greentapestry : Making Babies

Sunday 20 June 2010

Making Babies

Now there's no need to getting the knitting needles out - those of you who have met me know that I am well past childbearing years. The title of this post refers to a most interesting morning I spent towards the end of April at Lodge Lane Nursery, which is my local nursery. The nursery is run by Sue Beesley who won the BBC Gardener Of The Year Competition in 2006. Sue set up the nursery following her competition victory. Adjacent to the nursery is a one and half acre constantly developing cottage garden which opens to the public as a Royal Horticultural Society partner and also under the National Gardens Scheme.

This was the second propagation workshop that I have attended at the nursery. They run three times a year and emphasis varies according to the time of year. The morning started with a chat from Sue about propagation which touched upon not only seed sowing but other techniques including division, basal and stem cuttings and other weird and wonderful ways by which plants reproduce themselves. I liked Sue's advice that if you look carefully at the plants they will tell you what you need to do to propagate them. During this session I decided that my method of dividing plants needs some rethinking after all these years. Sue laid down plants on their side before dividing them which makes it a lot easier than my diving in from the top technique.

After a coffee break and cake we headed out for a quick tour of the nursery's propagating area including the greenhouse where we saw Sue's homemade sand bench. Then time for some hands on stuff in the potting shed where we were able to put the morning's techniques into practise on some plant material. I am unable to lay my hands on my notes at the moment but I am fairly sure that Sue's mix was peat free compost, horticultural sand and vermiculite or perlite. Once we had performed surgery on our victims we watered and labelled them. Those that needed it went into plastic bags with an elastic band secured round them before we took them home. Sue also demonstrated the RHS recommended method of filling a seed tray prior to sowing. Needless to say if I had not been following this method and will probably continue my bad habits. Before the morning finished we had a guided tour of the garden stopping to look at various plants and methods of propagating them.

You can see some of the fruits of my labour above - potentilla atrosanguinea, nepeta 'Six Hills Giant', anthemis 'E.C.Buxton' and a leucanthemum whose label had gone awol. I am pleased to say that nearly two months later they are still alive and now putting on new growth almost before my eyes. All in all a most inspiring, informative and enjoyable morning. I returned to the nursery last week for another workshop - more on that very soon.


  1. Hi Anna,

    Very interesting!

    Propogation scares me, or maybe I'm just too lazy to follow the rules... Mmmm I'm thinking the latter is the most likely!
    Propogating is definitely a great skill to have, I am sure ;)

  2. What a useful workshop! And what a great tip from Sue: to look at the plants and try to understand what they tell us!

  3. Brilliant lady, you. :-)

    I have never tried propagating but would love to try. A workshop sounds like just the thing!

  4. Dear Anna, What a fascinating time you must have had on your garden workshop. Clearly Sue is one of those very talented people who make everything, even the most complicated procedures, sound easy and within one's grasp. I know that I should have found the day most interesting. Propagation by basal cuttings is a technique which, for some reason, continues to elude me.

    The glimpses of her garden you show are tantalising. I imagine it to be completely charming.

  5. Sounds like a fab day, Anna. I would have enjoyed looking round the garden too. How nice to have the garden and nursery close to where you live.

  6. Anna, it sounds like such fun, more nurseries should offer courses like this. I would love to see more pictures of her garden, it looks wonderful.

  7. What an interesting and informative day you had Anna. It sounds like Sue has much wisdom to impart ... and her garden is delightful!


  8. I wish there was a nursery near me that did those sorts of days. I am hoping to do a practical RHS 2 course at Pershore from Sept when I should learn all this stuff - fingers crossed

  9. Hi Anna, isn't propagating fun? It's also amusing seeing Nepeta that small, lol. I also like how in British English "scheme" is often used whereas in American English the term would more likely be "program."

  10. Lucky you

    Great fun all this propagation. I'm going to take rose cuttings next, see what happens.

  11. I love the sound of that workshop Anna and Lodge Lane is not that far from me either. Perhaps I should have a go at the next one! I am off to have a look at their website.

  12. What a fabulous workshop Anna - although I am intrigued about the "RHS recommended method of filling a seed tray" ??



All your comments are much appreciated and treasured. I wil try to reply to everyone who leaves a comment, but it may take me a few days, especially when I start spending more time in the garden and at the lottie. I know that you will understand :) I am sure that I will also visit your blog if I have not already done so. If you have any specific questions I will either reply to them here or you can email me at :


- Anna.