Tag Archives: Delphiums

Spring planting Week 19

Spring planting – again

Spring planting
The warm weather – tempered by a couple of chilly nights last week – has really sprurred the garden along. Much needed rain was the catalyst to kick-start growth, with many perennials noticeably taller. Lupins, Delphiniums, Digitalis  and Rudbeckias have almost doubled in size over a few days

And now the ground is wet and warm I can get a few more projects under way.

A narrow south facing bad seems ideal for some tropical plants. It has a dry and a damp end, so will acomodate a wide range of plants. I have a banana – Musa Basjoo – and Cannas fr that tropical leaf feel, and colour from Dahlias and Callas. Some previous residents will stay, including Nerine Bowdenii, Helianthus Lemon Queen, several Penstemons and a Phlox.

For spot plants I have some Lilly Regale and Tiger Lillies. This is also the spot I like to try to grow the best sunflowers, and they disguise an ugly downpipe as well.

Agapanthus – a trade in at the last plant swap – and Alstromeria provide additional interest, and  the latter hopefully long-lasting cut flowers. The slightly banked front will be covered by Osteospermum, Alchemilla Mollis and Sedums.

Finally a few Mammoth sweet peas for scent.

Food glorious food

In the kitchen garden I have planted out the Chard, Pak Choi and about a million beetroots. There are four varieties, one of them a golden one that I have never tried before.

Potatoes were another benefactor of the rain last week, requiring earthing up already.

And the peas in the greenhouse experiment has worked, to the degree that we have mange tout to eat from the garden for the first time. The broad beans in the greenhouse beds are pinched out and all  in flower.

 

The main flower border is now storming ahead.

Spring planting
The main front border on April 17th
Spring planting
And the same border 4 weeks later

The bad news is though… that there are only 4 weeks until midsummer.

Spring planting Week 16

Spring planting

Spring planting
The last two weeks have mostly been put to use in clearing and tidying. That took care of the jobs that either the cold or water in the soil prevented.

That has involved some hard landscaping, replacing a slippery path with something more stable, cutting and edging lawns. I have also been potting on plants grown from seed and cuttings. And setting out Dahlias to start sprouting in the greenhouse.

Spring planting
These alpines were in need of tidying and redressing. Now they’re ready to go out.

And the beds have have a good clear out too, with the last of the winter structure removed. That included any detritus that had been previously left as protection. I also used the opportunity to remove some of the very invasive bluebells that can colonise the front of borders. Finally another mulch of rough garden compost and its ready to start growing. Some of it’s off to  a great start.

Spring planting
Two weeks after splitting the Delphiniums are growing stronger than ever

A late spring?

This year seems to be about 3 weeks later than last year after the warm early spring we had in 2015. That always leads to an anxiety about where certain plants are, have they appeared yet, will they appear?

The obvious things so far missing are Heleniums – three differerent ones not so far seen – a couple of Echinaceas, and Achillea and all the Hostas. I went to an open garden in Cookham on Sunday and the Hostas  where all showing nicely.

The cold blast due this week will certainly slow progress down a bit more. So those plants potted and ready to go out will have to wait a week or more than expected before they can be planted.

The main flower border is not looking too bad though so far.

Spring planting
This south and east facing bed is the first to show colour

Spring planting Dahlias

I have some greenhouse borders that are spare before tomatoes are due to go in. These will be used for the Dahlia tubers, laid out and gently watered to stir them into life. That way I can see what is growing before setting them in beds or pots; nothing worse than carefully planning where to put them and finding nothing grows.

So far about 10 of 80 are shooting, with more showing every day.

Spring planting vegetables

Not too much more on this front, but the broad beans are all out. Peas are planted in between potatoes, and many leaf and salad veg are ready in pots to go out. they too can wait until the cold spell passes.

Dividing perennials

And the process of creating more and better stronger plants goes on. Last weekend a friend came over with a couple of chunky Salvias – not something I’d grown before – so they could be split. They were tough to break, with the carving knife not being man enough I resorted to a spade. She took the main divisions and I kept one, plus all the bits that fell off.

I have planted them in a sharp draining compost and kept in the propagator for a few days. It looks like 90 per cent or so will be good. That’s a good block for the garden beds and some for the Plant swap on May 7th.

 

 

 

 

 

How to divide perennials Week 14

Divide perennials

Divide perennials 
Knowing how and when to divide perennials is key to productivity in your garden. It enables the stock to increase in numbers, both for better display and impact, and cheaply insure against loss through slugs, deer, excess wet or cold winter. And dividing will increase the vigour of the plants for better flowering.

Having more enables you to repeat a plant in a border or garden plan – a keystone in garden design – making a connected theme and a more attractive display.

Knowing how to divide perennials will make this easy.  Faced with digging up a prized plant that is doing fine, doubts can set in.

This is how I tackled one of my prize Delphiniums this week. I say “prized” because it took a long time, and probably more dead plants than I care to recall before I got Delphiniums to grow well. And they do grow very well. In fact they are virtually unstoppable.

I started by digging out a clump that had about six shoots showing.

How to divide perennials

A large delphinium in need of splitting

How to divide perennials
The Delphinium freshly dug up

It was not clear what it looked like under the soil, so I washed it off for a better look.

How to divide perennials
Washed off to reveal the extent of the plant

Underneath was covered in shoots, with the strongest at the outside. I know that this plant had not been split since I planted it three years ago, so I was not sure how tough it would be. I decided to try a knife first rather than a spade, and it worked just fine.

How to divide perennials
Splitting it with a carving knife was easy.

I cut it into four even pieces, each with several shoots and plenty of root.

How to divide perennials

Before putting the pieces back I dug the hole deep with a fork, and put in a bucket full of rough compost. You can almost see the clay turn into perfect soil as you do it.

How to divide perennials
I would say that the continual addition and digging in of compost was the most significant factor in making the clay soil here viable.

And after planting them back I gave them a light mulching of more compost, just in case we get another frost.

When to divide perennials

The basic rule I apply is that if the flower in spring, wait until afterwards, otherwise spring is better than autumn. But there are exceptions. Hemerocallis is one, and Hostas too seem to perform post spring splitting.

They must also be shooting. Some perennials like Helenium are still dormant in my garden.  They must not have any flower spikes showing, as the Kniphofias do already.

The Delphiniums here have flowered better each years since I put them in, with an earlier start and later finish – some were still flowing in December 2015. So when to divide is a judgement call.

Another “rule” is to wait until after flowering, which is technically what I have done. When plants are as strong as these you can be more confident about doing it.

Other ways to create more plants

Dividing perennials is for more more about the health of the plant than creating more. Dividing – like taking cuttings – does assure the same variety of course, where seed produces all sorts of strange versions.

So combining some division, some cuttings and some seed sowing allows increasing stock, better healthier more vigorous plants, and a better display for your enjoyment.