Are You Running Out Of Room in Your Garden?

Oxalis adenophylla

Have you ever run out of room for new plants in your garden? Or have you just not had the kind of location the plant really needed? I suspect it is a common problem amongst gardeners.

Elizabeth Lawrence wrote in an August 18, 1957 column for the Charlotte Observer...

“This year I indulged in a bulb of the celebrated N. ‘Kings Court’, which is considered the best yellow trumpet for exhibitions. I had been watching it since 1948, when it was fifteen dollars, and for the first time it was down to my price, a dollar and a half. But the saddest thing happened. There are no longer choice spots left in my garden for choice flowers, and I had to put N. ‘Kings Court’ in the background. And then, with everything in bloom at once, I couldn’t find it. When at last I tracked it down, under the Japanese apricot (Prunus mume), the flowers were all faded. And now I shall have to wait.”

When I’m out buying new plants, I think I have plenty of room for them, but when I get home, I find myself doing that waltz around the garden trying to figure out where to stick the new plant.

Mine is not always a space problem as much as it is choosing the right spot the first time.

Wait, I do have a space problem when it comes to shade-loving plants. I don’t have enough shade on my suburban lot, yet. This lack of shade ensures I am attracted to hostas, astilbes and other shade loving plants when I'm at the garden center. I still buy these shade loving plants, but I end up putting short ones behind tall ones, planting some too close together, or worse, planting them in part sun locations where they suffer a bit. And yes, I’ve misplaced a few along the way, and outright lost some of them.

But I do have room for sun loving plants.

Last fall, I was looking for a place to plant Oxalis adenophylla bulbs, which are pretty small as plants go, and I ended up planting them in places where you have to look to find them among other foliage and groundcovers. In fact, I had to look around for quite awhile before I finally found them.

That’s too bad, because they have a pretty bloom. So I’ll be moving them to a more suitable location at some point. The big decision is… move them now when they have foliage or wait and dig up the bulbs in the fall and move them then.

If I wait to dig up the bulbs, I probably won’t find them or I'll forget about them, so I think I’ll move them now with foliage. They’ll be perfect in the miniature garden, with all my other miniature plants.

Do you have any misplaced flowers hiding in your garden?


The quote above is from the book Beautiful at All Seasons: Southern Gardening and Beyond with Elizabeth Lawrence, edited by Ann L. Armstrong and Lindie Wilson, chosen to be the April-May selection of the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club. All are welcome to join the book club by reading this book or any book by Elizabeth Lawrence and then posting a book review, your own insights on her writings, etc. on your blog before May 31st. Then I’ll publish a “virtual meeting” post on May 31st with links to all the relevant posts.

You can look at the virtual meeting post from March 31st to get a general idea of how the book club works.

I hope you’ll join me in reading some of Elizabeth Lawrence’s writings before the end of the month. Many gardeners who have read her writings agree that if she were alive today, Lawrence would likely be a garden blogger!

If you post a review, please let me know via a comment or email, so I can find it and include it.


  1. You could use some tent pegs to mark them until fall. But I think most bulbs can be moved just as the foliage is dying down, and they're getting ready to go dormant.

  2. Timely post. I was pulling out the spring flower and mulching the beds and thinking, I'd better mark all these bulbs before the foliage fades completely.

    I'm already behind--as usual.

  3. Space is not an issue right now for me. Everything was vacant before we moved in so every plant I can find has a place. I do have some future locations that I want to use but can't yet since they haven't been prepared. Like a nice shady spot in the back perfect for a woodland retreat. For now my shady plants are going in a corner shade garden. I'm pretty much out of space there but I'm kind of thinking of it as a holding area. The divisions of the hostas and heucheras can be transferred to the future woodland area. Like you I have a place for everything under the sun!

  4. Space is a huge issue for me! In fact, outside of edibles, I am almost to the if-one-plant-comes-in, another-plant-must-go-out mode. Sad!

  5. There was a time I bought gallon plants (they were cheaper then!) But eventually I decided 4-inch was better because you could squeeze them in easier. Then I was happy to find things I wanted in 6 packs...yesterday I bought some vinca but I made sure to get the small pony pak they'd be easier to shoe horn in. I really can't take out any more grass...sigh...

  6. Not in this garden Carol, I am currently working on a new border and have lots of space there. In my old garden (65 square meter) I was constantly running out of space for new plants but that never stopped me from buying them nor planting either. My motto is: there is always space for one more plant!

  7. Wow, that oxalis is spectacular!

    I too have the same problem with finding the right spot for plants I bring home. Part of it is that the trees I planted have filled in a lot faster than I expected, leaving all my sun-loving plants in the shade. I also have a tendency to plant too close together for instant results, only to find that I lack space to put the stuff I've divided. But now that I know so many Austin gardeners who like passalongs, that's not a problem! :)

  8. Space is beginning to be a problem for me, but I plan on just making new garden beds. It is not shade for me, it is finding sunny spots to place new purchases.

