Friday 22nd October 2021

It’s Friday. It’s Friday Group. But a certain someone isn’t here.

Sending love and all good wishes

We have a super-duper supply teacher though, complete with canine companion. Introducing, a certain Ronnie Barker…

Oh

Plant Ident.

Autumn showstoppers and colours were to the fore this week.

Aster amellusViolet Queen

Belonging to the Asteraceae family – Aster means ‘star’ – this herbaceous perennial is an excellent old variety with personality. The flowers are held on stiff dark stems and vivid deep violet/purple petals surround a yellow centre. These complementary colours contrast with one another, making each look brighter. This Aster is one of the first to flower and continues to do so throughout autumn. Clump-forming, it likes an open, sunny position and thrives in alkaline soil. Propagate by division or by taking basal cuttings in spring. Attractive to pollinators. Ht 45 cms

Chrysanthemum ‘Apollo’

Love it? Hate it? It seems that this is a Marmite plant. Also from the Asteraceae family, this is an erect, strong grower which is self-supporting (hooray!) and bee-friendly. Flowering from October to November, its rich copper-orange petals contrast with greeny-yellow centres. The Chrysanthemums have long been revered flowers in Japan and remain the symbol of the Japanese emperor even today. Ht 0.9 m

Chrysanthemums originally came from China. In traditional medicine they were used as a herbal remedy, their roots boiled for headache relief; the sprouts and petals were eaten in salads.

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

A terrific choice for the autumn border, with foliage turning from green to red and purple, contrasting with clusters of rich, blue flowers which bloom from late summer to December. This hardy Leadwort likes a sunny and well-drained sheltered site and will be fairly drought tolerant once established. Good as ground cover, as it forms a mat of stems inhibiting weed growth. A low maintenance plant. We like them. Cut back in the spring as required. Propagate by semi-hardwood cuttings. Ht 0.75 m

Verbena macdougalii ‘Lavender Spires’

A clump-forming hardy perennial which needs protection from the wind. Erect and tall, it has branching spires of nectar and pollen-rich deep lavender flowers. Flowers from July right through to October and associates well with grasses and other later-flowering plants like Gauras, Dahlias, Dill and Salvias. Best in a sunny position on moist but free-draining soil. Dan Pearson uses this at his garden ‘Hillside’, and describes it as ‘finely-tapered’ and ‘tireless’. Attractive to pollinators. Propagate by taking softwood cuttings, dividing plants or saving the seed. Ht 1.5 – 2 m

Euphorbia cyparissias ‘Orange Man’

This spreading, rhizomatous perennial has slender stems with feathery blue-green leaves which turn coppery-orange in the autumn. Acid lime-green bracts are borne from spring to summer, turning more orangey as the seasons progress. Grows in any site and will spread quickly to form large clumps. A good foil to other plants, textured and colourful and useful at the front of a border or as a trailing plant. Although it can be invasive, it is easy to remove. Beware its milky sap, typical of all Euphorbias, which is toxic and can cause irritation to skin and eyes. Ht. 20-30 cms

Persicaria ‘Firetail’

And one extra for luck…This is a favourite of that great plantsman, Piet Oudolf. Fantastic with its long red spikes persisting through until November. Dies cleanly, which is a bonus for the busy gardener.

Ah, here’s Ronnie. And she can smell a cat

Colour theory

As well as learning Latin for Gardeners, we at Garden House like to engage with all aspects of horticulture: history, science, techniques, design and artistry. Oh yes.

Today we considered how planting designs can be effected and affected by colour. First, take your colour wheel

The wheel makes colour relationships easy to see by dividing the spectrum into 12 basic hues: 3 primary colours, red, yellow and blue; 3 secondary colours, purple, green and orange; 6 tertiary colours, which are blends of one primary and one secondary colour.

Colours by themselves can create a mood. Green tends to be calming and soothing, whilst yellows are uplifting and lively.

Complementary colours sit opposite one another on the wheel. E.g. red is opposite green. These provide a vibrant and energetic combination of colour, giving the most visual impact. Nature does this with ease – think of green Holly with its red berries, or Asters with violet petals and yellow centres. Analogous (neighbouring) colours, however, sit next to each other on the wheel and share the same base colours. By putting them together, a colourful but more relaxed feeling is created. For example, blue, purple and fuchsia or orange, yellow and green.

We looked at various colourtastic combos and were somewhat overcome.

