What a To-Do

I seem to have had a permanent To Do list in recent months, either buzzing around in my head or periodically written down – mostly garden related tasks, although I did finally manage to complete two summer dresses, just as we were waving goodbye to summer… Thirteen jars of tomato have been made, which should see me through next year, and after having given away an apple mountain I eventually got round to freezing some for our own consumption, enjoying my favourite apple cake recipe during the process. If I am completely honest with myself it is highly likely that the ever-increasing To Do list is an avoidance strategy for planting the bulbs which arrived from Peter Nyssen nearly a month ago. Yes, I know, it should be on the list as well but I can’t seem to remember how to spell p-l-a-n-t-b-u-l-b-s…

img_8259So, what I have been doing instead? Well, looking inside the smaller greenhouse you will see that it is pretty full – of seedlings and cuttings and as yet ungerminated seeds. I was rather tardy with my autumn sowings, and sowed wallflowers and sweet williams far later than I meant to do, and it may be that the only thing ready for planting out before winter will be cornflowers – and although I couldn’t bring myself to plant any hardy annuals out last autumn I really did intend to do so this year, if only to save on space and maintenance and encourage early flowering next year. Hey ho! Along with the usual annuals and winter flowering violas are several perennials, which I am quite excited about, as I have grown only a few of these from seed before. Hopefully it will provide plants for my own garden but also lots of spares for plant sales at my open garden next year. Of the perennials, so far lychnis, oriental poppy and pheasant’s tail grass have been pricked out.

img_8262 img_8263 img_8264

Having rarely propagated from cuttings before, I have been thrilled with the results so far, particularly with starting so late in the season. Stem cuttings of penstemon, salvia and diascia have rooted well with few failures, and root cuttings of phlox are coming on steadily too. The leaf cuttings of sedum, one of which was shown on Wordless Wednesday, took less than a fortnight to start producing their tiny progeny – and these cuttings were only taken on the spur of the moment towards the end of September. I rather wish I had realised earlier how easy the process was – so many salvias could have been rescued!

In due course many of these cuttings and seedlings will take their place in the temporary ‘spares’ lodgings, purpose (aka Golfer) made staging set up in the fruit cage where they will be out of the way till needed for the open day – so far I am up to 98 potted and labelled plants, with several other divisions bulking up for my own use.


As space begins running out in the smaller greenhouse, the prospect of being able to swing a cat or two in the larger greenhouse has become more attractive, so on a whim today I cut all the trusses of ripening tomatoes from the plants on the left (and will spread them out to continue the process), allowing me to cut down the plants and remove the stakes to regain access to the staging so plants other than tomatoes can once more be nurtured. When bulb planting starts, some of the bulbs will be planted in pots in the greenhouse so once again the space will be most welcome – perhaps this will prompt me to get started…?

clear-tomsMeanwhile, I am beginning to reassess all the borders with a view to reducing their overall hotchpotchness – none of them have been ‘planned’ as such, and although loosely colour themed it has still been very much a case of acquiring a plant and then finding space for it in an appropriate border. Sometimes it has worked, in an unplanned sort of way, and sometimes it hasn’t – and then there are the gaps – and where there are gaps, plants are more likely flop without the support of another one to lend a shoulder to lean on… I had already taken photographs of the borders to help in this review, but this week took pencil to paper and drew up rough plans of what was already there – this first one shows the four main herbaceous borders, bottom to top on the plan shows the beds from right to left on the photograph below.

img_8273 img_8260It is quite clear from the plans where the gaps are, especially at the exposed edges of the borders, but the exercise has also thrown up where heights are not compatible and where some internal shifting around would be beneficial. Removal of dross too! Together with autumn plant housekeeping, sensible planning over the winter and early 2017 plant purchases should bring some big improvements to cohesion here and the same process will take place in the other borders in due course. Yes, lots To Do!

This entry was posted in garden structure, Gardening, Gardens, propagation, seed sowing. Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to What a To-Do

  1. jenhumm116 says:

    Wow Cathy you have been busy! I’m so glad you’ve started taking cuttings and are having such success – it’s addictive isn’t it?
    And please, don’t fret about bulbs, I haven’t even bought mine yet!

    • Cathy says:

      I don’t know why I thought it was such a bother before πŸ˜‰ The diascia and salvia in particular rooted really quickly with an almost 100% success rate – shame I only had one surviving salvia to take cuttings from! I wonder of anyone enjoys planting bulbs…

  2. Anna says:

    That apple cake recipe looks rather yummy and has given me food for thought Cathy. Well done on your success with penstemons etc. You will soon be hooked on cuttings too. It’s a process which always seems less demanding than seed sowing but just as magical. I’m with Jen in the still to buy bulbs state apart from alliums. There’s still loads of time πŸ™‚ Just what’s in that box from Mr Nyssen?

    • Cathy says:

      I do make the apple cake with frozen apples, but it is better with the fresh ones. I am definitely hooked on cuttings and was indeed comparing the relative ‘magicness’ of cutting and sowing – I have certainly been amazed at how easy it was πŸ˜‰Just the usual stuff from PN but with LOTS of tulips this time!

