New homes for straying shrubs

By Richard Wright

Friday, December 6, 2013


New homes for straying shrubs

Self-seeded cotoneaster, which will need moving.

GARDENING I WAS reminded by timely e-mails that now is the time to move small deciduous trees, shrubs and climbers that have outgrown their allotted space or which have cropped up in the wrong place.

The message is do it while it is still possible.

I have a walnut tree very kindly given to me as a small sapling and I put it in a 'temporary’ spot.

But it is now not going anywhere — apart from up, adding to the canopied shade of an already shady spot.

Where it is possible to move a tree or shrub, start by pruning back up to half of the top growth — moving puts a stress on the plants and you can reduce this by cutting the amount of stems and leaves the plant has.

Panic not if we run into hard frosts, when pruning should be avoided, because the job can be delayed until late February or early March, before bud-break.

Water the soil around the plant thoroughly the day before if there has been a dry spell.

Dig up as big a rootball as possible that you and your partner can manage and re-plant, to the same depth, in well-prepared soil with plenty of added nutrient.

Well-rotted manure or a mix of Levington Rose, Tree and Shrub Compost and Miracle-Gro Bone Meal Root Builder, mixed in the soil is ideal.

Tall shrubs and trees may need staking to keep the roots secure. Water in well after moving and for the first year to ensure the plants establish properly.

It is lack of moisture in the crucial first year when the root structure is attempting to establish itself, which is the commonest cause of death.

I have a plethora of plants needing new homes around the garden.

Tufty has been busy in my lawn, which is the reason I tell people it has not been cut as often as it should be.

Red squirrels bury their nuts in open space larders and often do not retrieve them.

Popping up all over the lawn have been little hazel saplings, which is quite an achievement for Tufty because I know of no great quantities of the squirrels’ favourite in my neck of the woods.

He or she did well, though, and I shall be digging up the saplings and popping them somewhere more appropriate where they can perhaps be a food source for grandson or grand-daughter of the accidental gardener.

Our squirrel population needs all the help it can get at the moment.

A recent study, in which the Wight Squirrel Project played a big part, showed death and disease as a result of human activity to be the biggest cause of mortality in a population in steep decline.

My cotoneaster last year suddenly took upon itself to self-seed all over the place and those free diminutive shrubs will be on the moving list.

Cotoneaster is a great value plant. Some varieties are evergreen and some deciduous with flame red and orange leaves at this time of year and C. horizontalis is brilliant trained along low walls to 'soften’ them.

• One e-mail which slipped through the net (and I do get a lot) on the subject of transplanting came from Pete Denness.

It sprang to mind after my piece last week on David Mansfield’s 'Binstead banana republic’ of which musa lasiocarpa is an important part.

Pete bought lasiocarpa, the third most hardy banana that can be cultivated in these parts, as a small plug plant.

This summer it flowered fantastically for the first time and he wondered if it would die after that. He also wondered about the cluster of new shoots around the base.

Yes, the so-called pseudo-stem will die off but it will re-grow next year.

The new shoots around the base are little plantlets, which can be cut away and brought-on in a propagator or pot with a plastic bag canopy, and they will quickly go bananas.

There was considerable interest in bananas following last week’s feature.

And, in answer, musa basjoo and sikkimensis are the two hardiest.

All bananas are monocots, having a single stem from which the new leaves emerge.

It sounds drastic but, if at any time the banana plant gets too large, simply cut the stem to the required height and wait for the new leaves to emerge.

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