Gardeners still have time for renovations

Susan Richards unknown / jpg, SH

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I have been asked quite a few times lately about moving perennials. There is still time to divide or move spring and summer blooming plants. If the weather holds, this task can be checked off your to-do list.
Fall blooming plants should be left alone until spring, as its never a good idea to move or split a plant while it’s in bloom. If you must work with autumn sedums, anemone, asters, or other fall perennials, be sure to cut off flowers first. That way, the balance of the plant’s energy can be diverted to new root production instead of maintaining blooms.
I managed to spend most of last Sunday in my own garden. After I raked the leaves off the lawn and gave it a final short cut, I spent the rest of the day tweaking my side perennial/shrub bed. I had a good-sized patch of tall, late-blooming phlox that has purplish pink flowers beside a Phantom Hydrangea. Its flowers clashed with the reddish-pink blooms of that shrub. That phlox had to move!
I decided to move the phlox to a gap between my Annabelle hydrangea and Red Prince weigelia. I had a big container sitting in that spot that I fill each year with a mass of bright annuals. They offered a pop of all-season color as neither the hydrangea nor weigela bloom for the entire summer.
My neighbour helped me move the pot. I cultivated the area, pulled a few weeds, amended the soil with composted and prepared to move the phlox to its new home. Although there were still a few flowers on the phlox, this was my best chance to finish that garden. I cut the phlox back to 4” from the ground and dug three clumps out with a sharp spade.
One piece went to the front garden where I had room for a tall plant at the back corner. One clump went to my neighbour as a thank-you for her help. The last and largest piece moved to the gap between my two shrubs. I had bonemeal on hand to work into the bottom of each planting hole. I set the phlox at the same level it had been growing at previously, firmed the soil around the roots and watered them in.
As I was cutting back the phlox in preparation for moving, I discovered a red beebalm lost beneath the edge of the hydrangea. It got moved to a sunnier, empty corner of the garden. That spot had been bugging me all season. The sedum I had planted there was just too low and insignificant. The beebalm will do a nice job of filling that area! The sedum moved to the edge of the front garden.
I also found a blue salvia that had been overshadowed by my huge Sum and Substance hosta. It got cut back and dug out. I moved it to that sunnier front garden beside a yellow gaillardia. Both are summer bloomers, so I will enjoy seeing the contrast of the blue and yellow flowers next season.
Now I had to deal with the good-sized empty space I had created. My big pot was the perfect choice for filling that gap! I typically fill it with flowers in the yellow, red, and orange colour palette. I might change that slightly next season depending on what catches my eye. That’s the fun of having a container to work with that is set into a perennial/shrub border.
Before I finished for the day, I cultivated, weeded, and spread compost throughout that entire garden. Although a perennial garden is never truly finished, I think that one will be done for this renovation. It will be interesting to watch next season. I will check to be sure everything I shifted around works well with neighboring plants and make notes for tweaking next fall if that is necessary.

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