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Garden on the move

Q: I am getting ready to move to a new house and would like to take my garden with me. How can I make the process easier?

Alice Matthews, Vancouver, British Columbia, ca

Begin to pot up plants as soon as you can so they're ready to go on moving day. Begin to pot up plants as soon as you can so they're ready to go on moving day. Photo/Illustration: Allison Starcher

A: Barbara Ashmun, contributing editor and garden designer, responds: Begin by taking a stroll around your garden with a clipboard, a waterproof marking pen, and devices like brightly colored yarn, plastic ties, or stakes to tag your plants. List the plants you want to take with you on the clipboard, and tag them in the garden so that you can easily find them later.


Next, if you haven’t started to do so already, start stocking up on large plastic pots and potting soil. To economize, check with friends and neighborhood landscapers and offer to pick up any containers they’d like to recycle, and buy potting soil in bulk directly from a supplier. It’s also helpful to keep sturdy plastic garbage bags on hand for large shrubs and oversized clumps of perennials that are too big for containers.

Before you actually pot up any plants, determine if you need to dig up an entire plant or whether it’s enough to take a division. For example, you can lift a daylily clump, divide it and take only half, so that the garden still looks good for the next owner. If you must remove a sizable plant, divide some other prolific perennials and use them to fill in the gaps.

As the weather allows, begin to pot up your selected plants and store them in an area that’s level and preferably in the shade, so they don’t dry out quickly. If possible, find a holding place that’s near a hose bib to make watering easier. Check plants off your list as you go to make sure you have them all.

Finally, prepare a holding bed in your new garden where you can sink pots, so you can plant at an unhurried pace. If your move is so sudden that you don’t have time for all this preparation, make sure to add a clause in your real estate contract that allows you to take divisions and cuttings from the garden for a period of a year from the date of the sale. That way you will also be sure to include plants that may be dormant during the move.

From Fine Gardening 93, pp. 75