by Charlene Burgi
Fall and winter are recognized as the best time for transplanting. This is the time of year when growth slows down as plants prepare for a long winter’s rest. Some plants like annuals fade and disappear into the earth, only leaving seeds for future production. Other plants put on a show of vibrant color, as their leaves turn shades of red, orange and yellow, before going dormant. The fallen leaves give back essential carbon to the soil as the leaves decompose. This natural mulch breaks down and releases important elements that, over time, feed the plants.
Our move to the north involved a considerable amount of planning for the transplantation of some of our favorite plants, in order to capitalize upon this opportune season. Sun exposure, soil type, water conditions, and the ability to withstand the change in climate were carefully assessed. The hydrozones were determined before the chosen transplants left the garden in Marin.
Extensive thought and care went into uprooting the plants from the clay-based Marin soil to the rich fertile soils of the northeast. The more delicate plants that we knew couldn’t handle the move were left to thrive in Marin. The hardy varieties that could sustain uprooting were temporarily moved into nursery pots for the long ride up here. Much of the transplanting occurred in early spring before the flush of growth began. Some larger plants were unearthed in winter so damaged feeder roots could resprout before the peak of evapotranspiration during June and July, when plants require the maximum amount of water to live.
Despite all the careful thought, planning and study, some plants did not withstand the shock of the move or the attentions of wild animals that found them too tasty to resist. Oddly, many of these wild critters live in Marin, but must have more epicurean palettes than those in Lassen County, thus not delighting in these tidbits.
Our move, as many of you know, included the move of our five donkeys last week. As with some of our plants, transplanting was also difficult for the four-legged beasts. Despite the care, planning and love, one of our longears was more fragile than the others and didn’t transplant well. Monday night, despite the vet care, the capable hands of our ranching neighbors assisting with medication and the support of dear friends, we lost one of the babies that was born in our corral in Novato. The move was too stressful for her. My husband buried Shasta in the shade of one of the juniper trees that overlooks the meadow facing her namesake, Mount Shasta. We know her spirit, like the fallen seeds of our plants, lives on. We were blessed to have her in our lives and will miss her sweet ways.