Weekend Work: Time to sow some hardy annuals

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The Independent Online

What to do

There are several hardy annuals which will make a good show early next year if they're sown outside now in their flowering site. Sow them as thinly as possible, cover lightly with sifted soil and firm it down. Then protect them with netting against marauding cats and birds until the seedlings are decently established. Don't do any thinning out until next spring. Annuals such as poppy, calendula, larkspur, limnanthes (called fried eggs because each flower has a brilliant yellow centre surrounded by white tipped petals), love-in-the-mist, clarkia and cornflowers can all be treated in this fashion.

Take cuttings of shrubs such as berberis, phlomis and potentilla. They will root most easily in a light mixture of compost and sand or vermiculite. Choose shoots that are between 15 and 20cm long and pull them off the parent bush so that each has a bit of 'heel' (part of the older wood) attached. Bury them about 7cm deep and firm the compost down well around the cuttings.

After picking the last of the peaches and nectarines, you will need to prune wall-trained trees. The first job is to cut out the old fruited shoots and tie in as many new growths as you can fit in to replace them. Take out entirely any shoots that grow straight out of the front of the tree at right angles to the wall or fence.

Cut back chives, marjoram, mint and oregano to about 7cm off the ground. This will encourage them to make fresh growth that you can use during winter.

Take cuttings from fuchsias, geraniums and other tender perennials such as helichrysum, osteospermum and felicia. These need to be overwintered in a greenhouse or similar shelter.

What to see

For contemporary garden furniture, ceramics, sculpture, metalwork and pots in a stunning range of materials, visit 'Celebrating Art in the Garden', which showcases work by a wide variety of designers and artists, including sculptor Michael Speller and potter Jan Nethercot. The outdoor exhibition in the grounds of Urchfont Manor College, Urchfont, Wilts SN10 4RG opens today and runs until 20 September, daily (11-6pm). For further information call 01380 840495 or visit urchfontmanor.co.uk

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