Time to split up the herbaceous clumps

Phlox

Phlox

Now's the time for pricking out those seedlings. Picture: peganum/Flickr

BRIAN KIDD: It’s full steam ahead as the new gardening year begins

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The herbaceous perennial plants are beginning to poke their leaves through the soil at last. If you’re wondering what these plants are, golden rod, Michaelmas daisies, phlox and grannies’ bonnets are included in the group.

If the plants have been in the same position, or even if they’ve been in the wrong place for several years, now is the time to split the clumps and dig in some fertiliser such as Vitax Q4 or fish, blood and bone at a rate of 4ozs per square yard.

Splitting the clumps can be done more easily if the whole plant is dug out with a digging fork.

Use two forks back to back, pushing the handles together with a bit of a wiggle. The clump will then divide.

If the clump is huge, use the two forks again and split pieces off the outside of the clump.Make sure there are about six to nine shoots and replant these.

Perhaps you like one type in particular, so another one or two can be planted in another place.

In parks, stately homes and botanic gardens most herbaceous perennials are planted in groups of three or five, but they have the space don’t they?

Once the division, fertilising and planting is complete, write a label with a permanent marker.

If you don’t know the name, use a description and you can always send me a sample for identification when the flowers arrive.

You will notice that the plants treated in this way will be taller than before with better quality of flower. Division makes quite a difference.

It’s a good idea to cut the edge of the grass alongside the border.

Pick up the edgings and lightly fork over the border to remove areas of compaction and footprints.

Perhaps you are considering planting perennials? This is an excellent time to plant them. Have a look at your local garden centre and you will see dozens of pot-grown perennials with prices ranging from £1.50 to £6 a pot.

There is no difference in the quality of the plants, the price is according to the pot size.

Each pot has a label with a picture and description, the height being important.

Spend an hour having a good look. If you decide to plant the smaller plants, these will provide a good show of flowers this summer. And by next summer the plants will be the same size as this in the large pots.

Once planted, fork the border as before to eliminate footprints.

When the shoots on all types of plants are about four inches tall, it’s a good idea to use sprays of hazel branches around the edges of the clumps so that the shoots will grow and be supported.

After about six weeks, the hazel sprays are completely hidden but the foliage remains perfect and there is no need to have to use sticks and strings after gales.

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