  3. FlowerAlley says:

    We should be friends. Parts of this are so me… except the baking part.

  4. I love apple cake, thank you…There is a lot to do to get the garden ready for spring.

  5. Eliza Waters says:

    I admire your energy – I’ve become a bit lazy as the summer wanes!

  6. Peter Herpst says:

    You’ve done so much already! No wonder you’ve not yet planted your bulbs. Fortunately there’s still a lot of time to do that fun chore.

  7. croftgarden says:

    I am exhausted by just reading your list. I’m still recovering from PTSD after reviewing the state of the borders in the cottage garden last week!

    • Cathy says:

      Sorry to wear you out – perhaps you better put your feet up and have an afternoon nap. I think sometimes we forget that some of the time our borders do look quite pretty, well parts of them in my case, and just see the imperfections…

  8. Steve says:

    help! you have just reminded me that I have not planted any sweet peas yet. never mind I am sure I will find something else. Like you I have hundreds of bulbs in a big box waiting to be planted. I keeps telling myself it is not a good idea to plant tulips before November

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, lack of sweet pea sowing has niggled here and today I have soaked my seeds in preparation. I have also got as far as separating the tulips from the rest of my bulbs but there are still lots that could/should be planted now – I shall make it a target this week. Oh, and sadly I have to agree with you about Taylors Clematis… 😦

  9. You have been busy. I have rather a lot to do yet but await a little help from a man who can dig out some of my shrubs which will then be re-homed.

  10. A couple of years ago I didn’t plant my bulbs till January, and the world did not end and they all came up and were wonderful. So no need to give yourself a hard time! I must follow your lead and make a map of my garden so I can see the gaps and take out the plants that aren’t cutting it. It’s a great idea.

    • Cathy says:

      I know, but I am just a bit irked with myself for putting it off πŸ˜‰ Made up for it today though as I have made a good start on planting them πŸ™‚ The main idea of drawing the beds was so I could look at them inside and see where the gaps are, but as soon as had done them It was clear that they woud help with more than that. I did measure the des, so they are to scale, but the circles are just roughly where the plants are

  11. Wow, what industry! Also, great management skills of precious greenhouse space, reminds me of one of those word square puzzles where you slide the letters up and down ….

    • Cathy says:

      And yet I could rarely successfully complete one of thse puzzles…! I have no idea how the newly rooted cuttings will fare over the colder months, but blitzing what I can now will free me up for other things in the months leading up to the garden openings

  12. Christina says:

    Wow! Wow! Wow! I am also a list maker but usually ind that recent additions (and often more attractive jobs) to the list tend to take precedence over those that have been there for some time. I’m so glad you are enjoying taking cuttings; I find it a very satisfying way of increasing plant numbers.

    • Cathy says:

      I find a written list can be helpful as then things can be physically crossed off – but yes, it’s always easy to cherry pick the nicer jobs! I will soon have to make a list of house maintenance jobs though as they have been sorely neglected in favour of garden tasks… It is the ease of cuttings that is exciting me and I shall be on the lookout for other plants where this technique can be used!

  13. Very impressive! I feel better about the bulbs that arrived ages ago now.

  14. Brian Skeys says:

    October is one of the busiest months in the garden, it is the start of the gardening year. Tulip bulbs will be ok untill November Cathy. I remember an elderly gardener when asked how did he manage to maintain such a large garden, he replied I do one job at a time. Good advice I think.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, I think I had forgotten just how busy October can be in the garden, although I have been sowing even more seeds than I have done in the last couple of years. One job at a time is good advice although I suppose it depends on the size of the task. Bulbs are on their way to being done now and apart from tulips should be finished by the weekend…

  15. Heyjude says:

    I’m glad I am not the only one procrastinating over bulb planting. My excuse is that the tulips need to wait for a cold snap and we haven’t had one, and I need some bulb compost for the pots, but the alliums really should be in the ground now, though I want to put some grit in the bottom first which entails visiting the local garden centre which is a faff! After spending hours weeding and mowing a minuscule lawn on return from a 3 week holiday I have vowed never to leave home again! Thought about sowing sweet peas, but I don’t have a greenhouse. Maybe a cold conservatory will do?

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, all those combine to make it easier to put it off – although the ones I grow in pots I don’t use bulb compost now as if they have got drainage they don’t need it. I hoped that dividing the bulbs into tulips/pots/ones that needed soaking/others would help and I suppose it did in the end as I have done the middle two now! Starting sweet peas off in the cold conservatory should be fine and may be OK for overwintering too if they have enough light – a cold frame is as good as an unheated greenhouse so perhaps you could improvise?

      • Heyjude says:

        Well I have at least emptied and cleaned the pots and I may use your idea of normal compost – I think I have only used that previously. The conservatory is very light so I will give the sweet peas a go. Thank you!

  16. I must find and try your apple cake recipe. It sounds yummy!

Comments are closed.