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What we're doing this week here at Glebe Cottage; GARDENING CLUB.

Byline: with Carol Klein

ONE GOOD FERN DESERVES ANOTHER: Ferns are very often grown from spores, even though it's quite a complex business. There are easier ways, however.

Some ferns, such as the soft shield fern polystichum setiferum, occasionally produce bulbils along their central stem.

One variety in particular, called polystichum setiferum proliferum, regularly makes these bulbils. If they are separated and potted, they soon grow into plantlets.

Alternatively, a whole frond can be detached and pinned down on a tray filled with good compost or even in the garden. When the plantlets have developed their own roots, they can then be potted up individually.

A CUT ABOVE: It's still not too late to take cuttings. This year, I have picked up a few different penstemons from shows, including a real beauty called osprey that has white flowers touched with pink.

I also discovered the lovely diascia vigilis, which was a new plant for me.

They have all done very well in a little southfacing bed, where we have deliberately tried to grow plants that slugs leave alone. And penstemons are related to foxgloves and verbascums, plants that aren't on their menu.

Diascia also belongs to the same clan, scrophulariaceae. They are all very worthwhile plants to grow and before the weather gets too cold I want to steal a few shoots of about three or four inches long each.

Strip the bottom leaves, cutting below their joints with a sharp knife. Then push the cuttings around the edge of a pot of gritty compost.

After we've watered our cuttings thoroughly we'll put them in the greenhouse in a bright position, alongside others we made earlier.

CAPTION(S):

Slugs avoid penstemons

Soft shield ferns make bulbils
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion, Column
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 9, 2012
Words:286
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