Weekend Work: Time to tend to Snapdragons

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The Independent Online

What to do

Snapdragons ('Antirrhinum majus') are generally treated as annuals, but by nature they are perennials (though short-lived) and often flower better in their second season than their first.

I have had good results sowing seeds in pots in a cold frame and then pricking out the seedlings into individual 8cm (3in) pots. Grown hard and cold, the seedlings stay stocky and strong. Seedlings I raised on a windowsill indoors were drawn and much weaker in the stem. Sown in multi-purpose compost and covered with a thin layer of vermiculite, seeds germinate in two weeks. For a cutting garden you need tall varieties like 'Ruby' (Chiltern Seeds £1.70), pale pink 'Appleblossom' (Chiltern Seeds £1.60) or white 'Snowflake' (Chiltern Seeds £1.62).

Start tubers of favourite dahlias into growth if you want to increase your stock by taking cuttings. Greengrocers' wooden boxes make ideal nurseries. Line the box with newspaper, cover with a layer of compost and put the dahlia tubers in upright. Pack in more compost so the tubers themselves are covered, but the stumps of last year's stems are sticking up above the surface. Water the box and stand it in the greenhouse or anywhere light. A temperature around 55F will be enough to tickle them into growth.

What to note

Going green is not easy, as Jonathan Lovie of the Garden History Society points out. If such potentially damaging schemes as wind farms are to be given preferential status within the planning system (which is what the draft PPS15 seems to suggest) Lovie argues that the Government ought to balance this by acknowledging how beneficial green spaces are in mitigating climate change.

The wind farm lobby is well funded, as there are huge profits to be made by those who make and install them. But what about those great rafts of concrete? What about the lost beauty of views now filled with fidgeting white blades? The pros and cons need to be added up more carefully.