Verbascum ‘Gainsborough’ A Reason to try something new….

I spent a wonderful day yesterday in Margaret Roach’s garden along with a crowd of other interesting bloggers and associates of Margaret’s.  I am sure I am not alone in the feeling of inadequacy that I held as I left.  Here’s hoping that someday my garden might be as beautiful as hers.

But after the visit, we headed out to Loomis Creek Nursery, which is my new favorite place for Zone 5 plant inspiration.  Even though they are hours away, I plan to use their website as a source for plant ideas that I don’t get from so many nurseries in my neck of the woods.   As I strolled around, I took pictures of things I liked with the hopes that I would be able to come home and find it in the wholesale catalog of a local supplier…no joy…not even on one plant.  Wholesale landscape supply companies simply cannot be relied upon for interesting varieties.

verbascum gainsborough

image from Gilson Gardens

Thankfully though I allowed myself to buy a couple things.  Verbascum ‘Gainsborough’ is a plant I specified at a clients property last year, but ultimately had to substitute because I couldn’t find a source for it.  Well now I have one for my own garden…but researching it this morning, I learned that it can be very short lived and root cuttings are the way to keep going.  Plus, I only bought one — breaking my own cardinal rule of never buying less than three of anything….so I am challenged to figure out a new horty technique (at least for me)  — and give root cuttings a try…  have you done this?  I  could use some ‘been there done that kind’ of advice.

grass garden miscanthus giganteus

image from Ogrody.
What else did I buy?…well, I got myself a new Muehelbeckia…Zone 9 – but it will be happy on my kitchen window.  I will look enjoy it and it will remind me of my London days.  And I also got a big chunk of Miscanthus ‘Giganteus’. It will reach heights of up to 12 ft and interestingly it is a species that is currently being studied for biomass energy production.  My children, husband (and admittedly me too) are all a little fascinated with large plants…so this will be the next in our collection of oversized garden items….

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.
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  1. Joseph Tychonievich on May 17, 2010 at 7:52 am

    On root cuttings, the only thing to remember is to plant them right side up! Stick them upside down, and they’ll never root. Other than that, they are super easy — easier than regular cuttings, I think, because you don’t have to worry so much about them drying out.

  2. Denise on May 17, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Love the verbascums and that one is a beaut. I don’t normally propagate from root cuttings, but verbascum is a good candidate. I take it this kind of propagation is done during the dormant season. Here’s a link with easy instructions.

  3. Laurie Brown on May 17, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    With root cuttings, an alternative to planting them vertically is to just lay the roots horizontally across potting soil, cut them into pieces, and then cover with a 1/2″ of potting soil. Most root cuttings sprout surprisingly fast, and can be potted up when they are about an inch tall. No special treatment needed!

  4. rochelle on May 18, 2010 at 5:33 am

    You think it is best to get my plant into the ground for a season (and Settled in) before taking the cuttings, or can I do it right now before I even put it into the ground?

  5. Melissa McAvoy on May 31, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I don’t see any reason not to take some cuttings now, before you plant. Seems less traumatic than digging it up again. I took my first root cuttings of a verbascum last fall and now wish I had taken more. When you cut the root make a straight cut at the top and slanted at the tip end to remember how to plant them. When in doubt just lay them horizontally on the soil and cover with an inch or two of soil. I did some horizontal and then just planted them more vertically when I moved them from pots to open ground. I didn’t want to lose the parent plant, so only took root cuttings from one side. Good luck.

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