Gardening: All the signs of the horticultural zodiac: Trust a tenacious Taurean to read the instructions on a weedkiller pack - but never discuss peat or pesticides with a nosey Scorpio. Your style of gardening is written in the stars, says Anna Pavord

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Aquarius (22 January to 19 February). Flower: Orchid. Tree: Nut trees and most fruit trees.

Pisces (20 February to 20 March). Flower: Water lily. Tree: Fig, willow.

Aries (21 March to 20 April). Flower: Geranium, thistle, honeysuckle, witch-hazel. Tree: Any thorn-bearing tree or shrub.

Taurus (21 April to 21 May). Flower: Rose, poppy, violet, foxglove, vine. Tree: Ash, cypress, apple.

Gemini (22 May to 21 June). Flower: Lily of the valley, lavender. Tree: Nut trees.

Cancer (22 June to 22 July). Flower: Acanthus, wild flowering plants. Tree: Any tree rich in sap.

Leo (23 July to 23 August). Flower: Sunflower, marigold, dahlia, rosemary. Tree: Orange and all citrus trees, bay, palm.

Virgo (24 August to 23 September). Flower: Small, brightly coloured flowers. Tree: Nut trees.

Libra (24 September to 23 October). Flower: All blue flowers, large, opulent roses, vines. Tree: Ash.

Scorpio (24 October to 22 November). Flower: All dark red flowers. Tree: Bushy types of tree, blackthorn, nut trees.

Sagittarius (23 November to 21 December). Flower: Pinks. Tree: Lime, mulberry, ash, oak, birch.

Capricorn (22 December to 21 January). Flower: Pansy, hemlock, ivy. Tree: Pine, willow, elm, poplar.

VIRGO is a boring astrological sign to be born under: duty, order, attention to detail and practicality are supposed to be one's strong points. I have always wanted to be a Leo: proud, confident, generous, ruled by the Sun rather than murky Mercury. Gardeners, though, should probably be Taureans: stable, persistent, steadfast, tenacious, thorough, with the ability to learn from experience.

Modern astrologers never address themselves to important things such as gardening. They are strangely obsessed with peripheral preoccupations: career opportunities, emotional relationships and such like. These are interesting enough in their way but cannot compare with the really big issues: the likely success of a climbing rose; the possibility of a new pot in your life.

In old astrology books, horticulture had a more important part to play. You find lists of plants specially suited to each star sign. Virgoans apparently have an affinity with nut trees. This is exactly the encouragement I need to go out and buy a rather expensive walnut that I have had my eye on for some time. Horoscopes can usually be interpreted to one's own advantage.

Anyone looking for a similar excuse to spend may find it in the following list of star signs and their associated plants.

Aquarius (22 January to 19 February). Flower: orchid. Tree: nut trees and most fruit trees.

Pisces (20 February to 20 March). Flower: water lily. Tree: fig, willow.

Aries (21 March to 20 April). Flower: geranium, thistle, honeysuckle, witch- hazel. Tree: any thorn tree or shrub.

Taurus (21 April to 21 May). Flower: rose, poppy, violet, foxglove, vine. Tree: ash, cypress, apple.

Gemini (22 May to 21 June). Flower: lily of the valley, lavender. Tree: nut trees.

Cancer (22 June to 22 July). Flower: acanthus, wild flowering plants. Tree: any tree rich in sap.

Leo (23 July to 23 August). Flower: sunflower, marigold, dahlia, rosemary. Tree: orange, bay, palm.

Virgo (24 August to 23 September). Flower: small, brightly coloured flowers. Tree: nut trees.

Libra (24 September to 23 October). Flower: all blue flowers; large, opulent roses; vines. Tree: ash.

Scorpio (24 October to 22 November). Flower: all dark red flowers. Tree: bushy types, blackthorn, nut trees.

Sagittarius (23 November to 21 December). Flower: pinks. Tree: lime, mulberry, ash, oak, birch.

Capricorn (22 December to 21 January). Flower: pansy, hemlock, ivy. Tree: pine, willow, elm, poplar.

Nut trees feature with suspicious frequency. They are evidently the bankers, the horticultural equivalent of the 'difficult truths' and 'turning points' that you find in mainstream astrological copy. If you throw in enough turning points and nut trees, by the law of averages someone, somewhere is bound to say: 'How strange . . . how true.'

Although we have no choice in the matter of our birth, a horticultural horoscope would at least help gardeners to choose the tasks most suited to them. Leos, for instance, are likely to be dangerous with secateurs in their hands. They should not be let loose on pruning. Bribe a Virgoan to train and tie in your wall shrubs.

A morello cherry made it clear to me that there is no chance of escaping one's astrological destiny in the garden. It was planted against a north-facing wall in 1985, and ever since has had a disproportionate amount of time devoted to it. It is trained as a fan, and the fact that morellos fruit better on new wood than old means that each spring you need to reorganise the fan, cutting out some of the oldest wood and tying in replacement branches. All the side- shoots need tying in as well and, as morellos can cope with more of these than, say, peaches or apricots, there is quite a forest of them, even on a tree that has been established for only seven years.

