10 November 2018 - 7:15pm

Get dividing!

I’ve been dividing my day lilies. Gosh, I hear you say – why, and why now? Keeping your herbaceous perennials healthy and looking good sometimes requires some work. This is a really good time of year to lift and divide plants that have got congested. That is when the middle of the plant looks bare and sad, and flowers scarce. Day lilies are especially prone to running out of steam, but if you dig them up now (as long as it’s a reasonably mild spell), add a bucket of decent compost to the soil and then plant some of the new, bright looking clumps you very likely will be rewarded with more flowers next year. Plants, like humans, vary in how they like to be looked after. A general rule of thumb is that if they flower later on during late summer or in the autumn, they are best left until spring. Michaelmas daisies usually do best when refreshed then. You can be brutal: dig up the whole plant and cut chunks off with a spade. The common advice is to use two forks back to back to prise stems apart but I can’t say I find that very easy. Make sure you have some good shoots at the top and roots at the bottom on each piece. Leave out the old and tired middle section. Water well and give them a mulch and away they will go. After I did the job with my day lilies I planted some early flowering spring bulbs amongst them; they will have flowered and died by the time the lily leaves grow tall and cover the dying leaves. At least that’s the plan! Our pond has needed some tlc for a while. It had become less of a pond and more of a bog garden. So we have bitten the bullet and got a firm of pond specialists in to make it better. It was initially dug and planted over 20 years ago, so it feels like we got our moneys worth! As I write today their digger is stuck in the mud and I’ve just had to find some rope to help them pull it out. But I’m staying calm (ish), I’m sure it will look fab next spring. The received wisdom now seems to be that pond planting is contained, either by putting plants into gravel on a marginal shelf in the pond, or in a basket at the bottom for lovelies such as water lilies. Last time planting was straight into some soil at the bottom, but that is more difficult to keep under control. It’s a big pond, we are lucky and have the space so I’m looking for a decent sized, natural looking feature. Fingers crossed it blends beautifully into the landscape and our resident wildlife approves and moves back in. I’m not a fan of winter pansies, mainly because I think they have a misleading name. But I weakened a few weeks ago and bought some. I popped them in a trough by the front door and they do look good in the autumn sunshine. But I’m not expecting a brilliant show when winter really comes with a vengeance. I think they would be better named ‘autumn and spring flowering pansies when the weather is good’. Not such a snappy title to attract the punters I guess. Moores have a lovely range of them, and also have violas, their daintier cousins. I popped a few in a pot with some dwarf daffodils, always a cheery combo. A pot full of spring bulbs and pansies make good Christmas presents so I’ve done a couple extra for pals. Get dividing those perennials, you will get a better workout than a visit to the gym!