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Weekend Work

I HAVE been planting clematis, thoughtfully sent out at exactly the right time by the Valley Clematis Nursery of Hainton, Lincs. They are mostly late-flowering types: C. viticella, which has small, purple, nodding flowers, 'Kermesina', with deep-crimson flowers, and 'Abundance', which has mauve-pink flowers, set off with bosses of greenish stamens.

You need to dig a good-sized pit for a clematis and fill it with the most delicious compost you can find, mixed with bonemeal. If you set the plant rather lower than it has been growing in its pot, you will encourage it to send out more stems next spring.

New growth on the various kinds of Virginia creeper has now slowed down, so this is a good time to clip it away from windows, roofs and gutters. Ivy climbing on house walls can be tidied up in a similar way.

Set out plants grown from seed, such as double daisies and foxgloves, in their permanent positions, firming the soil well round the plants and watering them in thoroughly. Stocks and wallflowers should also be planted now.

Do not burn fallen leaves. Stuff them into dustbin liners or old fertiliser sacks instead, seal up the sacks and store them somewhere out of the way.

This time next year you will have sacks of excellent leaf mould to use as mulch on the garden. Grass clippings mixed with the leaves will also speed up the rotting process.

Sow sweet peas in pots or tubes. The insides of lavatory rolls make excellent sweet-pea nurseries. Set the tubes on edge in a seed tray, fill with compost, press one seed in each tube, then put them to overwinter in a cold frame or an unheated greenhouse.

My sweet peas are still staggering on, flowering enough at least for me to gather a couple of bunches a week. 'Rosalind' (Unwins pounds 1.45) was the most successful this year. It is a warm rose-pink and quite well scented.

Stony silence

THE DIREST collection of humour imaginable is contained in The World's Best Gardening Jokes by Charles Alverson (Angus & Robertson pounds 2.99).

Samples: 'The beggar wasn't doing very well until he printed a crude sign and placed it beside his upturned hat on the ground. 'Wife, two children and ornamental garden to support'.' ' 'When my son turns 21 next month,' said our gardening club chairman proudly, 'I'm going to give him his own key - to our mini-tractor'.'

Does anybody out there know any good gardening jokes? A bottle of Hindmarsh Hills 1992 Chenin Blanc is on offer for any jokes that raise a laugh from at least two members of the Weekend team.

Gargoyles, please

MR J WAREING writes from Seaford, in Sussex, to ask about replicas of gargoyles that he can use to decorate his garden. If anyone out there is making them, please get in touch with him via the Independent.

Restoration art

AN EXHIBITION of paintings of flowers and fruit by Lady Emma Tennant opens on Wednesday at the Chelsea Gardener, 125 Sydney Street, London SW3, and continues until next Saturday. Proceeds will go towards the restoration of Prior Park, an outstanding 18th-century landscape garden on the outskirts of Bath which has recently been acquired by the National Trust. Flowers including daphne, honeysuckle, sweet pea, clematis and violet are the chief subjects.