Sunday, 4 May 2014

Moving house is one thing, what about a garden?

I am sure most people have moved house at least once in their lives, I certainly have, several times, though the last time was 14 years ago. But have you moved a garden? Not literally of course, that would be awesome and so much easier. But taking some or all the plants you have in your garden. What is the best way to do this?


I am fortunate enough to work in the horticultural trade and can get my hands on lots of pots, especially big ones from work. Luckily, left over from a job a couple of years ago are a reasonable number of big plastic troughs, approx 2 ft by 1.5 ft wide and deep with holes in the bottom. Being plastic this makes them relevantly light and durable. Having given the whole plant moving exercise some serious thought, putting them in larger containers, though heavy to move will be better for the plants in the long term. We don't know how long the house will take to sell and therefore how long the plants will be potted for.


There are several advantages of putting plants in bigger containers. The plants won't dry out too much if watered regularly as there is plenty soil. Similarly if they are in the troughs over winter then the volume of soil will protect the roots from frost far more than if they were in small individual pots. It will be quicker to move 30 troughs than moving 1000 individual small pots! Also weeding and watering them will be easier. I will put plants from each separate border in  a trough together, maintaining planting partnerships, until I decide if I will keep them together in the new garden. I can also identify which plant is which by what border it came from and who its neighbours are. The perennials and bulbs are all being planted into these troughs and shrubs into large individual pots.

Fruit bush cuttings in the cold frame

Then there are the plants I can't take with me.  I am taking cuttings of those that will propagate by this means. Its a bit early for decent cutting material for some shrubs, but I am managing to get enough that will hopefully take. Some plants like the Currant fruit bushes come really easily: with foot long stems of last years wood pushed into deep pots of compost, there should 100% success.

Shrub cuttings in the greenhouse

I have also found seedlings germinating of plants I want to take, so these have been potted up and put in the cold greenhouse to grow on. Angelica, Hellebores and Viola seedlings have all been potted up so far.

Then there are the ones I cant take with me: trees and shrubs that are too big to move or don't come from cuttings. So I have to leave them and will buy new ones for my new garden. Any gardener will know what it is like to become attached to plants, especially trees and shrubs which you have nurtured from seeds or young plants to mature specimens. Typically my Abies koreana that I grew from seed is having its first beautiful cones this year. I can't lift this plant: its over eight feet tall and six feet across, so it stays to hopefully give the new owners lots of pleasure for many years to come. 

After this afternoon in the garden, another six troughs are filled

As I walk around the garden, deciding on everything that will go, including pots, containers, benches, plants etc., I am becoming aware that there will a lorry for the house stuff and a lorry for the garden! Then there are the two greenhouses and the potting shed, with all their contents. Now I am feeling slightly overwhelmed and so wine and chocolate are required. It will be fine, I know it will, as the advantage of moving when your kids are older is you have plenty of strong helpers. So far all three of my boys have been a fantastic help with the clearing out, de-cluttering and moving boxes into storage.

Today I spent a few hours digging up bits of all the plants around the house and patios and taking cuttings, making the most of a dry day. We also had a huge bonfire of rubbish out of the attic and David and the boys finished filling the potholes on the drive, both for our benefit and for anybody coming to view the house.

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