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A wide range of down-to-earth garden sundries is now available mail order through Garden Direct, who launched their new catalogue earlier this year. They offer concentrated seaweed extract (pounds 4.50 per litre) which you can mix up into an extremely effective foliar feed; pelleted chicken manure (pounds 3.75 for 3kg) to scatter as a feed among plants; sulphur candles for fumigating greenhouses (pounds 2.50 for a 225g candle sufficient for a 10ft by 8ft greenhouse); Supergel water-retaining granules to use in hanging baskets (pounds 2.95 for 100g) and much more. Catalogues available from Garden Direct, Geddings Road, Hoddesdon, Herts EN11 0LR (01992 441888).

The curious Swiss Garden at Old Warden, Biggleswade, is open in aid of the National Garden Scheme tomorrow (1pm-5pm). The nine acres of landscaped gardens were laid out by Lord Ongley in the 1830s, with intriguing garden buildings, ponds, and ornamental ironwork quixotically determined to evoke the Alps in the unremittingly flat landscape of the Bedfordshire levels. The estate village of Old Warden was built entirely in the Swiss style. Admission pounds 2.50.

Miss Audrey Vockins, who with her niece runs the fine nursery, Foxgrove Plants, is opening her own garden next door to the nursery tomorrow (2- 5.30pm). Snowdrops are a speciality as are other spring bulbs, many of them naturalised in her orchard. Admission pounds 1.

In Cornwall, another country entirely at this time of the year, the Viscount and Viscountess Boyd will be opening the beautifully planted gardens of Ince Castle, three miles southwest of Saltash next Sunday, 24 March (2-5.30pm). Look for the intricately decorated shell house. Admission pounds 1.50

Since Beth Chatto's triumphant plantings in the former car park at her home in Elmstead Market, Essex, gravel gardens have had a high profile. The English Gardening School has arranged a seminar on 21 March which will cover ways of creating and maintaining a gravel garden. Admission pounds 65. "Foliage with Flowers" is the title of Nan Jennet's talk on 18 April. In the morning she will demonstrate the importance of contrasting these two key elements in border plantings. In the afternoon you can experiment with your own plant groupings. Admission pounds 65. For further information contact the school at the Chelsea Physic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital Rd, London SW3 4HS (0171-352 4347).