Tribulations transplanting full grown shrubs

This wasn’t something i planned to do. The area wasn’t even slated for development yet. But my nursery partner, Linda, proposed to gift me a shrub. Her late aunt had given her a Nikko Blue hydrangea that needed to go. Linda’s an outstanding gardener, but a Zone 5 hydrangea in Zone 3/4 is a tall order. She made it grow, it just wouldn’t flower. As the shrub had sentimental value, she wanted it to go to a good home. That’d be me. Better yet, i’m zoned correctly for it.

So i chose to cut in and build a bed from the deck post that forms part of the “door” out from under the deck (i.e. it lines up with the basement door), curving to meet the bottom of the stairs down from the deck. I knew i’d put a bed there, but not when or what it would be planted with.

Linda’s hydrangea, i decided, would probably be happiest in that spot and it’s a nice place for something showy. It gets direct sun until 2:30/3:00 around midsummer before being heavily shaded by the house/deck.

So out with the “grass”. I turned the native stuff over to about a square spade’s depth and broke it up with a turning fork (the greatest garden tool evah). This of course also led to several archeological finds…i think i’ll start posting pictures for a series i’m tentatively titling, “Shit i dig out of my back yard”. I guess that i put in about 3+ cubic feet of peat moss and an unknown quantity of our municipal compost.

Note: I’m a huge fan of peat as an amendment, for volume and drainage. The latter is a local issue: lake, sand, etc. I’m also a huge fan of the municipal compost because it’s free and pretty nice. Mixed with peat it’s swell.

Hydrangea got front and center, and i set it off with two white (icicle) speedwells. I’ve already decided that deck posts will be vine supports, but i thought that the planned grapes wouldn’t be right with the Nikko. So i splurged and planted a climbing hydrangea. Now because i really don’t want it to be 30 ft tall and 8 wide it probably will be. I plan on training onto the handrail spindles, including on the stairs. I figure that the late white flowers will be pretty dramatic behind the Nikko. I’ll need to put in lattice work behind i think.

Pretty straight forward.

I know, sad hydrangea. Linda had dug it up Sunday, i took possession on Monday, and planted it on Tuesday…waiting to plant until after the bed was shaded. Lotta shock going on, but it didn’t look dangerous. I even rigged up a sheer window curtain as a sun/wind screen.

Wednesday it looked still in shock but good. After rain Wednesday evening it look really good on Thursday morning, standing pretty much upright. And then Thursday was in the mid-80’s, sunny and there was a steady 20 mph wind. I was also at work so no misting the hydrangea. Honestly, at 6pm on Thursday it looked dead. Nothing i could have done differently, but i was bummed.

It had not, however, crisped up at all so i let it sag and kept the foliage wet. Friday didn’t look any better. Neither did Saturday, and by Sunday i was resigned to having to cut back hard and start over (hopefully). Still, though, the leaves all felt live.

Then Sunday evening, as if it heard me thinking that it was probably time to do the cutting, it started to lift. Like knocked down boxer picking himself off the mat with an “I’m not done yet” attitude. I smiled deeply, because i’m pulling for it. Still looked nice after work today…just about bolt upright if the leaves are still a little droopy.

Tomorrow’s forecast says mid-70’s and maybe some rain, very light breeze. I’m thinking that my new-old hydrangea will be just fine, and i’m thankful that i A. didn’t have to cut it back and B. don’t have to tell Linda that i killed her shrub with sentimental value.


~ by Lex on July 19, 2010.

3 Responses to “Tribulations transplanting full grown shrubs”

  1. I love the idea of “shit I dug out of my backyard.” 🙂

    I’m pleased the hydrangea has survived with your TLC.

  2. It’s still doing some wilting, but getting better every day.

    Oh boy do i dig shit out of my yard. Random shit. “Hey, what’s that…oh, it’s a battery that i just poked my finger through accidentally, swell.”

  3. Oh boy do i dig shit out of my yard. Random shit. “Hey, what’s that…oh, it’s a battery that i just poked my finger through accidentally, swell.”

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