Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Divide and Conquer October 27, 2008

I finally decided that today was the day to dig up my overgrown orange crocosmia and see if I could figure out how to divide it. I inherited it from a previous gardener but hadn’t touched it in the 3+ years we’ve been here, so it was pretty much now or never since it had basically stopped blooming.

Crocosmia clump

Northwest gardening expert Ciscoe Morris recommends digging up the entire clump, hacking off sections from the side, and discarding the middle (why? not mentioned in his article). So, that’s what I did. I had to remove a lot of quack grass roots, I hope I got it all (ha ha, I don’t think that’s ever possible, is it?) – this is the “before” pic, the white roots are the evil weed grass.

Crocosmia clump full of quack grass

I ended up with about 8 small clumps, most of which will go down in the parking strip (where I toss all my free/self-seeding/divided plants).

Crocosmia mini clumps after division

While I was at it, I decided to make a little pathway for the mail carrier, who uses that space as a cut-through to avoid having to go up and down a million stairs to the street on our (hilly) side of the block. I’ve never made a path before, so I don’t know why it struck me that I had to. I used some old bamboo pieces left over from a decommissioned water feature to outline it,

Bamboo strips outline path

and then filled it in with cedar debris from the massive tree that adjoins the path.

Cedar debris added

I didn’t level it very well and the cedar berries are a little unstable. Hm, I hope he doesn’t fall and sue me! I’ll have to work on it a bit more to make it better.

I put back one clump of crocosmia in the original spot and will hope for the best next summer. Then I remembered the two sad little native huckleberry plants I’d bought at a long-ago plant sale – they’d been languishing in a flat along with a still-unplanted hydrangea and a yellow cotinus I’m still deciding if I have decent spots for. I know huckleberries need rich forest-type soil and a lot of moisture to be happy, but that’s never going to happen here. So, in they went and I added a lot of compost and mulched (when do I ever mulch?! That bag was probably three years old and had some weird whitish cast to the soil, which I hope was not plant-killing mold of some sort!). The bed needs more residents but I’m done for the day.

Done for now

Now I just have to put in the rest of the crocosmia or give a few clumps away to neighbors. Then again, they probably don’t need the quack grass! What do you do when you divide plants – replant elsewhere in your garden, give away, or toss the rejects? Or a bit of all three?


7 Responses to “Divide and Conquer”

  1. Victoria Says:

    I found your blog after reading your comment about a run-in with a ‘troll’ on Stuart’s news item on Blotanical. For what it’s worth, I think your blog is lovely!

  2. willigal Says:

    I really like the idea of using cedar debris as a pathway material. I have a huge cedar that hangs over my parking area and this would be a great way to use up all of its droppings!

  3. Cynthia Says:

    Ha! dividing plants is such a weakness for me. I always end up with so many plants and I can’t possibly give them all away or find room for them in my garden but I still keep them anyway. It gets to be a little ridiculous actually. If only I could just toss them on the compost pile but nooo I have to pot them all up and raise them like I have some kind of mock nursery! Thank goodness I have a rather patient husband that doesn’t mind our deck looking like a plant holding zone! 🙂

  4. I love dividing plants and getting new ones “for free” – well, if you don’t count in the work. About discarding the middle of a “tuft”: grasses grow from the center and outwards, so the centre is always the oldest partof the plant. As grasses also have a limited life span, often just 3-5 years, it is best to discard the part that is in the end of it’s lifecycle.

    I love the layout of your blog, I hope I had found wordpress when I created mine… Now it seems like a huge job to change.

  5. Jen Says:

    I wanna be your mail carrier.

  6. Racquel Says:

    I try to replant my divisions in other beds or I pass them along to my neighbors who enjoy getting free plants. I had to divide my crocosmia this year too . 🙂 Your new little path for the mailman is cute. Maybe this way he won’t step on the plants?

  7. Megan Says:

    I want to save the extra plants for guerilla gardening. I have my eye on a space next to work that is a vast expanse of bark dust and a few sorry ground covers, that could use some sprucing up.
    I used to plant the unwanted stuff in a vacant lot next door but now it has a houseful of people who sometimes park on the lawn, but they’re super nice. They say they want their garden to look like mine, it’s just weeds now. Maybe I can just take over their front yard.

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