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Dividing up Herbaceous Plants

March 17, 2014

In un-seasonal warmth and full sun I’ve just had a really satisfying weekend in the garden. It started with a tidy up of the main flower beds cutting back last year’s growth on herbaceous plants, pruning the roses and cutting out any branches that rubbed across each other. There were  Autumn leaves still to clear lurking at the back of the borders from climbing hydrangeas and I gave every shrub and climber a good handful of 6X at the base. I gave a specially good feed to the Osmanthus burkwoodii  below which is full of tiny cream flower buds about to open and flood the air with the scent of jasmine.DSCN1108

Herbaceous perennials are only just emerging but it was great to find aquilegia, heuchera, tellima, poppies, hardy geraniums and catmint showing signs of life just visible through the soil. The pulmonarias below are looking good providing great ground cover and welcome colour in early Spring.


Then came the best bit. Some friends on a tight budget has asked for help  improving their new garden. It’s in a terrace of houses back to back with another terrace so quite sheltered and with sun on most of it half the day.  French windows lead on to decking down the side return which is the sunniest aspect and a row of planters along one side of the decking will be used for culinary herbs and tomatoes.  The decking leads into the main garden, currently  a patch of lawn measuring 6m by 5m and surrounded by walls and high fencing so fairly private. They decided to spend the budget on plants rather than hard landscaping and they’ll make 1m deep beds round the lawn to make three decent sized planting areas.  Beds this size offer a great opportunity for texture and contrasting leaf shapes and there will be ample room for a tree in one bed and a variety of shrubs, climbers, perennial plants and bulbs to fill out the rest.

So with their budget in mind and whilst tidying the beds here I lifted and divided and potted into 9cm pots about 60 plants for the new garden. These included Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Geranium macrorrhizum, Vinca major, Euphorbia robbiae, Ajuga reptans, Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, Phlomis russeliana and all are now in trays in the pop up greenhouse. Perennials are relatively fast growing and all of the above tolerate part shade. It was very satisfying especially since the budget can now be spent on substantial sized shrubs and climbers and more herbaceous plants for infill planting.


It’s a perfect time of year for dividing and planting and over the next four weeks as the soil begins to warm up these newly planted perennials will rapidly increase in size. By late summer most of the beds will be full and in flower and any spaces can be sown with nasturtiums and other annual seeds.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 17, 2014 9:57 pm

    Your friends are lucky to have such a generous friend! If they haven’t prepared the beds already they might want to think about making the beds as deep triangles using the corners of the garden for the beds and having a square lawn in the middle, the space will feel much larger.

    • March 18, 2014 9:22 am

      Hi Christina

      Yes I had hoped for a bit more dynamism in the layout but the problem was shade. To get the best view from the room with the French windows we wanted to look out on an abundance of Mediterranean planting in the most sunny bed and then space to lounge near it on the lawn. And straight beds all round the garden could maximise the use of the trellis where we could add climbers and roses. It also left room for a deckchair or two on the lawn for the late afternoon sun.

      I’ll take before and after pix if it flourishes in the summer.


  2. March 18, 2014 3:52 pm

    That is the one job I haven’t got round to yet – dividing and I know I need to get cracking. Thanks for the reminder. 😉

  3. March 18, 2014 3:56 pm

    Yes it’s very satisfying, trebling the quantity, and especially comforting if you are anticipating moving.

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