    Always Growing

  9. Hi Carol, your post hit a nerve here. We are always buying new plants, never with a thought where to put them, wrong I know, but what can one do? We have lots of sun but the shade is all very dry shade due to the hill and large pine trees, and yet we still buy those moist shade loving plants. Like the hakonechloa 'All Gold' just purchased. Where to put it so it won't dry up, oh well.

  10. Oh yes, space is an issue here. That is why I have dug up most of the back yard. I haven't felt like I have run out of room yet. I do plant too close. I like the way someone said the "shoe horn in" their plants. I do that quite often.

  11. I have run out of space in my current beds but have PLENTY of space to create NEW areas for plants, but whew such work removing sod. If only I could find someone to do it for me LOL.

  12. Space is not a problem for me yet, as all my flowerbeds are fairly new. And when they do fill up, I have lots of room to dig up another spot. But I do plant things in the wrong spot and every spring find myself moving things around again.

    Just read your Sunday post--your lilacs are gorgeous. I'm going to have to plant more. And I love this whole post. To paraphrase some wise person, you can't enjoy spring as much unless you have experienced a long, cold winter.

  13. To look you wouldn't think space was a problem...but with dozens of mature canopy trees over most the yard the sunny lawnette (thanks, Pam) looks like the perfect candidate for expanding a bed....that is where you get fooled; 3 inches below the surface is a huge slab of granite. End of my sad story!

  14. For the moment I'm jealous of your overabundance of bright, sunny places for plants. A vast majority of our yard is in partial or full shade for most of the day, so I tend to struggle at the garden store when I see beautiful flowering perennials that need full sun. A friend just gave me two small pots of sunflower starts and I'm struggling to find a place for them to thrive. For the most part we're gardening with shades of green and white - hostas, ferns, astilbes, and other shade-loving plants.

  15. Whenever I'm "waltzing" around the garden, wondering where I should stick a new plant, my wife helps me out by telling me exactly where I should stick it. Apparently she thinks all of my plant purchases are shade plants. Ba-dum-bum. Thank you, I'll be here all week. :)

  16. Carol, are you KIDDING? We even 'took over' our neighbor's garden plot a couple of years ago! LOL. (He didn't use it much and was happy to let us use it.)

    We enlarged our gardens this spring - still in the process - because know. We can.

  17. Kathy, I'm going to take a chance and move them this weekend. I'll know next spring if I was successful.

    MSS@ZanthanGardens, I like how you mark your bulbs. I need to get some tiles some place cheap or free.

    Dave, Our gardens sounds quite similar. I've planted everything in my garden, and I still have room to expand.

    Blackswamp_Girl, That is sad. I would hate to have make such a choice for each new plant.

    Leslie, Good thinking as the smaller plants are easier to squeeze in without disturbing the plants around them.

    Yolanda Elizabet, I like your motto and I look forward to seeing posts about your new border.

    Lori, I also sometimes can't find room for divisions, so I end up composting them if I can find someone to take them.

    Jan, New flower beds will be the answer for me once I fill the ones I have.

    Frances, Spoken like a true plant lover. We just can't resist those new plants, can we?

    Lisa at Greenbow, Sometimes I think a shoe horn would be a good planting tool.

    Karen, Yes, we are all looking for an easier way to dig out sod!

    Rose, Isn't it nice to have room to expand. And I think all gardeners are moving plants around in the spring, trying to find better places for them.

    Gail, That is a sad story!

    Lori in Webster Groves, Welcome! It is true that we are often more attracted to the plants we have no room or sun (or shade) for.

    Anthony, Hilarious. A real knee slapper. I'll be remembering that one for a long time.

    Kylee, Your neighbor must really appreciate you all for tending his garden, too!

    Thanks all for the nice comments and joining in the discussion on space in the garden.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  18. My problem isn't space, it is prepared space. I have plenty of space to fill if only I had the proper soil and amendments already in those spaces. That is what takes so much time and effort and actually is my holdup right now with all of the winter sown plants.

  19. I love that you mention space and type of space! My realtor thinks I'm crazy for wanting to find a house that sits on roughly a quarter acre. I've rejected several nice homes for having no yard at all. I've also rejected one with plenty of outdoor space for being heavily, heavily wooded.

    I walk around the yards and make mental notes of sun and shade and which direction the house faces, and is there enough full sun space for a vegetable garden (which I want desperately).

    Maybe I am crazy. Maybe I should just pick something and then work with it...the way you suggest we work with (instead of against) the weather.

    You always give me lots to ponder :)


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