Garden slide puzzles

Do you ever feel like you're trying to solve a giant sliding tile puzzle when working in the garden? You know those puzzles: there's only one tile space available and you need to move all of the others around utilizing that one space until the whole thing is solved.


I have this feeling every so often, when a relatively simple garden task becomes a complicated puzzle. My plan for this past weekend was to remake the bed shown above. I've posted about this before, wanting to turn this struggling mishmash of plants into a unified planting. (It looks quite good now, but one month of beauty doesn't make up for the preceding months of unsatisfactory results.)

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The task was simple: remove some of these plants, widen the bed a little, and replant with some bamboo. I had a moment of doubt when I saw how good this corner was looking:


The 'Blue Heaven' little bluestem and the very late Rudbeckia triloba worked so well together, I almost gave up my plan. But I hesitated only for a moment.

These plants needed winter homes, which meant that I needed to find space. Slide puzzle!

What made this even more of a puzzle was that my wheelbarrow was not available. Earlier rhizome pruning had given me the plants that I was going to use here, but they were hanging out in the 'barrow:


To further complicate things, I prepped a new planting area by the chimney:


The removed turf sections had to be piled up -- no wheelbarrow available to get them out of the way. In cases like this I'd ask my neighbor to lend me his, but garage door issues meant that he'd need to wheel it through the living space and out the front door, and I didn't want to put him through that much bother.

So out the plants came, one at a time instead of all at once. Lots of trips back and forth instead of one wheelbarrow-assisted trip around the garden. I moved the perennials, giving them spots that tender plants had just vacated:


And the tender plants/tropicals that I'd like to save are ready for storage:




A few heucheras got tucked into various spots too. They really did not like this bed, as they were pretty much the same size that they had been when planted (tiny).

I did not realize that four o'clocks (Mirabalis) had tuberous roots!


I did not pull these last year -- does that mean that they returned, or did these grow fresh from seed? In either case, I don't like the yellow and red colors that are growing here, so out they came.

The bed was now ready for planting, so I could finally empty the wheelbarrow and then remove the turf so I could expand the bed another 18" (45cm) or so.


The bamboo I chose was Pleioblastus viridistriatus -- the variety that is underneath the bald cyprus tree in the back.


It's so vivid in the spring, I knew that it would look fanstastic here in front of the house. Plus I have plenty of it, so this bed will fill in quickly.


It doesn't look too great right now, but there are loads of rhizomes under here -- I'm planting for next year, as the foliage will soon be winter-killed anyway. As you can see I've left a few of the current plants closer to the driveway. I can move those in the spring if needed, but the bamboo won't fill the whole bed next season so they'll probably stay.

As for that new planting area by the chimney...


It got some bamboo too: Pleioblastus fortunei. I thought this area needed a bit of brightening, and I'm trying to reduce the lawn area a bit more.

Pleioblastus fortunei. Yellowed a bit because of too much sun.
Will stay much whiter in this shadier location.


I think this is going to look great in a year or two!

So removing plants for storage to make space for perennials that needed winter homes, so the wheelbarrow could be emptied and used to cart turf sections to the compost pile so that additional bamboo divisions could be used to fill the now turf-free spots. Whew.

Better planning would have made this easier, but good-weather time is precious in the garden right now, so things happen out of sequence.

At least they're getting done!

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Mark and Gaz  – (November 10, 2014 at 1:30 PM)  

Domino effect! Although going out of order isn't so bad, sometimes one has to adapt with what can be done with the weather on hand. The pleioblastus fortunei will certainly fill that spot nicely btw.

Amy Campion  – (November 10, 2014 at 8:59 PM)  

Yes! That is a great metaphor. That describes my summer... It seemed like every time I got the idea to move something somewhere, it meant that two or three other things had to be moved first!

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