Garden Cuttings: News from the gardeners world

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"HOLLOW-CORING" was an old trick of the hyacinth growers' trade; it's a way to persuade a single bulb to produce five or six separate flower heads. Tom Maxey, managing director of Groom Bros, bulb growers of Spalding, learnt the technique in Holland, where he was as an 18-year-old apprentice.

The hyacinth bulbs are lifted and dried in July. Only the biggest, 7ins or more in diameter, are suitable for treatment. "You turn each bulb upside down," he explained. "Then you use a special knife to cut out the base of the bulb - you leave the roots intact."

Treated bulbs are stored in special chambers at 20C (68F). The warmth encourages them to make new basal growing points. In October the bulbs are taken out of storage, planted and grown on until the following July. Then they are lifted again, graded and kept in the same warm stores until they are sold. They are generally available from mid-August onwards. If you plant them in late August or early September in pots, they will bloom indoors by the end of January.

These specially treated hyacinth bulbs cost pounds 3.67 each from Groom Bros, Peck's Drove Nurseries, Spalding, Lincs PE12 6BJ (01775 722421).

BUTTERFLY CONSERVATION is a charity dedicated to saving wild butterflies, moths and their habitats. It has produced an information pack aimed at gardeners, showing how to attract and retain butterflies in your garden. For a free copy, send an A4 envelope, with your address and a 31p stamp to Gardens for Butterflies, Butterfly Conservation, PO Box 222, Dedham, Colchester CO7 6EY. Membership of Butterfly Conservation is pounds 16 a year (01206 322342 or email butterfly@cix. On 22 Aug, the West Midlands branch of the Society is holding an Open Day at Eudon George (info: Richard Southwell: 01384 397066, after 4pm).