Weekend Work: Time to clean out borders


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The Independent Online

What to do

When you are cleaning out borders, try to avoid standing on soggy ground. This compacts the soil and makes it more difficult for plant roots to push their way through it. Spread your weight by using a board.

Don't be too quick to slash down native ivy from trees or fences. The late flowers are a main source of nectar for insects in autumn and the evergreen leaves provide cover for birds.

Remove decaying leaves from waterlilies before they rot entirely and cloud the water. Remove foliage from marginal plants if it is actually trailing in the water.

Plan next year's garden. Gooseberries and currants are best planted now, so they can get their roots established before they leap into action next spring. The best plants to buy are those with a 10-15cm (4-6in) 'foot' or base. Space gooseberry bushes about 1.2-1.5m metres (4-5ft) apart.

What to see

Charles Hamilton bankrupted himself on his 18th-century Surrey estate, Painshill Park. Now, after a long and exemplary restoration you can see how he spent his money: a hermitage, a Gothic tower, an elegant Chinese bridge, a curving lake covering fourteen acres and a spectacular grotto, lined with feldspar. On Wednesdays during November, you can wander round Painshill free of charge (10.30am-4pm). For more information, call 01932 868113 or go to painshill.co.uk