It was obvious that we would leave the majority of the plants in place, either because it wasn't practical to move them, or the plants were common enough that we knew we could find them again.
Some things, however, were unusual or beloved enough that we made the effort to dig them, pot them up, and move them to the new house. We ended up taking 71 different plants, and took multiples of some of them. The plants filled a 20-foot truck.
Once at the new house, we arranged all of the plants in the shade of a tulip magnolia. After a couple of weeks, we moved the sun-lovers out from under the tree canopy and soon realized that some things needed to be planted—soon.
We intend to extensively remake the yard and existing flower beds, and didn't want to just plant things wherever there was room without a plan. However, the needs of the plants soon won out, and we decided to start the gardening sooner than we had planned.
We started by planting some of the sun lovers, including Helianthus 'Lemon Queen,' Angelica gigas, Heliopsis 'Lorraine Sunshine,' and Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff' in sunny positions around the front yard. We will have to move these again once remake the front garden, but they are all much happier in the ground. The dahlia is blooming, and will soon be joined by the sunflower.
In the back yard, we build a raised berm that is half in sun for much of the day and half in shade, at least until late afternoon. We planted this with Hacquetia, Hellebores, Amsonia, Pittosporum, Actea, Brunnera, Philadelphus, Mahonia, Carex, Dichroa, Cardiocrinum giganteum, Chrinodendron, Billiardiera longifolia, Himalayan maidenhair fern, and Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens). Under the shade of a flowering pear, we will plant giant red trilliums and a Royal fern.
The previous owners operated a day care center at this house, and much of the back area was set up as a play area, with a large wooden platform and lots and lots of play chips. We took the platform and arranged it in front of our new bed, then arranged some of the large pots we brought with us and filled them with more of the plants we moved: Paeonea 'Kopper Kettle,' Ozmanthus davidii, Eupatorium 'Chocolate,' Romneya coulteri, Phormium 'Apricot Queen,' another Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff,' and Penstemon 'Garnet.'
Because many of our plants were already larger than typical nursery stock, the beds and pots have an instant impact. Nice!
We still have a collection of shade-lovers under the magnolia tree. We're not sure where they're going to end up, as we don't have much shade in this yard. They might end up planted under the tree that is now sheltering them.
Meanwhile, we've taken extensive measurements of the yard and are working on a master drawing that we can use to plan the rest of the gardens. More to come!