Math was never really my strong point, but this basic arithmetic I totally get. Early April is like a starting gun has just been fired as far as I am concerned. Armed with muscle relaxants, pain relievers and the best of intentions I head for my somewhat soggy gardens to increase the flock. Of course, the extent of your garden chores will depend entirely on your region of the country as well as ‘Mother Nature’, ok maybe your amount of energy also. What I mean by division being multiplication and the increase of my flock simply refers to the work in the perennial gardens and borders this time of the year. German and Siberian iris are usually showing full growth and are always in need of being divided as are the clumps of Sedum ‘Autumn Glow’. I find that if I don’t clean these specimens up regularly, they become floppy and the blossoms deplete. The process of division is slightly different for each plant however you won’t really go wrong or do any significant harm if you don’t follow instructions. Very simply, the concept is to lift the entire clump, and remove the majority of soil so that you can take a good look at the root mass. Natural clumps will become apparent and actually most plants will easily break at the correct spot with a little pressure from you. If you can’t pull them apart resort to a sharp knife, spade or secateurs for the operation. Sort through the pieces by size and all that is required is to replant them in the desired area of the garden; of note, perennials are a valued currency in the process of garden trading.
Hosta are a favourite of mine to divide in the early spring for many reasons, mostly because I have so many. As my front gardens are blanketed in shade for the summer months, Hosta perform very well for me, actually too well. Once I can see the ‘spikes’ of growth emerging it triggers a couple of things, one, I can almost remember what plant is where and two, how large the clump is. Somewhat like Asparagus, these green spires seem to push through at an awesome rate, so each day is completely different from the next for dividing. If you grow Hosta, perhaps tackle them first for moving/dividing/multiplying. My method is not overly scientific or even for that matter, textbook savvy. I use my English spade (rectangular blade) to undercut the root mass off first. Often, I switch to a round mouthed spade to leverage and pry the entire clump up, generally they are pretty large. As unorthodox as it may be, I slice the clumps with the sharp English spade into as many pieces as I possibly can, being sensible of course as too small is just a waste. To the delight of the neighbours I have a collection of small, yet viable, Hosta for their gardens as well as for those vacant spots in my rear and side gardens. The trick is to get the new divisions into the garden as soon as possible and water them heartily. The cooler weather of spring and often rain, provide excellent conditions for divisions of Hosta and many other perennials. Thereafter, I visit my new divisions with great regularity often watering if the season is drier than normal and also an initial application of compost or manure is applied. The results are amazing after such butchery and on it goes in my garden, even more Hosta to divide next year. Doubtless I shall get neighbour of the year award for generosity!
Early spring is an ideal time for rearranging the garden as well as making new plants. Often, I will lift entire perennials and transfer them to a new preferred location without dividing them at all. You can rearrange your perennial garden at this time of the year as often as energy will prevail and of course, this may make room for some new additions, perhaps from the neighbours of a local garden center.
Divide and conquer, ‘tis the season!
April 1st, 2018