At one point today I was sat down, in short sleeves, my face to the sun, listening to the bees buzzing hither and thither, and thinking to myself ‘it could be summer’. But my day was not entirely spent sitting and soaking up the sun; I was up and about early and tackling the garden on various fronts: rotavating the new raised bed; planting delphiniums, oriental poppies, alcea, salvia, veronica, scabious, roses, clematis (to climb up the rose) … a seemingly endless round of planting which resulted in one section of our circular bed looking pretty good (I’ll try and get some pictures up tomorrow – won’t be as sunny so hope it still looks good – as I just didn’t have time today); sowing leeks and more cosmos (necessary as the mice nibbled the first lot just as they were emerging); weeding; dividing and moving plants … a truly productive day after which I feel satsifyingly tired and ready for a good, long sleep!
The need to divide and move plants sprang to mind as a consequence of Monty doing so at Long Meadow during last nights episode of Gardeners’ World. I am still frustrated by the seemingly short amount of the programme that is actually given over to Monty doing things in his garden. For me they are trying to squeeze too much into the allotted time. But this is the last I shall mention of it.
Last night I was sitting watching ‘Marchlands’ when a strange feeling suddenly came over me, a sense of uneasiness. Now you may think that this was entirely due to the spooky goings on I was witnessing on screen, but alas no, it turned out to be something quite tangible and far worse than ghosts.
So I rose from my chair, donned a coat and, torch in hand, headed out into the dark. I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for; everything seemed fine under the narrow shaft of light dancing to a fro across the ground. But then I spotted what my sixth sense had alerted me to: Delphiniums, growing strongly but suddenly under siege. They were everywhere, some already devouring the tender shoots (the advance party) and others making their slimy way towards the prize. Have you guessed yet? None other than SLUGS!
Now I am an animal and insect loving man, but there are certain things I cannot and will not tolerate and slugs are most definitely one of them. So there was no procrastination, no hand-wringing, wherever I could see them I picked them, stuck them in a tub and then, once I was sure ground and plants were free of the menace, squashed them. Some of you may disagree with this but I do not apologise. The plants will always come first as far as slugs are concerned.
I have been considering nematodes for some time and I think that after last night’s early warning now is the time to go ahead and get some. So ladies and gentlemen, battle is joined.
I’ve had a busy day in the garden today, raking up leaves, weeding, sowing seeds, filling a raised bed with topsoil and some general tidying. The garden is starting to look more alive than it has for a couple of months and there are plenty of new young shoots coming up.
The Delphiniums seem to be doing especially well at the moment and I have a number at different stages of growth; some are in the ground, some are mature plants that were removed from a bed at the end of last autumn and kept over winter in pots, and others are small seedlings from seed that I sowed in august/september time last year.
It was also cheering to see the Pulmonaria breaking into flower. I’m not a huge fan of the foliage as it seems to very easily go brown and slimy so I tend to cut this back to the fresher green stuff which makes for a tider, more attractive plant. The flowers are dainty but the colour is intense when there is so little else around it.
I managed to get some seeds sown too today: Broad beans, Nicotiana Affinis, and Lupins. But the most exciting part of the day was discovering the root cuttings of the poppy ‘Patty’s Plum’ that I had taken on 9th January had finally sent up shoots. I had given up hope that they were going to do anything so I was overjoyed to see the little shoots reaching for the light!
I know it doesn’t look like much, but trust me, this is very exciting stuff!! A successful bit of propagation.
This year I intend to propagate as much as possible. I have dabbled with propagation in previous years but only ever on a minor scale. Three years ago I took a cutting from one of my favourite roses, Geoff Hamilton, and this has since grown into a sturdy little bush. This year I’m hoping that it will really take off and be another lovely addition to a garden in which there will always be room for another rose.
Last autumn I collected seeds from a variety of Delphinium and from Digitalis purpurea ‘Camelot Cream’. I sowed the seeds immediately and then placed them in a cold frame. The result is a good number of small plants that are growing well. I’ll probably pot these on and then plant them out later in the year once they are better established.
These few small experiments in propagation have really given my the desire to do more (there have been failures, such as a honeysuckle cutting I took last year that didn’t survive the winter, but these only spur me on to make sure I get it right next time). It is so satisfying to see the seeds or cuttings that you’ve tended to coming on and bringing new life into the garden. It is also great to be able to share plants with other people where you have an excess (and hopefully get something new back in return!).
So this year (I hope) is the year that I really get to grips with propagation. Wish me luck!