Time travel and basal cuttings

Hmm looks like it’s been a while.

Spring already.

Western azalea

Could be I traveled forward in time suddenly and without warning…

waffle iron

I wrote a story once, about a woman who created a time machine in her kitchen through the unplanned synchronization of a dishwasher, a waffle iron, a roller skate and a hot flash…

Of course it is scientifically impossible for that to have happened in this case because I don’t have a roller skate.

Still, somehow I got to May really fast.

Here (in Western Oregon) we’ve had a semi-balmy (in so many ways) spring. Garlic, lettuce, pac choi, onions, rhubarb and peas stand brave in the vegetable garden.

May vegetable garden

Arrow to tomato plants, standing less brave. It’s still kind of cold at night.

Well this blog pretends to delphiniums and now I transition to my extreme excitement following some basal cuttings made from the not-yet–quite-blooming native Oregon delphinium (D. trolliifolium, aka Columbian larkspur).  Here’s one in flower last summer:

Delphinium trolliifolium


“What are basal cuttings?” you might wonder or pretend to wonder.

Basal cuttings are when you give up with seeds and stem cuttings and kind of go for the throat, or rather the feet, of the plant in early spring. (Applicable to campanula and lupin as well.)

I learned this from my close personal friend Mr. Google and he learned it from a Gardeners’ World BBC video featuring an English gardener named Carol Klein.  I liked Carol Klein and how she simply whacked a shoot from the base of the plant, close to the ground, and stuck it in a pot to root.

Then too the viewer (I) could see that her cuttings kind of immediately wilted and drooped in the pot but Ms. Klein just forged on confidently about how one must repot when the roots start poking out the bottom. So when my cuttings wilted and drooped I knew they would be fine and soon rooted because Carol said so, and she had that really cute old house behind her in the video and also she looked like she was just having the best time out there in the cold early garden.

delphinium from basal cutting

And all five cuttings are growing new leaves in their little centers.

In other news, I was recently inspired to prune a bit on my various boxwood plants, but when I bravely climbed a ladder to access the upper region of the biggest one I was yelled at by a furious robin who had, without permission, built a nest and produced a family deep inside the bush. So that particular bush is maybe 66% clipped until later or next year or never and if you think I’m including a photograph well no.

Then I continued shaping the smaller hedges as sort of round or blocky things instead of chickens or pyramids, so sad, and I just hope this dysfunction will not affect my next incarnation so that I have to endure lots of bad haircuts or possibly an inept surgeon.

red double flowered columbine

Double flowered red columbine pruned to resemble a double flowered red columbine.
















About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in actual plants, Pacific Northwest native plants, propagation and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Time travel and basal cuttings

  1. You’re alive! I love the double columbine. Turtles ate the foliage of many of my columbine but who cares. Turtles are amazing so they get to break all the rules. I need to meet this Carol Klein…. 🙂

    • linniew says:

      Oh that is very generous of you Tammy to assume I am alive. Haven’t you seen that new series, The Blogging Dead? I wish I had turtles. And hedgehogs too. Let’s have a party and invite Carol. But mostly I am so looking forward to next year’s Naked Gardening Day! (rest of world: see casa mariposa)

  2. Welcome back. I was wondering where the heck you were. Some people you just look forward to reading…ya know? Times are nuts here, but I’ll have an ebook to share soon, like in June. I hope you’ll check in (or subscribe), so you can get it for free. I enjoyed your story about birds, as I came home today to find an Oregon Junco building a nest in one of my outdoor fake, but pretty, Christmas wreaths IN THE GARAGE. I’m not sure she has all her marbles, which gives new meaning to the expression: “bird brain.” She is still mad at me and as you know, Juncos can really scold. I think they are the Jewish Mothers of birds in the guilt department. Your garden looks fantastic!

    • linniew says:

      Oh Susan, I wonder where the heck I am all the time, in a sort of philosophical way. If you are preparing a manuscript then I wonder how you even had time to notice the bird nest in your garage… In your garage? Do you leave the door openers in the bird baths or what? Also birds have a great capacity for anger so watch out. Wear a hat maybe. So nice to hear from you!

