I first started to enjoy gardening when I was about 22, when my son was just a year old and, as a gift from my parents, the garden of my rented flat was tidied up and made suitable for a small child to play in. It was then, with the encouragement of Geoff Hamilton each Friday night, that I first started to experiment with taking cuttings. Soon I tried taking them of all sorts of plants, cuttings that friends and family had given me, little pieces snapped off bushes over-hanging pavements (don't tell anyone!) and cuttings from plants in my garden.
It was a few years before I realised that there was another great source of material to take cuttings from - bouquets and bunches of flowers.
So, nowadays, whenever I am given flowers, like I was last week by my friend Cath, I have a look to see if there are any flowers that I would like to have in the garden and whether they have enough material for me to take cuttings.
Yesterday, when the roses were past their best, but not entirely dried and dead, I prepared the roses for taking cuttings. Actually, that's a rather glamorous way of saying I pulled them out of the vase starting with the yellow ones.
Using a sharp knife, I cut the flowers off just above the top set of leaves and trimmed the base the of stem to just below a leaf node. I also removed extra leaves leaving just three to five on each stem, so as not to stress the cuttings while they are forming roots. Then I put the cuttings into an old milk bottle, which allows a long length of stem to sit in water, and labelled each milk bottle so I'd know which was pinky red (and very fragrant) and yellow and placed them on the kitchen windowsill.
They will stay there and I'll top up the water as necessary for the next few months. They should form fragile little roots and towards autumn I will carefully plant them into compost and transfer them to the greenhouse for the winter, before planting them into the garden next spring.
They won't all take root and they won't all survive, but some should and what an easy way to boost the flower collection in the garden, without any cost and most of all, I think this is a lovely way to continue enjoying a gift long after the original bouquet is on the compost heap.