Gardening: Cuttings: Weekend work

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The Independent Online
I HAVE been hurtling through the garden in the good weather this week, leaving a trail of empty seed packets and plant pots, prunings and piles of weeds. Seeds are germinating fast now, and there are rows of lettuce and radish, carrots and beetroot, broccoli, coriander and chervil all zooming away.

Direct-sown annual flowers are always a bit chancy - there are so many creatures determined to wreck the seedlings. But I have scattered poppy seed among the iris and viscaria to fill in among the dying species tulips on the bank. I have not grown viscaria before. This is a strain called 'Heavenly Mixed' (Johnsons, 95p), five-petalled flowers that grow about a foot high in anemone shades of pink, purple and mauve. Seedlings of annual flowers sown outside like this, need to be thinned before plants begin to crowd each other.

May is a good month for taking cuttings, particularly of fuchsia. Occasionally you will find a new shoot with three leaves of the same size. Nip off these shoots and push them gently into trays of light, sandy compost.

Newly planted fruit trees should not be allowed to fruit in their first season. Gently pick off any fruitlets that have set after the blossom falls. The same principle applies to new strawberry plants, which ought to have all their flowers taken off in the first year. (I always cheat and leave some).

Hanging baskets can be planted up with tender bedding plants and kept inside a greenhouse or conservatory until the end of the month, when all threat of frost should have gone.

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