Sunday, 20 December 2009

Mistletoe and Christmas

As if on cue, snow has arrived in this corner of southwest France and very festive it is too.

The chateau at Campagne, a hamlet just nearby looks as if straight out of a fairytale or perhaps the set for Merlin. Just perfect.

Even rosehips have a yule-tide ring to them, napped with a little white stuff, good enough to hang on the front door.

Equally of the season, though a little more curious are the bunches of mistletoe growing in the trees.

I came across these just outside Bergerac on the route de Bordeaux. I just need to 'shin' up and take a bunch.

Well everything winds down for Christmas now as I contemplate the travel chaos that is Europe at the moment. If I can cross the channel without stress then I'll be thankful!

I wish you and yours a very peaceful Christmas and a happy new year.

Sunday, 6 December 2009


When's the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago of course.

You see for me, that's exactly it, time. That most precious of commodities, ticking away, inevitably leads me to plumping up the till at various garden centres for that mature plant. Instant gratification. Well by way of an early new year resolution I intend to propagate more plants through cuttings and seed than in previous years for two good reasons; first it's immensely satisfying and second I'll save a small fortune. The only drawback is it all takes a little more time.

Pictured above are some Buddleja cuttings I took back in the summer. I can't tell you exactly which variety it is, it was a big bush just growing along the side of the road from which I took a few small sprigs, got them home, cleaned them up, cut just below a node and they rooted in no time.

But it gets addictive you know. In this cold frame I've got rooted cuttings of Nepeta 'six hills giant', Penstemon 'Mrs Hindley' and 'Blackbird' plus an unidentified one from a friends garden, Solanum, Fuchsia ricartonii, Sedum, a trailing mallow, again I can't tell you which as I didn't keep the original label, some variegated Ivy just for the heck of it and some seed grown plants of the deepest maroon hollyhock, Alcea rosea var. Nigra which came as a free gift with Gardens Illustrated magazine back in about August.

Of everything, I'm especially pleased at how easy it was to get the Solanum to root. This was an expensive plant to buy but it takes easily. I just made a cut between nodes and plunged the cuttings into a mix of sharp sand, grit and a bit of compost and it was away. Now I have twelve young plants which should grow into good sized plants next season, just a bit of time and patience.

Ok ok, I know, Sedum is possibly the easiest plant to propagate. For some reason I took seventy leaf cuttings and now have nearly seventy small plants. I really don't have space for them so I guess I'll give them away.

Finally, below are Box cuttings I took about three weeks ago. I've put them on the radiator in the kitchen window. Although November is a little late to take cuttings, the continued mild weather has kept many things in growth so they were worth a shot. With the radiator set barely above frost stat, I'm hoping that the gentle bottom heat will get them to root. I mist them with water two or three times a day so they've not dried out. I'll check for roots next weekend.

Now if there's one plant that takes time it's Box.