CONDITIONS, finally, are more propitious for seed sowing in the vegetable garden. Sow peas, lettuce, chervil and radish; and, if you have not already done so, start celeriac off in a pot inside. When the seedlings have grown, prick them out in trays, as you would annual flowers, and grow them on until they are big enough to set in rows in their final positions. Lettuce, peas and radish are all best eaten young and tender. Sow seed at three-weekly intervals through the summer.
Keep an eye on the way clematis are growing. Left to themselves, they tangle in a clump. Tweak out the various shoots and set them off in different directions, so they cover the widest possible area. They are much happier growing through other shrubs than they are on their own. Try 'Lady Londesborough' (pale mauve-blue, turning silver grey) through a silver-leaved pittosporum.
Raspberry suckers are coming through fast and, as always, there are plenty that have strayed far from their parent plants. Pull up or cut off any that are more than 6in or so from the original rows.
There is still time to take cuttings of tender plants such as geranium, begonia, dahlia and fuchsia. If you have already rooted cuttings of geranium and fuchsia, pinch out the tops of the new plants to make bushy specimens. Sweet pea plants raised indoors should be planted out when they have been thoroughly hardened off. They will need something to scramble up, twiggy sticks, netting or bamboo canes.
Weeds have been growing rapidly since the sun started shining. Try at least to keep on top of the most free-seeding types such as groundsel, landcress and dandelion.
Pop to Cork
THE Cork Garden Festival opened yesterday and continues until next Sunday. Eight gardens are open in the area, including Mary Byrne's at Hillside, Annmount, Glounthaune, which has a superb rockery and scree bed. She also has a good collection of rare trees and shrubs. The garden is open every day during the festival (10am-5pm). Admission is pounds 2.50.
Pearl Fitzgerald shows what you can do with an open, windswept site at Hill View, Sheepwalk West, Fermoy, where she has used quantities of old stone to make raised beds and paved areas. Open every day until 15 May (10am-5pm). Admission costs pounds 2.
Aileen Kennedy has a mature suburban garden at Clanaboy, Woodleigh Park, Model Farm Road, Cork, with a pool and rare shrubs. The garden is open every day during the festival (10am-5pm and 7- 9pm). Admission costs pounds 2. For details of more gardens to visit in Ireland, see The Hidden Gardens of Ireland by Marianne Heron (Gill & Macmillan, pounds 7.99).
RARE original drawings from the Royal Horticultural Society's Lindley Library are on show from next Wednesday at Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. The earliest work in the collection is a superb but unpublished florilegium by the Dutch artist Pieter van Kouwenhoorn, from 1630. The exhibition continues until 24 July (10am-5pm daily, admission free).
THE Suffolk Group of the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens is holding a spring plant Sale tomorrow (12-4pm) at Felsham House, Felsham, near Bury St Edmunds. Admission is pounds 1.
TO MARK the 400th anniversary of the first tulip to bloom in the Netherlands, James Sellick at Pashley Manor, Ticehurst, Sussex, has arranged a Festival of Tulips, which runs from 12-17 May. Warmhoven de Groot will be arranging a huge display of tulips in the great hall. Pashley Manor is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday (11am- 5pm). Admission pounds 3.
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