What scares me is when I think about what would happen if I decided I no longer wanted to garden or if something happened to me that would prevent me from gardening. Most likely only a matter of months would pass before my entire property would become an impenetrable jungle, a poster property for blight ordinance enforcement. Does anybody else ever worry about this?
For the past week it's been colder than a witches...brew around here. Even with sunny blue skies daytime highs have been struggling to get to the mid 20s F and nights have been hovering in the single digits to low teens. An ever present wind chill is making it feel 10-20 degrees colder crushing any plans I have to get out and get the stink off.
So...since I can't actually get out and work in the garden, I started making lists. On one of my lists are plants that, for a variety of reasons need to be moved. I make a list like this every year. Some years the list is longer than others. Rarely do I actually move every plant on the list. Either the window of opportunity for moving plants closes, I get side tracked with other projects or I just get lazy. Still, the list gets me thinking about areas of my garden that need work and where I might have openings for some of the new acquisitions I've been lusting after on websites and in catalogs.
Until I get outside for a walk around, the list will not be complete. In fact, it will never be complete. At some point when the perennials begin to emerge, I may just start the big shuffle and disregard the list completely. Aren't lists made to be ignored? Ideally I prefer to move perennials in the fall when the siting and/or design problems are fresh in my mind and I can judge sizes better but as you can see from the list that doesn't always happen. In my experience shrubs move better in late winter or early spring while they're still dormant.
Notice I have a section for plants to be removed. That move would be to the big nursery in the sky. For now I've decided to put only woody plants on that list even though I have a plethora of perennials that likely won't live to languish through the 2013 season. Until recently I rarely hoicked a plant. Usually if something wasn't working I would just move it to a less visible part of the garden. But in the past few years, with limited garden space and a desire to spend less time on maintenance and more on having a life, I've become more ruthless. If my choices surprise you, allow me to explain.
Corylus avellana 'Red Majestic'
Honestly I hate to have to get rid of this shrub. If sited correctly it's got a winning combination of colorful foliage and winter interest. However I didn't site it well and now it's too big to move. It grew much larger and faster than I expected and I didn't give it enough room. In an attempt to make it work in the space I've been pruning it for the past few years which has ruined the form. Last year some of the branches on the north side and underneath started dying out. I'm not sure if that is due to too little sun or some weakness. I guess it doesn't matter. Negatives include suckering from below the graft and occasional Japanese beetle damage. If I ever get a larger, sunnier garden this shrub will be at the top of the list.
Viburnum opulus 'Nana'
One of the oldest shrubs in my garden. Despite living in the deep shade of the nasty front yard Sycamore it was always a reliable bloomer and heavy producer of berries. A few years ago the leaves started getting some sort of fungus causing them to dry up and drop off in late summer. Maybe anthracnose from the Sycamore? Could be but it's now a moot point. During the freak snow storm in October 2011, the entire shrub was crushed under the weight of a falling Sycamore branch. Last spring I pruned it back to the ground but it never really recovered. It will be replaced with an Eleutherococcus sieboldianus 'Variegatus' currently planted too close to the property line. Variegated foliage will brighten up the spot and my neighbor will no longer get raked with thorns when mowing his lawn.
Rosa 'Carefree Sunshine'
Over the years I've shovel pruned more roses than I care to count. Shadows from buildings, mature trees and other plants allow for few of the true full sun opportunities in my garden that roses prefer. Toss in my zero tolerance for blackspot with my reluctance to fuss with sprays and other nonsense and you find very few roses making their way to my garden. 'Carefree Sunshine' has always made the cut. A few years ago I moved it from too much shade to what I thought was a better spot in the patio garden. Since then it has languished and produced few flowers. If I can find a spot where I think it will flourish again, I'll move it. Otherwise it's sayonara baby!
Although I haven't indicated it on the list, one of plants to be moved may end up also being removed.
Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace'
For a foliage nut, Sambucus appears to have it all-texture, color, dramatic presence and for us northern gardeners, hardiness. Unfortunately for me it's been a dud. Every spring it taunts and seduces me with dark ferny new growth. Oh how I love purple foliage plants! Within a month or two though all of those new shoots wilt away and die. I've had the same issue with Sambucus racemosa 'Sutherland Gold' and it's frustrating to say the least. 'Black Lace' has been languishing out of sight in a poor soil area of my garden for years. Last year I read a post on Karla Dalley's blog, Gardendaze indicating that Sambucus wilt is caused by borers. A hard prune in early spring is recommended to rid the stems of the overwintering little buggers. Usually I do hard prune mine but this spring I'm going to prune it down to nothing, move it to a more hospitable spot and cross my fingers and toes. If that doesn't work, I will sadly bid it farewell.
So there you have it. If you've gotten this far without having your eyes glaze over, I applaud your stamina. If you have experience with any of the plants on my list I'd love to hear about it. In the meantime, hang in there northern gardeners-spring is right around the corner!