callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

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Today's gardening tips

At the weekend it was so cold I had to put the heating on in the daytime. Today, people were out in T shirts. I find the way to overcome reluctance to get out and garden is to give myself one specific job that I will do and finish. Today, it was cutting down the penstemons. When I'd finished, the plants looked like this

and the wheelbarrow looked

It's quite safe to cut down most perennials in autumn but penstemons are best left until spring. They have a tendency to layer themselves and indeed, after some clearing, I found a whole new plant had established itself close to one of the clumps. A few years ago there was a rage for penstemons, which seems to have died down. I think this is probably because some of the prettiest varieties are short lived. Some, however, go on forever. If you want something totally reliable and hardy I recommend 'Garnet' (properly 'Andenken an Friedrich Hahn' but you won't get gardeners dropping a name they've used for years) and 'Firebird'. This also has a more official name: 'Schönholzerei'. Surprisingly, some plants which have lasted a long time with me were raised from seed and I expected to grow them as annuals.

I thought this would be a not-too-taxing task but, to quote my favourite gardening writer* there is no way to take the backache out of gardening.
The garden is full of promising buds: on peonies, aquilegias and this clematis.

*Beverley Nichols
Tags: gardening, penstemons, perennials, pruning

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