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In limbo

  • In limbo
  • In limbo
  • In limbo

I finished my plant list last month, finally!
It has taken a year adding all the plants and bulbs in my garden to the ‘Plants in My Garden’ list and the total so far is 303 individual plant names. Some of the plants I have just one of, others I have many of – I have no idea how many plants and bulbs I have in total but take for example Galanthus nivalis – I think I must have around 1.000 if not more.

Having a proper record of all my plants is useful for so many reasons, but I am not stopping there, I intend to upload my own pictures of all my plants too, and I have started adding photos – not sure when I will be finished with that job! I think just over 60% of the plants in my list have a photo by now, most of them my own as most of my plants were not in the database and had to be added by me. I use the plant list when I write on my blog, to remind me what the full name of specific plants are, I also use the plant list to remind me of what I already have so I don’t accidentally buy the same plant or bulb again (easily done for a plantaholic!). And of course I hope it will be useful for visitors who would like to swap plants with me, who can see what I have and potentially could be willing to swap.

But let me get back to the title of this post, I am currently in that dreadful limbo of not knowing whether I am going to move house or not. I have been offered a house in a house swap, a better house for me to rent as it is a bungalow and I am currently renting a Victorian house with steep stairs. I would very much like to move to the bungalow as it would be much easier for me to manage, and the garden is a bit bigger with some useful features I don’t have where I now live.

However, I have lived at my current house for nearly 14 years and spent all these years doing up my garden. How do I leave a garden like that?! Well, I have decided I won’t leave the garden, I will take it with me - as much as I can possibly lift and pot up. But at the moment I don’t even know if I am moving, if I get a yes to the swap I will have to move within a week of signing the contract so not much time to dig up plants, I will have to pack up the house that week. So I am in limbo….how much should I prepare for a move and hope it will go through? What can possibly survive being uprooted and left in pots for maybe months? Being realistic, I know it will take a lot of time to get the new garden sorted, and I have no idea what will come up in the flower beds at the new house as I saw the garden on a cold and rainy day in February and the current tenant is not a gardener and could tell me absolutely nothing apart from he thought one of the trees was an apple tree.

I would like to take EVERYTHING with me from my current garden, but sadly that’s not possible, some of the plants are just too difficult to move, but I have been prepared for a future move for a good while and have kept things in pots and containers with a possible move in mind so even before I started lifting plants I had a lot of pots. But now I have more, many more. Last count was 520 pots and containers, from the smallest cutting pot to the biggest container. I hope the removal men won’t faint when they see what’s coming out of my garden.

Hopefully the local authorities will decide within the next 4-5 weeks, by then I have had time to take out the plants I think will survive being uprooted and stored in pots for a few months, but being in this limbo is difficult, not knowing, and yet taking up my whole garden – possibly just to be turned down the last minute.

My plant list has yet again proved very useful when doing this work, I have spent every evening looking through the list and deciding what plants to lift the next day, and then making plant labels with correct names ready to go into each pot. I have 520 pots all with a plant label, no confusion when it comes to planting them in the new garden!

The only plant I am really in doubt what to do with is my absolutely lovely Acer palmatum ‘Garnet’, it is 11 years old and has been growing in the ground the last 8 years. I suspect the roots are spread very wide, though I know they should be rather shallow. It is growing next to a gravel path with weed liner so the roots are probably going under it. Shall I leave it for the new tenant to enjoy or shall I take a chance and dig it up? If anyone has any experience in moving such a big and mature Acer palmatum I would be grateful for any tips.

Tomorrow I am aiming to lift my ballerinas of the garden, the trilliums. They are very deep rooted and if they break when dug up they won’t come back. A delicate job indeed. After that around 70-80 Arisaema amurense is next on the list.