As usual, cake saved the day

Meanwhile, Ronnie is still doggedly pursuing that scent…

She’ll never find me here

Having a little cat-nap

Jobs for the Week

Plant prepared Hyacinth bulbs

These are bulbs specially treated for forcing indoors; they are pre-chilled to force them to flower at Christmas or in the New Year.

Clean out the Hyacinth jars

Fill with water

Repeat

Place a bulb on the top of a jar, ensuring that the base of the bulb sits just above the water. Tuck the jars away in a cool dark place for 6 weeks or so and wait for roots to form. Top up the water levels as required. Once the main green shoot is around 7-10 cms tall, move the glass into full light and gentle warmth and the flower will gradually develop.

They can be grown in gritty compost in pots too. And will definitely light up those dark winter months

Pricking out

Lots still to be done. Hardy annuals, herbs and veg. in particular

Flat-leafed Parsley seedlings in clumps

Flat-leafed Parsley now with breathing room

Prune Shrub Roses

The work continues. They’ll look glorious by next summer

Thick, prickle-resistant gloves are essential

Work on Dry Bed

Work is ongoing here too

It’s really starting to look like a Dry Bed

Sow seeds

This week, it’s Broad Beans, Onions and Garlic

Here are the sowers

And here they are, sowing

Take cuttings

There’s still time to take cuttings of tender perennials. Cut plant material with clean, sharp secateurs and place in a moistened plastic bag to prevent drying out.

Penstemons, Salvias, Plectranthus and Linarias today

Trim into cuttings as per last week’s blog. Insert carefully into a loose compost mix.

Keep some, give some away. Happiness all round.

Plant Lilium Regale bulbs

These are to go into 3 long tom pots which will help to provide a long, cool root run. Huge, trumpet-shaped white flowers flushed pink, with a wonderful scent, will give a spectacular display. In triplicate.

Plant Lilium ‘Forever Susan’ bulbs in pots.

Top with grit to stop those snails getting interested.

But keep a look out anyhow. You can’t be too careful.

There are some big specimens around

Empty pots preparatory to planting Tulip bulbs

…and recycle the contents to make more lovely compost

Work in greenhouse

Potting up more seedlings

That greenhouse is looking rather empty. What gives?

The contents of the greenhouse are in temporary accommodation

Eagerly awaiting rehousing, in a brand new greenhouse!

Stay tuned for the next exciting update…. Wonder if it will look something like this?

Friday 15th October 2021

They’ve arrived!

It’s that time again

Trug no. 12 in a series of many

Topic for the Week

Trees

Recently featured in a Gardeners World TV special, trees are very much in focus at the moment. The biggest plants on the planet, and the longest living species, they provide oxygen, store carbon, stabilise soil, and are essential as a habitat for wildlife. Some in the U.S.A. are over 5,000 years old.

But how many are there in the garden at Garden House? Fifteen? Maybe thirty? Higher, higher…

It’s forty!

Well, I knew that

Plant Ident.: Trees in the garden

When choosing a tree for your garden, some research is necessary. Think about the eventual size, shape and shadow profile of the tree in question. Deciduous or Evergreen? What do you want it for? As an ornamental? For its fruit or bark? To act as a barrier or as a specimen exhibit? What sort of soil do you have, and will it be right for the object of your desire? Location? Aspect?

Now go and have a nice cup of tea.

Paulownia tomentosa

The magnificent Foxglove Tree (aka The Princess Tree) is a deciduous, hardwood tree native to China. It gets BIG, and in May, when it comes into flower, its large, fragrant, mauve blossoms resemble those of a foxglove. The fruit is an egg-shaped capsule which contains the seeds. Paulownias can be pollarded every year in early spring, but then won’t produce their dramatic flowers as these only form on mature wood. However, the upside of this is that their leaves will be humungous! Could look fantastic in a jungly planting scheme. Grows best in full sun, is tolerant of pollution and copes with many soil types. Ht. 12 m and upwards!(Unless, of course, you cut it back.) A.G.M.

Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’

A beautiful, deciduous, small tree/shrub, which absolutely hates exposed, windy conditions, so please think carefully about siting this one. Needs sun or partial shade and shelter. Can be multi- or single-stemmed. Its vivid pink/magenta flowers arrive before the leaves, growing on bare stems. The leaves are purple and heart-shaped, turning yellow in the autumn, and look amazing when backlit by the sun. Not very keen on chalky soils. Can also try it in a (very) large pot. Loves an annual mulch of well-rotted compost. A.G.M. Ht. 8 m

Cercis Siliquastrum

Another Redbud tree – related to ‘Forest Pansy’ – this is the Judas Tree. The photo shows the pea-like pink blossom which grows on the bare wood of the tree before the leaves emerge. At Garden House, this is in the front garden and is at its spectacular best in April/May. This one actually likes poor, chalky soil, so thrives in Brighton, and although it grows larger than Cercis canadensis, it responds well to pruning. Likes an open, sunny position. Its heart-shaped leaves are green and colour to yellow in the autumn. Good for pollinators, and highly recommended by Garden House. Ht 8 -12 m

Betula utilis subsp. jacquemontii

The silvery beauty of Silver Birch. A vigorous deciduous tree with brilliant white bark and upright, graceful branches. The bark peels each year, revealing a new, fresh layer. Good as a specimen tree, but, arguably, even better when planted in small groups. Part of the Betulaceae family, so it has catkins in the spring which emerge prior to the foliage. Ovate leaves turn an attractive golden yellow in the autumn, before falling. Good for wildlife. Grows well in most situations and soils, but best where its bark can be lit by the winter sun, when it will shine out at its glorious best. Ht 12 m and rising.

Amelanchier lamarckii ‘Ballerina’

This is what it looks like in the spring against a blue sky. Almost sets you off doing arabesques, chassés and a couple of grande jetés, doesn’t it?

Commonly known as Snowy mespilus, these can be single- or multi-stemmed, and are some of the most useful ornamental trees for small gardens. Simple, white blossoms and lovely bronzed foliage in spring, autumn colour and small berries, which are loved by birds, they tick all the boxes. Prefers a moist, lime free soil, but the ones at Garden House are doing very well with plenty of added compost, thank you! Ht. 3-6 m

And these are the little ballerina blossoms. Five-petals? Must be in the Rosaceae family. Tick.

Topic for the week

Taking cuttings

It’s best to take cuttings early in the morning when the plant is full of water. Don’t let them lie about as they’ll dry out. Put them into a clean, plastic bag until you are able to deal with them. But time is of the essence!

Artemisia ‘Powys Castle’

When taking cuttings, it’s important to look carefully at the parent plant. Choose a strong side shoot, with no flowers (these would drain energy from the cutting and thereby inhibit growth). Enough material needs to be taken to enable the plant to photosynthesise, and it should be young, floppy growth. Cut a piece about 10 cms long with snips or a sharp knife. Trim the stem just below a node, or leaf joint, and remove any buds. Handle very gently by holding a leaf; if the stem gets damaged, the cutting is unlikely to take. Your final cutting should be around 5 – 8 cms long

A cutting of Plectranthus ciliatus ‘Nico’

Some leaves can be cut in half to prevent too much water loss.

Using a dibber, place the cutting into a small pot or tray of compost (roughly 50%) mixed with vermiculite (about 50%). They seem to root best if planted around the edges of a pot, and rooting will be quicker if they are placed on a heated mat in a greenhouse. Or, a propagator with a hood would be good. And alliterative. If you have neither of those, a bright windowsill should be fine, but cover the pot with a clear plastic bag, supported by small canes. You’re trying to enclose moisture, not suffocate the poor things. Hopefully, they should root in about 2 – 3 weeks.

Argyranthemum ‘Jamaica Primrose’ cutting

Which should turn into this by next year –

So, by the summer of 2022, that little Artemisia cutting should have grown into this –

Unless this happens

Jobs for the week

Take cuttings

Quelle surprise!

Of Argyranthemums and Arctotis, Plectranthus and the Beloved Pelargoniums, Osteospermums… and on and on. Plant prepared cuttings carefully into a vermiculite/compost mix. Water, label and place in greenhouse. Await root formation. (Not formation rooting.)

Salvias as well. Ensure the cuttings are taken from new wood, not the old stuff. The cutting on the right needs its lower leaves removed and then the cut to be made below a leaf joint.

Look at this wonderful treasure trove of goodies

Plectranthus, Artemisia ‘Powys Castle’, Pelargonium ‘Attar of Roses’. Some say that taking cuttings is ‘protecting your assets’, others just see ‘free plants’.

Prune the Ficus carica

The Fig. You can’t miss it. It’s huge.

This is usually a March job, but it’s got so big it needs taking in hand now.

And here, our colleague has the Fig very literally in hand. The leaves and wood smell fantastically figgy.

Seed sowing

We’re starting to sow Sweet Pea seeds now, but more will be sown early next year. This will give us early flowers and continuity of growth.

