Moving the Mint

mammothsun Moving the Mint It was a perfect day for transplanting. With the soil moist from a few days of rain—thank you mulch for maintaining that ideal condition—I could “fix” some previous planting mistakes without having to drag out the hoses. Any instructions for transplanting include the imperative “water, water, water,” but because of my faucet-challenged conditions in Riverside Park, my plants would have to make do with damp, if not drenched, earth. Plus, the temperature was cool—guaranteeing that no plant would suffer in a wilting heat.

There were two offenders: a few mint (mentha) plants that I hastily threw in the ground last year and some sunflower mammoths (helianthus), an annual whose seeds I had scattered a month ago. Now they were thriving but badly sited: The mint, a famously invasive herb, was stuck with some periwinkle (vinca minor), a low-growing dense ground cover with tiny violet flowers, and the native sunflower, which grows to 10 feet, was dangerously close to the pavement, too much of a temptation for playground-bound children and basketball players.

Mint is not normally grown as an ornamental—more likely it sits in a kitchen garden—but it has a few features that make it ideal for my craggy plot. Its “wandering” quality will help it fill the barren spots under the katsura tree, plus it flowers nicely before becoming blowsy by August. And that penetrating aroma just might repel my rat pack (I’m sure they prefer meat to menthol). It’s worth a try.

As for those 10-footers—I placed them out of harm’s way, midway up the slope, next to some Manhattan schist that makes up the dramatic backdrop of my garden. By summer’s end, they will tower over the rocks, becoming my own garden skyscrapers.