GARDENING BY RONELLA: More info on transplanting perennials
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Oct 16, 2013 | 77 77 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this column, we have mentioned the advantages of fall planting and transplanting of most perennials. A little more information might help some of you who are wondering what to move and when. A good general rule of thumb is that perennials that bloom in early spring benefit by fall planting, while perennials that bloom in late summer or autumn should be planted in the spring. These “rules of thumb” have evolved over hundreds of years and nearly always hold true. However, there are always exceptions to rules. Phlox and Oriental poppies are best divided shortly after blooming, while chrysanthemums, lupines and anemones must wait until the beginning of warm weather. So the best plan is to know each plant. I have an old, beat-up gardening book, which my sister-in-law gave me when I was in my early twenties. Even then, I was interested in gardening. This old book has been out of print for many years and I cherish it. If I have a choice and it won’t damage the cycle of a plant, I prefer to do all my rearranging and moving of plants in fall when there is more time. Plus fall planting gets the root system off to a good start for next spring’s growth of leaves and flowers.

The title of the old book is: “The Complete Book of Garden Magic” by Roy E. Biles or you might find it listed as “The Book of Garden Magic” by Roy E. Biles. You might find it among old books on the Internet.

Often someone tells me that they would like to have flowerbeds but that they only have a few spots in their yards that would grow plants. They either have poor soil, too many trees or not enough sun. My answer is that it is your yard and you can put plants wherever you choose. An old gardener once told me that his advice is to plant any color you like and any place you want it. My dear Ma had plants scattered all over her back garden and the front yard. She just planted wherever the soil was good and there was enough sun and also where she could see the flowers. She didn’t have enough time or money to have as many flowers as she would have liked so she chose plants that were perennials and hardy ones, at that.

Ma once came to see me for a visit after we had built a new house and I had finished landscaping the lot. I had flowerbeds in several places and one especially pleased her. I had many different colors of tall garden phlox, which she had never seen, and also many hybrid tea roses, which she had never grown. She tottered all around the yard examining every plant. She wondered how I kept the kids in the neighborhood from running through my flowers and I told her my oldest son, who was about eight or so, guarded my flowers for me. He didn’t allow his playmates to pick flowers or walk through the beds. He learned at a tender age to appreciate and love flowers and still does.

My grandparents’ old house stood on a high hill and the front yard was about 200 feet with an old wooden fence between the yard and the “big road” which wasn’t wide enough for cars to pass. The fence was about to fall down but was covered by wild roses, which Ma loved. Every time Pa mentioned taking down the fence and cutting down the fencerow, Ma just smiled at him and the subject was dropped. Pa liked the fencerows around the house to be weed free to keep out little critters, which attracted snakes. It seemed that the boss liked the wild roses.

Between the yard and the big old orchard there was a wide area, which had only wild flowers and wild grasses. I sure wanted to wade out into that area to pick wild flowers, but that was forbidden territory, also because of snakes. It was many years before I realized that those wild flowers were for the bees, which lived in several beehives just as you went into the orchard. Those beehives are another story for another day. I really loved the honey but was terrified of the bees.

Ma seemed to have a green thumb because everything she planted seemed to thrive and grow. I realized that Ma went to the woods above the house to bring back big buckets of woods dirt, which, of course, had lots of rotted leaves and really rich dirt. When Ma transplanted or moved a plant for any reason, she filled the hole with that rich dirt. She also used it for repotting her large number of houseplants. I have often wished for some of that rich dirt in my transplanting. She would get a big laugh out of my buying bags of rotted manure for my flowers.

My dear Ma was a busy, busy woman with many interests and I wonder often how she managed her time so well that she had time for her housework, canning and preserving, vegetable garden, her flowers, her lady friends, sewing and her beautiful quilts. But most of all, she had time for her granddaughters. I cherish the memories of our walks to the creek to gather minnows to put in the pond, looking for wildflowers and just sitting and talking to me. She would be amazed to know how many memories she left me and how much I loved her.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions or suggestions.
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