Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Pacific Northwest
August, 2001
Regional Report

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There's never a dull moment in my pass-along garden. It loaded with plants given to me from friends and family.

Pass-Along Plants

There's a perennial bed in the corner of the yard that never ceases to amaze me. Of all the beds in my landscape, this one gets the least amount of care, but it always seems to capture my attention with its everchanging display of color. The colors are rowdy or subdued depending upon the season, but without fail, there's always something blooming in that bed.

A Bed with a Past

The history of how these plants ended up in this bed is sketchy. It started as a holding spot for pass-along plants from family and friends. It wasn't that I didn't like their gifts it's just that the plants didn't fit immediately into the scheme of my garden. As a new gardener I thought everything had to match, a pink bed over here, a yellow bed over there, and each separated by an expanse of green. As I gained experience I began to experiment with splashes of color in contrasting hues. Little did I know, I'd already started that technique by grouping these various colored flowers together in this pass-along bed.

Favorite Pass-Alongs

Some of the treasured pass-along plants growing in this bed include chrysanthemum, daylily, campanula, primrose, saxifrage, coreopsis, Japanese anemone, aster, bleeding heart, lewisa, and rockcress. This bed is a jumble of ground-hugging and statuesque plants. Each blooms in a riot of colors at its own time without a pattern. This suits me just fine since each plant has a reputation and a history, just like the friends and family members who chose to share them with me.

Low Maintenance Plants

It's the nature of pass-along plants to be extremely resilient and sometime even invasive. Otherwise they probably wouldn't be so freely shared. In my pass-along bed they replicate themselves by the dozens and outgrow their small niches in just one season. Since I don't have any time or money tied up in these plants I give them minimal care. That means just digging and dividing them when I feel like it or want to pass them along to other friends. They haven't seemed to suffer from this neglect.

Sharing Your Plants

When you are digging and sharing plants, moist soil makes for easier digging so water the bed well the day before the planned attack. Assemble an arsenal of tools. I use a fork for digging, a flat bladed spade for dividing, a bucket of water for soaking the roots, a tarp to contain the mess, and a wheelbarrow full of compost to replenish the bed prior to replanting. Each division goes back into the ground or into a pot for transport elsewhere.

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