Garden Update: Weekend work

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The Independent Online
CONTINUE to plant daffodil bulbs to naturalise in grass. The best tool for this job is a long-handled bulb planter, which you use like a spade to take out deep plugs of soil and turf. The bulb goes in the hole, is sealed up with the plug and miraculously heaves its way through to the light in spring. Short-handled trowel planters are rather worse than short-handled trowels for this job.

A lengthy trial of bulbs for naturalising at the RHS Wisley garden showed that the deep yellow 'Golden Harvest', creamy white 'Mount Hood' and the pink-tinged 'Mrs RO Backhouse' all continue to flower well after 10 years in the ground.

In a wild-flower meadow, less blatant types are called for. Stick to species or near-species such as the Tenby daffodil, Narcissus Pseudonarcissus obvallaris, ( pounds 9.50 per 100 from Parkers) or the white N. cyclamineus 'Jenny' (same price). Both grow to about a foot. Bonemeal added at the time of planting will help them to compete on more equal terms with grass.

Puschkinia and Anemone blanda will also naturalise very successfully and should be planted as soon as possible. Puschkinia can be planted in short grass, rockeries or in the front of a border. They look like scillas, growing up to 6in, with pale blue flowers arranged in a spike. They flourish in sun or half shade and bloom between March and May. Anemone blanda come in a range of colours - blue, mauve, pink and white - and have starry daisy-like flowers between February and April.

Pot up rooted cuttings of zonal and ivy-leaved pelargoniums, so that the plants have a chance to develop a decent root system before winter sets in. Use a 3 1/2 in pot and firm the compost down well round the cuttings.

Carrots close at hand are a far more appealing vegetable than carrots sunk to their necks in clay, 50 rainy yards from the back door. Lift main crop carrots and store them in buckets of damp sand or politically incorrect peat in a cool place inside. Some varieties such as 'Chantenay' and 'Autumn King' stand well in the ground, but may need a loose mulch of straw later on if they are not to be solidly frozen in situ.

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