Cuttings: Weekend work

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The Independent Online
This is an excellent time of year to indulge in instant gardening. The soil, still warm, is also now damp enough to receive perennials that need splitting or re-siting. Whole clumps can be gently eased out of the soil, balanced on a sack and carted to a new site. Now you have the opportunity to see what a full-grown plant will look like among its neighbours.

Rooted sections of chives, mint and marjoram can be gently levered away from clumps in the ground and potted up. Cut off the old growth and keep the pots well watered in a cold frame or cool windowsill for a supply of herbs to see you through autumn.

My colchicum bulbs have been flowering outside for the past two or three weeks but you can still buy bulbs that will flower inside on dishes of small pebbles. Keep the bulbs watered, but not drowned, and within a few weeks there will be long-necked, purple crocus-like flowers. C speciosus is the most easily available and grows to about 9in. When the flowers have faded, plant the bulbs outside, with a pinch of bonemeal, in well-drained soil.

Dried seed heads of many herbaceous plants can be collected now before autumn gales bash them to bits. Honesty is one of the most effective, particularly if you peel off the outer skins of the round seed cases to show the translucent papery central disc. Crocosmia, alstroemeria, alliums and leeks which have gone to seed all have handsome seedheads. Bunch them and hang them to dry in a cool, airy place.

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