An intense time to go camping with cuttings

Cornus, or dogwood, makes a striking winter display.
Cornus, or dogwood, makes a striking winter display.
Runner beans - perfect for getting children interested in gardening.

BRIAN KIDD: From these seeds, mighty gardeners might sprout

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Do you like propagating plants? Lots of people enjoy doing this and, believe it or not, this is a very good time to take hardwood cuttings.

Have you a wonderful forsythia bush, a climbing rose, a camellia or a really good rhododendron? Would you love to get one of these to root so that you can give it to your best friend?

If you follow this advice, you will have a good chance of getting the cuttings to root.

Autumn cuttings are called hardwood cuttings and they can be taken right now.

The wood which is to be propagated needs to be about the thickness of a pencil and about 10 to 12 inches long. Examples are forsythia, rambling roses, cornus, magnolias and any other woody plants you may have found difficult to root.

Here is the secret. Take off all the leaves except the top frill. Make a clean cut just below a node (leaf joint) and insert the cuttings into the soil after using a top dressing of about a quarter of an inch of sharp sand over the surface of the soil.

The cuttings need to be inserted very deeply. Insert them so only two inches of the cutting is above the surface of the soil. If you live in a flat, insert the cuttings into a 10in-diameter pot.

Camellia cuttings need not be 10 to 12 inches long. They root better if they are about six to eight inches long and inserted into deep pots of ericaceous compost with 50 per cent extra sharp sand. Instead of cutting below a node as described for all the others, simply pull off a side shoot so that it has a ‘heel’. You will see the heel has a slither of bark. Look at the back of the heel and you will see the central part has a heart-shaped woody part. Using a sharp knife, cut off the excess skin back to that woody heart. Remove all the leaves apart from the top pair and the tip and insert the cuttings so the leaves are just above the compost’s surface. Soak the pot in rainwater.

Now place a polythene bag over the pot and cuttings ensuring the leaves don’t touch the polythene. Three short split canes can be used to form a tent.

Camellia cuttings are best rooted in a cold greenhouse or, if you have a plant propagator, this would be even better, but it is not essential.

What about root hormone rooting powder? Use it if it makes you feel better.

Keep the cuttings moist and once they root (in early spring), pot each one into a three-inch diameter pot and plant them where you would like to see them grow – or perhaps you have a friend who would like one?

A good way of making money for a charity.

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Parsley and thyme plants can be grown on a window ledge, balcony or in a small space in the garden. Remember what home-made stuffing tastes like? Dare I say it – Christmas isn’t far away.