Friday, April 16, 2010

Dividing the Perennials

Continuing on with the spring cleaning madness, I was out in the garden last weekend tidying things up and bit and decided that it was finally time to do something about a couple of the enormous perennials that were already in the garden when we bought the house.

First up, this Bleeding Heart:

That's the big pink plant to the left of the big really pink plant (a.k.a the azalea). I don't know who planted what in what order, but those two are crammed in the narrowest point of the garden about a foot and a half from each other.

It looked a little silly, especially since there was a big ol' empty area directly behind them in the wider part of the garden!
So when it peeked out of the ground a couple of inches, I started digging.

Actually, first I called my mother and asked her how exactly to divide a perennial. She said that in general, for every inch of the plant at the base, there is a foot of root. Now, my plant was about 7 inches wide, and about a foot and a half in one direction there was a driveway, in the other the azalea, who had his own root thing going on, so clearly I wasn't going to be digging up a 7 foot root ball! Completely forgetting to take pictures, I dug as much as I could and moved on to step two: use serrated bread knife to cut the plant into 8 inch squares and replant.

Even though I again forgot to take a picture, I have to mention that when I dug that thing up, I didn't find a root ball, I found a frickin' tree under there! I'm talking about roots almost as thick as my wrist! (no joke!) So I wasn't sure when I replanted the two pieces if I'd gotten enough root for them to survive, but they seem to be doing ok!

Piece number one went back in about the same place, but a few feet further away from the azalea and filling in some of that empty area. Piece number two went over on the left side of the house in the shady party of the garden.

And then it was on to the Siberian Iris, which was about two feet across and actually dead in the center!

It was so big it was keeping things around it from blooming!

So in I went with the shovel:

Which had about a foot long spade, which wasn't long enough to get under the whole plant!
So I got to this point and decided to cut straight to dividing the plant with the serrated knife while it was still in the ground to make it a bit more manageable!

I cut about a third of the plant away using the knife you can see up top there (its about a 10 inch blade), which worked like a charm!
Though I still had trouble wrestling that 1 foot long section out of the ground- turns out earth is a bit unwieldy!


But I got it! I divided the remaining chunk in half and pulled out part, leaving about one third of the original plant in the ground (which I had intended to replant in the same location anyway!) I then cut away all the dead parts, divided them into 8 inch-ish squares and had four chunks left. One went over here:


Another back over by the Bleeding Heart:

And I've still got two big chunks in pots that I need to find a home for!

Having done all that, I'm REALLY not looking forward to attacking the monster hostas on the other side of that walkway:

This photo was taken in early June two years ago (I'm talking about the green bushy things with white edges to the left of the door), so full-grown those things are at least twice as large as they are here! Those are going to be heavy!!

So how are your gardens coming along?

1 comment:

Drothy said...

Did I mention that hostas do actually have large wooden roots? You will need a larger spade to dig those out. And a larger knife.