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Archive for the ‘cuttings’ Category


Parsley, sage and brambles

There is a lovely weathered terracotta pot in the courtyard that is home to some parsley and sage, as well as whatever weeds have decided to set up camp there. This is all good. However, when the brambles or blackberries or whatever they are decide to mingle with the herbs I resolutely untangle them and pull them back up on the fence where they should be!

Except this time the bramble vine had not only entangled itself with the herbs; it had decided to root!

Bramble roots

Clearly this sort of unacceptable behaviour cannot be tolerated, so I swiftly yanked up the culprit and went to get my secateurs to put an end to this. I ended up with a rather nice cutting, and clearly anything that will root this easily is most likely a vigorous grower, so off it went to the hedgerow where it can tangle itself up with the barberries and honeysuckles to it’s heart’s content.

Bramble cutting

For the record, it does produce some rather tasty berries, so it’s violent disregard for what should grow where is overlooked for now. BUT DON’T DO IT AGAIN!!!

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Why, pot up cuttings, of course!

A month or so ago I cut the flowering stems of some sedums and put them in water, hoping they would root. Well, four out of 8 did, which is less than my normal success rate with sedum cuttings, but never the less it’s something, especially since I also have three sedum cuttings potted up in one of the windows of our city apartment.

The ones in the city apartment were potted up in their entirety, including the flowers, but I decided to use a different tactic on these. The rooting stalks of sedums normally also produce new leaves, so I cut away everything but the roots and the new leaves.

Sedum cuttings

I potted them up individually in a rich potting soil (intended for growing tomatoes and other such hungry plants), so they should have enough nourishment until spring when I intend to plant them out.

Sedum cuttings

Each pot has a set of roots and a small set of new leaves, and I’ve put them all in a tub of water overnight so they will get a good soak. I will lift them out of the tub tomorrow morning and hopefully this will be enough water to last them a while, since I intend to leave them inside for at least a couple of weeks so they can continue rooting without worrying about frost.

(Mind you, the sedum cuttings I took last year survived being put out into the freezing cold winter, even though they did die back from their new growth and had to start over in spring. This meant they were significantly shorter than my other sedums this year, but that was actually a good thing, since they didn’t flop all over the place like the sedums I moved from the fern patch to The Puddles.

The Puddles in AutumnMost of the sedums in the photo above have flopped and then tried sending upright flower shoots, except for the cuttings from last year who just grew their flowers on short stalks. (And yes, I know I need to get the leaves out of The Puddles ASAP, but I will do that some other day,)

So for now, with my cuttings potted up, I will relax with a glass of red wine by the cosy fire and then head off to bed.

Roaring fire

-Is it wrong that I think this is a lovely way to spend a Friday evening? After all, I think I have outgrown the clubbing days of youth several years ago… (Okay, I might sound like I’m 74, even though I’m 34!)

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The weather forecast for the Flâneur Garden today reports intermittent gardening, mixed with longer spells of coffee breaks and some risk of digging.

(In other words, today’s weather is unreliable as you like, with on/off rain and consequently a rather uneven work effort in the garden.)

Mind you, in those brief intervals of dry weather I do seem to get something done. The lawn bed is being dug out, and it’s actually making a decent progress. Yesterday afternoon before I started digging I was playing around with a long extension cord to determine the contours of the bed, and that was clearly a mistake; I should have used a rope or the garden hose – or indeed anything that I could leave out overnight.

New bed

I took that shot yesterday afternoon, but by now the hole in the lawn is a lot larger. Unfortunately, since I had to take the extension cord in for the night, I now have no lines to follow, so there is a very real risk that I might end up with a somewhat wonky edge. -I can tidy that up later if it’s a problem, right?

There is a distinct lack of plants to fill this new bed, though. I do have a blackcurrant languishing behind the annex and a gooseberry merely surviving in a pot in the courtyard, so these can go in (since it will be a fairly sunny location when there are no clouds), and I still haven’t gotten around to planting the Rhapsody in Blue roses I bought in spring and heeled in in a pot in the courtyard, so they can go in as well. That’s already a solid backbone for the bed, I think.

Also, yesterday morning before heading up to the garden I went to the local supermarket to buy some essential gardening supplies – coffee and milk! – and came home with these two beauties:

Aster novi-belgii

They are hybrid asters of the Victoria series (though otherwise unnamed), and though they are only about a foot tall – and about the same in diameter – I suspect they can probably double that height next year if I don’t give them the nursery chop they’ve been given earlier in the season to make them into these compact pot-perfect plants.

These, together with the Rhapsody in Blue roses, will give the bed a purple tone throughout summer. I’m not sure why I end up with so much purple in my garden; it’s not like I’m really keen on purple as a colour, but somehow I have ended up with a lot of purples. From iris to sweet peas, from asters to hostas. Still, I don’t mind; I buy and sow the plants I love the most, and I can deal with the fact that this gives me more purple than I would perhaps have planned from the out-set.