Using root-trainers is a good idea as Lathyrus develop long tap roots and need a long, cool root run. Plant 3 seeds per module (about 2-3 cms below the surface of the compost), then remove the weakest one later. The seedlings can remain in the trainers for a considerable length of time. They can go into an unheated greenhouse or cold frame.

Keep vigilant! Once they have three sets of leaves, pinch out the growing tips to prevent leggy growth and encourage side shoots to form. Control the amount of light they receive – too little and they’ll become etiolated. (Leggy. But sounds posher and more botanical.)

Sow more hardy annuals. Scabious ‘Black Cat’, Centaurea ‘Double Blue’ and Welsh Poppies. Don’t sow too thickly, or you’ll end up with a gazillion poppies. Mix a little silver sand with fine seeds – this helps you to see where they’ve been sown.

Cake time!

Crumbs!

Work on the Dry bed

Ongoing. Take a strip of land about 60 cms wide and weed thoroughly. Remove any material which is unsuitable for hot, dry situations. Like Polar Bears.

Prick out seedlings in the greenhouse

Seedling levels have peaked. Start to reduce the quantity by pricking them out into modules for growing on. You may not need all of them, unless you want to move into the greenhouse whilst the plants take over your house.

Sow salad seeds

Use up all leftover salad seeds by mixing them together and sowing into compost-filled containers. Wooden wine boxes are attractive to use, but it does mean that you have to drink all the contents first. Shame.

The salads can be sown fairly thickly and will provide leaves over the autumn/winter as they are ‘cut and come again’ varieties.

Prune the Shrub Roses

Another ongoing task. Remove dead, diseased and damaged wood, taking those stems right down to the base. Thin out the shrub to allow air circulation and light to penetrate the plant; this helps to deter black spot and mildew. Leave the Rose with around 15 stems, and trim them to 3 levels of height. This will enable you to enjoy the blooms more easily next year as they’ll be elegantly layered as opposed to clumped together. Point this out to your neighbour who will, no doubt, be mightily impressed.

Cydonia oblonga (Quince)

If we sliced these up, we could eat them with a runcible spoon

Anyone got a runcible spoon?

The finest, most fabulous, filigree casing

Fabergé couldn’t do it better.

Friday 8th October 2021

Great Dixter might have a fab Plant Fair, but our Little Dixter has fab plant fare

Check it out

Plant Ident.

From late summer to autumn, Ornamental Grasses come into their own. They provide tranquillity and calm, colour and movement, structure, texture and sound. Some are light and wifty-wafty, whilst others are dense and authoritative. Like many politicians. Belonging to the Poaceaea or Gramineae family, there really is a Grass for every type of garden.

But, beware. Once bitten by the bug, you’re a gonner. As is all your pocket money.

Stipa tenuissima ‘Wind Whispers’

Also known as Mexican Feather Grass, this is a deciduous, perennial grass which produces tactile plumes from early summer. The plumes start pale greeny-white but become progressively blonder as they age. Looks good through the winter. Can be cut back in early spring which results in fresh green growth, but can also be left. Benefits from a comb-through to remove dead material. Likes full sun to part shade; hates wet, frozen soil. Ht. 0.6 m. Award of Garden Merit. Hem hem.

And look what happens if you plant them in quantity…

Edging. Structure. Movement. Softness. Texture. Beauty. Light. Sound. Wifty-waftiness in abundance.

Sigh!

Hakonechloa macra

Japanese Forest Grass. It has an A.G.M. as well. So there. A perennial Grass which has mounds of bright green leaves topped by airy sprays of green flowers from mid-late summer. The leaves develop autumn tints as the seasons progress; the red-brown coloration lasting through the winter. Copes with most positions, and provides interest over a long period. Ht. 0.5 m. There is also a very desirable lower-growing, golden variety, ‘Aureola’, which is frequently used by garden designers.

Calamagrostis brachytricha

Korean Feather Reed Grass. A.G.M. This genus forms a clump of glossy green, linear leaves which turn yellow in the autumn. Purple-tinged sprays of flower heads open in late summer/early autumn and continue into the winter. The Beth Chatto website describes them as being like elegant bottle brushes, providing “a fine vertical above lower plants”. Most soils; full sun or partial shade; exposed or sheltered. It’s a coper! Propagate by seed or division in mid-spring. Ht. 1-1.5 m

Miscanthus nepalensis

Himalayan Fairy Grass. Who knew there were fairies in the Himalayas? This plant forms bold clumps of elegant, green leaves. Drooping flowerheads, held above the foliage, develop in the summer; these seedheads persist for several months, providing architectural interest. Not reliably hardy, so may need protection from frosts, although it could be grown in a sizeable pot and sheltered in a greenhouse or conservatory. Full sun. Any soil. Ht. 1m. A.G.M.

