Friday, May 9, 2008

The Chelsea Chop

Hurray! Hot, hot, hot beats wet, wet,wet in my view. After a long cold spring, it's now 24C in London (that's mid-70s Fahrenheit to you Americans). So now it's time to chop, chop, chop.
Every year I try to summon up the courage to do the Chelsea Chop and every year I wimp out. This, in case you're wondering, is the method by which you cut down perennials such as Sedum spectabile in late spring, so that they will regrow more thickly and not start to flop by mid-summer. It works for lots of perennials, and it's called the Chelsea Chop because you do it at the time of the Chelsea Flower Show, which is always held in late May. (This year, Chelsea opens on 20 May.)
Trouble is, my sedum always looks so fresh and optimistic around mid-May, it seems a pity to hack it back. A halfway measure, if you're a coward like me, is to take some of the plant back and leave the other stems. This is what I did last year, only to find that the stems I had cut back produced a new crop of stems which were still looking fabulous in August, while the ones I left flopped as usual.
So this year I'm going to screw my courage to the sticking place, as Lady Macbeth advises, and get on with it. I'll just try to think of all the little sedum plants I'll be able to give to friends (it roots really easily).