The time is right for relocation of plants

Erica carnea has been defying the cold weather. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
Erica carnea has been defying the cold weather. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

Apart from the short-lived snow spell, we’ve had decent gardening weather, and this fellow’s been making the most of it.

We’re not out of the woods yet as next month can be so unpredictable, but it’s encouraging to have such a decent start in advance of the main growing season.

Work on a crumbling dry-stone wall that supports a raised bed began one frosty morning in early January and was meant to be completed within a week.

However, when cold gave way to milder days, the opportunity to get on with real gardening could not be ignored. The wall project was suspended.

We’d earmarked perennial plants for relocation in the garden and several vigorous herbaceous subjects were in need of lifting and dividing-up. The time was right and opportunity grasped.

The state of dormancy many perennials enter over winter allows us to take certain liberties that would not even be contemplated at the height of summer so it’s a case of act now when the chance beckons.

I let past successes be my guide when moving plants. If there’s no frost and the land’s not saturated, lifting, moving and planting is on.

Residents of this garden must know that if they perform as expected they’re quite safe, but if they become too vigorous, remain stunted in growth, or fail to flower in a certain position, a change of scenery is on the cards.

Whether offering more growing space or transferring to a sunnier position, it’s all aimed at getting the best from every plant and is mutually beneficial. Even so, as I survey the garden, spade in hand, they’re probably thinking ‘Keep your heads down, he’s on the loose again’.

Certain established ornamental or fruit trees that are encroaching on a neighbouring plant’s growing space need not be tolerated. If they can be lifted with a solid root-ball and transported from plot A to B, go for it.

Prepare the new planting spot well, and in advance of the move. Water well in at the roots, secure the backfill of soil, and in the case of standard trees offer adequate support until new roots are established. In this respect, a dressing of mycorrhizal fungi (Root Grow) is beneficial when preparing the planting spot.

We’ve recently moved two apple trees and an established blackcurrant bush, then progressed to the ornamental borders front of house where a collection of low-growing plants by the driveway was in line for reorganising.

The initial close-planting distances of two or three years ago were undertaken for instant effect, but the time had come for some thinning out.

This involved carefully removing a few autumn and winter heathers, the latter in full bloom, penstemon, helichrysum and lavenders.

Two weeks later, they are looking good, having taken the move in their stride.