Don’t miss out on opportunities to boost garden stock

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Try not to miss out on simple ways of increasing your plant stock as the year unfolds.

From May onwards, I walk the garden looking for soft shoots of shrubs, herbaceous perennials and herbs that are begging to be rooted. Existing herbaceous perennials can be lifted and divided up during any frost-free period from November to March.

Self-sown plants can be lifted and grouped together for floral effect the next summer – foxgloves, for example.

Branches of hardy perennial subjects that touch the soil will form roots given the slightest encouragement.

I’ve just pegged the lower stems of a thornless blackberry, an aucuba and viburnum to the ground.

There’s still time to sow the seeds of favourite herbaceous plants into open drills outdoors and leave them to it until next year.

And if you look around the ornamental border, there are newly-formed seed heads appearing daily.

If you collect those of the species, they will reproduce true to form. I cannot resist gathering the deep brown seeds of ancient woad (isatis tinctoria) every year, nor those of the perennial wallflower chieranthus cheri.

Deciduous shrubs are so easily rooted that I’m already making a mental note of those to be taken as hardwood cuttings.

Viburnum, buddleja, weigela, salix, spiraea and escallonia are all showing suitable stems 30cm long.

The best time to prepare a slit trench with an upright spade is in late October.

Remove all but the top cluster of leaves that just show above the soil when cuttings are planted close together and deeply.

We have a collection of streptocarpus for indoor display, so imagine my pleasure at seeing a brilliant specimen staged by Judith Pottle at Warkworth Show recently.

It had to receive the Jenneson Taylor Cup as the president’s favourite entry.

One of its long leaves could easily have been halved longitudinally and given rise to a hundred new plants. But then, of course, Judith would have the problem of finding good homes for them all!