Gardening: Cuttings

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DENNIS JEFFREYS, from Angmering in West Sussex, writes in response to my piece about acacias (21 November). "One in my garden, some eight years old, restricted in growth in 12in of soil on top of a concrete patio, decided to flower three years ago. It's now thick with buds for March. I planted the thing just for foliage... Mine is in a protected, south-facing corner. Did get frosted one year, when it was a few years old, but came back."

Mr Jeffreys sent photographs of two other acacias to look out for in early spring. One is in the garden of a house in Whimple, in Devon; the other grows on the west-facing wall of his garage. My favourite grows in the garden of a terraced house on the corner of Gloucester Road and the Old Brompton Road in London.

FOR TWO years, the British Clematis Society has been testing various varieties at The Garden of the Rose, Chiswell Green, Herts. The trial ground is exposed and the soil dry and stony. That is tough on clematis, but reassuring for their fans. If clematis thrive there, then they shouldn't complain in the average garden.

At the end of the first three-year trial period, the society awarded certificates of merit to four varieties. `Aljonushka' is a non-clinging herbaceous clematis, with bell-shaped mauve or rose-pink flowers from June to September. It will grow up to 6ft or more, with support, and should be cut hard back in late February. `Petit Falcon' is another award-winning herbaceous varieties, with nodding flowers of deep violet-purple. It has the same flowering season as `Aljonushka' but does not grow so tall.

`Broughton Star' is a vigorous clematis of the montana type. It has pink semi-double flowers, well set off against bronze foliage. Like C montana it flowers in May to June and can spread up to 15-20ft. If it gets out of hand, trim it back immediately after flowering.

`Romantika' is a late-flowering (July-October) hybrid of the jackmanii type, with dark violet flowers as much as 4in across. The foliage is pale green and the stems will climb to 6ft or 7ft. Prune hard in early spring.

THE SEARCH is on for the Young Horticulturist of the Year (1998-99), to win a travel bursary of pounds 1,200. John Love, president of the Institute of Horticulture, is keen to get the word out to young people (under 25) working in nurseries and garden centres. Students of horticulture also qualify. Heats are held regionally, with the final at Sandown Park on 17 April. For details, contact Angela Clarke, the Institute of Horticulture, 14/15 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PS (0171-245 6943).