Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Pacific Northwest
June, 2009
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.

Treasured Plants with Histories of Their Own

I have a perennial bed in the corner of the yard which never ceases to delight 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 an ever changing display of color. The colors can be loud or subdued depending upon the season, but without fail, there is always something blooming in that bed.

A Bed with a Past
Exactly how these plants ended up in this bed is unclear. It started as a holding spot for plants passed along 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 holding bed.

Favorite Occupants
Some of the most treasured pass-along plants growing in this bed include forget-me-not, lenten rose, hollyhock, campanula, primrose, saxifrage, Japanese anemone, bleeding heart, lewisia, and rockcress. This bed is a jumble of ground-hugging and statuesque plants, each blooming in its own timeframe and without any particular 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 spaces 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. 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.

Try sharing extra plants with friends and family. They are sure to reciprocate and you'll eventually end up with whole bevy of new plants to enjoy in your garden.

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