Gardening: Cuttings

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The Independent Online
SHEAR over clumps of aubrieta, arabis and other similar rock plants to remove dead flowers and reduce straggling growth. Clean candytuft and alyssum, by cutting out flowered stems. Shear back the foliage of early- flowering Iris unguicularis so that the sun can warm the rhizomes.

Tree seedlings, mostly ash and sycamore, are sprouting prodigiously after the wet spring. Unless you want them, remove them before they get too entrenched.

Successional sowings of vegetables such as beetroot, carrot, lettuce and radish never quite result in the smooth progression of crops recommended by the manuals. Even so, small amounts of lettuce and radish can go in, together with longer rows of beetroot and carrot. Water the ground before, not after, sowing. Tomato and courgette plants need plenty of water. Sink a plastic pot beside each plant so that its rim is level with the surface of the soil. Water tipped into the pots will go straight to the roots and less will be lost by evaporation. Bush tomatoes need no pinching out, but check other varieties twice a week so that side shoots can be nipped out and the plants tied in to their supports.

A high potash feed, such as Tomorite, helps to produce plenty of flowers and fruit. If the plants are short of water, too many potash dinners may result in magnesium deficiency which shows as yellowing of the leaves between the veins. The cure for this is a dose of Epsom salts.

A paean to peonies

ALICE HARDING wrote her classic Book of the Peony in 1917, and her observations on the flower are as valid today. Roy Klehm, a past president of the American Peony Society, has updated the original text for The Peony (Batsford, pounds 20), taking in material from another Harding offering, Peonies in the Little Garden. Nothing is more sumptuous than peonies in June and this is the only book available on the genus. A particularly useful chapter, 'Why Some Peonies Do Not Bloom', lists the best varieties in various categories. The index, however, is inadequate, covering only garden varieties, not species.

Organic fare

THE Henry Doubleday Research Association is holding its first organic-gardening weekend today and tomorrow, with more than 100 members opening their gardens to the public. Parton Garden, in the stableyard of Parton House, Parton, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire, is open tomorrow (10.30am-3.30pm), admission pounds 1. Marian Weber is opening her garden at 28 Appletree Drive, Lancaster, today and tomorrow (1-5pm), admission by donation. This is a garden made on a steeply sloping site. On the Benton Road allotment site in Ilford, Essex, Daphne Greig and friends are opening the plots they have gardened organically for seven years. There is a Worcesterberry hedge, an asparagus bed and a plot devoted to globe artichokes. Open today and tomorrow (2-5pm), admission 50p.

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