CUTTINGS

The simple way to grow strawberries of flavour in tubs and bags; a terracotta answer to Christmas; replanting Biddulph's Wellingtonia Avenue to Bateman's grand design
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The Independent Online
I have decided to scrap my strawberry bed because the soil is exhausted and I am unwilling to start another at present," writes Cecilia Barton of Lampeter. "I thought I would try to grow some in a strawberry tub. I should be most grateful if you could give me some advice about how to set about this, particularly what variety to grow and where I could buy them. I am interested in flavour as much as size and heavy cropping."

If you grow in tubs, you need to water and feed heavily if strawberries are to crop well. I would not expect plants under these conditions to last more than two seasons. Terracotta strawberry pots are more attractive in appearance than the white plastic towers, but are expensive. The tower models vary a great deal in price, but there are some "self-watering" types that would cut down on maintenance. You can also grow strawberries successfully in grow-bags, planting 8-10 plants in each bag. You can re-use bags in which you have already grown tomatoes.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given an Award of Merit to 'Aromel', a perpetual type with medium to large fruit of good flavour, and to 'Cambridge Favourite' which crops more heavily but has less flavour. My favourite is 'Cambridge Late Pine' which crops only moderately but the fruits are very well flavoured. You can buy strawberries mail order from Ken Muir, Honeypot Farm, Rectory Rd, Weeley Heath, Essex CO16 9BJ (01255 830181) or from J Tweedie Fruit Trees, Maryfield Rd Nursery, Maryfield, Nr Terregles, Dumfries DG2 9TH (01387 720880).

Ending tomorrow is Jim Keeling's pre-Christmas sale of terracotta pots. Solve your Christmas present conundrums in one swoop. The Whichford Pottery, Whichford, Warwickshire (01608 684416) is open from 9am-5pm.

This winter the National Trust starts a major project at Biddulph, Staffordshire, replanting the Wellingtonia Avenue to the design originally conceived by James Bateman in the 1850s. The original wellingtonias, mixed with deodars and Austrian pines have died and before planting can begin next spring, the head gardener, Bill Malecki, and his team have to get out hundreds of old roots, replenish the top soil and remake the embankments and terraces on which the original avenue was planted. You can watch the work in progress for the garden remains open at weekends (12-4pm, admission pounds 2) until 17 December. Admire the hollies in China while you are there.

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