Louise's Gardening Notes for..................
Happy Gardening New Year to you all. I have finally started gardening with a friend who has her own gardening business. It is great, very productive with an extra pair of hands and in three hours the two of us can make an impact on my rambling garden. I have a strong tendency to get distracted when gardening alone, too many projects on the go at once so sometimes it can be hard to see what has actually been achieved. Chatting whilst gardening is my favourite way to spend a morning. Having someone to bounce ideas off, and keep me focused works well.
I have been removing endless compacted leaves from the flower beds which have accumulated with winter winds. Very satisfying to expose clusters of slug eggs, so that my garden birds can snack on them. The three hens and cockerel are still escaping daily from their run to patrol the beds, some of which I have netted off to prevent them scratching up shallow rooted plants, but their eagle eyes are good for picking off unwanted slugs etc. and their feet are very effective rakes.
I shall be adding rotted compost from my bins on to bare soil. It is always harder work than I expect digging the compost out as it seems to get very compacted, but satisfying to know I have made it myself and avoided more single use plastic bags accumulating.
Tough perennials can be divided now, so long as the ground isnít frozen or quagmire like. Chinese lanterns - I would love some if anyone has some spare - comfrey, day lillies, hardy geraniums but not the ones you see in hanging baskets or pots, globe thistles, heleniums, mint, sedum. Simply divide an established clump with a spade or garden fork, discard any wooden, tangled roots and replant firmly into a clear space. If you donít currently have space to plant out directly you can pot up and leave them somewhere sheltered - the base of a hedge is fine.
Root cuttings can also be taken now - Border phlox, Japanese anemone, oriental poppies are all suitable. Dig up the parent plant, wash off any soil so roots visible. Cut off a few long thick roots as close to the crown as possible - up to half can be taken and the parent plant should survive if planted straight back. Slice the roots into 3cm lengths, keep top orientation upper most, and plant into 7cm square pots in a half grit/half perlite mixture. Nine to a pot, pre make holes with a pencil, firm in and water - roots should be just below compost level. Again place under a hedge, or a cold frame and wait patiently. Feed a high potash feed once first green shoots appear. When 2-3 fully formed leaves are showing move to individual pots and grow on.
So fingers crossed, woolly hats on and happy gardening.