Halloween morning: Dig ‘n Split Garden party.

    Result: Happy, soggy gardeners!

    I woke up really early for no good reason on a pitch-black rainy day. I got up and wondered how much it was really raining. When the black sky changed to a lighter shade of grey, I knew it was wet out there. Actually, it was pouring.

    Knowing that we’ve been short on rain so far this fall, I emailed all the gals planning to come to my garden party to divide perennials and told them we were still on. (I can be known to cancel an event if I’m worried about soil compaction, but since only the top 2-4″ of soil –actually mulch– are significantly wet this fall, I knew the beds would be okay.)

    Halloween Dig 'n Split Party with Favors!

    Halloween Dig 'n Split Party with Favors!

    I headed out a little while before the party was going to start. I wanted to pull out tools, pots and yard waste bins. I wanted to clean up dog poop in some areas. And, I wanted to start doing divisions of plants as samplers to get people started. Eventually, all three ladies showed up, braving the sopping morning. It was fun to share loads of plants with them, enjoy their enthusiasm over all the options and see my overcrowded beds get a little more breathing room as we cleared various plants out.

    Here’s a rough list of the prizes my guests took away:

    • Geranium m. ‘Album’
    • Geranium samobar
    • Tiarella (a couple of cultivars)
    • Rose Glow Barberry
    • Vine Maple
    • Midwinter Fire Twig Dogwood
    • Cala Lily
    • Ligularia ‘The Rocket’
    • Gunnera
    • Angel’s Fishing Rod
    • Pulsatilla
    • Sedum (many kinds)
    • Black Mondo Grass
    • Autumn Fern
    • Sword Fern
    • Iris
    • Japanese Anemone
    • June Bearing Strawberry
    • Amazing Red Flax
    • Tall Garden Phlox (White and Pink)
    • Leopard’s Bane
    • Artemesia
    • Lamb’s Ear
    • Donkey Tail Spurge
    • Vancouveria
    • Monkshood
    • Climbing Hydrangea layered starts
    • Japanese Maple seedlings
    • Ribes viburnifolium
    • Mahonia (came with the vine maple/left with the vine maple)
    • Seed garlic

    I think that about covers it, but who knows what else they got…probably some fireweed and shotweed just for the fun of it! I like to think even with these, this is the best halloween haul anyone will get today.

    Hmmm…note to self: Next year require costumes?!

    Ladies, thanks for clearing the way for changes in my garden. It’s been a while since I’ve had some larger open spaces to work with. Now to take a hot shower!

  • Is Your Garden Soil Ready For Fall Planting?

    October 21, 2008

    Yesterday, I worked with a client to install shrubs along his foundation. When he bought his new home earlier this year, the sellers had left a mishmash of polka dot plantings along the south side and a grassy mess of spiraea along the west side foundation. The polka dots were clearly the result of a “what’s at Home Depot? Let’s buy a bunch of stuff to fill in some blanks”. The spiraea was probably somebody’s summertime idea of a fun hedge that went wrong when it met winter and the grass moved in. In any case, my client had cleared the beds fairly well for us to put in the new plants, but we ran into a couple of common issues that slowed us down.

    • Grass Weeds in the Planting Beds: My client had hired a “clean up” crew to clear out the weedy, overgrown beds. Unfortunately, in some areas they didn’t do a great job. The west beds were fully infiltrated with running grass weed. In parts of the beds, the clean up crew cleared out a lot of grass. Anyone who has fought grass in beds knows that this can be an ongoing battle. The smallest segment left behind can result in a fresh crop of annoying weed. In other areas the clean up crew had essentially mowed over the weedy grass and left large growths of it fully intact in the planting beds. So, what to do in situations like this?
      • Clearing out the weeds now will save you later. Working together, we finished clearing as much of the loose grass weed as we could and followed up each section with planting the new shrubs. In the areas where the grass is thick and was “mowed”, my client is going to completely dig out the grass before planting. Getting the grass cleared and the bed re-edged is going to make his life a lot easier down the road.
    • Hydrophobic Soil: In western washington, the fall rains have started to return following our natural summer drought cycle. Unfortunately, many soils are still fairly dry in the planting root zones. In foundation planting beds this often is the case at any time of year as the house may create a drip zone “rain shadow” that keeps the soil from getting well saturated. And, some soils like my client’s fairly sandy soil, the water just runs through the profile. Plus, once soils get dry, they can seem difficult to get wet again. The water pools; the soil floats in it. In these cases, it can take a while to get the water to penetrate the soil to keep it moist. This is what we rain into yesterday. So, what did we do?
      • My client’s soil does have some clay and some organic matter. Together these will help the sandy soil hold moisture — once it gets wet. I suggested that we water the beds ahead of planting (and water the rootbound plants at the same time). It seemed strange to get out the hose while we were working in the rain, but we did.
      • Don’t turn the hose on full blast and try to get the soil moist. Instead, be patient and use a slow drip or light rainshower spray to moisten the soil. If you use a big jet stream, the water will pool and run off.
      • Water slowly and intermittently. Water one section slowly, move to the next section and repeat a few times. Let the water drain between each watering. Check the soil moisture depth periodically. Remember, you want the soil moist down where the roots are going, not just in the top few inches.
      • Plant after the soil is moist and the soil has drained. Make sure the plant roots are moist going into the soil. Water each plant on a slow drip after planting.
      • Check newly planted plants occassionally, even if you think they’re getting rain. You may need to add supplemental water to ensure they do well.

    A couple of final notes on fall planting. We did not add fertilizer to the new plantings. This time of year we don’t want to encourage the plant to put on a lot of top growth that might get zapped if we have a freeze. Instead, we want the plants to do their work underground until spring. So, add a good couple inches of composted mulch to the top of the finished planting beds. As this decomposes through the work of rains and microbial activity, slow release fertilization will be available to the plants by spring when they really want and can use it.

    Fall is a fantastic time to transplant and renovate gardens. It’s just important to stay in tune with the environment in which you are working.