Click to follow
The Independent Online
Brodsworth Hall, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire, built in extravagant Italianate style, opens this week after four years' intensive conservation work by English Heritage. The gardens, which cover 15 acres, were landscaped in the high Victorian manner in the 1860s and have remained largely unaltered.

Around the house, dense Victorian shrubberies including strawberry trees, some as tall as 30ft, are broken up by extravagant bedding schemes.

Work is still going on to restore the old quarry garden where a series of paths once linked a stone summerhouse, a pet's cemetery, rockeries and a long, curving pergola made in iron. Brodsworth Hall is open Tues- Sun (1pm-6pm), admission pounds 4.

"Several years ago I bought a frangipani plant advertised in the Independent," writes Margaret Little from Hythe, Kent. "It duly arrived, a healthy stump with two nodules. Each produced two upright arms or fringes. Each year the plant takes on the appearance of a happily demented hare, with large, greyish-green leaves tufting from each arm. Later it rejects them to show an alarming indifference to the world at large.

"Not yet being consoled by a single flower, I wonder if any other reader so beguiled can offer helpful ideas?" Frangipani freaks to write c/o the Independent please.

Satisfying though freshly turned earth is, moisture in the soil will be better conserved if you mulch round vegetables after you have weeded them. Outdoor tomatoes respond well to being packed round with grass cuttings. So do courgettes and cucumbers, globe artichokes and sweetcorn.

Cut down flowered stems of aquilegia and sweet rocket before they spread seed everywhere. Twist bits of string round the stems of foxgloves that you want to self-seed.

Cabbage and broccoli plants have been on sale for the past few weeks. Water them in well when you plant them out and firm the earth down properly around their roots. As the plants grow, mound up compost round their stems to provide the rich food they require. In windy situations this also provides extra stability.

Take cuttings (about three inches long) of garden pinks and stick them into pots filled with a sandy mixture of soil. You can also propagate the big indoor Begonia rex now. Take off some well developed leaves, slit the veins in half a dozen places on the underside of each leaf, then lay them right side up in a box of damp compost. If necessary, weigh the leaves down with small pebbles to keep them in contact with the soil.