The tenant I hope to swap with has stated that he is not interested in gardening at all, he just want a place for his 2 dogs to run around and somewhere for him to sit outside. I am leaving him quite a few shrubs though, and the huge camellia and 3 clematis’ plus lots of spring bulbs I probably have missed when digging – and a garden where all the hard landscaping is done so all that is needed is to put some plants in should he want any more.

I am including some photos of the pots I have filled so far, there are more to come in the days and weeks ahead and anything I can’t find space for in my hopefully new garden will probably end up here on my swap list in the late autumn :-)

Comments (5)

  1. Grower

    Angie's Garden

    I do hope you get the swap Helene, I think you will benefit from one level living.

    I lifted an Acer from my old garden that had been in the ground for 8 years when I moved here. You are right the roots are very shallow but very wide. I could not find a pot wide enough for them to spread out and opted to wrap and tie them in hessian. I think it also benefited my plant that it was in dormancy, end of January. It lived in the hessian for almost 1 month before I was able to get it in the ground and even that was done before it burst its buds. I know you have some health issues and wonder just how practical it will be for you to get it out of the ground.

    You could also look at it in the respect that, what have you got to lose? If you leave it you won't have it or if you lift it and it dies, you won't have it either but then at least you'd know you gave it a go.
    I also wonder just how welcoming the tenant you are swapping with would be to allowing you to come back later in the year for some divisions or cuttings of the plants you don't manage to get sorted out? It may be worth asking him, no?
    I've lots more I'd like to say but need to run to get ready for work - exciting times for you Helene :)

  2. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    It's an outstanding collection Helene, and amazing how many plants you've fitted in a smallish space! I particularly love your sharp and beautiful photography. I strongly recommend others reading this take a look at Helene's Grower page. It's a great example of how to make a garden page compelling and useful.

    Helene - we'll progressively make plant records for the plants you had to list against the genus and will assign your listings to the new records. You do not need to do anything.

    It's always a big upheaval moving, but so nice you're taking the majority of your plants with you. Best of luck to you all with your new home.

  3. Grower

    Helene U Taylor

    Many thanks to you both for your comments, the tenant I hope to swap with is very nice and I have made him an offer: to come back and help him a few times with the remaining plants and shrubs over the next year and teach him how to take care of them in return for being allowed to dig up a few remaining plants I haven’t taken up by the time I move. He has said yes to that and since we only live a few miles away from each other I think it will be possible for me to do so.

    The plants I have lifted I have planted in pots large enough to accommodate them up to a whole year, with slow-release fertiliser in all of them, this is to give me time enough to sort out the garden with no stress. The only issue might be to give them enough water over the summer but there is a large area with shade on one side of the house so I think it should be fine – I just have to hose them down often enough. But the larger the shrubs, the more difficult it will be to get them into a pot for temporary growing, so I might just leave the Acer until later, until next winter perhaps when it is dormant again and the garden would be ready for it.

    I will update you all on how I get on – and if I actually get the house, I hope I don’t have to put all the plants back in my garden again!

  4. Grower

    Angie's Garden

    You're welcome Helene. I look forward to hearing your updates and great that you've already negotiated to return for the remainder of your plants and I'm sure he'll appreciate any advice you can give him.
    Good luck with it all :)

  5. Grower

    Helene U Taylor

    Thanks Alya, I have an agreement with the new tenant to come back in November to lift the Acer – or at least I will try, I might have to lift the bed edging and some of the path up as it is growing right on the edge. I will bring some people with me and we will have a go!
    I will also leave one of the rhododendrons to take with me in November and I hope that by then I have got a good idea of what the new garden will be like so I can have a space ready for them both before I go and get them. If I took them with me now they would have to be stored in sacks over the summer and that would not be ideal.

    I have been searching for Ericoidal mycorrhizal fungi online to use with rhododendrons and azaleas, as Mycorrhizal fungi is not recommended for rhododendrons, azaleas and other members of the ericaceous family. I can’t seem to find anyone selling it online so if anyone here knows of a supplier I would be grateful for a link.


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