Anna Pavord: Weekend Work

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The Independent Online

What to do

Cut everlastings before the flowers come into full bloom and hang them in bunches upside down to dry in a cool, airy place. Poppy heads also need gathering before they get ravaged by insects burrowing out from the inside.

The first hyacinth bulbs for forcing are already in shops and garden centres. If you want these extra-early bulbs to flower by Christmas, they need to be planted before the middle of September. Choose a bowl at least 10cm deep and, if it has no drainage holes, use bulb fibre rather than compost for the planting. Set the bulbs with their noses above the surface of the compost and water well. Store the bowl in a cool place (not more than 9C) for 8-11 weeks. Bring the bowl into the warm when the flower buds are pushing out from the bulbs. Flowering should be in full swing three weeks after the bulbs come into the light.



What to buy

Way back in late spring, I went to Taylor's Tulip Showground in Lincolnshire, a surprising patch of ground on the A17 going east out of Holbeach towards Long Sutton. By the look of my notebook it was raining even then, but I can still just read the names of the tulips I especially liked there: 'Rem's Favourite' with a dark blackcurrant flame on a white ground, the double late 'Blue Diamond' which I grew in our front border with the lily-flowered 'Lilac Time', the fine double 'Orange Princess' feathered with soft bronze and purple, the lily-flowered tulip 'Elegant Lady', lemon yellow with greyish smudging, beautiful blood-red 'Bastogne' which in a pot would knock you out at a hundred yards, 'Madonna' a big blowsy white parrot, flushed with green. For more information, visit bulbs.co.uk or call 01406 426216.

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