1 March 2013

Spot the gardener.

I'll whisper this in case I jinx it, but we are in the middle of what I distantly remember is called 'a dry spell'. We haven't had any rain now for over a week and for the first time in many months the soil has had chance to dry out a little. This meant it was the perfect opportunity to dig up and divide a vary large clump of Campanula lactiflora (Milky Bellflower) in the main border at Hill Top.

Milky Bellflower in the summer
 To ensure healthy growth and a good display of flowers, most herbaceous perennials benefit greatly from being lifted and divided every three years or so. Gardening books will tell you to gently lift the plant from the soil and prise the clump apart with the aid of two garden forks placed back to back. I confess that this particular clump hadn't been divided for quite a bit longer than three years and was so big that lifting it in one piece was a non-starter, so I dug all the way round it and then chopped it into manageable bits with my spade!

Dig all the way round
Then chop into bits with a spade
It looks tremendously brutal but as long as the pieces you end up with have got some roots and some shoots then they'll be fine. I could probably have got 20 or 30 new plants from this one clump but I settled for a dozen or so, and after digging in some compost, planted three clumps back in the space left by the original. Another five were planted further up the border in a space created when I dug out some Michaelmas daisies earlier in the week. The remainder will be found homes elsewhere in the garden.

As part of a new image for the National Trust in the Lake District all our boring white vehicles are being stickered up to make us more visible as we go about our daily work (no more stopping outside the pie shop for us)! My little van went up to Penrith on Wednesday and came back looking like this-


and a wheelbarrow (very appropriate).
  The first person to see me out and about (and you can hardly miss me now), wins a clump of milky bellflower!

Words and pictures by Pete the Gardener