The original plant of Lotus jacobaeus was given to me by a head gardener of whom I am in awe. She and her partner have been very generous to me with advice and plants. It is a tricky plant to propagate because as soon as it is growing fast enough to take cuttings it is also producing flowers on every shoot, but I love it enough to persevere. A couple of springs later it turned out that the giver's crop of cuttings had failed so I had the enormous satisfaction of being able to repay her a little with a couple of my scrawny plants. It just goes to show that generosity with plants insures against future loss as well as sealing a friendship.
|Brugmansia sanguinea - lots of flowers, but too late?|
While it was still unseasonably warm and the plants still growing at the end of last week I spent most of a day taking insurance cuttings, so I hope that even if a sharp early frost kills many of my mature plants I will have enough small plants to build up my stocks again.
I know that there are bound to be a few varieties which somehow get lost and to quell the rising sense of panic this brings I have to tell myself that a lost plant is an opportunity to try something new. And very few are irreplaceable anyway. I realised some years ago that worrying about killing plants was cramping my style, so now I repress that fear and feel freer to experiment.
Manic propagation does make me sleep better at night, however.
|Insurance cuttings inside the Heath-Robinson propagator|
I have been carting all my precious succulents back to the greenhouse where they will sit cheek by jowl for the winter. I can't just bring them in, I have to strip off dead leaves, eject stowaway earwigs and snails and inspect for signs of vine-weevil infestation (chewed leaves, loose roots). Infested compost is chucked out for the birds to pick through, infested stems are cut off and used as cuttings.
Not many people see them once they are in the greenhouse, but I think they look lovely banked together.
|Succulents crammed in on the greenhouse bench|
As I heave the pots about leaves and stems get snapped off the plants. These are not disasters but cuttings. I dump them on the bench until I have time to deal with them. The resulting pile does look like a small compost heap, but most succulents will start to produce roots from stems or leaf bases like this and will establish more happily once planted than if they had been inserted in compost before the cut ends had had time to dry and form a callus.
|Sloppy gardening or propagation opportunities?|
|Violas and pansies waiting to be planted|
The violas and pansies which arrived as tiny plug plants a few weeks ago are now beginning to fill their 9cm pots and are hardening off sheltered in the gap between the greenhouse and the polytunnel.
I wheel pots into the polytunnel with the 'sack-truck', here they can be sheltered from the first frosts until we have time to dismantle them and take individual plants into the greenhouse.
|Plants coming and going in the polytunnel|
|Begonia 'Glowing Embers' still warming in|
Whichford basket pots