Country and Garden: Weekend Work

FORCED HYACINTHS are already available for potting up, though there is no way that I will get round to this job yet. It brings Christmas too close. But if you want to give them as Christmas presents, set bulbs about half an inch apart in a bowl of compost with their noses just showing. Bury the bowl under soil or sand or keep in a cool place indoors.

IN OUR neck of the woods at least, there has been most glorious rain. Weeds can now be hooked out without a pickaxe, and plants got into the ground with some hope of their surviving. There is still time to take cuttings of half-ripe growth from abelia, abutilon, ballota, ceanothus, choisya and other shrubs.

HOME-GROWN WALLFLOWER plants should be pinched back. I am growing a searing orange Siberian wallflower to set between the topiary box bushes in a narrow border. It is Cheiranthus x allionii (Johnsons, 95p) and has the same haunting scent as other wallflowers. `Blood Red' is also good, with rich dark flowers (Johnsons, 95p).

TRIM HEDGES such as beech, box, holly and yew. Leyland cypress also needs a firm dose of the shears.

KEEP PICKING sweet peas, which will get a second wind now that they have had a good drenching.

CUT VIOLAS back to ground level. Cover with a finely sifted mixture of soil or compost and sand mixed. Water well if the ground is dry to encourage the plant to produce fresh growth.

CUT OUT old fruited canes of raspberries and tie in the new growths that will bear next year's crop.

PICK CATERPILLARS off brassicas.