Who put this here?

Five years ago I planted a small elderberry sapling “hard by” the front door, as they say around here. Well, it was way too “hard by”, and although the dog loved lying under it all summer and it produced bumper crops of berries for tonic and jelly, it was much too close to the front door of the house. No matter how much I pruned it back, the next year all adult visitors were ducking under the branches to come in and at midseason all you could see out the front of the house was elderberry bush, so I finally knuckled down and took it out. It was a three day process that involved wheelbarrows, picks and shovels, and assistance – which is something I rarely need in the garden. I moved the cropped remains to the lower garden (where the bush seems happy enough) lined the hole with plastic to discourage regrowth, filled it in with rocks and went on my way.

Two years later I noticed a few stalks of elderberry coming up by the Green Cone in the doorway. They were cute, blossomed nicely in the spring, and I let them be. This year(to be known henceforth as “The Most Incredible Gardening Year Ever 2010”) produced large crops of everything and that included elderberries. The bush grew 25 stalks to 12′, all hung with fat bunches of glossy black berries. And one morning I exited the house into the shade of the elderberry jungle and thought, “Who would plant a bush that size in the way of their front door?” And then, well, I really wished I had someone else to blame.

So I spent the morning cutting the 12′ branches down by half, digging out 4′ white roots nearly an inch in circumference, and discovered shoots springing up everywhere. Now that I’m no longer in denial I’ll have to root those out – I know what happens if I leave them to grow for a year or three.

The stalks have been cut and piled to one side and the wooden sides of the raised bed removed.

The roots encircled the base of the green cone, but the bush is so vigorous that I simply cut them off and removed the rest of the roots after the transplant.

I couldn’t move the root mass in one go, so I used some big loppers and a bow saw to cut it in half.

I placed the clumps of roots and stalks over a marshy part of the swamp, backfilled with soil, added a layer of mulch hay and then added old firewood to keep everything in place. I find that transplants take much more readily to their new home if movement from wind and weight is keep to a minimum.

The next post will be a view of the garden from the front door  – finally!

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