Gardening: Cuttings: Weekend work

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The Independent Online
WHERE watering is allowed, this is a priority. My clay ground already has cracks of frightening size, despite the heavy rain during winter and spring. Hydrangeas flag particularly badly when water is short, and it has been difficult to get young brassica plants established. Water them in their holes, like leeks, before stamping the ground firm round their stems.

The most efficient way to water single, important plants is through a pot or length of drainpipe sunk into the ground, close to the main stem of the plant. This delivers water straight to the roots and less is lost through evaporation.

Bearded iris should be split up and replanted now. Break up old rhizomes, discard the pieces with no leaves and replant the new sections, cutting down each fan of leaves to about 6in. Plant shallowly so the top of the rhizome is above the ground and can be baked by the sun.

Regular dead-heading is important if annuals are to continue making a show through August. Argyranthemums and osteospermums also respond well to regular winnowing.

Mildew has started to be an unsightly nightmare. I have been disappointed by the performance of the much-trumpeted blue scabious I planted this spring. From the start, the plants have suffered grossly from mildew. Acanthus also looks bad. Drench plants with a fungicide such as Benlate.