Weekend Work: Time to plant out tulip bulbs

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What to do

Unfortunately, tulips are not as reliable in the matter of repeat flowering as daffodils. If they were, my garden would be wall to wall tulips. Nevertheless, it is worth planting out bulbs that have been lifted from pots and tubs. I replant them straight into the ground rather than storing them. There are often more hazards in storage than are met with in the ground. If you decide to replant, put a good sprinkling of bonemeal into each hole to help build up the bulb for next growing season.

Continue successional sowings of salad crops such as radish and lettuce. I have been very pleased with a lettuce mixture called 'Colour Shades Mix' (Thompson & Morgan £2.19) which you can go on sowing until July. It is pretty enough to use in a window box or tub, perhaps planted with lobelia or bright yellow bidens daisies. The cos lettuce 'Claremont' (Marshalls £1.45) has also done well. You need this kind of lettuce to add the crunch that the loose leaf types don't have.

Early flowering herbaceous plants such as oriental poppies can be cut back to the ground after they have flowered. The perennial cornflower 'Centaurea montana' also needs shearing back if you want a second crop of flowers.

Tidy up old flowered stems of sweet rocket and pick over clumps of violas regularly to nip off dead heads.

Pinch out the tips of young dahlia plants to make them bushy and fence plants in with strong stakes as they bulk up. A thick mulch of leaves, compost or grass cuttings round plants will help conserve moisture.

What to see

Various attempts have been made over here to set up a plant fair as stylish as Courson in France. The closest thing so far is the Cottesbrooke Hall Plant Finders Fair which continues today and tomorrow (10am-5.30pm) at Cottesbrooke, nr Northampton NN6 8PF. All the best nurseries will be there and the best of all gardening mags, ‘Gardens Illustrated’, is organising a plant swap. Admission £7.50. For more details call 01604 505808 or go to cottesbrookehall.co.u