  3. I, too, was worried. Perhaps she is helping the Red Crescent in the Middle East and got waylaid by the earthquake in Nepal, I pondered. Or the perhaps those tiny people who live in the brick crack were not as benevolent as previously supposed and some sort of Lilliputian madness was taking place in the PNW!

    I have never considered that bad pruning may result in bad pruning karma! Now I am looking at my Katsura which I have insisted on pruning as large lollipops of only 8′ in height, might bring me terrible surgical amputation in my next reincarnation. How am I to garden, if I pause to listen to the karmic screaming of the Katsura when I approach in late winter?

    I have heard of this basal plate surgery before. It can be performed on all manner of lilium, in addition to true delphiniums. There is a variation called “gouging” which Ken Druse discusses in his propagation book, “Making More Plants: The Science, Art, and Joy of Propagation “. It is one of my fav garden books and if you have never read it, Linnie, I highly recommend it. It will probably turn you into a mad scientist, a la Dr. Frankenstein with all the cloning you will be capable of performing!

    • linniew says:

      I can see how you might have been wondering about me Rachelle. People do. If you can prune up plant lollipops then I think you are good in the Topiary Karma Dept., no worries. It’s more like my bad-haircut looking boxwoods, which resemble my dog (I groom him too), that the gods might avenge. Oh it is lovely to read your voice again after all this time! But, “gouging?” That sounds dreadful. Like something from a Greek play. Lots of blood. Whatever the process it certainly needs a new name. I will watch for the book, but already I am so inclined to madly propagate plants I kind of need something more like a therapy group as opposed to new techniques. And really I don’t think I can gouge.

  4. Chloris says:

    How lovely that you are back, I thought you had given up on us. All your loyal readers were hanging around with nobody to make them laugh. Anybody can grow delphiniums, but what we need is somebody funny. Carol Klein can take cuttings alright but under that winsome smile and girlish giggle ( or perhaps because of them) she is a profoundly irritating woman. I’m not coming to your party if she’ s coming.
    Your veggie beds are looking good. That delphinium is stunning, but then one expects you to have gorgeous delphiniums or why bother to run with them?
    Welcome back to Blogland.

    • linniew says:

      Oh Chloris I just knew my British friends would know the truths about Carol. Ok she is off the guest list– no need to spoil a good party. But I did appreciate those basal cuttings… Great to hear from you again!

  5. Elizabeth Craig says:

    You are so lucky ! You live in a fairy-tale wonderland called Oregon !! Out here in Arizona all we can do is artistically arrange and re-arrange rocks of different colors and sizes. On rare occasion a wild daisy will take root and brighten up the otherwise hum-drum day. You have so inspired me, myself, I (pick one) that may go down to Lowe’s and decide which plant I would like to condemn to a slow and lingering death in an attempt at gardening ! LOL ! (not so funny 4 the victim, er I mean plant) .

    • linniew says:

      Rocks are cool. I’ve paid good money in the past for big garden rocks. But I suppose without a garden it wouldn’t be the same. Maybe cultivate native plants? There must be something besides a cactus. And actually cactus (wikipedia says I can use ‘cactus’ for the plural) are well-respected and can have lovely blooms. I know people in San Diego who go out of their way to visit the flowering desert in the spring. But something tells me you DO garden Elizabeth…

  6. Good to see you again Linnie, Dr Who hasnt got a look in. Now, methinks you joined up with John Wayne in 1936 on that trail thing. Carol Klein, she is the best of the lot, I believe every word she says.

    • linniew says:

      Howdy Alistair! (That’s all you get of John Wayne from me, sorry– Dr Who has my attention though.) I’m glad to find a little respect for Carol Klein. Those cuttings grew like crazy!

  7. Alberto says:

    Buongiorno!!! I’m so glad you’re back at your blog! Where should I start? Maybe from that waffle iron? I would trade it for some confetti… It certainly would made me time travel backwards to my childhood.
    Your vegetable garden looks great, you are always making jokes about yourself as a gardener when indeed you are more brave and brilliant than a lot of people out there!
    Let me know about those delphinium cuttings, I am very curious about how they’ll evolve…

    • linniew says:

      Dear Alberto-
      You and your gardens are an inspiration you know. And your kind words are much appreciated. Soon the strawberries will be in season here, and then we have fluffy crisp waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. And coffee. So no you can’t have my waffle iron right now. Someday when I visit Italy I will be checking out almond confetti and maybe then a trade. In the meantime I shall keep you updated on the delphinium cuttings!

