When's the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago of course.

You see for me, that's exactly it, time. That most precious of commodities, ticking away, inevitably leads me to plumping up the till at various garden centres for that mature plant. Instant gratification. Well by way of an early new year resolution I intend to propagate more plants through cuttings and seed than in previous years for two good reasons; first it's immensely satisfying and second I'll save a small fortune. The only drawback is it all takes a little more time.

Pictured above are some Buddleja cuttings I took back in the summer. I can't tell you exactly which variety it is, it was a big bush just growing along the side of the road from which I took a few small sprigs, got them home, cleaned them up, cut just below a node and they rooted in no time.

But it gets addictive you know. In this cold frame I've got rooted cuttings of Nepeta 'six hills giant', Penstemon 'Mrs Hindley' and 'Blackbird' plus an unidentified one from a friends garden, Solanum, Fuchsia ricartonii, Sedum, a trailing mallow, again I can't tell you which as I didn't keep the original label, some variegated Ivy just for the heck of it and some seed grown plants of the deepest maroon hollyhock, Alcea rosea var. Nigra which came as a free gift with Gardens Illustrated magazine back in about August.

Of everything, I'm especially pleased at how easy it was to get the Solanum to root. This was an expensive plant to buy but it takes easily. I just made a cut between nodes and plunged the cuttings into a mix of sharp sand, grit and a bit of compost and it was away. Now I have twelve young plants which should grow into good sized plants next season, just a bit of time and patience.

Ok ok, I know, Sedum is possibly the easiest plant to propagate. For some reason I took seventy leaf cuttings and now have nearly seventy small plants. I really don't have space for them so I guess I'll give them away.

Finally, below are Box cuttings I took about three weeks ago. I've put them on the radiator in the kitchen window. Although November is a little late to take cuttings, the continued mild weather has kept many things in growth so they were worth a shot. With the radiator set barely above frost stat, I'm hoping that the gentle bottom heat will get them to root. I mist them with water two or three times a day so they've not dried out. I'll check for roots next weekend.

Now if there's one plant that takes time it's Box.


  1. Dave@TheHomeGarden6 December 2009 at 23:30

    I love the propagation stuff, but you know that! I managed to get a couple boxwoods to root recently. Sedums do great with the leaf cuttings!

  2. While I loved seeing your lovely baby plants, the views in the background had me doing a double take. Good luck on them all, they look quite healthy!


  3. You certainly have a green thumb Rob! As green as that one in my last post! I am impressed with the numbers. 70? You can make so many people happy!

  4. I've been enjoying the background views too!

    I know what you mean about time - I've been so busy recently there's been no time to garden, eat, sleep or blog!

    Interesting to read of your method of box cuttings. A lady at a flower arranging demonstration in October gave me some quite large cuttings of box, which I just bunged in some spaces in pots outside in the garden. They look as if still growing - so I wonder what'll happen in the spring!

  5. Rob this is a very inspiring post! I am so lazy about taking cuttings but you have shown me the green. I can barely remember when I last took a cutting. I do layering quite a bit. I love seeing all your young ones! How gratifying. Sedum will root just left out after use in a floral bouquet. Amazing will to propagate! Love this post! Carol

  6. So you've caught the propagating bug! :) DH thinks I'm nuts because I like to go plants from seed, but it's worth it. Love the views of those golden limestone buildings in the background.

  7. Now I'm feeling guilty...first, because I've propogated almost nothing this season, and second, because my garden looks like a disaster next to yours! There must be a hidden advantage to having constant guests....one has to keep the garden in presentable condition always! Beautiful as ever...

  8. Your babies are really thriving - maybe you need to open a small nursery on the side?

    I love the super close-ups of the plants. Sort of the opposite of 'objects in the mirror may be larger than they appear.'

  9. Oh, your pictures. I want to see ALL of your garden not only the cuttings.

    I was a professional propagator for 2.5 years. I feel so guilty when I prune my plants and don't do cuttings. Which is always.

    Yes, your pics made me feel soooooo guilty. And I just had a delivery truck full of plants, huge plants, unload at my garden.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  10. How is it that even French seedlings look so pretty? Seeing the pictures of all of your cuttings in such gorgeous surroundings made them even nicer to look at. Looks like your off to a great start for next Spring.

  11. Those empty wine cases must come in handy Rob :) Nothing quite as exciting as growing from seed and taking cuttings even if you end up with a surplus. That observation about planting trees becomes more pertinent the older you get!

