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n Peaches, nectarines and apricots growing under cover in a greenhouse will be coming into flower this month. Since there are likely to be few insects on the wing to pollinate the flowers, you need to do the job yourself. Take a camel hair brush (or a rabbit tail on a stick, the traditional tool for the job) and dust the pollen from one flower on to another, one branch at a time. The job is best done around lunchtime on a bright sunny day. Once you see that the fruit has set, mist the trees over with water every morning.

n Prune spiraeas, tamarisk, willows and dogwoods by cutting out at least a third of the old wood at ground level. Thin out the stems rising from the trunks of pollarded willows or poplars.

n Sow broad beans in pots or boxes (greengrocers' wooden boxes lined with newspaper are ideal) setting the seeds about three inches apart so that their roots do not become too entangled. Germinate the seeds in a cold frame or a cool greenhouse and set out the plants in the open ground when they are a few inches high. On heavy soil or where mice and birds are a problem this is a more reliable method than sowing direct in the ground.


"Cows in Arcadia" is the enchanting title of a talk that landscape architect, Kim Wilkie (he's recently been chosen to make a new garden in the V&A's inner courtyard) will give this Wednesday for the Garden History Society. His subject is a project to restore the avenues and grazed wet meadows around Ham House, near Richmond, as part of a wider scheme to revive the landscape of the Thames valley and reawaken the vision of Arcadia set in the minds of those who, in the 17th and 18th centuries, first laid out this interconnected series of views and surprises. The talk, held at the GHS headquarters, 70 Cowcross Street, London EC1, starts at 6.30pm and tickets, available on the door, cost pounds 8. For more details, check out the Society's website at www.gardenhistory