Weekend Work: Time to sow biennials


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The Independent Online

What to do

Sow biennials such as double daisies (Bellis perennis), forget-me-not, foxgloves, honesty (especially the variegated, white-flowered one), Icelandic poppies, polyanthus, sweet rocket, Canterbury bells, sweet williams and wallflowers.

Seed can be sown in short rows outside. Water the drills first if the ground is very dry. Transplant the plants in rows when they start to crowd each other. Plant them out in their final positions in Sept.

Watch out for blackfly homing in on the broad beans and pinch out the tops of the plants if necessary. Look at your gooseberries, too. Caterpillars of the sawfly can strip a bush in no time. Picking them off is a pleasant evening's occupation. What to do with them next is more problematic.

Sow French beans, which germinate very quickly when the ground is warm. Water them well if the ground is dry. Make further sowings of lettuce, radish and cress. Continue to pinch out the sideshoots of staked tomatoes.

What to buy

One of my weaknesses is secondhand books, so much more alluring when read about in a catalogue, rather than a website. Valerie Merritt's new list has recently arrived with details of Wilfred Blunt's The Art of Botanical Illustration (£60). I've had my copy for at least 10 years and use it constantly. For your own copy of the catalogue, call 01684 566777 or e-mail valeriecmerritt@yahoo.com