I am so happy to have found this site! I hope you are able to help. I have 7 of these planted in a row in the front today my house. They are about 4 years old. They love it there and bloom every year and are growing fantastically well. We will be landscaping early-mid June with edging stones. The placement of the problem stones will be directly between the beauties and the foundation wall, and there will be very little space for the landscaper to manoeuvre. I am thinking that the least damaging way to try to protect them would be to run a thin rope from one end Of the row of plants to the other and pull them away from the work area. If that doesn’t work, would it kill them if I cut them down to about 4-5 inches? My landscaper says sometimes we have to make sacrifices, I would be devastated If I lost my stunning plants! (I am a transplanted city girl and have a black thumb). It gives me great joy to see them grow stronger and fuller every year. I appreciate any advice you have to offer. Thank you in advance.
Thanks for getting in touch with the Toronto Master Gardeners.
You are concerned about the Hillside Black Beauty bugbane (Actaea simplex ‘Hillside Black Beauty’) plants that you’ve successfully nurtured for several years and how you can protect them during the proposed landscaping project. Of course, you want to make sure that they are not damaged.
A better solution than the one you are proposing is simply to dig them out and store them together in a large container(s) or bin(s) during the construction. It would be impossible to protect the plants in situ while the landscapers are working in the area. They will be focused on what they need to do. Nevertheless, “sacrifices” won’t need to be made if you can remove them from the area before they begin working; they can be put back once the work is finished.
Would it be possible that the landscaper could help you do this? Of course, you would have to maintain the plants–make sure they have enough moisture; keep the container in the shade which is the condition they prefer. When digging them up, use a garden fork–once you have loosened the plant, it will be easier to remove. Keep as much of the root system intact as possible. You shouldn’t need to cut back the plant now as it would just be starting to grow.
When ready to replant, make sure that the soil has been amended with organic matter–leaf mulch, compost, or manure. Your landscaper should make sure that the soil condition for replanting the plants is restored to its original condition or better.
You’ve made wonderful use of these ‘native’ plants in your yard; they need to be protected and preserved so that they will showcase that area again.