Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Circle of Life

I decided to make a few major changes in the garden today, all of which stem from the need to do something to save the Red Select Japanese Maple (Acer palmate dissect 'Red Select') in the Stroll Garden area. 

This poor tree has been sickly ever since I planted him in the location along the neighbor's fence line. The soil is terrible, mostly sand, and in the midst of summer there was simply too much sunlight falling on the tree. It had started off the season with a good comeback after the following year, when I though it was about to die. However, it had suffered a great deal during late July and August of this year when the heat further reduced his foliage. It needed to be moved to a place with less direct sunlight. Problem is, I don't really have anywhere else to place it, or so I thought.

The other problem that was bothering me was the Clumping Bamboo (Fargesia rufa) I had planted behind the Moon Window. 

This bamboo has been there for years, and thrived in the shady area. I'm not sure why, but this bamboo never turned out the way I thought. Everything I read about it said that as a clumping Bamboo it can grow as high as 7-10 feet. That just never happened. I have other plants of the same variety elsewhere in the garden and they also did not grow tall. Instead, they grow out, more like a ground cover. 

It could be related to how I have maintained them. Each winter the shoots seem to die off and I cut them back in the early spring to make room for new shoots. They always fill back in and look great starting in late August/early September. However, they have never grown tall, at least not after the first couple of years when I first planted them. I don't know why this occurred.

Moon Window, 2011

Moon Window, 2014

Moon Window, 2016
So, my problem with the Bamboo behind the Moon Window (and off property) was that it never really filled in the view through the window. It did the first couple of seasons, but over the last few years it always left the view open to the wood lot behind - not very interesting to behold.

So, I decided to move the bamboo elsewhere and make way for the placement of the Japanese maple in its place. The more shady area will help the maple thrive. The soil here is also different than the sandy soil along the Stroll Garden area.

However, to begin, I had to find a place to relocate the bamboo. First, the plant had grown very wide over the years. As a result, I decided that I would have to split it into several plants. Given its size, this would prove difficult. I had to make sure that I saved enough of the root system for each of the shoots. I was able to split the plant into four sections - one large and three smaller sections.

I then plated the large section along the side of the garden shed on the other side the yard, near the vegetable garden. 

This spot is relatively shady and protected from direct sunlight. The remaining sections I dispersed behind the shed, two along the new fence, and one just at the corner of the back of the shed. 

I had an additional small bamboo plant I had moved into a bucket a couple weeks back that I also placed at the opposite end of the shed near the gate.

These plants will get a bit more sunlight here, especially late in the day. I'm a bit worried about this because these plants prefer shade in the afternoon, and I am doing the exact opposite. Problem is, I have no where else to plant them at this time. If they seem to be doing poorly in the future, I can move them once again.

Now that the Bamboo was moved, I was free to place the Japanese maple in the location behind the Moon Window. 

It will be off property, but I can only hope the neighbor doesn't mind. To date, he does not appear to show any interest in what I do along the fence. If anything, this might prove to be an improvement from his view.

If the Maple survives the move, it may have a chance to thrive here. Given that it already has very little foliage, I might be able to shape it to be more like a Bonzai than a Maple. I will not cut any of the existing stems or limbs at this time. I will wait until next year, giving it a chance to get established, before I clean him up

It's shape does provide more interest in the window, but I will need to be careful over time to ensure it grows away from the fence and window. Given its stem structure and the position in which I planted it, that should prove to be easy.

All I can do now is cross my fingers and hope that all this transplanting goes well. I will discover the outcome next spring. Next, I have to find a solution for the spot where the maple once stood in the Stroll Garden.


  1. That's the way it sometimes goes. Finding a spot for a new plant or moving an existing one often becomes a game of musical chairs.

    1. A game I have come to know all too well. Actually, it is actually part of the fun or maintaining the garden. From year to year it never looks the same.