Divide and Conquer

Sunday, April 16, 2017

In two months I get to celebrate 29 years of being a professional nurseryman and gardener. I doubt there will be a big party. Maybe at year 30 we will have the party.
The things I enjoy most about my job are the skills I learned early. Digging trees and bushes, dividing perennials, and of course transplanting them all into their new homes. In landscaping, often we are mulching gardens, cleaning up fuzzy bed edges, grooming shrubs and trees. I don’t always get to dig, divide, and plant. This week is different!!!
There is a garden about 20 miles or so west of the nursery. It’s on a peninsula at a lake, and we love being there. Years ago the gentleman who mowed their grass brought the homeowners to the nursery to select some plants for around a new water feature. I was able to help with some of the design. Little did I know we would completely renovate all the gardens around the house six or seven years later. Since then, five or six years have gone by, and many of the perennials we planted are at that point where they need divided and transplanted if there is room and as long as it makes sense in the design.
These gardens were designed with texture and contrast in mind. Specimen plants such as Japanese maples and dwarf and unusual conifers are sprinkled throughout the grounds. It’s fun when we have a job like this and we are to utilize only the plants that are on the grounds. I compare it to someone giving me a canvas and certain colors of paint: I am to produce a painting from only those supplies, and I can’t bring any of my own paint. Doing jobs like this have really sharpened my skills over the years. Heights, widths, colors and bloom times all need to be taken into consideration.


Identifying plants when they are dormant or barely coming up through the ground is a good exercise as well. Often there are really small leaves that are visible even the previous fall. Early spring when it’s gray and rainy is the best time to divide plants because there is so little shock to their system. My favorite tool for dividing is a good sharp steak knife. I also use a tool called a Korean Hand Plow, and a garden tine.
When transplanting divisions, always make sure the plant is at grade or a touch high. Do not bury divisions too deep or they may rot. After we divide and transplant, we sprinkle some of the time release granular fertilizer that we use in the nursery around them. I hear some folks say not to fertilize newly planted things but I disagree. We plant to grow, we do not wait to grow. Plants generally want to grow now and that requires nutrients.
Aftercare is very important when dividing plants. In this particular garden there is irrigation. If you do not have irrigation you will need to hand water. Keeping the plants evenly moist and allowing days between watering for the plants to drain is advisable.
If you need help with your gardens let me know. Call Shawn at 260-414-6213. We can help you update, renovate, mulch and fertilize your landscape.

We couldn't be happier with the landscaping they designed and installed!

» Kevin from Warsaw