This is a wonderful time of year – gardens are in a sort of shut down period of rest and recouperation and we can see exactly what shrubs we have and where there gaps meed filling. Many gardeners go to the trouble of lifting all their dahlias and other show plants. I have also done that for years, gingerly lifting them and drying off the clumps of encrusted mud – I then wrap the tubers in newspaper and keep them in my very frost free garage for the winter. So far my favourites have survied but have become a little weaker each season. I will have to renew them with fresh stock. I have a gardener to help and this year we decided to leave the tubers in the ground but to cover them well with home made compost and leaf mould. I propogate as many plants as I can from ones that have succeeded in the daunting 110% clay that forms my back garden! I am rather a hit and miss gardener – I can’t bear throwing out all those cuttings when we prune . . . I tend to snip bits off and stick them in any nearby pot; my gardener arrives each time with a grin and asks tentatively what has the haphazard garden owner got for him to deal with this week . . . Although clay soil is hard to work with and irritatingly bad for drainage, there’s no doubt that it is nutritious for most plants once they have established themselves.