Thursday, June 27, 2013

saving Blue

For the past week, I've been laboring over saving Blue, my new pet name for my neighbor Bea's hydrangea bush. The good news? The developer who bought her house said I could have it! The horrible news? I think I've killed it by trying to dig, split, and transfer it in late June. I keep telling myself that the developer was going to get rid of it anyway--I had nothing to lose. But sadly, I feel like I have lost. I had envisioned those perfect blue blossoms adorning my front and back yards and now there's nothing but dead blooms and decaying leaves everywhere.

Before I decided to take the hydrangea bush, I had to find a good home for the healthy Euonymus shrubs, the only remaining plants that were here when we bought our house.  I ended up with a long list of takers, so I felt no regret at giving them away--guess I wasn't at all attached to them!  


Bea's hydrangea bush was enormous, and did I mention that it's 35 years old?


I barely got it out of the ground. After about six hours over four days of digging alone with my spade (with the whole block cheering on my noble mission, mind you), borrowing my neighbor's pick and enlisting Brad's help made all the difference! (On a side note, I now have a new sympathy for grave diggers! I could barely dig a foot down in hard soil--I can't imagine ever digging a hole large and deep enough for a coffin.)

Once Brad got the bush out of the ground, we split it into three large pieces--two were planted in the front yard where the Euonymus shrubs were, and one piece went in the back yard. We planted the three new bushes immediately, and for about 15 minutes, my yard looked delightful.


And then things started to go downhill very quickly. I had consulted with an expert at a local nursery about the transfer and followed his instructions carefully. Brad tried to get as much of the root ball as he could. I planted immediately and watered like crazy. But alas, within a couple of days, this is what the two front bushes looked like.


Here's an even closer look of the mess that's currently in my front yard.


I am still watering and hoping. I don't dare plant anything else at this hot time of year, so I will leave the hydrangeas in the ground, dead or not, until spring. If those branches remain barren next spring, I will replace the bushes then.

It would have been much easier to just buy new hydrangeas for my front yard. But no, I simply had to have the mature 35-year-old bush with perfect hues. And even if I failed completely, it was still worth the blood, sweat, and tears I experienced last week. At least I gave it my best shot.

6 comments:

rainsthoughts said...

If I may be so bold as to offer a suggestion. I have a lot of experience with moving large plants (my father is, among other things, a landscape architect and an arborist). You need to cut the flowers off immediately. Even if it looks dead. Since the flower is the "fruiting body" of the plant, it will divert all resources to the flower, even while killing off everything else. It's the same reason why fruit trees often bear the heaviest fruit while they are dying: trying to save their genetics. I'd also put a tent over it or something to keep it from any direct sun.

Just my two cents.

AMRJ said...

and dont give up hope. I actually had someone transplant two hydrangea bushes that were BEAUTIFUL to the side of my house and then planted a third on my own. I was convinced I killed them all as all i have are sticks, but alas, earlier this spring, i started to see green! Even the one that I really thought was totally dead now has just a few minor sprouts of green. I'll send you some pics when I get home but just keep them there and keep watering them. I think it will take a while (a few seasons) but with a little love and a lot of water, i bet they will survive!

AMRJ said...

and dont give up hope. I actually had someone transplant two hydrangea bushes that were BEAUTIFUL to the side of my house and then planted a third on my own. I was convinced I killed them all as all i have are sticks, but alas, earlier this spring, i started to see green! Even the one that I really thought was totally dead now has just a few minor sprouts of green. I'll send you some pics when I get home but just keep them there and keep watering them. I think it will take a while (a few seasons) but with a little love and a lot of water, i bet they will survive!

SusanL said...

I hope they come back!!! Good luck!

Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

Oh I was just going to suggest cutting it back. I really don't have much experience with this but I do know that other plants (tomatoes) do better when you cut back the parts you don't want to get the extra energy. Right now you need to focus on the roots.

I honestly think it will live and be perfection next summer. The roots just needs to adjust and establish. Or maybe I'm just a glass half full kind of girl- ha.

KK

Rachel Weatherly said...

I bought a hydrangea this year, and when I put it in the ground it looked like it wasn't going to make it. I planted it in more sun than it had been accustomed. I cut it back just a bit, and it's coming back in nicely. Hydrangea are really very hardy. They just look a little rough while they adjust.