Garden Shifting

Does anyone have a garden that stays the same? I hope not. There has to somewhere for all the winter gardening dreams to go. There are always more plants than the soil or pots to house them. The mail order catalogues, gardening books and magazines, and of course those dreadful supermarket gardening centres all make sure of it.

 Waiting patiently on the grass.
Shifting the White Roses

Any gardener claiming that they've never ever shifted a plant is simply fibbing. Many of us do the really serious shifts in secret. We can always claim mildew if the new position is unsuccessful. Non gardening partners won't usually notice until the plant is gone, anyway, when we hear yet again that bleated phrase 'Hmm... I rather liked that shrub...'

Artistic and Assertive

My gardening friend Astrid is an assertive shifter, as her hillside garden is too small for sentimental attachments to plants wrongly placed or unsuitably growing. A plant will be shifted just a couple of feet if her artistic plans are threatened. The results of her fussiness are stunning - everything fits together so well.

 I can divide this into eight reasonable pieces.
Agapanthus Clump

Waltz of the Wheelbarrow

One garden writer, Barbara Lea Taylor, called it 'The Waltz of the Wheelbarrow'. I love to imagine her in her rose filled country cottage garden, swaying delicately down a little brick path on the toes of her gumboots.

I learnt early on that roses can be shifted at any time. These tough old sticks will survive a crude transplant in the height of summer, just as long as they're seriously pruned and thrown a few buckets of water. I moved some very old, well established roses from a departing friend's garden in a summer's week of nor-west winds and 30 degrees. Non-Gardening Partner laughed at me - did I seriously expect them to SURVIVE? I was a novice, but he didn't necessarily know that. Three months later they were happily blooming in my garden, no problem.

A Shifty Pair

NGP and I have done some very successful garden shifts together, but these are in stark contrast to my solo efforts (secretive journeys with dirt and bits of plant balancing on the spade). When we first came to live here some very sad elms had been planted on the fence-line, and were struggling in the winds and the lack of water.

 The garden border is yet to be dug.
The Elm Tree Arrives - 2001

NGP's approach to their shift was totally scientific. We waited months until it was the correct shifting time, then the treelings (only about head height) were prepped for their operation with engineering precision. The roots were wrapped in large tarpaulins, and they were barrowed over to the brand new Jelly Bean Border, where bunker sized holes and running water were waiting. Impressed? They were, for four years later they are huge and happy.

The Cabbage Trees Are Planted!

I love the pictures in British gardening books of huge rhododendrons taking a ride on the back of a truck. Some of my new ones are going on a much less flamboyant journey when I finally decide which flowering combinations I like. I can shift a large flax in five minutes, and nobody notices. I've shifted clumps of the choicest perennials in the mid-summer sun and managed to fool them. You name it - I've shifted it. With NGP's help I've even successfully shifted three man-sized Cordylines. Impressive!

Is there such a thing as over confidence? Ask me in a few months' time when the Cordylines kick the bucket...