COUNTRY & GARDEN: Weekend Work

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MILD WEATHER has been tempting geraniums into fresh bud in the south of the country, but you should be prepared to bundle these (and fuchsias) inside at a moment's notice. Draw the leaves over the crowns of other slightly tender plants such as red hot pokers and tie them up in a bundle to provide some winter protection. Pile dry leaves on top of agapanthus and nerines for insulation against cold weather.

SAVE THE turf from planting holes cut for trees and shrubs in established lawns and set it, grass side down, in the bottom of the hole. As it rots, it will provide humus.

PLANT NEW raspberry canes, 18ins apart in rows six feet apart. Prune hard after planting.

REMEMBER THAT greenhouse plants are more likely to die from overwatering than underwatering in winter.

WE HAVE stopped mourning the old elms that used to grow along our boundary with the lane. They died of the dreaded elm disease and we replaced them with field maple (Acer campestre), adding holly for the next generation. The maples this autumn were outstanding, butter yellow and blazing. Some growers have selected forms with red and orange coloured leaves. You can get them from Mount Pleasant Trees, Rockhampton, Berkeley, Gloucester GL13 9DU (Tel: 01454 260348).

LARGE ESTABLISHED apple and pear trees may need pruning to eliminate branches that cross over each other or are overcrowded. Some young fruit trees grow strongly upwards but show little inclination to fruit. Pull two or three of the vertical growths down towards the horizontal and hold them in place with binder twine or light rope fastened to pegs in the ground.

THE OLD winter routine of spraying fruit trees with a tar oil wash is now in question as the wash kills not only pests but their predators.