Along with an abrupt drawing in of the evenings, the cooler night time temperatures seem to have descended upon us all of a sudden – the greenhouse thermometer showing below four degrees a couple of days ago. The knowledge that this happens at more or less the same time every year does nothing to diminish the mild sense of surprise we feel at the change; in company with the bees in the ode, we’d come to believe the warm days would never cease.
|Apple time. Part of our first harvest of Laxton’s Superb|
September, then, is a good time for a garden reshuffle. But it’s also a time for discovering you have a wealth of free plants, in the form of perennials crying out to be divided. It is, of course, a matter of accepted horticultural best practice to divide your perennials every few years in order to restore vigour to the individual sections. Apart from anything, it helps to avoid the potential of having ever-expanding clumps of a single plant, with very little growth in the centre. So far, so strokey-beard. But, aside from earning you brownie points with the RHS (which do actually exist and can be exchanged for baked goods in any of the restaurants at the society’s four main gardens)1, the joy of discovering that your stock of plant material has increased, with very little effort on your own part, is hard to describe to any non-gardener, but all too easy to understand for anyone who’s ever felt the pang of parting with six quid for a single two litre pot of some precious specimen.2
Appropriately enough for a drive edge, this Persicaria is sufficiently robust to withstand being driven over. However, as it’s shallow rooted, and the planting holes little more than a scrape, today I used long steel pins to hold each section in place until the roots have taken hold.
2That said, and providing it’s not coming out of the housekeeping budget3, noone should have any qualms about spending this kind of money on a plant from one of the many independent nurseries forming the backbone of the horticultural trade in the UK. This is what it costs to raise and nurture a plant to a saleable size in a retailable condition, while at the same time maintaining a viable business, run by experts in the field, with employees and bills to pay. Shelling out this kind of money – or more – at any of the larger chains, where you might expect economies of scale to be passed on to the customer, requires a different set of decision making criteria.
3On the occasions when buying plants can threaten to compromise the housekeeping budget, there are plenty of other options. Plant swaps, car boot sales, kindly neighbours, friendly gardening types on Twitter – gardeners are by nature a generous bunch, and keen to share.