A hasty transplant

This afternoon, it occurred to me that with warm weather on the way, the time to transplant an Oakleaf hydrangea that has grown too large in the front of the house is today, or forget about it until October. The worst time to move the hydrangea is next week, with emerging leaves that would certainly wilt unless constant moisture is provided. Knowing that I am unlikely to water once, much less frequently, and I am strongly motivated (a rarity) to move the hydrangea, there was no alternative but to do the transplant immediately.

Spur of the moment projects are routine in this garden. Once a thought takes hold, watch out. Which is why I try to think as little as possible. It’s a lot of work.

With wide spreading branches, to get close enough to the hydrangea to dig a root mass large enough to ensure survival, but one that was not too massive to lift, I decided to prune branches on all sides by about two feet, which cut the size of the shrub by about a third. With a heavy steel spade I dug to cut roots, and the thirty inch wide mass was lifted into the wheelbarrow. A neighbor watched, incredulous (I’m certain) that the old man across the street was lifting a shrub this size.

And then, the question was, where was the hydrangea to be planted? The purpose of this transplant was to move the oversized shrub, to plant something lower growing (still to be determined, but thinking, again) in its stead. I did not consider what would be done with the hydrangea, but with shrub in wheelbarrow it was quickly decided that a partially shaded area beneath a ‘Jane’ magnolia along the property line would work splendidly.

Once Japanese maples and dogwoods are in leaf in a few weeks, the front of the house will be obscured. It’s a nice enough house, but I like maples and dogwoods better. The hydrangea blocked the view of the front door, which will now be seen. At least part of it.

Getting the hydrangea out of the wheelbarrow was considerably easier than getting it in, and in an hour, start to finish, the project was done in time for dinner. As an aside, this is the kind of project my wife approves of. Get rid of big plants. Replace them with smaller ones. Now, at least one small part of the front of the house will be visible from the road.

The pink weeping cherry is nearly at full bloom.

In the back garden, things are just getting started. After this weekend’s warmth, I expect that overdue redbuds and dogwoods will begin to flower, and that Japanese maples will leaf very quickly. As soon as I figure out what to plant to replace the hydrangea I’ll also be planting more in the new bed in the back that was added this winter. With spring overdue, I’m feeling a strange burst of energy. Certainly, it will fade quickly.

Flowers of Okame cherry litter the koi pond. Irises and sweetflag (Acorus) are just beginning growth.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Ruth says:

    Dear Dave, I love the post! I wanted to say I was surprised you could move the hydrangea in the spring! I thought you were never supposed to move or prune when the buds were coming out…so, I hope it’ll be okay! And I love the comment about trying not to think too much! Haha. Good advice sometimes for all of us! 😀 will wait to hear how the hydrangea does! Good weekend to you and your wife! 😀

    1. Dave says:

      It would have been better to move the hydrangea in February when I transplanted others, but I hadn’t considered this project at the time. I suspect I’ve pruned all of the flower buds for this year, but there are other Oakleafs in the garden.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    That Japanese maple is too overgrown to appreciate. Only the color is visible from a distance, and the texture is only visible close up. The structure is obscured from the outside.

    1. Dave says:

      The dissectum maple by the driveway has been pruned since this photo to open it up a bit. It’s been almost thirty years since it was planted, but I think it might be Crimson Queen, which grows like a big red mushroom. I prefer maples with more horizontal, open branching, but this one was heading to the dumpster, so the price was right.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        I am sure it has potential. Even as a big garnet colored mound, it is impressive to those of us who can not grow them like that. It just not easy to appreciate the form that I know is in there when I can not see it. I saw something like it in Washington last summer that was a featureless mound on the outside, but quite open on the inside. It really looked sharp.

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