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Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

img 2369 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

Well my job this week is pruning back the types of Cornus/dogwoods the delight us all winter with their stunning stem colours. Of course, one the delights from Cornus is that they tend to root petty easy from their stems just touching the ground. This trait means they are pretty easy to propagate from hard wood cuttings. Unlike most hard wood cuttings, an ideal time to to take these hardwood cuttings is just after you have pruned them, some of this waste material makes great cutting material and I have put together an easy step by step guide on how to do it

img 2366 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

First of all choose your woody material, I prefer something that is about a year old, pencil thickness and straight. That’s not too say something thinner or thicker doesn’t work, it’s just I have found this size produces more plants

img 2367 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

Then I make a cut at the bottom near a set of buds, a square cut us is fine but an angled one maybe better for the last stage

img 2369 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

I like to have at least 4 sets of buds on each cutting, so I trim it down to just above the 4th bud and if the material is long enough, I sometimes can get a couple out of it

img 2370 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

Next stage is to push the cutting into the ground, this is why an angled cut maybe easier to do. The ground doesn’t need to be too loose and can be even next to the dogwood you have just pruned down.

img 2373 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

I push this stem down until it’s half between the 2nd and 3rd bud as per picture above, this leaves 2 buds under the soil and these buds are the areas the roots will grow from

img 2374 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

A completed row, they don’t need to be in a row, can be done randomly around the area you require them but they are so easy to do and make such a great use of wood that would be burned or shredded. I would now leave these for a few months and when they are growing away strongly you know they have taken. Sometimes leaves break out and then die, this is the plant using up the stored water and then sadly dying afterwards. This also works with any Salix or willow with coloured stems

Good luck and I hope you get loads of free plants

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Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is starting

img 2250 1 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is starting

img 2249 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is starting

Heard a little bit about Dalefoot composts both in the gardening press and also online, I was really keen to get an up close look at the produce. It is indeed an old Victorian recipe of composted bracken and sheeps wool, yes you did read that right, composted sheeps wool, not an average day to day compost ingredient is it. Dalefoot Compost is based up in Lake District on a traditional hill farm, Simon is a 5th generation farm while Sally is a Environmental scientist, they started on this project in around 2000. Bracken is a big problem for the hillside farmers, a left over from the time the hills where forests. Bracken causes problems both to existing plants and grass. It is a problem I have seen and spoken to wardens about in the past in woodlands near me. So it is a great way to reduce the spread of bracken and also a way to use up unwanted sheep wool that doesn’t either make the mark or isn’t required. The wool adds moisture retention slow nitrogen release to the compost while the bracken is potash rich and rots down to produce a fine compost. So it sounds a great way to produce a ecological sound compost.

img 2258 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is startingI wasn’t too sure what to expect when I first saw it but it does look like a good quality compost, fine, dark in colour, a great feel when rubbing it though your fingers, a great deal of sponginess when squashing it in your hand, yes I was a little impressed.

img 2263 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is startingNow I prefer to use peat in some form when sowing seeds, I have found that looks based ones can hold too much water for me , coir doesn’t hold enough so I am always look for another peat free compost for sowing seeds and my little brain is thinking it maybe the right product to replace peat with.

img 2250 1 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is starting

The lovely people at Dalefoot compost sent me a few bags to try it out, I decided on the seed mix, ericaceous and wool compost to try out

img 2252 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is starting

So I started with the seed and cutting mix the other day and sowed a few pots of salad crops for the vegetable garden at a client house. I found the information on the pack very clear and easy to follow

img 2260 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is startingimg 2261 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is startingimg 2263 1 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is startingimg 2264 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is startingAs I found at the show, the compost felt right for a seed mix, so I filled up a few pots and firmed it down, sowed the seeds and watered and tbh I couldn’t tell it wasn’t a peatfree compost, it behaved just as I would like it too. Not matter how it felt, the proof is in the growing so will shall see how the germination rate goes and also how the little seedlings cope until they get potted on. In the next blog in a few weeks time, I shall have a look at how well they have germinated and of course how easy they are to prick out and pot on

