Garden Lore

“A U garden need not be large. Herbaceous borders are U, and so are weeds. Neat beds of annuals and yellow conifers, especially the dwarf species, are non-U. But yew is always U.”

Robin Brackenbury What are U? (1969)

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Garden Lore: Moving plants

It is possible to move relatively large plants, though this row is an example of doing it all wrong. Hauled out by rope in late spring – some are visibly ring barked – then reportedly left to lie for weeks with exposed roots and no watering before replanting. They were probably never trimmed to reduce stress. Plants are not that tough.

The best time to relocate large plants is in late autumn or winter and the process should be started six weeks in advance by wrenching the plant. This is cutting the roots on one side at a time every couple of weeks and allowing the plant to rest and recover from the shock. The root mass needs to be left as large as possible and the hole should have been prepared in advance so the plant is moved straight to its new location. That way the roots don’t dry out and the long lead in time allows the plant to start forming new roots.

Chances of a successful transplant are increased if the top is trimmed by maybe a third. If you take out entire branches to shape the tree, it usually looks better than giving a chainsaw haircut all over and it means you can keep a central leader or trunk. Moving in late autumn or winter means the plant is not in full growth so it is less shocked and there is generally enough rain to avoid the need to water over the next months.

If you don’t have the means to do it properly, it can be faster to start with a much smaller plant and to give it optimal conditions to grow rapidly. There is a bit of wasted work in this row down the road from where I live.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.