CUTTINGS

GARDENING
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Indy Lifestyle Online
"There was a ghastly familiarity to the photograph accompanying your article on honey fungus," writes Harry Martineau of Barnes. "I had a similar outbreak at the foot of a large and ancient tulip tree in my garden in Hampshire. My fear that it was honey fungus was confirmed by the local tree man. Against his interest, he did not, as I expected, say that the tree was doomed. Instead he told me to apply a substance called Armillatox (available from all good country ironmongers).

"I got some and did so. The instructions with the can varied from those received from the tree-surgeon, so I rang the makers, who were most helpful and sent me their literature. Apparently, it also deals with black spot in roses and cleans old rose beds if one wants to replant.

"Plays the harp, walks the dog: it sounds too good to be true. I got the impression on the telephone that one or two august institutions think so, too. But when I moaned to a neighbour about the fungus, he said he had had it in an old apple orchard and got rid of it after a few years' repeated administrations."

I have had no success with Armillatox against honey fungus myself, but readers who wish to try it can get a list of stockists from Armillatox Ltd, 121 Main Rd, Morton, Derbyshire DE55 6HL (01773 590566).

You may associate orchids more with mistresses than childhood sweethearts, but Valentine's Day this week saw the opening of Kew Gardens' 1996 Orchid Festival. The aim is not only to show off lots of rare orchids, from Kew's own collection and from specialist orchid nurseries, but to encourage people to consider growing an orchid themselves.

Orchids will be on sale at the Victoria Gate shop, and everybody who buys a plant will receive information on how to look after it.

The festival continues until 31 March in the Princess of Wales Conservatory and other glasshouses, and there will be seminars by orchid experts. The first three are Orchids From Around the World (20 Feb), Orchid Taxonomy and Biology (27 Feb) and Orchids for Beginners (5 March). All cost pounds 20 and run 10am to 4pm. There will also be two study days in association with the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies on 22 and 29 Feb. To register, call the Royal Botanic Gardens on 0181-332 5000.

"I was most interested recently to read in your column about the Epiphyllum oxypetalum," writes Nathalie Kilburn from Woodbridge in Suffolk. "I lived in Assam for many years and had four or five tubs of this wonderful plant, which we called the moonflower. I am glad to know its proper name. Some years we had 20 or 30 blooms out at the same time and the perfume was quite overpowering.

"Several years ago, I brought home a 'leaf' from Derah Dun. This year, for the first time, I had several blooms. As soon as it was safe to do so I put the plant outside in the shade and sprayed it every day. A Bengali friend of mine tells me that a missionary told his mother that the flower represented the Crucifixion - the crown of thorns and the nails clearly visible. Have a look next time you see one in flower."

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