A 12litre bag will cost you 7.99

For more information on Dalefoot Compost please look at their website at

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Plant of the week- Kniphofia rooperi

kniphofia rooperi 3 Plant of the week  Kniphofia rooperi

kniphofia rooperi 2 Plant of the week  Kniphofia rooperi
This weeks plant of the week, is one of the last flowering red hot pokers and for me it is one of the best as well, I love the shape and the colour of this special red hot poker that really light up the border like a torch! The 3-4ft flower spikes are borne over the evergreen foliage from about now up until the first hard frosts hit, they just add a delightful torch of light into our borders, just in time to darken up our sometimes dull autumn days. Even when not in flower, the leaves, add a great architectural element into any garden.

kniphofia rooperi 3 Plant of the week  Kniphofia rooperi
It is a South African plant that loves to live in the damp valleys and that’s one thing to remember when looking after it. Kniphofia rooperi loves to grow into a dampish humus rich soil, in a sunny area but it will grow in drier soil as long as it is well mulched and looked after. It’s very easy to propagate as well, either from seed sown and left over winter in a cold frame, from dividing up the plant in the spring, using a carefully aimed spade to divide up the clump or indeed from cutting the new growth in the spring and potting on into compost. It was named after the great German botanist Johann Hieronymus Kniphof. He wrote one of the greatest books of the 1700, Botanica in originali.

kniphofia rooperi 4 Plant of the week  Kniphofia rooperi
This beautiful clump is at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens but is used in so many more beautiful gardens around the country. Again it’s pretty easy to buy from various nurseries like Hardys Cottage plants 

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Propagating Sempervivens 

img 0346 Propagating Sempervivens 

I have always had a love of propagation and to be honest it’s the biggest thing I miss during my current role. It was always a joy to take a cutting and see it as like magic, this little bit of growth turns into a new plant. But I do have a new project waiting to start in my garden at home, it’s a new playhouse for the children, finished off with a green roof of alpines! Sounds good but after working out the amount required, I felt I had to propagate some of the ones I already grow at home and the Chicken and Hen plant or houseleek, Sempervivum, would be an ideal one to start! I love the different colours, shapes and forms of this rather simple but beautiful succulent plant 

So here’s how I propagated them, as you can see it’s pretty easy, so why not give it ago and see how you get one 

img 0342 Propagating Sempervivens 
First of all I brought all the items I needed, I cheated with the potting mix, using the cactus compost which is a good free draining compost, ideal for propagating Sempervivums
img 0343 Propagating Sempervivens 
Filled the modules with the compost and gave it a tap to level the compost off, didn’t firm it down too much
img 0346 Propagating Sempervivens 
Then gently pulled up a small side shoot off the one I want to propagate, notice the small roots coming off the bottom of the plant
img 0354 Propagating Sempervivens 
Then just shorted the stem a little using my razor sharp secateurs, this is just so they fit better into the plugs and I keep the stem on just to stabilise the plant while the roots grow
img 0347 Propagating Sempervivens 
Using a dibber (or 6” nail!) to make a small hole, big enough for the the stem to fit into
img 0348 Propagating Sempervivens 
Gently put the Sempervivums into the hole and gently push compost around the stem using the dibber not your fingers as that will encourage moss to form
img 0353 Propagating Sempervivens 
If you are propagating a named plants, it’s well worth labelling the cuttings, I like to put date propagated as well, so I know how long it took to root. It’s worth putting the label on the first one you do each time
img 0357 1 Propagating Sempervivens 
Give it a good water and place on a sunny window still and wait for a few weeks for them to root, check daily and remove any that haven’t made it

And that’s it a nice easy bit of propagation and money saved, every Sempervivum costs about £2 in most shops so for about a £5 in materials I have saved £67, ideal to spent on other plants! 

I hope you enjoyed my blog and let me know how you get on if you have a go