You can never have too much rhubarb. Well, actually, you can: it’s a monster of a plant, with mature clumps expanding to 5ft across, so more than two or three plants will gobble up vast tracts of your garden. But the actual deep red, spicy, fruity stems, first to appear in spring when there’s nothing else sweet to pick? No, can’t have enough of that.
I am currently a one-crown household, my ‘Timperley Early’ next to the fishpond a nod towards gunnera-like swamp plantings: rhubarb has a pleasingly exotic sort of appearance and is one of those edibles that sits well among more obviously ornamental plants. Mine has scarlet pineapple sage scrambling through it and a hardy banana (Musa basjoo) spearing up through its expanding leaves.
But I would like three: the ideal setup for the longest possible rhubarb season, providing one to force, one to rest and one to pick. I daren’t force my Timperley Early, perfect as it is for that treatment being first out of the ground in spring; I know I’d have to give up picking it the year after while the crown recovered and I couldn’t possibly deprive myself quite so absolutely.
Luckily, last year I got to make a video for the Crocus Youtube channel in which I got rather muddy planting a little crown of Champagne rhubarb. After a little house move to the other end of the edible exotics garden and a year left alone to establish properly, this is about about to become clump no. 2.
Now is just the right time to plant new rhubarb, while the crowns are dormant and don’t mind being moved. You can lift and divide an existing clump, making sure each lump you split away to replant has a fat bud plus a root; or you can plant a new crown of a different variety. You can watch how here: