We are having a compact, stay-at-home Christmas this year.  The first in I can’t remember how long.  The upside has been a very relaxed and laid-back run up to the ‘big’ day; lunch for three is hardly a stretch!

So having completed all my tasks by lunch time today, me and the dog pottered off to plot one.  The main purpose was to continue the transplanting that has kept me busy most of this month.  Today, it was to lift another peony and divide it.  I’ve never done this before but between Google and Carol Klein, I’m hoping the plants survive the ordeal.

Start out with prepping the potting compost; I mixed compost with vermiculite and bonemeal.

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The tricky bit with a peony is getting it out of the ground in one piece as the thick roots are very brittle.  I used a fork to loosen the soil all around and under the plant and then gently worked the fork under the root ball.  I got most of it.

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I tend to leave the old growth in place until March – as a marker and a little frost protection for the new buds.  I cut back all the old growth to reveal the buds.  The aim is to have 3 buds per division.

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I ended up with just two plants as I couldn’t work out how to slice it into three and have sufficient roots…

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Everything I have read and my experience in planting the original buds four years ago is that peonies don’t like to be planted deeply, otherwise they sulk and don’t flower.  I think the one in the square pot is a little too high, but I didn’t have a deeper pot and didn’t want to take out any more root, so we shall wait and see what happens.

With the remaining transplants this month; I’ve moved two pear trees (Beth and Merton Pride) strawberry runners from a kind neighbour’s plot and raspberry canes as well as the roses.

First to move was the roses- I had four to lift and transplant in a day, so not many photos of the process.  I used mycorrhizal fungi on the roots (Wyevale was selling packets at 50%, so I have a small stockpile!) and after two weeks, they seem quite happy.

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Then the pear trees:  I was worried about how far down the roots went down but they were quite shallow rooted.  Again, I worked my around the root ball with fork, gradually loosening and freeing individual roots.

I cleaned each root ball to make sure I wasn’t also transplanting bindweed or the evil horsetail and then wrapped in an old compost bag.  I was grateful for the sun-roof in the car, otherwise it would have been a long walk to plot two!

I had already dug and prepped the planting holes for the trees at plot two and constructed to post and wire system as these are trained as cordons.  The tricky bit was aligning the branches and working out which way round it was best to place them.

That just leaves the rhubarb to move and the same kind neighbour has offered me a day lily division, which I might pot up until I’ve decided where to put it.

And now I’m off to wrap the presents – well it’s no fun without something left to the almost last minute 🙂

Wishing you all a happy and restful Christmas, however you choose to spend it.

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