Spring Clean-Up

drtdgr(z8PNWTacoma)May 26, 2013

I've put off pruning for a few years, much to my detriment. My garden is wildly overgrown. I need some sort of pathway to drag a bird bath through, but thereâÂÂs a clump of iris and a rapidly expanding oak leaf hydrangea in the way. Why did I think moving a hydrangea to that spot was a good idea? Is it okay to prune it back now?

The iris truly are expendable. Yet I feel I must move them or pot them up for someone. It's so hard for me to shovel-prune, but it leads to another problem - the pot ghetto. Which I'm trying to get rid of now.

I don't know if I want advice or pity. I also have a stump left over from a Japanese maple. I want it to go away, preferably by magic. I'm guessing I'll have to dig it out.

I have other problem plant children. A mophead hydrangea that has outgrown its spot. Is it okay to move it now?

I'm going to plant this charming stump spot (not) as soon as it's weeded. I've got the geum and have a penstemon (Bev Jensen),and bog salvia as possible bedmates for it. Any other suggestions for companions? TIA.

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You can prune hydrangea now but you will cut off this summer's flowers. As for moving one now, if it has visible flower buds, wait, you run a greater risk of losing it. Plants expend the most energy producing flowers so it is not in root growth mode if budding, which is bad if you're transplanting. You could cut off the flower buds and wait a few weeks maybe, but that just screws up its hormones...If you get a freak heat wave within a few weeks of moving it, could be bad too. Always better to move deciduous plants when dormant, so it really depends on how attached you are to the plant.

The stump - is that what i see in your pic? If so, just plant some things around it to hide it and/or cut it flat to the ground, no need to waste energy and time digging it out imo. If you've got a flat stump somewhere why not place one of your nicer potted plants from your ghetto on it?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 1:27PM
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You are about two months late for a real spring clean up :-) The end of May around here is typically peak perennial season with so many different plants in full growth flush and full of bloom. Moving anything now is not a great idea but if done carefully can be successful. You just need to be aware that transplanting could halt or abort flowering and watering will be critical throughout the summer.

You can also prune the oakleaf hydrangea but you will be eliminating any flowering potential this season (blooms on old growth) if you prune now. And pruning stimulates growth, so a shrub currently too large for that situation will only continue to be too large going forward.

It sounds like you might need to take some time and do some major planning on the layout and arrangement of your garden rather than making any hasty choices now. Fall is an ideal time to plant and transplant. Finding the right spot for each plant so continual pruning or garden disruption is limited is very much worth the wait now. Plan ahead now to reduce maintenance later :-)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 1:50PM
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Aargh. Well, yes, that is the stump. I certainly do have many pots of plants I can put around it. I was able to carve a pathway without having to disturb the oak leaf hydrangea.

The mophead can stay until fall. Well, this simplifies things.

Still going to plant the perennials I mentioned though. They're recent purchases, part of the pot ghetto. Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 2:58PM
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Love the "pot ghetto!" I think I have an entire city here! Maybe there is some government program to help us?!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 9:20PM
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Japanese maples have a relatively small root area and are not that hard to dig out if you feel like trying. A pick ax or mattock should make the job relatively easy.

Bearded iris are easily moved for the most part. I find it hard to kill them. I have thrown them in stacks trying to decide whether to compost them and they bloom in the stacks. If they have a bloom or two left on them just dig them up and offer them in a box with no extra soil with a "free" sign. Mine disappear from the corner in nothing flat.

I would wait on moving the hydrangeas unless you want to take a chance and don't mind if you fail.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 9:25AM
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Thanks, everyone! merrygardener, I can't take credit for the phrase 'pot ghetto' though. I picked it up from one of Ann Lovejoy's books. She started a nursery, as I recall, which brings the concept to whole new level.

amy, what a great idea to put the irises on the curb! They're siberian, but no matter. I live on a busy street.

gardengal. I don't know where the time went. I had such good intentions to clean up this year, and the months just flew by.

A plan for fall is a wonderful idea. I'd better put it in my calender now, or I'll be bemoaning frozen ground in December when I finally get out there.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 10:54AM
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I continued some pruning/ cleanup in one area last week and found active bird nesting going on. I had to re camouflage the space after I cut a branch that was hiding the nest.
So be sure to examine the area ahead of time this time of year.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 12:54PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

I hear your pain! There is so much to do in the springtime here in the PNW. Everything is growing at hyperspeed, especially the weeds. Green and black algae cover every surface. Start your seeds. Divide your perennials. Plan the garden for the coming year. Prune everything. Don't forget to fertilize. It's almost enough to make you want to move into a condo. OOH NO. just wait a few weeks. The sun will come out, flowers and nice plants will cover the eyesores and once again we will enjoy gardening. btw I like to hear from someone else who hates to compost anything with living roots...

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 3:52PM
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Well, I dug the stump out! I felt absolutely great about that. The iris were taken by someone. Once everything is replanted, I will post an after picture.

Dotty, I hear you on the algae and moss. The patios and driveways must get pressure washed this year.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 8:20AM
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Props to you drtdgr! You sound more encouraged and things are moving right along. Looking forward to the after picture.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 2:14AM
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