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What favourite plants would you take if you moved home?

For most of us, our home is full of objects that we keep for sentimental, as well as practical, reasons. And for us gardeners that can be true too for the plants in our gardens.

The wisteria that climbs up the side of the house and has grown with the children, may be as dear to you as a teapot the family has used for 20 years. The difference is the wisteria is a bit more difficult to pack and take with you!

We asked Which? Gardening members what plants they could not bear to leave behind when they moved – the top three were roses, clematis and lavender – see the rest of the list, below. But which would you want to save?

Should I keep the previous owner’s plants?

I’m moving home and, when I first viewed the house I’m buying, the owner was concerned for her plants. She’s a keen gardener, and had even opened her garden to groups but, as she got older, she could no longer keep up with the work and the garden had declined.

She was keen I would keep the garden as it had been and would treasure some of her favourite plants.

You can imagine my feelings of guilt then as the builders brought in to renovate the house hacked and slashed their way through the garden to dig in a large rainwater tank and replace the fence, not to mention their preference for mixing concrete on her carefully tended perennial borders.

All this got me thinking about what I could and should save from this much-loved garden, such as a healthy clump of cyclamen.

Favourite plants and the memories they hold

It got me thinking too about the plants I’ve had to abandon over the years in my many house moves.

The roses my mother gave me for my first proper garden; the crocuses that were a present from a friend for helping to organise her hen weekend; and the hardy geraniums that were divisions from my grandmother’s garden.

Then there were plants I bought more in hope than expectation, but which thoroughly rewarded me.

The star jasmine that took forever to get going but then wreathed the garden in scent; the tiny Japanese maple I bought at a flower show and against the odds grew to be a stunning little tree.

Some are more transportable than others: snowdrops can be moved while they’re in leaf. Daffodils and dahlias can be moved as dry bulbs and tubers. You might have more problems with acers and fruit trees, which were other popular choices.

Of course you are legally obliged to leave the garden largely as it was when the sale was agreed.

So what have you packed along with the crockery? Do you have plants that have special memories? Or are you happy to abandon a garden and start afresh?

What plants would you take when moving home?

Roses (17%, 197 Votes)

Acer (12%, 142 Votes)

Fuchsia (11%, 131 Votes)

Lavender (10%, 112 Votes)

Other (9%, 107 Votes)

Snowdrop (9%, 102 Votes)

Clematis (8%, 96 Votes)

Geranium (8%, 95 Votes)

Honeysuckle (6%, 67 Votes)

Dahlia (5%, 63 Votes)

Daffodils (4%, 52 Votes)

Total Voters: 439

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Before I sold my late parents’ house in 2006 I took a peony and planted in my garden. It struggled in the first year but now produces a nice display each year. I’m not sure what I would take if I moved home, having not done so for over 30 years.

We have moved a number of times but on most occasions you have to consider whether the plant will move well and does it suit the new soil and climate. We moved last time with two acers in pots , two large bamboos in pots, two Himalayan climbers, and some smaller plants however the cost is fairly steep as in cubic metre terms when they are large.

The only plant I would move with now [provided it has not grown through the pot base] is a gorgeous prostrate cotoneaster with a spread of around 6ft of small bright dark green leaves spreading over gravel. Everything else we would leave.

We would need to pack the 36 large plant pots though. And the hoses, lawn mower, the numerous spades and forks, the loppers, the hedge trimmers , the shredder, the hoses, the unused fleece, the irrigation hoses and spouts, the riddler, the wheelbarrow, the garden furniture, the umbrellas …

I am not sure we can afford to move?!!?

‘I’m not sure we can afford to move.’ I know the feeling! You’ve made me think it really is time to clear out the garage….

We have plants that originated in several properties back mainly from parents gardens. They in turn have been passed on to friends so if we move, there is the chance to get seeds or cuttings to start them off again.

Whilst we do have some favourite plants – tree peonies and roses in particular, plus flowering trees they are well-established. A large part of their appeal is because they are a decent size now. and it would be a shame to deprive the new owners, plus they might well not thrive or even survive.

Our dozen or so patio pots with lilies, roses, rhododendrons, spring bulbs and harebells, antirhinums (grown from seed years ago), pinks and so on would have to go though – they will brighten up any part of the garden through the year and be reminders.

I’d quite like to start from scratch, hopefully in a garden that is already part-established. We grow a lot of plants from seed – dahlias, delphiniums, lupins, pelargoniums, sweet williams, wallflowers – so it need not be an expensive exercise. The main thing would be to have a decent size greenhouse to get all this stuff growing.

All academic though – no plans to move.

In 2012 we knew we were going to move but didn’t know where or when exactly so we started transferring a lot of plants into pots and tubs so that when prospective purchasers viewed the house we could explain that the garden would be left exactly as they saw it but everything portable would be moving with us. That still left a very well-stocked garden though. We ended up moving to a brand new house with a barren garden so it was just as well that we had an ‘instant garden’ ready to plant out. The move was in December so everything was dormant and survived the move well. During the next five months, after the initial layout and landscaping had been done, we stocked the borders up and disposed the pots and tubs. 2013 was still a work in progress but by Spring/Summer 2014 the garden was looking really good, the climbers had clambered, the roses had risen, and the bulbs had burst into flower; the lighter sandier soil actually suited many plants better than the heavy clay we had before although quite a bit of compost had to be dug in to hold moisture and improve the soil condition in places; indeed the main problem is the extreme dryness and this year we have lost a number of plants in pots because it has not been possible to maintain a sufficient watering regime but since the overall garden is now stocked to over-abundance that is not really an issue and considerable thinning out will be needed later this year.

The plants that did well through the move are most shrubs [especially ceanothus, magnolia, forsythia, cotoneaster, hollies and various small conifers]; climbers have all prospered, especially wisteria, clematis and Virginia creeper all of which have covered the fences and trellises in no time; most roses survived well, mainly the climbing and rambling varieties; and the ‘cottage garden’ flowers [daisies, poppies, lupins, foxgloves, hollyhocks, alliums, kniphofias, irises, narcissi and tulips all look more splendid than previously [but the deer that wander around at night have developed a taste for them].

Dieseltaylor mentioned the expense of moving the garden plants and that certainly is a factor to be borne in mind. The removal company deployed a separate van and crew for all the garden materials, tools, and plants and that probably added £200-300 to the overall cost. But the saving in not having to buy knew stock must have far out-stripped that extra moving cost.

As I am contemplating moving this year I am grateful for the useful advice John re planting transient shrubs into pots before putting the house on the market. I have recently lost a conifer which was growing in a container due to a virus I contracted earlier in the year which rendered me unable to give it the attention and sufficient water to sustain it.

There is one particular plant that I must take with me and that is the buddleia (Black Knight) that I planted in memory of my late son whose hobby was butterfly spotting. It gives me great pleasure to sit in my conservatory and watch the butterflies flitting around and landing on the elongated blooms just as it did my son who knew all the names of the different species as his garden was amass with buddleias.

Lessismore says:
14 July 2015

Why do builders need to flatten a whole garden?

I’d like to move to an established garden. Unfortunately it takes many years for some plants to grow and so little time to chop them down using electrical gadgets nowadays.