  8. Wonderful to see you back and what a garden all ready…love the idea of basal cuttings and may give it a go….would just love that native larkspur…what a gorgeous flower.

    • linniew says:

      Such kind words– a lovely start to my morning Donna!

      As soon as I get my Transporter Machine operable I will send you a start of the delphinium.

  9. mulishandcompany says:

    Clearly, you were not sitting idle for the last 7 1/2 month – not that I was counting, cuz I wasn’t. No. I do not miss her, I told myself week after week, 30 weeks in all, again, not that I was counting.

    You were growing things, and nursing poor invalids back to health. When on earth would you have had time to write when you were so busy doing?!

    The truth is that I did miss you and something fierce. I just didn’t want to be the kid knocking on your door asking, “Can Linnie come out to play today?” The last time I did that I was 7 and got chased off the porch by Mr. Krump. Lesson learned.

    Your garden looks so happy and orderly I might add. Texas is pretending its best that it belongs to the Pacific NW. We’ve had day after day of rain for weeks when we should be dusty and dry and dipping our toes in Barton Creek. My tomatoes and asparagus are delighted and in a hyper state because of the buckets and buckets of rain, like a child whose surprise birthday party yielded an unimaginable bounty.

    I’ve never fared well with flowers as a gardener so seeing yours soothes my soul and I’m just glad somebody is out there doing it right. I’m so glad you’re back.

    • linniew says:

      ‘BERTA! First let me explain that I just spent nearly a week in San Diego. It was not my fault. And really it has some kind of latitude problem so that the sun sits on one’s head like a rock. The ocean is lovely which is lucky because these days there isn’t any other water available. But I digress. I read your dear comment on my tiny iphone and decided to respond after I got back to my computer because when I write on my tiny iphone I make horrible mistakes and also a lot of times it simply pretends it will send the message and then doesn’t. But I’m back now. And let me just say that I am deeply sorry about that incident with Mr.Krump when you were 7. (Terrible.)

      I don’t know whether to be happy for your rain or not. You could likely sell it to San Diego. I was afraid my gardens would be dry and dying when I returned but there was a bit of rain here too so instead everything grew eighteen inches (give or take a foot) including the grass. Today Mr O has worked all day to repair the miserable lawn mower– again. We may need a baler too.

      The shocking other news is that I’m only home until next week and then we go for a few days to– are you ready? — Sitka, Alaska. As it happens Sitka is approximately as far north of my house as San Diego was south (800-900 miles). So at least it will be different. AND I intend to bring along my laptop and report in. So if you have anything you want me to investigate in Sitka just let me know because I need stuff to do while I’m on my own (Mr O will be working) that is fun and will not result in jail time. So far I have yarn (to knit) and an intention to discover if anyone gardens in Sitka.

      I missed you too my friend, and I loved your kind words. And now I’ll be checking in with you at your house– I hope you can come out to play. xoL

  10. Glad to see your post in my roll…. Blog roll that is. Of course I probably wouldn’t have known you have been MIA if I hadn’t read the previous comments. Welcome back and your veggies look great, it has been an awesome spring in the flat-lands of Kansas also. Yes this isn’t Kansas anymore Toto…..

  11. How did I miss your post until now? Girl, you are in your element, much to the delight of your readers! I was chuckling over your snappy prose once again. Please don’t deprive us of your amazing talent–keep writing!!! On the basal cuttings, I left my Coreopsis ‘Mercury Rising’ plants to fend for themselves over the winter. They did just fine and when I cut and tidied them this spring, I put several clippings in pots and guess what. They rooted and now those roots are coming out the bottom of the pot so as Ms. Klein instructed, I will be planting them in the garden. Free plants–how cool is that? Your delphs are beautiful. And that is my favorite Columbine. Great post, my dear friend. Hugs.

    • linniew says:

      Well “keep writing” means a lot when you say it– and coincidentally I am in process of another post here today, even as you left this kind comment. Yes free plants are one of the best funs around. Hugely happy to hear from you Gracie!

Leave a Reply to linniew Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s