Ok–they don’t look like much now, but come summer time these newly transplanted ferns should be lush and green and everything I pictured when I decided they would look better in the woods.    

Transplanting is a big part of gardening–a really fun part.  And Winter is the best time to move things around.    All you need is a day when it’s not too wet to dig.  

Advantages of winter transplanting–

  • The ground is soft.  It’s easy to dig big holes and  wrench out large root balls. 


  • Plants are not actively growing.  They’ll experience less transplant stress  and will have a long time to get established before the long hot summer sets in. 


  • Mother Nature will do most of that critical early watering for you. 


  • Planting mistakes are easier to see in the Winter when trees are bare.   (I put plants in the wrong place all the time)


  • Moving mature plants makes a big impact.  You don’t have to wait years for them to fill out.   So you can save your garden money for other things like seeds and soil.

When I moved the ferns I also divided them, slicing though the large clumps with the blade my shovel to make 2 plants from one.   And I resisted two big temptations which makes me very proud–

1) I resisted putting them in two beds.  For some reason I’m always tempted to put a few plants here…a few more further down the path or bed.  NOT GOOD.  Plant in mass for maximum impact. This goes for buying new plants, too.   The canvas is always larger than you think. 

2) I resisted planting my ferns in a row along the edge of  the path.   Something drives me to plant in narrow bands.  Maybe it’s a hold over from my first gardening experience–working with my father in his big vegetable gardens.  And while there’s nothing so pretty as a row of homegrown corn,  outside the veg patch, you should plant in drifts.  Look at nature–ferns are in big patches, irregular drifts. 

Finally a word about moving  BIG things.   Do it.   I know that’s two words but you get the point–Don’t write a plant off because it’s in the wrong place.  Keep trying.   A room addition forced me to move this White by the Gate Camellia the first time.  It has taken me two more moves to get in the right place.  (I hope)   

But hurry.  Winter only seems to go on forever.  Before we know it–Spring.  And other plants and tasks will be clamouring for our attention.   Winter is the time to use what you have.