Right Plant, Right Place

It’s unclear how much time I spend gazing at the garden on any particular day. I’ll look out the back door most mornings to strategize my projects, but it’s the other moments through the day I couldn’t begin to count. I figure it’s not wasted time since I’m attempting to unravel the problems that have mysteriously appeared amongst this community of plants. Every plant is subject to scrutiny, and every plant is subject to correction. In other words, every plant is at risk of eventually being moved.

For example, the lupines were part of the seeds we scattered in left field last spring, where they fit in pretty well, but have now become overwhelmingly wrong. The coneflowers were fabulous in center field all summer before they got lost in their once perfect spot. A newly coordinated wave of color developed across the garden this year and now the mums are in all the wrong places. And this year’s gardening experiment was with the rudbeckia, which I declined to cut back in spring. They have flopped and thrown themselves about wildly, and we won’t attempt this experiment again. But it’s made me wonder if I’ve planted them in the right place to begin with.

I’d imagine gardeners everywhere have sworn off the moving of plants to one degree or another, only to backslide at the first hint of cool weather. I’ve stared down a particularly vulnerable plant and convinced myself off from moving it or maybe re-settling the roots to make it stand up in a better direction. By the end of the afternoon, I’d lost my resistance like an old drunk falling off the wagon. Of course, so many moves don’t happen without some risk. Case in point – after moving the new Hearts-a-Bustin’ (Euonymus americanus) I found at the spring plant sale, I’ve lost track of where I’ve moved it and can’t find it anywhere.

During the Emergency Medical training I attended some years ago, we spent time learning the questions we must answer before assisting our patients. They’d find a clever way to help us remember the questions with abbreviations or a rhyme. One example is the “Five Rs” of Medication Safety: Right Drug, Right Dose, Right Time, Right Route, and Right Person. So it should stand to reason that experienced gardeners have given us similar gardening questions we should answer before assisting a plant into our gardens: Right Plant, Right Place. Obviously, I’m still getting the hang of this.

The plants in my garden are proving they prefer one place over another at an alarming rate this fall, and each addition to the ToDo list evokes yet another gaze out the back door. Every day I decide to tackle several new relocations from the list, where there were already more jobs than daylight to accomplish. And if not for the constant distraction of the garden itself, I’d be finished by now. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever be finished moving plants. It seems to be the way my garden grows.

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