Gardening: weekend work

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The Independent Online
April is a good time to plant conifers, but in exposed areas, protect newly planted specimens with a windbreak. Water well in dry spells.

Summer-flowering bulbs, such as camassia and galtonia, are on sale now. Both are well worth having. Camassia will naturalise in grass, sending up thick blue spikes of flower in June and July. They are happiest in heavy, damp soil. Set the bulbs 4in deep. If planting in grass, the easiest way is to start the bulbs off in pots and transplant when the green shoots are growing strongly. Chop out turves about 1ft square and plant the bulbs in the spaces, topped up with fresh earth.

Galtonias need more mollycoddling. These send up thick, stiff stems at least 3ft high, covered with white flowers like enormous hyacinths. Plant the bulbs about 6in deep and 1ft apart.

Trim winter-flowering heathers, taking care not to cut into old growths. Low-growing branches can be layered to produce new plants. Scoop out a little hollow and bend the branch into it, securing it with a hoop of wire or a stone.

Continue to plant vegetables, where the soil is dry and easily worked. I have just put in radish `Ribella' (Marshalls, 83p), the giant winter leek `Wila' (Marshalls, pounds 1.23), and a new looseleaf lettuce called `Frisby' (Dobies, 92p), which has curly, crunchy leaves that you can harvest over a long period, and is slow to run to seed.

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