About six weeks ago, I had the work day in the garden to beat all work days and at day's end, I was pooped. I'll never forget trying to dig that Kniphofia out of that clay, and when I replanted them on the south side of the pool house in what is likely the worst soil on all of Our Little Acre, I really had my doubts as to how they would do.
I watered them well in the weeks following, and it looked as if we were going to lose a few of them. I did lose a few swords of foliage, but that's to be expected even in ideal conditions, I think. Then they seemed to be holding their own and I was confident they would survive all that digging, tugging, pulling, and transplanting at what proved to be the beginning of a long and ongoing dry spell.
This plant is one tough cookie.
I got them in the fall of 2005, from Spring Hill as a Buy One Get One Free sort of deal. Their first location here was on the south side of our family room, which has a microclimate going on. I'm certain it's a solid zone 6 there, while most of the rest of our property is zone 5. It gets all that warm sun and no wind, because about five feet out from the little planting bed, there are yews grown as a hedge about 2½ feet high, plus the family room is set back on that side about three feet more to the north than the rest of the house.
They did not do well there. The following spring, only three survived out of the twelve I planted. Spring Hill has a great guarantee policy and I notified them that I'd lost several of my Kniphofias over the winter and they promptly sent replacements.
Thinking that maybe the location wasn't good, I then planted them out in Max's Garden in full sun, with no protection from wind from any direction. They were just out there. And they loved it. Those little plants just took right off and while I didn't get any blooms last year, their spikey leaves grew one after the other and they were a gorgeous lot to behold. Not only that, but they survived our quirky winter and spring we had this year, too.
Meanwhile, my hollyhocks, grown from seed from my grandma's plants and which have always grown on the south side of the pool house and been absolutely fabulous, gave up the ghost, save for a few small plantlets.
I know that hollyhocks are a biennial, but I've always let them go to seed so they'd grow and bloom on a rotating basis. It was a system that served us well for many years, until this year.
I decided that the Kniphofias would look nice planted where the hollyhocks used to be, so I dug them up and moved them there. I don't know why I wanted to take something that had already been moved because it didn't do well in one spot and was now thriving in another, and put it in yet a different location, but I did. Such is the way of some gardeners.
I really did worry that I'd done a very bad thing, because they looked so droopy and sad for quite some time after transplanting, but look what happened: