Frugal gardening

How to take flower cuttings for a potted gardenThe other day I was giving my niece a tour of our potted garden in the back courtyard and as I recounted a special story behind every plant it occurred to me that all of my favourite plants stem from my childhood.

They reminded me of fairy hunting adventures in the rose garden surrounding our farmhouse, or of my dad fondly recalling how his mother always had a Daphne bush by the back door.

Mostly though, my botanical preferences were instilled during holidays spent at my maternal nanas house in Wangaratta, who was also a Daphne fan (I imagine they featured in a lot of Australian backyards in the late 1950’s, kind of like lemon trees).

I love a scented garden so my favourite cuttings are still the ones that remind me of my nan, like creamy white Gardenias and citrusy pink Daphnes. I keep mine at the back door as a constant reminder every time I brush past the bush on the way to the clothesline.

Perhaps these old fashioned plants were selected due to their ability to create abundant gardens from a few spindly cuttings in times of austerity, but for me, cuttings also provide one of the few ways to give a little person’s curious mind that instant gratification that is often amiss when it comes to learning the patient art of gardening.

All one needs is a single plant to take a stem from (which can even be a neighbour’s/friend’s/ parent’s plant), together with a few old tomato tins, good soil and a bit of honey.

To ensure success, take a healthy looking stem from the plant after flowering, remove the bottom leaves and run honey along the stem, focusing on the knots where the roots will sprout from. Plant the stem three quarters covered into a tin for a thoughtful gift, otherwise straight into the pot to avoid having to transplant it later.

In addition to the nostalgic scented flowers from a more simple era, a Rose Geranium cutting is another goodie that offers a bright introduction to the world of gardening for eager little green thumbs or, for a more modern minimalist look, succulents offer a tropical style with very little maintenance.

A word on pots: Pots have become very fashionable in the interiors world of late, quickly dating each season to make way for the latest design. Personally I love the classic, timeless nature of a terracotta pot which to my mind will never date, because it already has. Terracotta pots usually cost just a few dollars at the local nursery, they age beautifully and will always match as the collection grows over time.

A nod to my mother: The one who instilled a love of gardening from a young age – just by observing her work and the enjoyment she got from the garden on the weekends at home. This love, together with technical advice from my friend Fabian over at The Hungry Gardener (thanks for the honey tip Fab) has made me the gardener I am today.

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