Friday, 24 January 2014

Firethorn and Fingernails

The weather here is still very mild and temperatures forecast are well above what we would normally be experiencing here in Scotland.  I took the opportunity to get out mid week and move the Firethorn.  It's a job I've been dreading to do for sometime.  I never really liked the spot I chose for it.  I had hoped to be able to train it along wires attached to the fence on the shadier side of the garden.  Although it wasn't unhappy, it generally was healthy enough and was putting on growth but keeping it in check with pruning meant I was loosing flowers and ultimately the berries or pomes as they are correctly called.
June 2013
In this image you can see my attempts at trying to keep it contained and tied up to wires evenly spaced at around 1ft apart.  My attempt at Espaliering (is that a word - it doesn't look right) was never going to work not with having to contend with all the surrounding plants either.  Still, it has shown me how easily it can be done given the right amount of space to work and better knowledge of the pruning requirements.  

I was really quite surprised at how
easy it lifted from the ground.  I managed a decent sized root ball considering it's surrounded by other plants.  The snowdrops that grow around it's base were carefully lifted with as much soil as I could get - they were barely above the soil, time will tell if I've ruined their chance of flowering.

The receiving hole had been dug and it was given a good watering earlier in the day.  The soil in this part of the garden is good.  Over the years I kept the weeds down with a bark mulch - this in turn has rotted down into the soil.   Bonemeal was forked into the base of the hole and the back fill to provide some slow release fertiliser.

January 2014
  
A good mulch to protect the roots if the weather takes a sudden turn.  A redundant broken length of trellis was mended and added to the fence to provide a support for the framework of branches.  The branches were surprisingly quite pliable and didn't take much persuading, much to my relief.  On this back fence the Pyracantha will get sun for most of the day, it will prefer this spot.  It's been liberated!  The bees of course will benefit as it will be more prolific in it's flowering and berry production for the birds.  You can just make out a tiny cluster of the only berries it has produced this year.  The Aucuba still needs moving - it was happy enough in the shade that was once provided by the shed but I fear it will suffer in the sun.  The Griselinia littoralis is still doing nothing for me but I am loathe to discard it as it's made some good height this last couple of years.  All I know is that it can't stay there!  

Messing around with Firethorn in the garden can be quite hazardous.  Those huge thorns are lethal - I speak from experience but this time not a a single drop of blood was shed, I kid you not. 

When I was finished - I stood back, took stock and congratulated myself for getting this done.  My hands caked in mud and very, very dirty fingernails.  It's all good!     

40 comments:

  1. Congratulations on coming through the transplant process unscathed!

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    1. Congratulations indeed Kris - it was almost a miracle ;)

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  2. I may have to move my Pyracantha too, I think it's too shady a spot. It's the thought of all those thorns that puts me off.
    Just noticed, you're not only a gardener but a time traveller too! (December 2014?!)

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    1. Susan - you might try giving it a good prune before you start. I know when I moved this originally (now in it's 4th home) I chopped it right back to a couple of feet high. It was so much easier then.
      Thanks for pointing out the mistake - it's now sorted!

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  3. Kudos to you on moving it, sounds like you did everything just right, including not shedding any blood. It will be much happier there with so much more room.

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    1. I agree Alison, it will prefer this new spot much more than in the shade and it has room to grow exactly as it wants too.

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  4. Hi Angie, congratulations on moving your firethorn! It looks really good in its new location espaliered on the lattice trellis. It feels so good, when we have done something that we put of for a long time, doesn't it? I am not familiar with the firethorn plant, but I am very impressed by its berries. They really glow like, well, fire. I am sure the birds will like them, too. Hope the plant does well in its new location. Wishing you a nice weekend!
    Christina

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    1. Christina - the Pyracantha is an extremely popular plant here. Due to the nature of it's thorns it's strongly recommended to be planted for security reasons!

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  5. Hello Angie, I hope that espalier will work. I have tried ones but failed. I really like the idea a lot. I will have to try another time when I find a good plant for it later. Btw, glad you are more careful now hehe... I hate those thorns!

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    1. Stephanie, I'm also working on a Rambling Rose and a Camellia growing Espalier. They seem to be a much better candidate for doing so. Yes, Those thorns!! Ouch!!

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  6. Well done, I will be moving a few smaller plants this weekend, nothing as adventurous as you. I agree the weather has been very mild for this time of year.

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    1. Good luck on getting those jobs done.

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  7. Well done, you are brave tackling a Pyracantha without a full suit of armour and a medical team at the ready. I have never managed to come away from any encounter with it unscathed. I admire it in other peoples' gardens
    beautifully trained against a wall or fence but I got rid of mine it attacked me once too often.

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    1. They are quite brutal aren't they Chloris. A shame you didn't win that battle and got rid!

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  8. Yep like everyone else it's good to hear you successfully moved a very prickly plant and hopefully you will reap the words with blooms and wildlife.

    Re the Griselinia littoralis - it really does have to be moved for its sake and your Pyracantha. Sorry to hear this plant hasn't done anything for you yet - you could try it in a pot. This plant is my garden shrub favourite and I was planning a blog post on it in the next couple of weeks - maybe I will convince you its worth a place in your garden then :-)

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    1. Now you are just going to get a move on and do that blog Shirely. I've trawled the web looking for inspiration for this plant and thus far come up blank!! I'll be eagerly awaiting that post.

