Weekend Work: Time to tend to snapdragons


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What to do

Snapdragons often flower better in their second season. I have had good results sowing seeds in pots in a cold frame and then pricking out the seedlings into individual 7cm (3in) pots. Sown in multi-purpose compost and covered with a thin layer of vermiculite, seeds germinate in two weeks. 'Ruby' (Chiltern Seeds £1.82) is a tall variety with rich red flowers. 'Crimson Velvet' (Chiltern Seeds £1.73) gives the same effect but on plants only 45cm (18in) tall.

Start tubers of favourite dahlias into growth. Greengrocers' wooden boxes make ideal nurseries. Line the box with newspaper, cover with a layer of compost and stand the dahlia tubers upright in the compost. Pack in more compost so the tubers themselves are covered, but the stumps of last year's stems are above the surface. Water the box and stand it anywhere light. A temperature around 13C/55F will be enough to tickle them into growth.

What to buy

HW Hyde & Son's new lily catalogue is full of temptations. And I'm tempted, even though in December, lily beetles were still falling out of the stems of last year's flowers. 'Red Velvet' is a gorgeous lily, looking just like its name, 160cm tall with gently reflexing petals. You can get 1 bulb for £1.75, 3 for £3.60, 5 for £5. Get a catalogue from The Nursery, New Rd, Ruscombe, Reading, Berks RG10 9LN (01189 340011; info@hwhyde.co.uk)