Weekend Work: Time to pinch sweet peas

 

What to do

If you sowed sweet peas in the autumn and the mice haven't eaten them yet, pinch out the growing tops of the young plants. This forces buds lower down into growth, so you end up with a plant with three stems rather than one. Pinching out is best done when the plants are about 8cm (3in) tall.

Bring 'Paperwhite' narcissus bulbs and hyacinth bowls into the warmth in batches to get as long a flowering succession as possible. With care, you should be able to keep the flow going until early crocus start to flower outside.

If you have a greenhouse or a cold frame, continue to make successional sowings of easy salad crops such as mustard and cress, radishes, rocket and lamb's lettuce.

Complete any pruning of vines before the year is out. Vine sap starts to rise very early in the New Year. If you cut canes then, they bleed copiously, which weakens the plant.

What to see

Garden designer Isabel Bannerman has perfected a way of photographing garden flowers so they emerge, brilliantly spotlit against an infinite black void. These are wonderful, dramatic close-ups, but each one retains the essential nature of the flower. Until 24 Dec you can see (and buy) these images at Jonathan Cooper's gallery, 20 Park Walk, London SW10, 020-7351 0410, Mon-Fri 10am-6.30pm, Sat 11am-4pm

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