I’m also propagating some sedums that can go in the lawn bed next year. I got a bouquet of flowers from work over a month ago, and it contained 5 stems of sedum Herbstfreude/Autumn Joy, 3 of which have rooted in the vase and are still standing in the apartment window. On top of that I have taken cuttings from the sedum in the garden to make even more new plants so there will be enough to make them look quite established even from next year. (I do like these plants… They are so lush and full-bodied, and utterly dependable and hardy!)

I will need some yellows, pinks and whites in this bed, of course, but that can be annuals in the first year. At least I can get it started with shrubs and perennials from the word “GO”, and that’s always a nice thing.

So there. A new bed in the making, even though The Ambitious Border is not finished yet. But…

What should I call it? Clearly “The Lawn Bed” is too boring a name for a flower bed… I had considered “The Marital Bed”, since it is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but only started on after The Flâneur Husband suggested it, but then what if things start dying in that bed? I clearly don’t want – even symbolically – to be known for my failure in the marital bed, so I need to think of another name. Suggestions are welcome…

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In a corner of the sitting room in the apartment we have an old (1890’s?) pedestal that comes from my great-great-great aunt or some obscure family connection like that. I grew up with it in my childhood home, and when my parents – rightfully – decided that it really wasn’t all that pretty and needed to go, I insisted on bringing it into my room. I’ve now had it for some 25 years, and it has always looked more or less out-of-place in any home I’ve had, but I love it all the same.

However, it has now found it’s perfect match, and that’s what this is all about: a cissus that the Flâneur Husband inherited after the death of his much-loved grandmother some years back.

It softens the rather formal pedestal and the pedestal gives the cissus a great platform for spilling over the edges of the pot and really make a statement against the white walls of our home.

A couple of weeks back I gave it a rather rough treatment, cutting back any dead leaves and stems and generally leaving it looking a bit bedraggled, so I re-potted it – it also used to be in a far too small white pot, so I moved it to a larger black pot that seems to disappear between the foliage as a natural extension of the pedestal – and it has really taken off.

You can see in the picture above that it has even discovered that it’s actually a climbing plant, though it has nothing to climb except itself. I’m still not sure whether to give it some sort of support or whether to just let it do its thing as best it can.

As bad luck – and clumsy scissor skills – would have it, my pruning included me cutting off one perfectly healthy twig of the plant, so I figured it would be worth seeing if I could get it to root in a vase, and hallelujah!

There are now two small white roots, so I will leave it in the vase for a bit longer to grow more roots before potting it up. Voilá, a new plant for free!

Also, the internet tells me that these plants have a limited life span, so I guess this accidental cutting is a blessing, as it will continue my husband’s inheritance and the memory of his grandmother once the original plant starts giving up.

(The internet also tells me that to take cuttings from this plant you need to make a clean cut below a leaf node, dip it in rooting hormone and pot it up directly. RUBBISH! Why would anybody want to do so much faffing about when you can just make a random cut, stick it in water and watch it grow?)

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No, this is not going to be another post about what it looks like when I work from home, surrounded by vases of blooming forsythias or whatever. This is about REAL work, the kind that will produce visible, tangible results in the garden.

There is a large table in the bathroom that would probably be ideal for changing nappies if you had a baby, but since we don’t I have put it to other use:

I use it as a work surface for sowing seeds and potting up cuttings, and then the results are transferred to the windows around the apartment, especially the bedroom window since this is the window that gets the most sun (from dawn to around 1pm). The sitting room windows get slightly less sun, so I use those mainly for cuttings and for growing on tubers and roots.

This is what I currently have growing in the apartment (with a few omissions because there were pots I forgot I had tucked away):

As you can see I’m cheating by starting off the dahlia tubers in the apartment. This is because the slugs love them, and I figure a larger plant will be more able to survive a slug attack than a completely new shoot. There are also dahlia seedlings, pots with dahlia seed that has yet to make an appearance and – because the tubers grow so happily – a small pot with three dahlia cuttings that so far look like they will survive.

There are also two pots with tomato seeds and of course a tray of sweet peas. (And a box of DEGT seed – Don’t Even Go There – i.e. Zantedeschi Aethiopica with a germination period up to 3 months…)

And in the back of the dining table you can see a vase of dogwood branches that have rooted in the water. The variegated foliage is still pretty and adds a touch of spring to the apartment, but more importantly the roots are well-developed and eventually I will cut the branches back to only a couple of leaves and then plant them out in the hedgerow. I’m sure they will be happy there, and with dogwood there’s never even question about whether it will survive.

I do wish I could go out into the garden every afternoon after work, but since that’s not an option I do enjoy being able to get things going in the apartment, even though it will be a nightmare to transport everything up to the garden by bus and metro and train and bus…

(Oh, and tomorrow I’m flying over to the Flâneur Husband in Aberdeen and will be returning on Sunday with a suitcase full of three small rhododendrons that I will then plant in the garden on Monday… It seems silly in a way to move plants that far, but on the other hand they’ve brought him so much joy during his expatriation that I think it’s perfectly sensible to bring them to Denmark so he can continue to enjoy them.)