  12. By 'eck but you've been busy Rob!
    Having to drink all that wine to get the box must have been a pig of a job to do!

    I've not done much propagating, but you've made me feel like I really ought to give it a go - that'll be another job to add to the lost then! :)

  13. I have just begun to have some success with cuttings, I think - I'm too nervous to test for roots. I've tried so many times and failed (withour local California natives) I forget what you do when they succeed! Lovely place you have there too!

  14. Hey Rob, check out my blog post - http://phillipoliver.blogspot.com/2009/12/flora-mirabilis-book-review-and.html and e-mail me. :)

  15. i am an avid rooter,too-also to the point of giving lots away.
    re: boxwood.. here in middle ga.
    an old nurseryman specializes in
    all sizes of box. his simple rooting beds are of sharp sand tucked under rows of mature plants. he has had successful box business for many many years.our really cold snaps [mid 20's] jan/feb don't last too long.
    the earth stays warm enough. cuttings do fine with a little cover at times. this works well for me. i have never found it
    difficult, although box do take their time--all their lives!

  16. Congratulations on all the cuttings, but I had to smile on the buddleia, for starts "pop up" everywhere around here. Rob, love the stone on the old buildings... beautiful!
    And congratulations on the Phillip's book.

  17. Hmm, I never thought of leaf cuttings for sedums (I usually just divide them). Looks like fun though! I love the look of your cold frame.

  18. Doing cuttings is certainly addictive! I've not fallen in yet, but I can feel it coming on. I need pe therapy.

  19. 70 plants! Wow sounds just like something I'd do. LOL I really loved visiting your blog!

  20. Hi Rob, thank you for your visits and perhaps I´m doing to much roses displayings, one day I will show you the stone work of my house, I know this is more kind of your liking (excuse my english, hope you understand me).
    It´s so great you are reproducing plants out of cuttings.. I do the same, but you might like to know that in my little green house that I make this year almost everything did not came out, perhaps I was too late transplanting them... but last year I did everything under the trees, direct in the soil, and all the cuttings did much better, including roses, so for next year I wont use my green house, except for some seeds. Maybe this might help you.
    I love your topiaries, they look so great!!!
    Have a happy weekend.
    María Cecilia

  21. What a lovely place. Cuttings sprouting are all a gardener needs to see to bring a smile on to face.

    The light is photos is more golden (if that is possible) where you are than here in Texas I think. Your photos have an warm soft light that is lovely. What camera do you use?

  22. Looks like you're starting your own plant nursery!

    I love seeing the background shots of your beautiful estate. Those container trees look so great. I've found my "perfect French dream home" in real estate searching, but alas, no money to move!

    Garrett (the son in pharmacy school) is making an offer on our next door neighbor's house. We are still stunned that he wants to live beside us. Chris (the archaeologist) wants to buy our house someday if we ever move to France! LOL Of course, we'll only visit France, not move


  23. we just found your website and what a treat as we like gardening (live in Florida so easy to do) and exploring France.

    We have spend 3 weeks near Les Eylies in 2007 (2) and 1 week in 2008 in combo with the Lot. There is so much to explore in these areas! love nice Gites like yours!

    2010 booked into a couple of weeks in the Alsace and then Massif Central near Clermont - excited to return to France.

    My wife also blogs at http://schnitzelandthetrout.blogspot.com about our lifes and travels.

    thank you for a very enjoyable blog! Dale and Susan

  24. Hi Rob

    Interesting seeing all your healthy looking cuttings.

    I found growing Box that they didn't start to send roots out until nearly Summer if I had left it too late in the year to take the cuttings so don't do like I did and dig thenm up to look mostly you can see the roots coming out the bottom when they are ready for re potting. Not as slow as you think Box and worth the time invested.

  25. Hi Rob, it's me again!
    I've just been listening to the long range weather forecast for the UK - cold and snow mainly!

    Better wrap up warm for your long trip north and hope the snow holds off till you arrive.

    If you fancy a break within your break, give us a ring or email me -you'd be very welcome here if you could face a bit more driving north!

    Safe journeying,

  26. Dear Rob, I wish you and your family a very happy christmas time, and may next year brings much blessings, love, good health and happiness to you all.
    Muchos cariños
    Maria Cecilia

  27. You're absolutely right time is the great leveller when it comes to the garden. How many times have I wished we'd put the structure in first and the annuals in last. What a lovely blog.


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