I have to admit there are few jobs I enjoy more than tying in the morello. I like the preliminary prowl up and down in front of it to assess its potential - space to be filled, likely branch leaders, likely victims. I like the flat pattern that the branches make against the wall, each secured to its own vine eye.

'Very Virgoan,' said a friend who, on her third visit, found me still up the same ladder ministering to the same tree. 'I bet you like pricking out seedlings, too. And pruning. And properly edged paths.' She eats horoscopes for breakfast, so there was no point in denying it. Anyway, it was true.

If your own horticultural destiny is less clear, read on.

AQUARIUS

Tolerance is the Aquarian's strong suit, and it is a good trait in a gardener; but it is also the sign of a dreamer. There is a danger that in their own gardens, Aquarians' dreams will never be translated into reality. By concentrating on designing gardens for other people, they can get round this problem neatly. Aquarians' ideas are likely to be futuristic: pergolas of spun steel, water gardens of Perspex, laser light shows among the lilies.

PISCES

Pisceans are apt to be lazy and to take the line of least resistance. They will welcome the vogue for wild-flower gardens and the notion of letting the garden take care of itself. This is fine, as long as its their own garden and not their employer's. Pisceans are intuitive. They will recognise that a plant is in difficulties before it is past saving. They are also naturally co-operative: good people to have in communal gardens.

ARIES

Ariens are good at getting round obstacles, and are extremely energetic. Call one in when you want to demolish a rotting greenhouse or circumvent a drain. They also like quick results, which makes them impatient gardeners. They will be more likely to choose a quick-growing shrub such as mallow rather than a slow-growing but far more beautiful one such as daphne.

TAURUS

Taureans make ideal gardeners because they are tenacious enough to stick at the grimmest of jobs: clearing stones from a newly dug bed, raking leaves. The Taurean's worst fault is stubborness. They do not accept advice easily. Home life is important to them, and that includes the garden. Taureans do not believe in short cuts, the downfall of more flamboyant Leos. They always read the instructions on the back of weedkiller packs.

GEMINI

Geminis love variety and change, and are likely to move house more frequently than those born under other signs. Their gardens will be full of annuals and bedding plants. They will go in for pots rather than permanent plantings. Because gardening will be only one of several interests, the garden will never quite get the attention it deserves; but Geminis are good at pretending to know more than they do. They are archetypal buyers of gadgets.

CANCER

Cancerians like looking after things, but they sometimes make a simple nurturing job much more complex than need be. They are likely to specialise in difficult alpine plants, and to invent complex life-support systems for house plants when they go away for a weekend. They will enjoy raising cuttings and seeds, particularly the type that take more than a year to germinate.

LEO

Leos like working towards some specific goal and, since they also enjoy being in the limelight, they are happier seeing their flowers on the show bench than in the garden. Outrageous flowers, such as gladioli and dahlias, chrysanthemums and begonias, will be much more their thing than tasteful euphorbias and hellebores. And they like giving things away, so they can be useful friends.

VIRGO

Virgoans are good planners and organisers, but fret if things are not going as they should, which happens more often than not in gardening. They are best left to work on their own for they can be hypercritical, often unfairly, of other people's efforts in their patch. They are not afraid of hard work: set them to shift railway sleepers, or to turn your compost heap.

LIBRA

There should be a Libran on the committee of every gardening club, for they are diplomatic, love harmony and are brilliant mediators. Compromise can lead to indecision, though, in the matter of their own gardens. A white rose or a yellow one to climb round the porch? Pinks or pansies in the front border? When they have decided, the result will be enviable. Librans get their gardens into all the best books.

SCORPIO

Scorpios have beady eyes for their own and everyone else's business. They will be able to give you a run-down on the cheapest source of supply for anything from compost to petunias. Unfortunately, the periscope head that looms over the garden fence when you least want to talk is also apt to be a Scorpio's. In conversation, avoid contentious issues such as peat and pesticides.

SAGITTARIUS

Sagittarians are blunt. At worst, this can be hurtful. At best, it can open your eyes to some of the more pretentious aspects of gardening. Is your treillage trompe l'oeil really necessary? Was it, after all, a good idea to make a border of green-flowered plants? However Sagittarians do not sulk and they are forgiving; but they seldom learn from the mistakes they have made. They murder more rhododendrons than any other group of gardeners.

CAPRICORN

Economical is the polite way to describe Capricorn gardeners. They are the ones who save their own seeds, wrapped in screws of paper in old Ovaltine tins. Capricorn people are practical and will work hard to achieve results. This asset should not be underestimated. They Their self-discipline extends even to hideous chores, such as scrubbing down the greenhouse glass.

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