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  9. I like the new setting way better. At least it will be seen as a whole and not latching on to your other plants. I love the plant myself, but the thorns did give me thoughts about not having it since mine would have had to be in a spot like you first had it. Great choice.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Cher, I much prefer it's new setting too and I'm sure the plant will appreciate it more. Thanks for cementing my decision to move it :)

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  10. Congratulations on moving your Pyracantha without getting scratched, something I've never managed to do. Pruning it is always a problem, last year I obviously pruned mine at the wrong time and ended up with no flowers and therefore no berries, I think I'll have to do it when I can see where the flowers are, after I have donned my protective gear!

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    1. Pauline, they flower on old wood so your idea of pruning where you can see the flowers works for me. I had never thought about it like that. I know not if I'll get many flowers with year but at least I can leave it to do it's own thing instead of having to constantly nip out new growth. Good luck when you get round to yours.

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  11. How very brave of you, Angie! They can be so contrary, so I'm glad you got away unharmed ;)

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    1. I'm glad too Annette - things could have had such an opposite effect! I did have some first aid on hand should it have turned bad!

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  12. Very brave tackling a bush with such vicious thorns. Pomes is a new one on me - you learn something every day!

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    1. Sue - Yes, it was a new one on me until I was reading up on the plant. It's good to learn ;)

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  13. gratulations, job well done! I have plants regularly doing walk-about in my garden too, sometimes we just have to listen to the plants when it comes to where they want to permanently reside :-)
    I have a David Austin rose that needs moving now, not sure where to, it might end up in a container for now, but I am a bit reluctant to even touch it as it is one of those with a million tiny sharp prickles….

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    1. Take care with lifting and moving that rose Helene. By the sounds of it - there's little difference between the rose and the firethorn. I reluctant to move much else at the moment - they keep forecasting very cold weather and although so far it's not been too bad, I'm wary of doing anything too drastic!

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  14. Hi Angie, it just feels fantastic to get out there and get dirt under your finger nails. Like you, we are having very mild weather but the soil is too waterlogged to work at the moment. I am getting withdrawal symptoms from gardening - I just want to be out there! Fab job moving your Pyracantha, those thorns can be lethal !

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    1. Too true Jane - I'm very surprised that my garden isn't too waterlogged as well. I know too well those withdrawal symptoms - there's no cure either ;) I hope you get out there soon.

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  15. Pyracanthas are wonderful plants for security as you quite rightly say Angie. I have a real beauty against the house wall which was roughly 8' wide by 10' high until it was blown off the wall and several of its main stems broken a couple of years ago, it did however recover after a severe pruning and is now producing plenty of berries. I don't think you should be too surprised by the lack of berries on yours after its several moves, hopefully if it is given the chance to settle down it will reward you.

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    1. Rick - you are of course right about the lack of berries. This will, I'm sure, be it's final move. although don't hold me too that!

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  16. Thank Gaia I chose the right spot for the firethorn. It has nearly reached the eaves of a south facing wall that was boringly blank before. I like your idea of wires for support. I've been using screws to tie it to the wall, and the plant is so vigorous that it has pulled a few of them out. We're now looking at a nasty repair job, but the wall, clad in a free form espalier (is there such a thing?) laden with bright berries makes my heart sing. Having just accomplished the annual pruning, I salute you for taking on such a thorny transplanting project.

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    1. Ouch, that repair job sounds just as nasty as those thorns Ricki! There are some lovely images of espaliered firethorn on house walls out there on the web, they are stunning given the right amount of space, sadly in my small garden, I'll always have to control this through pruning, where ever I plant it.

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  17. Looks good Angie, and I hope you find a good new home for the griselina, it is a lovely screening plant and birds enjoy nesting in it too. Ironically I moved a pyracantha from a sunny spot in my front garden to the north facing border in the back! It is not destined to be beautifully pruned though, no access.

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    1. I will find somewhere for the Griselina, eventually Janet. It might have to make do with a pot for a while. I'll be your Pyracantha will look so much better being allowed to do it's own thing.

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  18. Like the look and the color of the green...and doing gardening now is a treat.

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    1. Getting out at this time of the year is great Donna - we can't always do it but it's best to take advantage when we can.

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  19. Congratulation on a job well done :-). And am I not jealous of you that you can do such gardening now :-P. Our soil is not only frozen hard but constantly covered with at least a foot or more snow.

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    1. KL - I'm sure you are not jealous ;) They keep telling us to expect snow and happily none has appeared. It's supposedly to get bad tonight - we shall see. A foot or more is a bit more than I would like but it's always nice to see it. I feel it's not winter unless we have some snow.

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  20. What a job! I had forgotten the common name Firethorn for Pyracantha but it fits perfectly. My husband's grandparents planted it beneath their windows to deter anyone from sneaking inside. Glad you tackled the job without any blood.

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    1. I've read on many occasions it's recommended for planting beneath window as a deterrent VW - for obvious reasons!!!

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