After a pretty decent amount of sun throughout June this year, I’m sure everybody has their garden on full show. I hope everyone is enjoying their bit of greenspace. With that extra sun we haven’t been used to,due to our terrible summers the last couple of years;one might forget how important watering is. Even aftera pretty rainy day in Dublin, your plants will dry outvery quickly after as little as an hour or so in the sun.Water from rainfall evaporates as quickly as it comesdown, so the percentage of that rain that the plantactually absorbs isn’t very high. So keep on top of thatthroughout the summer, especially plants in containers,hanging baskets, greenhouse pots with plants orvegetables, shrubs and perennials.Next is roses, assuming everyone has taken good careof theirs don’t forget to dead head. This is seriouslyimportant; to possibly get that last chance of moreblossoms before the summer is out. I know manypeople, not even keen gardeners keep a homemadecompost heap in their garden. Its peak time to start touse some of your heap, start by spreading a smallamount over your beds, it gives the soil a great feedand a 4nal batch of energy to see it through to the end
of the summer. Also for keen gardeners there is someheavier work to do, after several seasons of returning to full bloom and growing, perennial plants within beds and herbaceous borders will begin to die out in thecenter and look more like a ring than a clump. To keep the plants vigorous and blooming, a technique known as 'division' is performed. Dividing perennial plantsgives you healthier, longer lived plants and also the great bonus of more plants! With which you can keep or share with family members or neighbours. When todivide perennials depends on the type of plant and howquickly it's growing. You don't have to wait until your perennial plants begin looking too big though. In fact,it's better if you don't. Keep an eye out for clumps thathave grown 2-3 times their size within 2-5 years. Any over grown clump or any clump that has simply exceeded the space allotted is perfect for division.Technically spring is usually the best time for division,since the plants are actively growing their leaves are not so developed that the root system can't take a littledisturbance and still feed the top of the plant. However,just as different plants can go different lengths of time before being divided, some plants, like peonies and bearded irises, prefer to be divided in early September.If you 4nd you must divide a plant with a lot of top growth, cutting back the leaves/foliage by about 1/3 willlessen the amount of work the roots will need to do tomaintain the foliage after division. Also giving the plant a good soak before you intend to disturb its root system will really benefit the plant in the long run, and avoidtotal disaster of losing the plant altogether! Have the new space/hole you wish to plant the divided shrub
ready and waiting for the new plant so it can go straight in and avoid any chance of drying out or damage to the roots. When digging out the shrub from the bed, make sure you get as much of the root ball as possible. Once out it’s ready to be split, a very common method of dividing perennials is to use 2 pitch forks to pry and split the plant apart. Perennial plants with@eshy roots are easily divided with garden forks. Insert the forks into the center of the plant so that the backs of the forks are touching each other and the tines are crossing. Press down so that the forks go through the plant. You will probably hear some cracking at this point. If you only have one fork, try to split it with a spade. For more densely rooted plants they require a different method, this can be done with a saw, by two people obviously to keep the shrub still and to avoid an accident! Once split, replant as soon as possible as if it were a new plant. I know the idea of splitting a healthy plant may sound intimidating, but once it’s done correctly it will flourish and you’ll have no problem doing the rest of your bed or herbaceous border.
Brian has a BSc in Horticulture and a degree in Botany from Trinity College Dublin