Sunday, July 13, 2008

Third, Taurus.

I did some transplanting last month. My best girl was here from Victoria and I took advantage of her amazing arms (she paddles an ocean kayak for a living) to help me acquire two thirty-year-old rhododendrons. These rhodos belonged to my friend Cameron, whose walkway they have encroached on for the last ten years. She and her husband cut them back ruthlessly a couple of times a year, but these monsters will not be put down. Access to their front door was being seriously impeded by these titanic shrubs, so Cameron offered them to me.

Thing I Learned While Transplanting Magnitudinous Rhododendrons #1:
Be Ruthless.

First you prune. And this is going to take you about 15 minutes. No time at all. Bring a set of 1" branch loppers and a saw. But don't get cocky: you will spend the next 2.5 hours getting to the next stage:

Thing I Learned While Transplanting Magnitudinous Rhododendrons #2:

Just Keep Digging. You're Not Done Yet. Keep Going. No, Not Yet Either. Dig More. Bit More. Little Bit More. Dig More. More. Not Done Yet.

At this point, we could not even rock the plant yet. That's how much this rootball did NOT want to let go of its life-giving Mother Earth. This is also the point at which my friend straightened up, wiped her brow, leaned on her spade, and said "I hate to say it Shan, but...."

"DON'T SAY IT," I warned her sternly.

She said it anyway. "I think we need a man."

"We do NOT need a man," I snapped, not looking up. I redoubled my efforts.

And, I was triumphant and smug when, twenty minutes later, we were here:

Thing I Learned While Transplanting Magnitudinous Rhododendrons #3:
It Is Not Easy To Get A 175-or-so-pound Rootball Into A .8 Meter-high Wheelbarrow.

But, manless, we managed it.

See how teeny my friend Cameron's wheelbarrow looks? It's not teeny, my friends. Neither is Paddlegirl's truck:

Thing I Learned While Transplanting Magnitudinous Rhododendrons #4-5:
Check The Tire Pressure Ahead Of Time and Bring Rope

That sucker was heavy.

When planning this wee bit of gardening, we had the happy delusion that we'd move both plants at once. As it happened, we barely got even ONE of them fit into the back of her truck at a time, and that only because her tailgate was pretty strong and the canopy window goes WAY up. And we had the devil of a time wrassling them onto the truck from the wheelbarrow - if I had had the forethought to take pictures of our arms you would see how much bloodletting this whole exercise involved.

Thing I Learned While Transplanting Magnitudinous Rhododendrons #6:
Have The Hole Dug Way In Advance

Here the lovely rhododendrons, in three years' time, will provide a screen for the less attractive area of our back garden, and will visually anchor that whole area. They are now in dappled shade, with lots of bone meal and peat under their poor traumatised roots, and with a soaker hose running cool soothing water over them.

One last note: it just happened that my friend came over just when the moon was almost perfectly situated for transplanting. It could have been very slightly better: fourth is better than third, and Cancer is better than Taurus, but we only had 24 hours' notice so I'm not complaining. The roots of this plant should do well (that is, if they prove resistant to the juglone from the nearby walnut tree).


Dave Hingsburger said...

Thing I Learned While Transplanting Magnitudinous Rhododendrons #7

Feed dear friend from Victoria all sorts of her favourite foods and imbibies to ensure that she visits again.

Jo said...

175 pounds, really?! I have two huge azaleas in front of my house that I butchered with a hedge trimmer yesterday because they were obscuring the front windows. In the end I want to take them out and replace them with something smaller and more manageable.

Bethro said...

The most impressive thing is not the transplanting alone, but your dedication to your blog to take pictures during the whole sweaty process.

Gwen said...

Bethro -- exactly what I was thinking! haha!

lizbon said...

Ha! We don't need no stinkin' man.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Hmmm why are statements against women, protested as sexist and statements against 'stinking men' considered acceptable, isn't bigotry, bigotry? Or am I missing something?

Heatherly said...

holy cow! you dont even get the whole idea of how big they are til they are sitting in the truck!
i am hoping to not kill the 20 roses in my yard this year and the newly planted lavenderwill be happy.
i draw plants b/c i kill them in real life. :0)

Olga said...

I think that moon added your brain just a wee bit! But I guess you came- your sawed- you transplanted.

Shan said...

Well, Dave, you wouldn't believe the number of times I heard, while planning this rhodo-move, "I guess you'll need to get a few men to do it for you" I guess being smug about not needing them is just a bit of "oh ye of little faith".

The Blazing Saddles "stinking badges" misquote could be sexist, I guess...but when any given group turns on its oppressors, a certain amount of backlash seems to be a part of the process - not to mention somewhat culturally acceptable.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Shannon, to clarify, I didn't find anything at all sexist about your post. Of course you wanted to do it without assistance - a statement about women and the ability of women. I'm totally cool. But in the comments when someone says, "We don't need no stinkin' men!" I have an objection. You know me a bit now and in my fight for trying to convince people that their words have meaning, their words have hurt - in relation to those with disability. I can't help but respond similarly no matter the group. I think unneccessary speech that demeans others isn't acceptable ... it's something that, oddly, I have to keep explaining. But maybe I'm just a 'stinking' man and then, as such, what does it matter what I think?