What to do
Several herbaceous plants such as papery flowered romneya, oriental poppies, anchusas, perennial verbascums and gaillardias are most easily propagated by root cuttings. This month is the time to take them. Dig up some of the clump you want to increase, chop the roots into pieces between 1-2in long and push the cuttings vertically (right end up) into pots full of a sandy light compost. If you make the top cuts at a slant and the bottom cuts straight across, it helps remind you which is which. Cuttings of romneya and gaillardia are best laid thinly over the surface of a tray of compost and then covered with another thin layer. Put the pots and trays in the greenhouse (or cold frame) and keep them watered but not drowned. By early June, you should have young plants sturdy enough to be grown on.
What to buy
Architectural Plants, Angus White's superb nursery at Nuthurst in West Sussex, is having a winter sale – 10 per cent off all plants until end of Jan. It's a cunning plan – to shift the onus of nursing the more tender plants (Angus signs them green, amber and red according to hardiness) on to his customers. Fortunately, there are as many green plants available as red and amber ones. The nursery is open Mon-Sat (9am-5pm). For more info, call 01403 891772 or visit architecturalplants.com.