Gardening: cuttings

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The Independent Online
Flower of the hour: winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum. What else flowers unperturbed in the teeth of Siberian gales, on dank north walls, and other places where nobody ever remembers to feed it? It is ill-treated, too, by maniac clippers, who reduce it from an elegant, drooping curtain to an upright shaving-brush. Pin the lax growths up as high as you can and allow the fresh, green growths (the only ones that will flower) to hang down like a waterfall in front of the thicker, buff stems. If you have high retaining walls or banks, plant winter jasmine at the top and allow it to fall naturally down to cover the stonework. When pruning, don't give it a prison haircut overall. Selectively cut out some old flowered stems at base level, leaving the rest of the waterfall intact.

Grown this way, jasmine will climb to 12-15ft, deciduous but looking evergreen because of the brightness of the stems. The clear yellow flowers open from buds often tinged with red, and last from November to February.

I'd feel better about the New Year's crop of bills if they were franked with the Royal Mail's brilliant new greetings stamps, which show off the work of 18th-century flower painters such as Georg Ehret. His brilliant blue Gentiana acaulis, ice-white magnolia and elegant Iris latifolia are among the 10 special stamps. The set also includes two of his lovely tulips. Less well known than Ehret is Augusta Withers, of Lisson Grove in London. She was flower painter in chief to Queen Adelaide in 1830 but her brilliant orange gazania in the greetings stamp set looks as wildly modern as anything from the Flower Van at the Conran Shop in London. The set of 10 first class stamps, with stickers included, costs pounds 2.60 from all post offices.

A little while ago, I mentioned the brilliant red Dahlia coccinea which I had seen in Mary Keen's Gloucestershire garden. Ellis Marks of Norwich is an admirer, too. "I first saw it growing wild in Mexico," says Ms Marks, who later bought herself a plant from Woottens Plants in Suffolk. "This was one of a batch that had been grown from seed collected in Mexico. There was a great deal of variation in flower size and colour. Some had a distinct touch of orange. I saved seed from my plant (a large-flowered, bright red form) and grew on about a dozen plants. Of the three I kept, two had reddish orange flowers and the third was a superb, large-flowered yellow. In the evening it is almost luminous." Woottens of Wenhaston, Halesworth, Suffolk IP19 9HD (01502 478258), is open every day, 9.30am- 5pm. Send pounds 2.50 for the book-sized catalogue.

Highly concentrated 6X organic manure has long been popular with town gardeners who like to retain some connection with the farmyard. Organic Concentrates, which markets 6X, has now launched it in the form of pellets to scatter as a feed on pots, window boxes or small patio beds. A 5kg pack costs around pounds 4.99.

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