WEEKEND WORK

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The Independent Online
There have been some desiccating north-easterly winds blowing recently. Wind dries out foliage faster than sun and is particularly difficult for newly planted evergreens to cope with. Spray them regularly with water or rig up plastic mesh windbreaks until the plants are well established.

Delphiniums are growing at last and need to be gently tied in to canes with soft twine. The sappy growths are very brittle. You will get bigger spikes of flower if you thin out the weaker shoots. Slugs are potty about delphiniums. Protect plants if necessary.

Peonies also need staking. The prettiest (and most effective) way to do this is to weave a lobster pot of twigs around and over the clumps. Hazel or willow are the traditional materials to use. But if you have dogwood stems to cut down (see last week's Weekend Work) you can use them instead.

Think about restocking ponds with fish and plants. Fish like to stir around in the soil that the pond plants are set in, but a thick layer of gravel on top of the compost will deter them. Put this on before you lower plants into their final positions.

Continue to sow seed of flowers for planting out later in spring. I have just sown seed of Convolvulus 'Flagship Mixed' (Mr Fothergill pounds 1.35), which should be flowering by July. It has the sort of trumpet flowers you would expect, but comes in a wide range of colours: dark and pale blue, pink and red, all with a white throat. They grow about 12-15in tall and are ideal for tubs and window boxes. This convolvulus is a favourite of hover-flies. They are worth attracting because they gobble up aphids.

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