Gardening: Weekend Work

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The Independent Culture
Tackle overgrown lilac by cutting out some of the older branches entirely, at ground level. This will rejuvenate the bush and encourage production of fresh young shoots from the base. Without this sort of regular attention, lilacs grow tall, leggy and unproductive.

Dead-head the rest of the bush, cutting spent flowers back to the first pair of leaves below the flower-head.

The ornamental rubus Tridel `Benenden' also needs to be pruned after flowering. Cut out about a third of the stems at ground level. If no new shoots have sprung up, prune back some of the existing growth to the point where a strong, new, pinkish-coloured shoot has broken from the older, snuff-coloured wood.

Set out plants of the cabbagey sort, such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli and curly kale. Field-grown plants are much stronger than the container- grown variety.

Leeks, celery and celeriac can be planted out now and sowings made of beetroot, late carrots and kohlrabi.

Take cuttings of perennial wallflowers such as `Harpur Crewe' and `Constant Cheer'. Pull off lateral shoots about 2in long with a heel and push them into some sandy compost.

The climbing hydrangea H petiolaris can be bulked up from cuttings of vigorous side-shoots.

If possible, tear off rose suckers before they begin to weaken the rose they are meant to be helping. Their leaves are smaller (and often a paler, greyish green) than those of proper roses. Digging them out, rather than pulling them, may damage the rootstock, which in turn will produce even more suckers.