Wednesday, 30 June 2010

a big swap for a little maple

My sad little Japanese maple has now survived two summers in its spot in the corner of the back garden.  The first summer was brutally hot and dry and it barely survived.  This summer was a lot more mild, but it still looked a bit rough by the autumn.  I'm not one for babying my plants and it obviously doesn't like where it lives.  So once it lost its leaves I decided it was time for a change.
http://www.alexareynolds.com/garden10/swap1.JPGThis is what the back garden looked like before.  I've pulled out the marigolds and nasturtium for the winter.  One of the statice died a while back, the other was looking shocking so I pulled it out too.  There on the right is a taro plant, a very tough root-based plant that seems to be thriving on neglect.  It's even put out two little babies.

I decided that the maple would prefer the spot where the taro is now.  It's on the south side of a tall fence, sheltered from the hot summer sun.  And it's a higher spot, rather than being completely hidden in that far corner.

http://www.alexareynolds.com/garden10/swap2.JPGThis is the corner where the maple lived.  I carefully dug it up, trying not to tear the roots and getting as much of the root ball as possible.  The roots actually looked very healthy, they'd spread out quite a bit in the last year or two.  Very shallow though, as these trees tend to be.  I trimmed off the dead twigs - yes, more dead twigs, it seems to be shrinking rather than growing - and hoped that I didn't need to trim off any viable twigs.  You're generally meant to do that when you transplant, because you always lose some roots and the roots can't support the same amount of foliage.  But since it's still early winter, I'm hoping I can get away with it and rely instead on frequent doses of seaweed solution to nourish the roots. 

http://www.alexareynolds.com/garden10/swap4.JPGHere's the taro in its new home.  It'll get a bit more sun here than it did in its old home and I'm hoping it really takes off.  They can get even bigger than this, so if anything it now has even more room to grow than in its old home.

http://www.alexareynolds.com/garden10/swap3.JPGAnd there on the right is the maple tree in its new home.  It looks so much taller when it's actually at ground level!  And I discovered that the soil in that corner is pretty much pure sand.  Not a single worm to be seen.  I dug out a fair bit of the sand and instead dug in some more of that super-rich manure/soil mix I still have from months back, chock full of worms.  No fertilizer though, don't want to burn the roots. 

You can't really see in the photo but there's another impromptu new addition.  Where the statice used to be are two baby taro plants.  Full-grown they'll be way too big for those positions, but I reckon they've got a year or two of growing first.  After that I'll find them another home.  And in the long term, the vitex in the main bed will eventually grow to be about two metres tall and spreading, shading a lot of this are (I hope!).  The oakleaf hydrangeas in the narrow beds will start to fill out too.  This part of the garden really is still a young work in progress, which in a way is far more exciting than the established plants at the front.

3 comments:

Mari said...

What's that silvery, variegated thing drooping over the front of the raised beds? I have a place that might could use some of that...

Alexa said...

It's Dichondra "silver falls". If you do a search you'll see I've made a few posts about it, it's a great, hardy little plant. Loves the heat, doesn't mind dry or poor soil. It sets down roots where it spreads so you may need to trim it back if it takes off but I haven't found it to be too weedy. It hasn't spread from seed for me, and it's easy to pull up if you won't want it somewhere.

Alexa said...

p.s. if you can find it, buy a big plant and break the root ball up into chunks. All that dichondra started as 2 plants I broke into 4 each.