My gar­den­ing di­ary

Garden News (UK) - - Grasses - Carol Klein


The sea­sonal task of di­vid­ing herba­ceous plants gets un­der­way, with hosta ‘Frances Wil­liams’ be­ing dug up and sliced into sev­eral big chunks with a sharp spade. If you make the pieces too small, the plant ini­tially re­verts to its ju­ve­nile state and the new leaves will be half the size next spring.


How do you treat your dahlias at this time of year? Most of ours are in pots and we’ve de­cided to keep on feed­ing them – though only once a week, with potash-rich liq­uid feed – to help them have a last flo­ral fling. We won’t carry them in­side un­til the first frost turns them black.


Sow­ing phacelia (green ma­nure) on the bare patches that have been cre­ated where we’ve pulled beans and sweet­corn. It should grow fast and will prob­a­bly pro­duce its pretty blue flow­ers into the win­ter. We’ll dig it in later – it’s an in­valu­able source of ni­tro­gen.


Cor­nus ‘Nor­man Had­den’ is full of fruit this year. They’re at­trac­tive, like lit­tle rasp­berry-coloured lanterns fes­tooned among the branches. At Alice’s wed­ding we’d planned to use cop­per beech as a back­ground. In the event its leaves had gone and the cor­nus stepped into the breach.


When you reach for the rake to make piles of fallen leaves, you know that au­tumn has well and truly ar­rived. As our trees get big­ger, the car­pets of orange, am­ber and rus­set at their feet get deeper and deeper. For the next few weeks, this is go­ing to be one of our main ac­tiv­i­ties.


Salvias seem to have had a bumper year. They’re so ex­cit­ing with their rich and di­verse colour range and so var­ied in their habit, from twiggy bushes to large-leaved giants. They add enor­mous in­ter­est, es­pe­cially in the lat­ter half of the year. Cut­tings taken from sub­stan­tial stock plants will root in a mat­ter of weeks.


Mint is such a use­ful herb, not only for lovers of roast lamb! In this veg­e­tar­ian house­hold, we use it to make mint tea, add zest to hou­mous and to raita, made with yo­ghurt and the last of our cu­cum­bers. Although it can be a thump­ing nui­sance when it es­capes, it’s easy to con­tain by plant­ing it in a bucket plunged into the ground.

Left, droop­ing, rasp­berry-like cor­nus fruit. Right, hosta ‘Frances Wil­liams’

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