I used to tease Botanical Barbara, that her plants would develop wheels because they were moved so often. At that time, I took the tack that once I had chosen a site, the specimen would thrive because that’s what I wanted. My friend has taught me a great deal about gardening, when I thought that I knew it all. If a technique is good enough for such a consummate gardener, who am I to quibble?
Inula magnifica (giant fleabane)
Roses are extremely difficult to shift. I discovered this many years ago, when five bushes of a tacky girly pink variety said the wrong thing about me by our newly acquired front door. I watered them assiduously, then detailed poor Attila to dig them up with all of their roots intact, or else I would know the reason why. He guddled about in the quagmire of my own creating, excavated a hole which threatened the foundations and managed to extract every last thread of the floribundas. I replaced them out of sight in a deep bed of well kept, fertile loam and irrigated my victims daily, whereupon they kicked the bucket.
Lilium “Lollypop” (Asiatic lily)
More recently, the Cornus kousa was on its last legs. I transferred it to a perfect position with decent soil and sunshine, whereon it passed in its last remaining chip and croaked. If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is probably not for you. Horticulture is more forgiving, so keep trying. Persicaria “Painter’s Palette” had been doing a dying duck in a thunderstorm impression for too long. I hauled it out, split it in half and replanted in two very different situations. Both patients are flourishing. After they finished flowering, I chopped up clumps of Kniphofia (red hot poker) and spread them all over the place. The endless rain of an English summer is helping them to establish successfully. Many hardy perennials respond well to this type of brutality. Clumps of bulbs are shallow seated and demand the occasional disturbance. Iris germanica (bearded Iris) must be disinterred and parted from the central lump, or blooming will decrease and fail. Cut back the leaves to some six inches of greenery, to reduce the demands on the rhizome and to lessen the chance of wind rock, until new roots form.
Astrophytum capricorne v. senile variegata (goat’s horn cactus)
In the conservatory, Opuntia aciculata (chenille prickly pear) had a nasty dose of mealy bug, was infected with a horrible creeping clover type weed and dwindled to a stretcher case from general poor husbandry on my part. Every time that I attempted to remove the undesirables, I received a sprinkling of bristles on exposed body parts. Did you know that itching powder is made from Tarantula’s leg hairs? If they ever run out of spiders to shave, I can lend them some of my cacti. I hoicked the pocky plant out of its sick bed, taking great delight in ripping it apart and repotting the best bits. Despite gloved precautions during surgery, the maddening spines got everywhere. I am one of nature’s contraltos; the croons of distress and growls of irritation were so low as to be audible only as ultrasound. If whales are reported singing off the Fylde coast, you’ll know that it was me.