Cuttings: Weekend work

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The Independent Online
CONTINUE to sow seeds of annual flowers and prick out seedlings that are showing their first pairs of true leaves. I have been pricking out Salvia farinacea 'Blue Victory' (Suttons, pounds 1.50), sown on 10 March. It makes blue spikes of flower, arranged rather like a lavender spike, but the blue is far more intense, and colours the stems as well as the flowers themselves. Its only fault is that, like most salvias, it is later coming to its peak than you would wish.

Mulch and feed shrubs while the ground is still damp from recent rain. This helps to conserve moisture and will provide a slowly released reservoir of nutrients.

Continue to deadhead daffodils, leaving the stem intact to feed goodness back into the bulbs. Do not tie foliage into knots and do not mow over areas of grass where daffodils are planted until all the leaves have died down.

'What about my Coronilla glauca?' writes Moira McNicol of London W13. 'It has flowered throughout the winter but is now looking exhausted and frosted. Do I prune, tidy or what?'

Coronillas do not need regular pruning but at this time of the year you can tidy them up by cutting out diseased or damaged shoots. The shrub, which has small, glaucous leaves and pea flowers of bright yellow, grows quite quickly and will soon replenish itself. It requires a sheltered position.

Ms McNicol was also wondering about her penstemons, which are looking, she says, 'as good as they did last summer, tall, green, but, of course, no bloom. Do I cut to the ground or what?'

Although it delays flowering, I would say yes, cut. Left to their own devices, penstemons become very sprawly and woody. Cutting them back each season promotes clean, more easily managed growth.

Fuchsias that have been overwintered are breaking into growth now. Gradually increase watering and move them to a place where the temperature can be maintained at about 50F. If they are tender varieties, do not set them outside until late May, when they are in full leaf.

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