Weekend Work: Time to plant up hanging baskets

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The Independent Online

What to do

Plant up hanging baskets, leaving a saucer-shaped dip in the compost to make watering easier. Leave the basket in a greenhouse or sheltered place indoors until plants are well established and all danger of frost has passed. Shallow troughs can be watered more easily through a funnel jammed in the earth. This ensures that moisture soaks down to plant roots.

* An overdose of fertiliser will burn grass as easily as weedkiller. Resist the temptation to add extra handfuls when you use lawn feeds. Mechanical spreaders are the best way to distribute the stuff evenly. Remember, too, that more feeding will mean more mowing.

* Seedlings at various stages of growth dominate gardeners at this time of the year. My cobaeas are growing too fast, the tomatoes not fast enough. There will soon be a traffic jam of monumental proportions in the greenhouse and cold frames.

* I have just sown seed of a carnation 'Stripes and Picotees' (Thompson & Morgan £3.49) to replace the hoary old plants of 'Peach Delight' that I grew from seed six years ago. These were lined out along a path beside the herbs where I could cut the flowers. Germination takes from 7-14 days, then the seedlings have to be pricked out into individual 7cm (3in) pots to grow on before they can be planted out in the garden.

* Stroking the tops of seedlings daily with the edge of a piece of card is said to keep them more compact. In natural conditions outside, wind compresses stem growth and young plants are not drawn up to the light as artificially as they are indoors.

* Sift fresh soil over clumps of saxifrage where there are black or bare patches. Do the same for auriculas which have a tendency to heave themselves out of the soil.

What to do

Garden designer Arne Maynard's courses continue next month with a day-long tutorial on 'Planting Herbaceous Perennials'. Yes – you'll learn the practicalities, says Arne, but what he mostly wants to get across is the importance of texture and form as well as colour in a planting scheme. The course on 16 June (9.45am-5pm) costs £180 including lunch and will be held at Allt-y-bela, Arne Maynard's home near Usk, Monmouthshire. To book, call 020-7689 8100 or email info@arne-maynard.com.