Saturday, March 14, 2009

Diary October 2006 - Autumn Transplants

Fall is a terrific time for garden renovations! Here in Ontario, we are already starting to get cool evenings and nights but still experiencing very warm sunny days. We’ve also been lucky enough to get some really good rainstorms. This is a great scenario for planting or re-planting. Most plants develop root systems in temperatures over 40 degrees F and that’s what you want: a chance for the plant to adapt to its new environment and set down a good root system before winter.

I’ve had knee problems for several years and have been unable to do garden jobs like plant division and bed renovation. This has been a very frustrating experience – I know a few of you out there are in the same boat. Well, a total knee replacement has me back on track so - look out!! I’ve been on a rampage since mid-summer!
An awful lot of my plants desperately needed division, the hostas and daylilies especially. I also split Heuchera (the regular hybrid variety as well as ‘Palace Purple’), Iris, Rudbeckia and Labrador violets. At this point in time, I don’t really care what the plants look like so I cut the tops and heads off most “tranplantees”. This lets the roots grow stronger without having to support the stems, leaves and flowers. I tried to figure out what areas would benefit from these “new” plants and now have very full, better designed front beds.
I have a bed (above) beside the driveway which has a Magnolia at one end and a Linden at the other plus a Deutzia gracilis, junipers and 3 Alberta Spruce all vying for moisture. Not having enough time to water this bed as diligently as I do the backyard, most annuals I’ve planted died of drought. So now instead, I’ve put in relatively drought tolerant perennials: Heuchera, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Rudbeckia, dwarf Alchemilla mollis, Labrador violets, hostas and columbines.
I also have another similar problem area near the other neighbour’s property line, under a Crabapple tree. Here I added 2 Euonymus, 5 Bergenia cordifolia, Pachysandra, hostas and columbines.

Besides dividing plants, I knew I had to remedy areas where plants had “taken over” areas, crowding out other more favoured plants. Catnip (or Nepeta) had crowded out my Pincushion flower and Penstemon ‘Husker Red’. I ripped it out and only planted a few clumps near the bases of 3 transplanted climbing roses, which needed a more sunny location. The catnip seems very rambunctious, so I have no doubt that it will get nice and thick in this designated area.
After I did the big garden reno several years ago, I was uncertain what to do under a very healthy Pin Oak tree near the back of the property. The few things I planted suffered from hungry rabbits and drought (no doubt the huge oak roots sucked up a lot of available water). So, my Dad and I dropped by a local nursery that sells all its plants for $4.99, regardless what they are. I picked up 3 small mugho pines, 5 Goldflame Spireas, a Hydrangea arborescens and a Golden Japanese grass. We added my split Rudbeckias, Sedum, periwinkle and mauve daylilies.
Does this sound like I’ve done a lot? Perhaps, but a gardeners’ work is never really done, as you well know!
Still on my To Do list is:
a) To split: more hostas, white Veronica, Siberian Iris, Spartina grass, Ajuga crispa and periwinkle
b) Plant container plants like Chrysanthemums and Heuchera into beds
c) Get rid of the rest of the Nepeta, either to far away areas or the garbage!
d) Dig out 3 years worth of stubborn weeds near the neighbour’s fence and replace with Spartina grass
e) Clean weeds out of raised beds at the back and put in daylilies
f) Propagate some of the colourful coleus I had this year
Can I get all this done before the snows fly? Let’s hope so!
I’ve started a bit of a paper journal to jot down what I did. I also drew out what I planted where.
Being the impatient person I am, I already am anxiously awaiting the spring to see how these new beds look!

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