Divide and conquer borders

This month's weather is no excuse for ignoring your herbaceous border.

This month's weather is no excuse for ignoring your herbaceous border.

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Bad weather may upset many people, but it rarely if ever deters keen gardeners; as long as they can get out and about, they are happy wielding forks and spades to divide overgrown clumps of perennials.

And if the weather’s is OK, the task is something worth doing before the gardening season begins to accelerate and there are many more things far more important that demand attention.

So, it’s a cased of divide and conquer – give those summer-flowering perennials a good going-over and they should, with luck, produce flowers this year.

The ones to choose are those whose centres appear devoid of growth while their edges are showing signs of fresh greenery. Get the fork, lift the targeted clump and then split it with the spade. As long as there’s a section of healthy root still attached, it should be fine and you have doubled or trebled the number if plants without spending a penny.

Occasionally, it’s possible to get even more young, rooted plants from one parent. The drawback is that they will be smaller, but given the right growing conditions, they’ll bulk up to eventually become the next generation to bring a bit of colour to summer.

Give them a reasonable planting hole, enriched with organic matter, and, if necessary, water them in. If the weather stays dry, keep watering to encourage new root growth and fresh top growth.

And while you’re out and about among the perennials, this is the perfect time to support those tall-growing specimens which are likely to be flattened by high winds and heavy rain.

What you use to do the job is entirely up to you. You can spend a lot for fancy supports or you can pay nothing – old buddleia stems can make perfect crutches for the more susceptible cases.

They may stick out like sore thumbs, but once the plants have grown up around them, only you will know they are there.

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