Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Moving Hydrangeas and lessons from the Master gardener

When we moved to this house three summers ago I was thrilled at the landscape opportunities.
At first I was in love with the hydrangea bushes that graced the front of my new home. Then winter came, the bushes dropped their leaves and all of a sudden what was once a lush spectacle of burgeoning soft pink blossoms surrounded by broad green leaves was now seven colossal bundles of sticks! Not exactly the Better Homes and Gardens picture I had in mind. 

So, I set about the task of moving them to a more discreet location where a more natural landscape would be accepted. After all, shrubbery living out front have a job to do 12 months a year. Blooms look nice only for a few. For those plants who can't hack the tough business of showing at all times it's the back or side yard for them. In this case it was the side yard.

Anyone who has ever dug up a new garden bed knows it is HARD back breaking work! For readers who are not horticulturally inclined.... take my word for it. Even in regular soil it is tough digging, turning, and removing sod. My new garden happens to have three gargantuan neighbors. Those would be an oak, elm, and still not sure about the third. (I know, I know, I am aghast at myself as I write this)( I really need to identify it). Big trees have lots of roots, lots of roots that make digging anywhere in the vicinity of said trees difficult.

Well I toughed it out, manned up, dug in (ha ha pun intended), and flexed my gardening muscles and moved all my hydrangea plants. Turns out that I had more than I needed for the new side garden bed so I had to find other locations around the back of the house for them. That was last year. 

I was thrilled to discover that they all survived the move. I wasn't sure about their mortality until early spring when the new leaves and shoots began to show. The best time to move deciduous plants is once they have dropped their leaves. You plant them, water them and hope for the best because basically they look dead. They have all winter to get over the shock, build their root systems back into the ground to get ready for the hard work of throwing out their leaves in the spring and summer.

Since it was such hard work just digging the beds for them last fall I didn't really have the time, energy or quite frankly the inclination to make the beds look nice. I just needed a place for them to grow. I tossed some mulch on them and left them to themselves. Now that they all seem to be thriving, some have actually produced some blooms for me. This was quite the unexpected surprise since I had to do some serious pruning before I moved them and anyone who knows hydrangeas knows they bloom on "old wood". That means they set the blooms for the following year on old stems, so if you cut those out.... no flowers next season.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, today I started the task of making the beds pretty. Again, hard work. I ended up expanding the beds and in doing so once again wrestled with the tree roots, almost threw my back out, got a few bug bites... oh did I mention that gardens have gads of bugs? The result of all my work? A wondrous garden with room to grow more flowers, and oh so many lessons. 

I am the hydrangea bush. I was so happy where I was. I had everything I needed (or so I thought). I bloomed profusely. Ultimately it was not where my master wanted me to be so he moved me. It was hard to be moved. The move was not easy and at times I thought I would die. I even looked sickly, I lost ten pounds. At first I  wanted to die. The pruning was so painful. I hated my new location. I desperately missed where I used to be. 

In time, I made peace with the move and was thankful for my new place. I began to dig in my new roots. It was surprisingly easy to grow those roots now that the pruning had removed some things that were taking up valuable energy. 

It's still spring for me and I can see new growth. There is no old wood so I don't expect to throw out many blooms this summer. That is ok because my master is the gardener and He knows it will take time for me to bloom. There are bugs that try to attack me but once again my master is there to pluck them away before they can do any serious damage. So I don't worry too much about them.

When the flowers come and I am sure they will, I know that the display will be nothing less than spectacular for they will come from within the master's tender loving care. 


Laura said...


This post brought tears...

New growth is sometimes a hard season to wait for, no?

On a lighter note, you sound a lot like me, whenever I get into a gardening project, it always ends up being a lot more complicated than I planned!

Billy Coffey said...


That was so good, Tina. Just so very good.