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One of the reasons I love having branches in the windows is the way they seem to blur the difference between indoors and outdoors.

They become a continuation of the view inside the apartment, and at the same times help extend the sense of space of the room by repeating the patterns and structures of the trees in the old cemetery across the street.And of course they bring some spring to a view that still bears the hall-mark of winter, except for the patterns of yellow aconites and white snowdrops against the green lawns.

-And in the half light around sunset they become a black lattice-work, silhouetted against the blues, reds and oranges of the setting sun!

In other windows-related news, my lupin seeds have germinated and the sweet peas can’t be far behind. They’re still not visible, but there seems to be a shift in the soil surface, indicating that something is pushing up here and there beneath.

I had an accident last week. I swear, I didn’t mean for it to happen, but… Oops.. The result is now displayed on my dining room table; another pile of seed packets, and I really don’t know where to sow them. Well, I DO, of course, but I didn’t mean to expand the Ambitious Border this season. Now, though, it seems I shall have to, since I will otherwise be short of space for sowing these annuals and perennials.

For now, though, my focus will remain on the Sunny Border. My husband is coming to Denmark on Sunday evening, so I will go up to the garden tomorrow after work and spend Saturday finishing the Sunny Border (should it be renamed the Sunny Semi-Circle, purely for alliterative reasons?) so it will be ready for planting.

I will need to measure the Sunny Border so I can do a more detailed planting plan for it. Right now my ideas are mainly in my head, and that means they constantly change… I do know the honeysuckle and the clematis against the wall will remain in place – and that I’ll do my best to eradicate the hops! – and that my husband’s roses will be planted there when they arrive, but everything else seems to change all the time. Some times I think mixed border with staple perennials that will compliment the roses, some times I think of a raucous drift of annuals, massed in colour blocks.

Drawing up a plan would force me to be more concrete and to commit to the plan I develop. It would also make it easier to start considering textures, heights and seasons of interest. This is going to be a major focal point in the garden, so I think it deserves a less gong-ho approach than I often take to the beds, plopping in plants wherever there’s room for them. I have plenty of plants to fill the Sunny Border, so I have the luxury of being able to choose my selection a bit carefully from the different plants available to me.

Thoughts right now:

  • Blue iris might look nice with the red L.D. Braithwaite roses – and would echo the blue-purple of the clematis against the wall
  • Peonies in whites, pinks and purples could give some bloom in early summer, before the roses really get going and take over the show
  • Tulips and other spring bulbs could get a warmer – thus earlier – start here than anywhere else in the garden, and their dying-down foliage would then be masked by the perennials in early summer
  • I need to think of something semi-low for the front of the border. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ could be an option, since it has such a constricted growing pattern and will be fairly easy to weed around
  • This first year I will definitely be bulking up this new border with my attempt at growing dahlias from seed. They have the advantage of being plants that almost invite a gardener to move them around the garden from year to year, since they’re lifted every autumn. Later on they might be clustered around the garden in various beds.
  • I have a lovely purple asters that would give add some interest in the very late autumn, right up to the first frost – and even a bit after that.
  • And now I’m running out of space, aren’t I? See, this is why I need to draw a plan, since otherwise I will inevitable plan to have 80,000,000 plants per square meter, and that’s probably not realistic…

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A while ago, A Woman Keen On Sensible Footwear (a.k.a. Wellywoman) commented on one of my recent posts that she wasn’t aware that forsythias would root in water.

Well, the proof’s in the rooting, as they say:

Granted, it does take some time, which is why this lovely vase is grimed over with lime scale, but it’s a perfectly easy way to propagate this bush, either to create more of it or to create new undergrowth if it is beginning to get too top-heavy and tumble over.

I generally find that most branches will root in water, given enough time, and the trick with the forsythia is just to let it bloom away, drop its flowers and then wait for the leaves to appear. Once you have leaves on your branches, the roots will be there in very little time, with no need for rooting hormones, special treatment or anything.

In the vase above – as in all my vases of forsythia – I have mixed the forsythia branches with red dogwood. The red stems create a nice counterpoint to the brash yellow flowers, and once the flowers are gone the dogwood – in this case a rather pleasantly variegated cultivar (ooh, look at me throwing proper gardening words about; “variegated”, “cultivar”!!!) – will start showing leaves sooner than the forsythia. And of course the dogwood have as lovely flowers, even if less attention-seeking, as the forsythia. And the dogwood, too, roots before long.

Considering that I’m trying to replace an ugly wooden fence with a hedgerow of living plants, I think this sort of propagation is about as easy a solution as you can get! I could, of course, also just start pinning down overhanging branches, leaving them for a year and then cutting them loose and transplant them, but this is so much quicker and also adds to my connection to the garden. I have it right here with me in the apartment!

The pot at the back of the picture above is the sedum flowers I brought in as a bouquet last autumn and decided to keep, since they started rooting.

So far it seems that my success with cuttings is a one-all; I have had no success with rose cuttings, in spite of taking numerous the year before last, but I’ve had great success with flowers that were just picked to be pretty in the apartment and then decided they wanted to live!

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