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One end of my rock garden is anchored by a large patch of black-eyed Susans.  They were here when we moved into this house, nine summers ago, and I have done very little with them in all that time.  For seven years, they have put on a spectacular August show.  Last summer, however, the blooms were a bit sparse.  This picture clearly shows how overcrowded they had become.  All of the invasive, creeping weeds trying to choke them probably weren’t helping either!

The weather on Saturday was cool and overcast, and I knew I couldn’t avoid this looming task any longer.  So out I went, armed with my pitchfork and dressed in long pants and sleeves (one reason I don’t fuss much here is the rash I get from the black-eyed Susan plants!).  I dug out that entire patch, separating the weeds from the plants, and then replanted it with a tiny fraction of what I had removed.

Among all the barren strawberry vines, there were some real wild strawberries.  I ate them before ripping out their plants!

There’s a bleeding heart hidden among the weeds in the picture on the right.  I did curb my wild abandon while working around it.

As I pulled, I made two piles: one of the weeds, and one of the Susans.  My eleven year old daughter was happy to see her old Care Bear bed sheet being put to such good use!  I dragged three such piles of weeds to the edge of the woods bordering our lawn and discarded them.  I ended up with a much smaller pile of black-eyed Susans, whose roots I covered with a damp towel to prevent them from drying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was surprised to find that the Susans did not come out of the ground in big clumps, but rather as dozens and dozens of individual shoots.

When the area was all clear, I replanted it with about twenty of those shoots.  I’ve given them a LOT of water, and we’ve had a good deal of rain since then as well.  All of that moisture, coupled with very little sun or heat for the past few days, provided good conditions for the new transplants.  I’m curious whether I should have clipped the plants down so only a short amount of stem remained above the roots.  Does anyone have an opinion?  Would it cause the plant less stress and help the root systems develop better if they were not trying to support the branches and leaves?

Because I very much doubt that these plants will recover sufficiently to bloom for me in two months, I planted a row of marigolds in front and five geraniums interspersed among them.  I’ve had problems with slugs eating my marigolds in the past, and it has been a wet spring, so I bought a can of a product called Sluggo, which purports itself to be for organic gardening use and non-harmful to pets.  Its key ingredient is iron phosphate, which, when ingested by the slugs, causes them to cease feeding.  In the past, I have had moderate success controlling slug damage with melon rinds and jar lids full of cheap beer, but I’ve never before planted and cared enough about so many marigolds.  The Sluggo I bought was the last can on the shelf, so I know I am not alone in my battle against the slugs!  (If you see pictures of marigolds on this site when July Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day comes around, you’ll know it worked!)

My happy discovery is related to another big transplanting job.  Last fall, I moved a well established Rose of Sharon.   I worried as this spring progressed because even while my neighbors’ Rose of Sharon bushes had leafed out fully, mine remained gray and bare.  My head reasoned that such a move can cause delays in growth, but my heart feared that I had killed the poor thing.  Finally, the other morning, this is what I found:Joy, joy, joy!

In case you are wondering, two local friends came by the next day and took the remaining black-eyed Susans home to their own gardens!  I wish them good luck and dazzling color!

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