Wendy Humphries gets on with planting some evergreen shrubs and is looking forward to fresh new growth over the coming months

Spring and autumn is traditionally the best time to plant evergreens. Thinking back to February and March, I recall the garden was still firmly in the grasp of winter. The country was battered by storms, we suffered floods in many areas, and the ground in my garden was waterlogged.

In contrast, April has been dry, and the best month to get new plants in because the ground is still moist. It’s still not too late to transplant trees and shrubs, the roots are actively and will cope as long as we make sure they do not dry out for the rest of the summer.

A collection of potted young evergreens ready to plant – my soil is heavy and the ground is still moist beneath the surface

I had several young evergreens in pots, purchased before the lockdown period, and I was itching to get planting. The recent days of rain have softened the ground, which helps enormously.

Water the planting hole and wait for the water to disappear


A containerised holly should establish well as long as I water it thoroughly in the first year. All the plants were given a good drink by plunging each into a bucket of water for an hour or so before planting.

It’s best to make the planting hole at least one and a half times the size of the pot. Fill the hole with water and leave it to drain.


With ornamental trees and shrubs, it’s not necessary to add fertiliser to the planting hole, particularly if you are adding a mycorrhizal fungi. I used lots of home-made compost so this was incorporated into the hole and excavated soil.

Make sure the plant is sitting at the correct height

When placing a rootball in the plantinghole, it’s important to make sure the surface of the compost is level with surrounding soil. Place a cane across the hole to check the height is correct and adjust the height if needed.

The excavated soil was backfilled, firmed and watered well. I applied a thick layer well-rotted compost as a mulch and this will trap in moisture and keep the weeds down. You can use any compost or organic matter you have to hand.

Self-sown Anemanthele lessoniana had seeded itself across the pathway to the shed

Now is a good time to plant or transplant ornamental grasses, particularly the ones that flower after mid-summer such as miscanthus, panicum or pennisetum. Give them a thorough soaking a few hours before you intend to move them and prepare the planting hole in advance.


My carex and Anemanthele lessoniana grasses have seeded themselves around and not always in the best places. Some of them were lifted and and given a new home in a more appropriate spot.

A new home in the gravel garden

Anemanthele lessoniana is not fussy about soil or situation. A couple of years ago, I saw swathes of these grasses at RHS Wisley thriving in a dry shady spot beneath some trees.

I had to buy one and headed to Knoll Garden in Dorset, a nursery specialising in ornamental grasses. The first specimen made a fantastic display and then self-seeded prolifically, so now I have about 20 plants, ideal to move into places where nothing else will grow, and all the transplants are so far doing well.

My gappy viburnum hedge needs infilling – use young transplants or container-grown specimens

The boundary hedge in my front garden is a mature Viburnum tinus. The hedge is looking less dense as the trees are maturing. I am filling gaps along the hedge with new plants that have seeded naturally.


If you find an appropriate spot there’s nothing for it, you have to slice down through the existing roots with a sharp-edge spade to make a planting hole. Water the plant to be moved thoroughly before lifting and add plenty of organic matter to the base of the planting hole.

The new transplant will need mulching and watering during the growing season ahead.

The moved viburnum was reduced with secateurs to prevent the plant losing too much water and wilting

The moved viburnum was reduced with secateurs to prevent the plant losing too much water and wilting


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