Weekend Work: Time to spray evergreens

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The Independent Online

What to do

* Wind dries out foliage faster than sun and is particularly difficult for newly planted evergreens to cope with. Spray them regularly with water or rig up plastic mesh windbreaks until the plants are well established.

* Delphiniums are growing at last and need to be gently tied in to canes with soft twine. The sappy growths are very brittle. You will get bigger spikes of flower if you thin out the weaker shoots. Slugs are potty about delphiniums. Protect plants if necessary.

* Peonies also need staking. The prettiest (and most effective way) way to do it is to weave a lobster pot of twigs around and over the clumps. Hazel or willow are the traditional materials to use. But if you have dogwood stems to cut down you can use them instead.

* Think about restocking ponds with fish and plants. Fish like to stir around in the soil that the plants are set in, but a thick layer of gravel on top of the compost will deter them. Put this on before you lower plants into their final positions.

* Continue to sow seed of flowers for planting out later in spring. I have just sown seed of an annual phlox 'Tutti Frutti' (Unwins £1.99 for 100 seeds), which should be flowering by July. It is a carpet plant, unlike the tall phlox of herbaceous borders, and grows only 30cm (12in) tall. Also sown are annual stocks 'Starlight Scentsation' (Unwins £1.99) which with luck will scent the garden from July to September.

What to see

This year the Harrogate Spring Flower Show is celebrating its hundredth anniversary. For the first time, it will include show gardens, created round the theme of gardening with nature. The show, held at the Great Yorkshire Showground, continues today (9.30-5.30 Admission £15) and tomorrow (9.30-5.30 Admission £13). For more information call 01423 546158 or go to www.flowershow.org.uk

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