Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Grow Where You Are Planted

In anticipation of warmer weather, GramTuna and I made our annual pilgrimage to the various garden greeneries stock up on plants. We managed to show a tiny bit of restraint this year, which I like to think demonstrates that we have learned that buying one of everything without knowing where you're going to put it (much less if you have the space) is not necessarily a good idea.

Because of our history of horticultural excess we spend time every spring moving things around because wow, do these plants grow. At the moment we have pussy willows taller than the garage, orange day lilies ready to star in Little Shop of Horrors, and hostas so huge they need their own "beware" sign. Fred and Ginger are planning a coup of the back yard and I have enough chives and mint to open a combination baked potato/chewing gum store. The gentile gardening term for many of these plants is vigorous, but truth be told, most of them passed vigorous several years ago.

So every spring we rearrange a little bit. Some plants are so big they need to be divided. Some plants are being buried by their green behemoth brothers and sisters. Others just aren't working so well where they are, and it's time to find someplace new, so that means it's time to transplant.

Transplanting always feels a little scary. You hate to move what is already established. You worry about the root structure. Will it really be better off somewhere else? Will the soil be the same? The sunlight? The shade? Will it thrive in its new home? Funny, when you transplant there are discussions and considerations and decisions to be made that never seemed to matter during that midnight marathon planting session known as: Oh my God tomorrow is vacation and we have all these things to put in the ground, so just find an empty space and TAKE THIS PLANT AND SHOVE IT.

Yeah, we did that.
More than once.

But now we're buying less and tending more. Last year we made new flower beds on either side of our front walk. We said a little prayer and transplanted 18 plants. Every single one of them not only survived, but thrived. This weekend we cleaned out the front beds. We yanked the spent Forget-Me-Nots, shaking seeds all over the ground as we pulled, ensuring we'd have a new batch of puffy baby blue flower clouds next spring. Once they were gone, we had the space to move some old friends that needed a new home. We took lots of old dirt from its old home to mix into its new home. We made sure it was going to be put in just the right spot with just the right sun and just the right shade with lots of space to grow. And now, in just a few days, they are thriving.

Sure, they're just plants and we're just recreational gardeners. But even the weekend greent-thumber is always on the lookout for that perfect combination of sun, shade and good soil so that everything will have the chance to grow where they are planted.

Caretakers, all.

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