Weekend Work: Time to pick tomatoes

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The Independent Online

What to do

Continue to pick tomatoes, which have been slow to fruit this season. Some haven't fruited at all. Of the six different plants set out in the greenhouse, 'Pannovy' has once again been by far the best cropper, 'Beefmaster' the worst.

Lawn seed can be sown now on areas that have been well dug, raked and cleared of stones and debris. The soil is still warm and moist which will encourage seed to germinate and grow. Sown now, it will still have time to establish roots before frost strikes.

Cut back the dying stems of herbaceous perennials and compost them. Do not cut back penstemons. These should be left until March. Cutting back now will encourage fresh young growth which will most likely be clobbered by frost.

What to buy

We'd all make different lists of the Great Gardens of Britain. Mine would include Rousham, Charles Cottrell-Dormer's enchanting garden in Oxfordshire. Helena Attlee's doesn't. Her book of Great Gardens of Britain (Frances Lincoln £16.99), with photographs by her husband Alex Ramsay, sticks to a well-known itinerary. Bodnant, Powis, Stourhead, Hidcote, Wisley... they are all here. But Attlee's writing is so lively, she can even make you look at The Eden Project with new interest.

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