Gardening: cuttings

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The Independent Online
"Can you tell me whether planting a wisteria in a large container, such as a half barrel, is likely to be successful?" The question was asked earlier this year by Caroline Benwell of Herne Hill, south London and, never having done it myself, I asked for verdicts from those who had.

"Yes," says Kurt Iwnicki of Caerleon, Gwent, who has been growing one for 15 years in a cast-iron wash-boiler, "the kind of thing that used to be in the scullery of every old house. I grow the wisteria as a bush on a short leg and prune it twice a year - in summer and in February. It flowers well and so far shows no ill-effects from its confinement, but it must not be allowed to become dry. It gets a heavy top-dressing of garden compost each spring. Because frost has damaged the expanding flower buds some years recently, I now wrap a piece of fleece over the top at night at the crucial time. There is a good historical precedent for growing wisterias in containers. They are mentioned growing this way in The Tale of Genji, written by Lady Muraski Shikibu around AD1000."

"Yes," says Peter Strevens, of Cardiff, who planted a wisteria in a plastic dustbin in 1980. The bin is about 21in tall and 18in in diameter and the tree is now about 3ft tall. "It has grown steadily with flowers ever since. I have trained it to resemble a small parasol, essentially because I have a tiny back garden, and didn't want it to spread too much. The thrill I get from seeing those elegant pendants at blossom time takes some beating. Last season, during a very high wind, one of the curving branches snapped off, so I had to bandage the two ends together."

The verdict seems to be favourable.

Two seedlings and 30 seeds of an ancient pine, discovered three years ago in the Wollemi National Park in New South Wales, have left Australia for the first time in 200 million years. They have been sent to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where the seeds will be kept at a temperature of

-20C in Kew's millennium seed bank. Scientists say that it should remain viable for more than 200 years.

An Etesia ride-on mower is among the things that the garden designer Dan Pearson has chosen for the Conran Foundation Collection to represent good design this year at the Design Museum, London. Mr Pearson had a budget of pounds 27,000 to spend on the things that for him represent design perfection; hats by Crissij van den Munckhof, a MHWay rucksack and a Sony Camcorder are other choices. The exhibition of the Foundation Collection, which opened this month, runs until the beginning of March. The Design Museum at Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD is open Monday to Friday, 11.30am-6pm, and weekends, 12pm-6pm. Admission pounds 5.

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