A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Always Learning in the Garden

I’ve technically been “gardening” for over 20 years, but I can’t say that I’ve ever really felt like I knew what I was doing. It seems like even if a plant didn’t seem to be working in one spot aesthetically, or wasn’t thriving where I initially placed it, I tended to leave them there because that’s where I planned it. This year I’ve been much more inclined to experiment and move plants around until it really works.

2013062305Case in point is this Buttonbush shrub Cephalanthus occidentalis). I bought this shrub at least a couple years ago. I think I had it in the front at first, but later moved it to the backyard next to the trellis. It barely seemed to be growing and didn’t even have a lot of leaves on it. I finally decided it might need more sun, so I moved it to the opposite side of the backyard in front of the garage where the Elderberry had previously taken over. What a difference!

2013062302This is another shrub, Leadplant (Amorpha canescens) that didn’t seem to be going anywhere in its previous spot in the front. I wasn’t sure if this one would survive the move because as a native in the pea family, it sends down a long tap root.

I know I didn’t get all of it when I dug it up, but I’m happy to say that it’s already doing better in the side yard with more sun.

2013062304The grasses that we transplanted to our raised planter box next to the gravel patio last year are doing great this year. I think the raised bed helped them grow earlier and faster than the ones in the ground.

What I didn’t expect to find was the Prairie Blazingstar (Liatris pycnostachya) growing in their midst. I’m not sure if it was accidentally transplanted with the grasses or what, but it needs to be moved once this string of 90-degree days are gone later in the week.

Then there’s the Prairie Dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum) which I moved here from another spot when we were working on the brick walkway last year. I thought I had dug it up and moved it to yet another spot, but it didn’t grow there so I thought I had killed it. I was surprised when it started growing here again. I need to move it from here because it’s too close to the bluestone path, and I obviously need to dig deeper this time.


The chipmunks are getting into the gardening spirit too. They keep burying sunflower seeds in the dirt and the mulch, so we keep pulling up little clumps of sunflower sprouts. Unlike me, they just don’t seem to learn! I wish they would just eat them, but I guess it’s hard to cure a true hoarder.


Leave a Comment