Stipa gigantea ‘Gold Fontaene’

This fully hardy Stipa is a firm favourite at Garden House. Known as Giant Feather Grass or Golden Oat Grass, this one is even more beautiful when its inflorescences are lit by the sun. Clump-forming and evergreen, the long, golden panicles of oat-like flowers gradually fade to a buff/straw colour. Architectural and then some. Prefers a light, well-drained soil. Ht. 2.5 – 4 m. A.G.M.

Jobs for the Week

Divide Hostas

Hostas have a good root system and can be divided easily in either spring or autumn. Cut the clump with a knife from the crown down to the base. The re-planted division should recover and grow away well, provided it is kept well-watered. And slug-free. Best to add a layer of grit to the top of the pot to deter the critters.

Divide Stipa gigantea

First, dig up your gigantic Stipa. This will take about 3 days. Rest, recover, then split the plant into smaller divisions.

Once the plants have been divided, they can be tidied up – the leaves combed through and cut back, and the roots shortened. As demonstrated below by the stooping Stipa team –

What a lovely, neat job

And, look! The label is ready to go in too. Marvellous.

Hang on a minute. Can we take a closer look at that label?

Oh, very clever. Our esteemed colleague has made a deliberate mistake to keep us on our mettle. She’s purposely left out those all-important single quotation marks. 50 points to Gryffindor. It should, of course, read: Stipa gigantea ‘Gold Fontaene’.

Ah, those crucial single quotation marks! And they say that punctuation is no longer important.

Take cuttings of Pelargoniums

A particular favourite at Garden House. Some might say an obsession. These are tender perennials, and won’t survive outside over winter. Now is the time to take cuttings, to ensure you have stock for next year. These can be rooted on a heated mat or in a propagator (failing that, try a sunny windowsill), then kept protected under glass or indoors until next year, when all danger of frost has passed. This one is ‘Attar of Roses’, and why wouldn’t you want that?

Empty pots preparatory to The Great Bulb Planting Operation

The big heave-ho begins. This one will run and run. In fact, there are usually so many Tulip bulbs that this (below) is likely to be an imminent Job for the Week….

Hardy annuals

Getting them going now will produce bigger, earlier and more robust plants next year. We do like to get ahead at Garden House.

Prick out seedlings in triplicate

Eyes down for a full propagating tray

Sow more hardy annual seeds. And more.

Cover tiny seeds lightly with vermiculite

We really are motoring!

Prune Rosa ‘Charles de Mills’

He’s one prickly customer is old Charles.

Most Shrub Roses tend to flower best on older stems, so generally they only need a little light pruning to keep them in shape. Prune in late summer/early autumn after flowering. Remove the 3 Ds – dead, damaged and diseased wood, together with any branches which cross one another. Take out any older stems which are causing congestion at the centre of the plant – the aim is to keep it as open as possible. Cut back a few of the leggier stems to around 10 cms; this will encourage new, vigorous growth.

Propagate Succulents

Continue the work started last week. You can never have too many Succulents. Sixty Succulents? Seventy Succulents? More?

Here’s one I did earlier

Check the vegetable beds

Oh, I say!

Work on Dry Bed

Dig, weed ad infinitum

The yellow-hued autumn nature table. Pears and pumpkins?

Oh no, nothing so common, my dear…

Quinces and Cucurbitas

After all, this is Garden House

Friday 1st October 2021

Pouring with rain. Outdoor play has been suspended. Everyone’s indoors.

They’re playing cards. What the hecky decky is going on?

Poker? Show no emotion. Masks will help.

So true. And I’ve got all spades

(How appropriate)

Actually, it’s a card game featuring plant families. Every plant belongs to a family, of which there are many. Lamiaceae; Asteraceae; Rosaceae; Iridaceae; Scrophulariaceae (sounds nasty)…. the list is long. Plants in the same family share physical characteristics which can assist in their identification. Those in the Asteraceae (Daisy) family, tend to have a daisy-like form, whilst those in the Rosaceae family usually have open, bowl-shaped flowers with five petals and a cluster of stamens in the centre.

