Gardening Update: Weekend work

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The Independent Online
CUT down the flowered stems of enthusiastic self-seeders such as aquilegia, sweet rocket and Jacob's ladder. A twist of wire around the stems of specific foxgloves, while they still have a remnant of colour at the top of their spikes, will help to sort out future displays. You can then pull up all the old plants that you have not marked for self-seeding.

You could also start a new colony from seed. Unwins offers either the pure white form, or the hybrid 'Excelsior', bred to display its bells less droopingly than the wild form. Both are 79p.

If you have not had the benefit of June's thunderstorms (we are parched and panting in Dorset), water the seed drill well before sowing. Thin the seedlings out if necessary and plant them out in their permanent positions this autumn. They like damp, cool ground where they will grow to four or five feet. They are excellent in shade.

Dead-head roses to encourage further flowering. Make the cut at the first proper bud down the stem beneath the flower head. Keep picking sweet peas. They will soon stop flowering if they are allowed to go to seed. I have grown mine cordon-style this year, each plant trained up a single 8ft bamboo cane.

The flower set has been disappointing so far, probably because of the heat and drought, but the flower stems of the blooms that have set are wonderfully long. First into flower was a pale variety 'Pink Expression' (Unwins pounds 1.25) followed by deeper pink 'Vera Lynn' ( pounds 1.25) and the fancy variety 'Champagne Bubbles' (Unwins 89p), which has the best scent.

Continue to remove side shoots from tomato plants and mulch courgettes and cucumbers to conserve moisture in the ground. Transplant cabbages and broccoli from seed bed to final positions.

Take cuttings of garden pinks. Choose shoots about 3in long and stick them into pots which you have filled with a sandy mixture of soil. Firm the soil down well around the cuttings and keep the pot well watered.

Take cuttings of the big indoor Begonia rex. The proper way is to slit the veins under a leaf and lay it flat on the soil, weighted down with pebbles. Small new plants grow from the cuts. I prune my begonia by cutting out one or two of the longest and most impossible stems each year. If you take the top 6in of each of these stems and pot them up singly in compost, they, too, will grow readily into new plants.

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