Gardening: Seeds of invention

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The Independent Online
Svada Rabinowicz writes from Durnow, Co Laois, wanting to track down a nursery that can supply purple martagon lilies. They are available from Arne Herbs, Limeburn Nurseries, Limeburn Hill, Chew Magna, Avon BS18 8QW (01275 333399); Four Seasons Nursery, Forncett St Mary, Norwich, Norfolk NR16 1JT (01508 488344); and Jacques Amand, The Nurseries, 145 Clamp Hill, Stanmore, Middlesex HA7 3JS (0181-954 8138). An exhibition of watercolours by Emma Tennant opens next Tuesday, at Mallett, 141 New Bond Street, London W1, and continues until 6 December. Her painting, she says, arose from her gardening; for years she recorded the changes of the seasons. Then friends persuaded her to sell. The watercolours, showing favourite flowers such as iris and sweet peas, and fruit such as pears have a simplicity that you know must be fiendishly difficult to acquire. Open Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm, and Sat, 11am-4pm.

The Tank Exchange started as a family business selling second-hand oil tanks for central heating. Now the exchange deals in water tanks as well. You can buy new Harcostar water butts from them, but the real bargains are their reconditioned tanks. These are big polyethylene containers used in the food industry to store bulk commodities such as fruit juice. They are cheap, clean, sturdy and durable. The smallest tank (once packed with salted anchovies) is 27in high and 19in in diameter, holds 35 gallons and costs pounds 13.99. It will fit comfortably inside a greenhouse. A 55-gallon tank, with a fixed top, a drainpipe hole and a tap, is 46in tall and 21in in diameter and costs pounds 20.99. Delivery is free. The Tank Exchange is at Lewden House, Barnsley Road, Dodworth, Barnsley S75 3JU (01226 203852).

Portways gas heaters were originally designed for commercial growers in Holland, but the company has now developed two heaters for gardeners to use in their greenhouses over winter. The heaters are thermostatically controlled, to adjust the heat in sunny conditions, and are fitted with sensors so that the gas is turned off if the pilot light blows out. They are economical to run, and can be set to produce temperatures anywhere between 43 F and 88 F (6 C-31 C). The Portway 35 (pounds 152.46) produces a maximum of 3.5kW, the Portway 60 (pounds 175.96) produces 6kW. For more details contact Taylor and Portway, 52 Broton Drive Trading Estate, Halstead, Essex CO9 1HB (01787 472551.