So, Sunflowers, Chrysanthemums and Dahlias are in the Daisy family (but, surprisingly, so are Echinops and Yarrow), and Roses and Blackberries are Part of the Rosaceae family (and so are Apricots, Apples, Pears and Raspberries).

Families can be tricky and surprising, can’t they?

Plant Ident.

This week’s focus is on Persicarias (aka Bistort or Knotweed). Part of the Polygonaceae family, they are a varied genus of robust, hardy, herbaceous perennials which flower from mid-summer to autumn. There are about 100 species, so there’s plenty to choose from, and they have become very popular in prairie-style plantings as typified by Piet Oudolf and also by the McBrides at Sussex Prairies. They provide vibrancy and interest in late summer borders and contribute to that season’s rich tapestry of colours.

Generally speaking, they thrive best in rich, moist soils, but they’re pretty adaptable and will manage in poorer conditions provided it’s not too hot and dry. They need room to spread and display themselves, but are low maintenance on the whole, needing only the occasional haircut. The flowers are loved by butterflies and bees and, what’s more, will last for a long time in water when cut and brought indoors.

Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Alba’

Slender tapers of tiny, white flowers are borne on long stems rising above a mound of large leaves. Flowers from summer through to autumn, and grows to around 1.0 m.

Persicaria virginiana var. filiformisGuizhou Bronze’

 More impressive as a foliage plant, this one has large, felted leaves with smudgy dark green markings. Rated by Steve Edney of Salutation Garden fame, it’s got to be a good ‘un.

Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Orange Field’ and ‘Pink Mist’

‘Orange Field’ is a cultivar selected and named by the Belgian landscape architect Chris Ghyselen. It has luminous, slender, coral flowers.Ht 1.0 m.

‘Pink Mist’ is shorter than many Persicarias; soft pink spikes rise above its slim stems, and the plant forms a gently rounded clump. Ht 0.8 m

Persicaria virginiana var. filiformis ‘Alba’

This one has an upright bushy habit. Mossy green leaves have a faint chevron marking and narrow spires of tiny white flowers emerge in the autumn months. Hardy, deciduous and performs best in shady conditions. It’s a good choice for borders where there are Ferns and Hostas, as it will give some height and late colour. It can tolerate quite dry soils once established, but, like other members of its genus, it really prefers moisture retentive conditions. Ht 0.9 m.

Persicaria microcephala ‘Red Dragon’

This cultivar is a vigorous, spreading perennial with lanceolate leaves which are purple/green in colour. The silver/green chevron marking on each leaf do indeed conjure up the face of a dragon. Clusters of small white flowers emerge in late summer – early autumn. Can provide good, dense ground cover, as this is one of the lower-growing Persicarias. Cut back after flowering. Ht. 0.5m

Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Fat Domino’

A good, reasonably well-behaved variety, again introduced by Chris Ghyselen, with long spikes of plump, deep red flowers carried on stems above bright green foliage. Spreads freely but tends not to be invasive. Its impressive impact in the garden is largely due to the size, quantity and continuity of the flowers. Looks good with grasses. Ht. 1.0 – 1.2 m

Succulents

A trayful of succulent Succulent cuttings

These cuttings were taken earlier and left in a tray to callous over, which will aid propagation. They may start to grow roots even before planting.

Ready, steady…..propagate!

And they’re off…

Succulents can be divided by removing the little plantlets, or offsets, that have grown up alongside the mother plant. Sometimes it is possible to divide them by root separation, where the plant itself is split into separate clumps.

They can also be grown from cuttings. Here, a leaf can be pulled away, or a stem can be cut (useful when a plant has grown long and leggy). Cut the stem leaving about 2cms on the plant. Leave to dry. Plant in a good, well-drained potting medium – compost mixed with grit or perlite – ensure they are firmly bedded in. Water sparingly.

Here we are propagating by planting the individual leaves of Succulents – things such as Echeverias and Aeoniums. The cut part of the leaf is gently pushed upright into the compost. New plants will grow from the base. It’s all very exciting.

Don’t watch them though; it will take time.

Outside at last!

Potting up cuttings

Propagate grasses

Dig up clumps of Grasses (various). Divide. Pot divisions into fresh compost, removing dead and damaged leaves and shortening the root system. Use of a devilishly sharp pruning saw is advisable.

Count fingers on both hands before and after this job.

But how many fingers did you start with?

Six, seven, eight, nine…..

And what’s happening in the greenhouse?

Lots of green growth

Nicely labelled, Puss. And are they all properly categorised?

“I can categorically confirm that they are.”