It’s not easy be­ing green

You can take cher­ished plants with you when you move house–all it takes is a bit of for­ward plan­ning and pre­cau­tion, says Carla Passino

Country Life Every Week - - Property Comment - Edited by An­nun­ci­ata Wal­ton

WHEN Alan Ma­son of Se­nior Gar­den Ad­vi­sors started his first head-gar­dener job, his em­ployer, an oc­to­ge­nar­ian coun­try­house owner, showed him a myr­tle that was grow­ing in her walled gar­den. It had come from a sprig that had orig­i­nally been in her wed­ding bou­quet. ‘When I left, I took a rooted cut­ting with me and, in ev­ery gar­den I have ever made for my­self, I’ve had an­other cut­ting from that plant,’ he says. ‘It’s nice to have those mem­o­ries.’

Over the years, Mr Ma­son has helped many peo­ple move their favourite plants to greener pas­tures. He finds that a rooted cut­ting is al­most al­ways the eas­i­est op­tion, as long as it’s taken in the right sea­son and given time to root. How­ever, not all plants can be prop­a­gated through cut­tings, so the orig­i­nal plant may need to be trans­ported—but this should never be done when the weather is too hot or too cold.

For these rea­sons, Mr Ma­son ad­vises plant-lov­ing movers to ‘have as much time as pos­si­ble be­tween know­ing you need to trans­plant some­thing and ac­tu­ally do­ing it’. This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant when deal­ing with trees or shrubs, which are trick­ier to move than herba­ceous plants. ‘What we some­times do is dig a trench around the tree, take the soil out from it and put some com­post in— ef­fec­tively pot­ting that plant up. You leave it for a year and the new roots grow into the com­post. When it’s time to move it, you dig to the out­side of that trench. That way, you in­cor­po­rate all the new roots that the plant has made.’

If there isn’t an en­tire year to play with, the best op­tion is to cut down the plant’s top growth in pro­por­tion to the dam­age in­flicted to the roots when dug up.

That said, early plan­ning is key to a suc­cess­ful move for non-hor­ti­cul­tural rea­sons, too. ‘Peo­ple as­sume that a gar­den will be left be­hind— it can be quite a shock if that’s not the case,’ says buy­ing agent Sarah Broughton of Prime Pur­chase. To avoid prob­lems, she rec­om­mends ven­dors let buy­ers know as early as pos­si­ble that they in­tend to re­move some plants from the gar­den. Ide­ally, adds Lind­say Cuthill of Sav­ills, this should be done dur­ing a view­ing ‘in the same way that an agent would point out fix­tures and fit­tings that do and don’t form part of a sale’.

The same is true for stat­ues or vases. ‘Gar­den stat­u­ary might be spe­cific to its owner, such as a per­sonal com­mis­sion,’ notes Mr Cuthill. ‘If it’s eas­ily trans­portable, it’s likely that it will join the seller in their new home.’ How­ever, sell­ers ought to make sure they are al­lowed to re­move dec­o­ra­tive pieces: ‘In pe­riod coun­try houses, gar­den stat­ues, vases and stone gar­den seats can be deemed part of the ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign and thus form part of the house’s list­ing, mean­ing that they’re ir­re­mov­able.’

A fi­nal word of ad­vice from Mrs Broughton: if you do find your­self want­ing to take more than a cou­ple of plants or stat­ues along with you, per­haps you should do some soulsearch­ing, be­cause ‘if you can’t bear to leave your gar­den be­hind, one might won­der why you’re mov­ing in the first place’.

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