Gardening Update: Weekend work

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The Independent Online
THERE are several hardy annuals that will make a good show early next year if you sow them outside now in the place that you want them to flower.

Sow them as thinly as possible, cover lightly with sifted soil or compost and firm this down on top of the seeds. Protect with netting against cats and birds until the seedlings are established. Do not thin the seedlings until the spring. There are bound to be casualties before then.

Annuals such as poppy, calendula, larkspur, limnanthes (called fried egg because each flower has a brilliant yellow centre surrounded by white tipped petals), love in the mist, clarkia and cornflower can all be treated in this fashion.

Take cuttings of shrubs such as berberis, phlomis and potentilla. They will root most easily in a light mixture of sand and peat. Choose shoots that are 6-9in long and pull them off the parent bush so that they have a reasonably sized 'heel' (a slip of old wood) attached. Bury them about 3in deep and firm the compost down well around the cuttings.

After picking the last of the peaches and nectarines off them, wall-trained trees will need pruning and the new shoots tying in to replace the old fruited shoots. Cut out entirely any shoots that grow straight out of the front of the tree at right angles to the wall or fence.

Check ties regularly on top of heavy plants such as dahlias and chrysanthemums. Dahlias, especially, suffered during the tempests of late August, but there is still time for them to flower.

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