Weekend Work: Time to shift plants about

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The Independent Online

What to do

Now, while the earth is still warm but also moist after recent rain, is the ideal time to shift plants about. Herbaceous plants will move more easily if you cut down some of their foliage. Dig them a comfortable new hole and fork up the bottom so the roots can penetrate the earth quickly. I put bonemeal in the hole too, as an extra boost. Foxglove, verbascum, aquilegia, geranium and 'Verbena bonariensis' can all be re-housed successfully in this way.

Plant wallflowers, remembering that the plants will not grow any bigger before they start to flower next spring, so can be set quite close together. Painfully, I am trying to establish them in a stone retaining wall, wrapping the roots in packets of compost contained in damp tissue and ramming them into the chinks, in the hope that the damp and the compost will keep them ticking over until they find their feet. The success rate is not high, but the effect, where it works, is pleasing enough to encourage me to continue with the experiment.

Pick late keeping apples for eating over Christmas and the New Year. Store them separately from early and mid-season apples: the ethylene gas given off by ripe earlier fruit will cause the late ones to deteriorate.

Stop watering tuberous begonias and gloxinias in pots, so that they die down naturally. Store the tubers for the winter in a cool, dry place.

What to see

Apple Day (21 Oct) was launched by the environmental charity Common Ground 21 years ago. Then, it was one apple-themed bash in Covent Garden. Now it's celebrated all over the country in orchard plantings, apple-tastings and other apple-themed events. For a full list, go to commonground.org.uk. In Devon, on 20 Oct (2-4pm), Kevin Croucher is holding a session on choosing the best apples. Call 01884 266746 to book a place, at £12.90.

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